Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Guest Post: Dorothy Hearst

About the Book: 
Before the wolves barged in the door, demanding that their story be told, Dorothy Hearst was a senior editor at Jossey-Bass, where she published books for nonprofit, public, and social change leaders. She currently lives, writes, and plays with dogs in Berkeley, California. Spirit of the Wolves, the third and final title in the Wolf Chronicles, will be released December 2. For more information, and to download free CCSS-aligned discussion questions for all three novels, visit her website: dorothyhearst.com.

 The Cool Scientific Theory Behind The Wolf Chronicles by Dorothy Hearst

 The Wolf Chronicles trilogy tells the tale of how the wolf became the dog from the wolf’s point of view, and follows Kaala, a young wolf living 14,000 years ago who discovers that she’s destined to bring wolves and humans together. 

It’s the story of Kaala’s adventures and coming of age, but it’s also the story of our own evolution and, in particular, a really cool and controversial scientific theory about it: wolf-human coevolution.

Coevolution is the process by which two or more species mutually affect one another’s evolution. Wolf-human coevolution is the idea that wolves—and later dogs—played an important role in our evolution and vice versa. (Every dog living today is the descendant of wolves.) It may even be that wolves were part of the reason we became such a dominant species. 

Some people believe that this is as simple as wolves giving us more time to begin farming by hunting with us and by guarding our homes. Some believe it goes much further—that wolves taught us (by example) to hunt cooperatively, have centralized meeting places, and form complex societies. DNA evidence shows that wolves have been around us for at least 40,000 years and maybe as long as 150,000 years, which means that they may have been hanging out with us for much of the time we’ve been human.

Wolves are also a lot like us. They live in extended families. They take care of wolves that are too old to hunt, and the whole pack raises the pups. They love each other and fight with each other in ways that look very familiar to any family or group of friends. It makes sense that their dog descendants fit so well into our lives. 

Reading about all of this fascinated me, and it’s what convinced me to write about the wolves. I wondered: what if wolves domesticated us as much as we domesticated them? What would happen if at every turning point in our evolution, the wolves were there? What if they were why we developed language? What if they were why we survived instead of the Neanderthals? All of these ideas intrigued me.

From there, I left what was known behind and moved into making stuff up. I thought it would be interesting if the wolves were aware of the fact that they were changing us, and were doing so on purpose. Then they needed to have legends to explain this, so I made up those legends. Kaala’s story became part of a larger one. She wanted acceptance into her pack and to keep the humans and wolves from fighting with each other, but her story was also about how we evolved to be what we are now—and how we may or may not evolve enough to survive the future.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for hosting me here on YA Book Nerd! I'm happy to answer any questions.