SARA GRUEN, the author of Water for Elephants, moved to the United States from Canada in 1999 for a job as a technical writer. She was laid off in 2001 and decided to pursue a lifelong dream of writing fiction. She has published three novels, each involving animals as full-fledged characters; the first two, Riding Lessons and Flying Changes, about horses, were published as mass market originals. Gruen lives in North Carolina with her husband, three sons, and a menagerie of rescued animals. She donates a portion of her earnings from all of her books to various animal charities.