Behind The Scenes with Sandra Markle

[A few weeks ago, we heard from Marcia Marshall, Sandra Markle’s editor, in her blog post about their work together. Here’s Sandy’s side of the story.]

I love those Go Behind the Scenes shows about the making of a movie. Well, this time you’re getting to go behind the scenes with me on the making of my book Animal Heroes. This book is packed with cool stories about animals that have saved people’s lives.

As with all of my books, before I could start writing, I had to be a detective. For this book, I had to find animals that did something heroic. That meant searching on the Internet, digging through newspaper archives, and talking to people. Like any savvy detective, as a super-sleuthing author, I’ve developed a worldwide network of people who know all sorts of fascinating information and are willing to share. When you read Animal Heroes, you’ll share the stories I discovered. There are stories about heroic dogs, but also some pretty unusual animal heroes, including a gorilla, a cow, and a group of dolphins.cv_0822578840

Developing the stories for Animal Heroes required more detective work. I had to find and contact the people whose lives had been saved by the heroic animals. Some lived far away in very different time zones. So to call and talk to them, I often had to set my alarm clock and get up in the middle of the night. All the effort was worth it, though. I loved hearing first-hand how Winnie the cat persisted in her efforts to wake up Cathy Keesling, saving the whole Keesling family from carbon monoxide poisoning. I was in tears listening to Mike Hingson describe how his guide dog Roselle helped him escape from Tower 1 in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. I was literally on the edge of my seat as George Mitchell told me how his dog Frisky helped him survive being trapped in a flooded house during Hurricane Katrina. And these are just three of the stories in the book.

Just as some scenes never make into a movie, I found so many great stories I couldn’t squeeze them all into Animal Heroes. The one I most regretted not being able to include was about the elephants on Banda Aceh in Indonesia. When a tsunami struck on December 26, 2004, much of the city was left in ruins. Then eight Sumatran elephants, which normally carry rangers on patrols for illegal loggers and poachers, were brought to the area to help. People were trapped under the rubble of their homes, so bulldozers couldn’t be used to clear debris. The elephants, though, could carefully step over and around the rubble and use their trunks to reach into small spaces. They were also strong enough to lift and carry away heavy debris. After helping people with rescue and cleanup efforts, the elephants carried on helping the survivors rebuild their homes.

So now that you’ve gone behind the scenes, enjoy reading the book. Animal Heroes is true-life stories about animals that helped when people most needed them.