I’m the author of Promise of the Wolves, Secrets of the Wolves, and Spirit of the Wolves, which make up The Wolf Chronicles trilogy. The trilogy tells the story of how the wolf became the dog from the point of view of a young shewolf living 14,000 years ago in what is now Southern Europe. It is also the story of humans’ connection to the natural world and how, if we continue to treat wolves and other parts of nature as “other” rather than “self” we will destroy the environment we depend upon to survive.
The story is told by Kaala, a wolf of mixed blood born into the Swift River pack in the Wide Valley. Kaala struggles to be accepted into her pack, and as soon as she makes progress, she saves the life of a human child, breaking one of the most important wolf laws—to stay away from the humans. Risking expulsion from their pack and banishment from the Wide Valley, Kaala and her young packmates begin to hunt with the humans and thus discover the long-hidden bond between the two clans. But when war between wolves and humans threatens, Kaala learns the lies behind the wolf’s promise. Lies that force her to choose between safety for herself and her friends and the survival of her pack—and perhaps of all wolf- and humankind.
Before the wolves asked me to tell their story (they needed me because they can’t type very well; their paws are too big and they keep hitting the space key when they don’t mean to) I was an acquiring editor signing books for people who work in nonprofit organizations. Before that, I was an actor in New York. I never got paid for acting, but my training has influenced me in many ways.
I’m also a martial artist. I spent 8 years studying taekwondo and have a first degree blackbelt. For the past eight years, I’ve been studying White Crane Silat (Peratuan Gerak Badan) an Indonesian form of kung fu influenced by Shaolin. Martial arts influences my writing in many ways, in particular by teaching me to persevere in the face of frustration and to see writing as a practice.
I’ve never been to Germany (unless you count the Frankfurt airport where a very nice young security man once took apart my nail clippers—removing the tiny little nail file—so I could take it on the plane) though my family emigrated from Germany to the United States at the end of the 19th century.
Wolves, Co-evolution and The Wolf Chronicles
I’ve always loved dogs, and wondered why we have such a remarkable relationship with them. We treat them as our family and they treat us as pack. I was fascinated with the question of how that came to be. I’m also very interested in human evolution, in particular by unexplained things, like how we became the dominant species on the planet.
I had recently read Michael Pollen’s Botany of Desire and one of the things he suggests is that plants domesticated us as much as we domesticated them. I wondered if that could be the same for dogs. I heard someone say “I’m going to write a novel about how the wolf became the dog from the wolf’s point of view.” No one else was in the room, so I took the idea.
I knew nothing about wolves when I began writing The Wolf Chronicles. In fact, I thought, as many people do, that wolves were vicious and would attack humans. Then I started my research and found out that not only did wolves not attack humans, they had very complex social structures that are very similar to human social structures. I also learned about the theory of wolf-human coevolution, the idea that wolves, and later dogs influenced our evolution and we theirs, and that they may have helped make us the dominant species on the planet. That’s when The Wolf Chronicles really began to take shape. It became about our relationship with the wild and about how the demonization of the wolf is the demonization of our own wild nature and connection to nature.