Nicholas Evans, whose novel The Horse Whisperer became a massive bestseller after it was published in 1995, has died, the Associated Press reports. He was 72.

Evans, a native of Bromsgrove, England, was a journalist and producer before publishing The Horse Whisperer with Delacorte. He received a $3 million advance for the novel, about a Montana rancher with a talent for communicating with wild horses, and a woman who travels cross-country with her daughter to meet him, hoping he can work his magic on their injured horse.

The novel sold millions of copies and was the basis of a 1998 film directed by and starring Robert Redford; the movie was an early breakout role for actor Scarlett Johansson.

Evans’ subsequent novels were The Smoke Jumper, The Loop, The Divide, and, most recently, The Brave, published 12 years ago.

The Guardian reports that Evans is survived by his wife, the singer ??Charlotte Gordon Cumming, and his four children.

Admirers of Evans paid tribute to him on social media. On Twitter, author Hannah Gold wrote, “This is sad. I loved The Horse Whisperer when it came out. This idea that humans could communicate, without words, with animals just inspired me so much—not just as an author, but as a person.”

Michael Schaub, a journalist and regular contributor to NPR, lives near Austin, Texas.