Posts Tagged With: books

Becoming Human – Paperback is Out!

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See what my publisher and readers are saying about Becoming Human

 WHAT READERS ARE SAYING: “Becoming Human by Kenneth L. Decroo is a frightening tale of science unguided by ethics, and the devastation that can be wrought by government agencies that operate without benefit of effective oversight. Step-by-ominous-step, the author takes you from the relatively benign environs of Reno, Nevada to the dark menace of the Congolese jungles, to the even more dangerous environs of smuggling dens in Germany and the Netherlands. An eclectic, and all-too-believable cast of characters will hook your interest from page one, and at the end, leave you breathless and looking over your shoulder and wincing at every sound.” Charles Ray, Awesome Indies Book Awards.

 

AIAPUBLISHING.COM
When Kenneth L. Decroo came to me with Almost Human, he told me he had 2 more books in the series to come. I was so impressed with Almost Human that I agreed to publish the whole series, but saying something like that is always a risk – the next book could have been terrible! …
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I’ve been accepted to The California Writers Club!

CWC-Logo-with-R-284x300I’m humbled and honored to have been accepted into the California Writers Club. – Inland Empire Branch. I say humbled as it’s roster includes such luminaries as Jack London, Joaquin Miller and California’s first poet laureate, Ina Coolbrith.

I guess I better quit messing around and finish my next novel, More Than Human!

Here is a link to my listing: Click here.

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Almost Human, Second Edition, is coming soon!

eBook_AlmostHuman

The second edition of Almost Human is coming soon! AIA Publishing reedited and rebranded it with a new cover! It is scheduled for release in mid-June, 2018. I’m very excited with my new publisher and contract. More Than Human, the sequel, will follow!

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Oliver

 

Oliver and Ken

Oliver and Ken Decroo, 1982, Wild Animal Training Center

 

I met Oliver in 1982. He was full grown male chimpanzee that you took very seriously. He had been billed as a humanzee (half-human and half-Chimp) but I always believed him to be a chimp. He was unusual just the same. He walked bipedally most of the time. While chimps will walk upright some of the time, I had never known one to do it naturally and all of the time. Other chimps feared him and most trainers chose not to work him but for whatever reason, he and I had a special bond.

The photo above is Oliver doing what he loved the most, running with me out of his cage. Oliver and the mystery surrounding his past inspired me to write, Almost Human. I am working on the sequel, More Than Human, were Oliver still plays a larger than life role.

 

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Just One More Story

 

Photo By Gail Fisher, LA Tiimes

Photo by Gail Fisher, LA Times, 1980

 

It is really gratifying to be contacted by so many readers (many are fellow writers) requesting the background story on Almost Human. As a writer, it is a humbling experience to realize your work is reaching out beyond the private and often lonely effort of putting the words on the page.

Recently, I received an email from a reader in Russia (Russia!) who asked where I got the inspiration for Chapter 3, Lester and Girlie. That chapter is based on someone I knew years ago when I worked in the motion picture business who had a unique relationship with an aging chimp. He was an animal trainer in his late seventies or so. The old man and chimp were a real odd couple, who I enjoyed visiting from time to time.

Continue reading

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Goodreads Giveaway of Almost Human Begins February 22, 2017

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Almost Human by Kenneth L. Decroo

Almost Human

by Kenneth L. Decroo

Giveaway ends March 31, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

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Peacock Hunting

peacock_bird_201860I have been working diligently on the sequel to Almost Human.

Finally, I’m close to finishing More Than Human. Over the last six months, personal matters side-tracked my progress—well sort of. So, I’ve set a goal of a thousand words a day no matter what. I’m pleased to say it is working. I am several weeks into this endeavor.

Writers, write. Continue reading

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On Being Smarter

 

congo

Ken Decroo and Congo, African Elephant, Photo by Gale Cooper, 1981

 

Concerning the training of wild animals, I often speak on the importance of being smarter than the animal you’re training. When asked to elaborate on this concept, I immediately think of Congo, an elephant I worked many years ago.

While all elephants are smart, Congo was a genius. He was a big African male that stood almost twice as tall as my six feet.  At the time I met him, he lived at an animal safari park in California. I first met him when I was asked to work him for a photo shoot promoting the book, Animal People by Gail Cooper. I was featured in one of the chapters and Gail Cooper wanted a dramatic photograph.  Continue reading

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Hide-N-Seek

Photo By Gail Fisher, LA Tiimes

Ken Decroo and Moja, 1978

There are certain events in our lives that, at the time, we may or may not realize how important or how defining they are. One such event happened with my first meeting with a chimpanzee named Dar.

I was being interviewed as the linguistic research assistant on a very special project that was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and located at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). This project was known as the Washoe Project and focused on teaching American Sign Language (ASL) to chimpanzees to determine if they were intelligent enough to possess language. I have to say, that on the flight up to interview, I was skeptical but as I was in need a position, I was willing to give it a chance.

Upon arrival, the interview began as expected but only at the beginning. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I was met at the airport and taken to the research compound south of town. The facility was a converted 1950 style dude ranch. It consisted of usual the array of research scientists, graduate students and student assistants scurrying around with clipboards in hand. But that was where the normalcy ended. I was ushered into a large, converted barn where researchers were exercising several chimpanzees of very ages and sizes. I say exercising but it looked more like wrestling and playing. The chimps were having a grand time swinging from ropes and tumbling in piles of hay. The place echoed with hoots and laughter.

After a while, I was escorted to large two-story ranch house that had been remodeled into the headquarters of the project. In a large reception area, I met the senior researchers, Drs. Alan and Beatrix Gardner. The interview went well and I was offered the job. I asked for a little time to decide which they understood and were agreeable to extend. This position would require me to relocate, leave my university to use my sociolinguistic skills in a very different and unusual context. I was encouraged to tour the compound on my own while I was deciding. In other words, they gave me free reign of the place.

I took a walk towards an apple orchard behind the main buildings. It was getting late as the interview had taken most of the day. There was a Fall chill in the air and all was quiet which was a marked contrast to all the bustling activity of the day.

As I made my way down a graveled lane between two buildings, the silence was broken by a series of hoots above me. To my surprise, I looked up to a chimp ambling down the roof towards me. The chimp swung effortlessly off the eves and dropped next to me. Startled, I stared into two deep, chestnut eyes. There was an intelligence in those eyes that was mesmerizing. Dar was a young adolescent with a broad white face accentuating two big floppy ears.

Before I could say or do anything, he signed, “Who You?”

Shocked, I gave my ASL name sign and asked, “Name?”

The chimp hooted and replied touching one of his big floppy ears. I later learned that was his name sign for “Dar”.

Dar panted and bounce up and down  hardly containing himself and signed, “You, me, play, hide-n-seek?”

I looked around unsure that this was really happening. I was actually communicating with a species other than my own. I did what any researcher would have done and signed, “Who, it?”

Dar loudly hooted making a classic chimp, open play-face, and answered, “You, chase—me hide.” He bounded back on the roof and disappeared over the ridge.

This interchange only lasted a few seconds but it defined the direction of my life to this very day. I was, for the next several years, to spend every waking hour in the company of chimpanzees. In my novel, Almost Human, I have attempted to capture what that world looks like.

The vehicle of American Sign Language, allowed me to perceive the world through the wise eyes of a different species and I grew to be a better person as a result.

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