Here at Stone Ring Press, most of us are new to blogs generally, so to get things going, let’s hear what author D. T. Kizis has to say about the status of wolves. He formerly served as the education coordinator for Wolf Song of Alaska, an apolitical group which used to have a full museum in Anchorage, so he’s had plenty of time to research his subject as well as speak directly with the experts.
There are excellent news sources about wolves, including through some of the links on the Stone Ring Press web site. Periodically, we’ll focus on history, science, popular culture, in addition to politics, since it’s often in a political context that folks learn something, typically wrong or misleading, about wolves. While we will not shy away from controversy, we will nonetheless always present information about wolves truthfully and dispassionately.
To start with, and since “Packs” is of course a work of fiction, let’s consider what might be the most straightforward question: how legitimate is it to use wolves, or any other non-human animals, as the protagonists in a story? With wolves, it’s not often done. Well, it’s not often done beyond some goofy children’s stories, anyway. The fanciful tales of the Three Little Pigs or Little Red Riding Hood may come to mind at once, and while we’ll get back to both of those in a later blog, for now it might be worth keeping in mind that they’re just that: fanciful, and alleged moral examples of how kids should behave.
But that basic question remains: “Packs” is almost unique in featuring wolves as protagonists, even though there are several human major characters existing near them. Yet this is also an adult novel, and the wolves are never anthropomorphic. They don’t talk or act like humans, in other words, but like actual wolves. Kizis himself made sure to have wolf biologists read the story and check it for ecological accuracy. So can we write about and read about other creatures as characters, rather than as scientific or political subjects?
This might also lead one to consider a follow-up question, something about how accurately a writer can portray the behaviors of creatures that he or she can never truly understand directly, and has to at best only get at through analogy. In this case, it seems common knowledge that wolves have amazing senses of smell, much more accurate than even domestic dogs, but what does that mean in daily life? How does that feel?