The idea for SADDAM'S PARROT was largely inspired by two gripping stories about parrots—the documentary film, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, and the well known story of Alex, the amazing parrot studied and befriended by the Harvard cognitive scientist, Irene Pepperberg.  

I should add that for most of my professional life I've been an ecologist, fascinated by the nuances of animal behavior and the ways natural systems reach tipping points and crash. I knew that the story inside me involved  a connection between Alex and those beautiful cherry-head conures flocking above the Coit Tower in San Francisco. I wasn't sure how.  

By  2012 I had a narrator and main character named Pankaz. He was the son of an Indian mahout (an elephant caretaker). He knew something about Eastern philosophy, much about elephants, and a great deal about the rise and fall of great civilizations.  He was also a reporter for a radical online newspaper—The Berkeley Barb—and because of his roots and buried family trauma was deeply suspicious of first explanations when it came to the stories he covered for The Barb

The novel fledged and reached lift-off when it came to me that Pankaz was working on a story about how Marianne, his North Beach waitress friend, had been visited by an African gray parrot who was strangely reciting in Arabic intermixed with political-speak.

If all of this sounds hopelessly disparate, far-fetched and disconnected, consider the words of Pankaz in the introduction: "Please bear with me...At times it may appear that I've succumbed to a bizarre form of mental disintegration, leading you off into many dead-end channels involving parrots and elephant whisperers, pie-throwers and practitioners of torture, but I assure you that germane connections will eventually be made. I think it will be worth it, if only to illustrate the many ways in which the universe can be an irony-loving trickster in the tradition of Lord Ganesh, the Indian elephant god." 

Jim Currie
Award-winning Author of
     SADDAM'S PARROT (Aignos 2017)
     IN DIRE STRAITS (Savant 2011)