When Michigan-born author Patrick Maher found himself trapped in the worst flooding in Thailand's history, he had surviving on his mind but he also knew he had an interesting story to tell.
For five weeks, Maher was stuck in his house on a small strip of land with his wife and two small children. He refused to evacuate his home and worked with other residents to fortify a floodwall to prevent the floodwater from invading their community.
When it was all over, he went back to work at the international school where he taught fifth grade students.
"Every child had their own flood adventure to tell," Maher said from his home in Bangkok. "There is palpable energy there that was waiting to be tapped."
Along with his students, Maher began developing a story about a young Thai girl named Pleng who gets trapped in the floodwater and goes on a harrowing adventure. Just like the author, she gets stuck on a small strip of land where she fights for her survival.
"I promised each child I'd print them a copy of the book by the end of the year," Maher said. "I had no idea it would end up in newspapers and bookstores."
The end result of the project was a young reader's novel called Pleng's Song, and it has received national reviews in Thailand, Nepal and Indonesia. The book has also been featured in newspapers in Florida, Seattle, The Philippines, Ireland and England.
"I think the message is that out of hardship, we can make great achievements so we should never give up hope," Maher said. "As a child, my life is Michigan was so easy and I never thought I'd face such a horrible natural disaster in a foreign country."
Maher said he'd love to share his story with children in Michigan so he's offered to send free an eNovel to anyone who reads this article. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.