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.
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.
I 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
sBook Signing at Hot Shots Coffee House
I was honored to do two book signings in my hometown this last weekend. I wondered what it would be like to personally know many of the attendees believing that in most cases you can never be a prophet in your own land. Many of my signings on the tour were very successful with large numbers coming out who had already read, Almost Human. I wondered if this would be the case in my hometown.
At both events, I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the turnout and number of readers. I mentioned in a previous posting some lessons I had learned from my first book signing. Well, here’s another reason to do these personal appearances. You never know who you might meet.
The two I did this last weekend were both at coffee shops, Hot Shots Coffee House and The Tea and Coffee Exchange. They are excellent businesses in my hometown area of Lake Arrowhead, California. I highly recommend both!
While many of the people who attended were locals who I knew, some brought friends who I’d never met. While some bought books for which I’m grateful, others turned out to be beneficial contacts to promote my book. One was a fellow author who invited me to speak at a local writers’ group I’ve been trying to contact for a considerable time; another, was a producer of a TV program that might feature my book.
So the new lesson I’ve learned is book signings are not about selling books so much as making a personal connection with people who might help you grow your book. These people are your readers or potential readers who will have a stronger connection to you and your work by meeting face to face. That is how loyalty is built.
I will never complain to my wife, Tammy, again about doing one of these events again!
SOLD OUT! Many Thanks to all who ordered advanced copies. My publisher should have them to me in the next 14 days. I will autograph them and send them out with a private invitation to the release party. Copies can be ordered from Amazon, etc. THANKS!