Inside the Author’s Studio with Caitlin O’Connell

  1. Sketch of working little people with book.What is your favorite word?  My favorite word today is juxtaposition.
  1. What is your least favorite word?  My least favorite word is five adjectives strung together when only one or two were needed. 🙂
  1. What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?  Being in the wild alone or with one or two others, and by in the wild, I mean in the company of many wild animals in a pristine environment with either lots of trees and fresh water or underwater in an ocean environment. No talking, just elephant rumbles, lion roars and whale songs.
  1. What turns you off?  Seeing a pristine environment get destroyed for human development that wasn’t essential (i.e. luxury condos, etc.).
  1. What is your favorite curse word?  Sorry, but there’s nothing more satisfying than releasing the “F” bomb!
  1. What sound or noise do you love?  An elephant rumble in the still night!
  1. What sound or noise do you hate?  A loud motorcycle revving in the early morning.
  1. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  Movie directing, singing, acting or painting. Very different, I know!
  1. What profession would you not like to do?  Waste management
  1. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?  “I’m so glad you took forever to get here.”

ceobiopicDr. Caitlin O’Connell is a Consulting Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine and a world-renowned expert on elephants and vibrotactile sensitivity. She is the author of the internationally acclaimed science memoir, The Elephant’s Secret Sense (2007, Simon & Schuster), which highlights a novel form of elephant communication as well as the elephant’s conservation plight. Her narrative nonfiction photo book An Elephant’s Life (2011, Lyons Press) uses a graphic novel approach to revealing subtle and intimate aspects of elephant society. Her co-authored nonfiction children’s book, The Elephant Scientist (2011, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children) won five awards, including the Robert F. Sibert Honor and Horn Book Honor for 2012. A Baby Elephant In The Wild (2014, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers) was a Junior Library Guild Select and winner of the 2015 NSTA award for Outstanding Science Trade Book for students K-12. Elephant Don: The Politics Of A Pachyderm Posse (2015, University of Chicago Press), brings to light the hidden world of male elephant society. It is now available in paperback and is the subject of the award-winning Smithsonian documentary, ELEPHANT KING. Her debut novel, Ivory Ghosts (2015, Random House) was nominated for the International Thriller Writer’s Thriller Award for Best ebook Original Novel. The sequel, WHITE GOLD, is set in China and comes out in 2017. Bridge To The Wild (2016, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers) invites young readers on a journey to understand why animals are so special. O’Connell is the co-founder and CEO of the nonprofit organization, Utopia Scientific (, dedicated to research and science education. She is also co-director of Triple Helix Productions, with a mandate to develop more accurate science content for the media. She has taught Science Writing for Stanford University and The New York Times Knowledge Network.

Also visit her elephant blog: And be sure to watch an award-winning documentary about her research on the Smithsonian Channel:

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