During the Covid-19 pandemic, when I began working on this novel, I read that a private zoo in Brussels had closed to the public indefinitely. It quickly became a ghost town of animals and zoo keepers. The orangutans, accustomed to throngs of admiring humans, lapsed into depression. As an experiment, concerned staff made an opening in the fence of the adjoining enclosure, inspiring a dozen river otters to swim into the primates’ living area. After threatening the small intruders with sticks and aggressive charges, the orangutans settled down and became happy show-offs again. The otters were a fascinated audience that returned every day.
This unusual pairing of species inspired lots of YouTube videos. I was riveted by them. I couldn’t have written Ghost With Two Hearts without the orangutans and otters empowering my imagination.
Michael R. French
Michael French is a graduate of Stanford University and Northwestern University. He is a businessman and author who divides his time between Santa Barbara, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.