At one time, Sara Gruen was making a fair salary as a technical writer until she was laid off. She had long held a dream of being a fiction writer and her husband encouraged her to try her hand at storytelling. It turned out that she was good at it. She says that her technical writing experience helped with discipline; and even though she had to sometimes lock herself in a closet to avoid distractions, she started producing book-length stories.
Gruen grew up in Canada. She was born in Vancouver, graduated from the University of Ottawa, and later lived in Ontario. She came to the United States in 1999 because of a technical writing job. She has always had a love affair with animals, and all of her books, so far, have focused on them. Her first novel, Riding Lessons (2004), proved to be an international success. In it, Gruen relates the story of a young girl who loves riding horses. She suffers a bad accident, though, that changes her life. It is not until she is a mother that she returns to the farm where she was raised and finds a horse with which she falls in love. Will she ride again?
Gruen’s second novel was Water for Elephants (2006). Her most recent novel is Flying Changes (2007), in which Annemarie Zimmer, the protagonist from Riding Lessons, returns. Annemarie is forty now, and her sixteen-year-old daughter wants to compete in horse-riding tournaments. This forces Annemarie to face the fears of her past as well as acknowledging how much these fears have shaped her life. She knows she must learn to let go.
Water for Elephants may prove to be Gruen’s biggest success. But she has not stopped there. She has signed a contract for two more books. Her next novel will be called Ape House. The featured animal is a bonobo ape, one of the endangered species of great apes.
For a while, Gruen lived outside of Chicago with her husband and three children, as well as a horse, several dogs, cats, and some goats. She and her family are planning a move to North Carolina, where Gruen hopes to purchase another horse.