I took a break from blogging, but am working back into my pre-summer routine, and I have Anita Factor members who answered questions for me back in the Spring that I didn’t get posted. So, time to catch up!
I asked fellow Anita Factor writing group member, Larry Verstraete, the following question:
Of all the non-fiction stories you’ve researched, which story have you found the most interesting? Did it make it into one of your books?
The stories that stand out for me – and there are quite a few – are ones that deliver a sucker-punch of emotion. One particularly memorable example: Jim Tarpley and his dog, Leroy.
Jim was a rancher. One morning in 1988, Jim slipped when climbing down from his tractor, and accidentally shifted the machine into gear. It rolled over him, critically injuring the rancher. Unable to move, he lay in the hot sun throughout the day. Jim might have died there if not for Leroy. Throughout the long day, Leroy repeatedly dipped into a nearby ditch filled with water, and plopped in the dirt beside Jim so the man could suck the water off his coat. Eventually, thanks to Leroy’s intervention, he was rescued.
I tracked Jim down some years later. “That dog was special,” he told me in our interview. “He would do anything for me.” Then Jim disclosed something I didn’t know even though I’d read several accounts of the incident before I contacted him.
When Leroy died in 1992, Jim buried the dog on the ranch. Years later, he sold the ranch and moved to Idaho. He couldn’t face leaving Leroy behind so he dug up the dogs remains and reburied him near his new home.
Now there’s a sucker-punch story. I wrote Jim’s story for Survivors: True Death Defying Escapes (Scholastic) and titled it “Faithful Friend”.
Please connect with Larry:
Website/Blog: The Footloose Writer
LinkedIn: Larry Verstraete
Goodreads: Larry Verstraete
Larry Verstraete began writing for youngsters while he was still teaching. He is the award-winning author of 16 non-fiction books for young people and one middle grade novel. His most recent release is ‘Dinosaurs’ of the Deep: Discover Prehistoric Marine Life (Turnstone Press, 2016), a book about the Western Interior Seaway and its exotic creatures. Larry is a frequent visitor to schools where he shares his enthusiasm for reading and writing with students, teachers and parents.