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Saturday, September 22, 2012

World Rhino Day -- Five Species Forever

I've been fascinated with rhinoceroses for some time now. They're majestic, their babies are extraordinarily adorable, and the ones I've met exude an incredible sense of calm. They have no natural need for or interest in humans, and yet when kind humans and rhinos get together, beautiful relationships develop.

Rhinos are also endangered, because it's not always kind humans who come into contact with them. I cannot comprehend why anyone would want to harm a rhinoceros. Two of the stories in my new rhinoceros anthology inevitably deal with this issue. "Rhinoceros Dreams" and "A Business Venture in Glue" have been previously published, so today I would like to discuss the inspiration and intent of "Not Extinct Yet." It ties in beautifully with the theme of this year's World Rhino Day: Five Rhino Species Forever.

I came up with the idea for "Not Extinct Yet" through a writing prompt that asked for a story about bringing an extinct species back to life. I thought, "Wouldn't it be easier just to not let them go extinct in the first place?" Of course, if I was going to write about that issue, I felt a strong pull to write about my beloved rhinos.

I wanted to give rhinos a voice among humans, and I decided the easiest way to do that was to literally give them a voice. In the alternate world of this story, many different species of mammal are found to be capable of human speech. Some editors have made a weird assumption that the rhinos in this story represent some aspect of human society. Nope. They represent rhinos. I've always been a literalist.

The human protagonist, Suzanne, heads the team that discovers rhinos are one of the species that can talk. She makes friends with several crashes of white rhinos and black rhino individuals while she lives in South Africa and takes on their cause as her own. Through up and downs, laughter and tears, she finally solves the problem by asking the rhinos what they think would help them the most. At the risk of spoiling, the story ends happily. It's more or less my personal blueprint for the way I hope the future will go for the five rhino species in this world. It's optimistic and probably naive, but it's my story, my world, and things happen (almost) exactly the way I want them to. The real world is a different story, but we can still make decisions to influence the outcome.

Let's have Five Species Forever. Let's not allow any one of them to fade away.

Read excerpts of "Not Extinct Yet" here, here and here. Get the anthology at Amazon or Smashwords. Thank you for supporting rhinos by reading these stories!

Organizations spreading the word and helping all five species hang around: (I've been here. It's amazing!) (Don't forget to buy your rhino 2013 calendar in support of the Sumatran rhino here)

Highly recommended rhino nonfiction books:
The Last Rhinos by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence
The Soul of the Rhino by Hemanta Mishra

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