Before the wolves barged in the door, demanding that their story be told, Dorothy Hearst was an acquisitions editor at Jossey-Bass, where she published books for nonprofit, public, and social change leaders. She loves dogs but doesn’t have one, and borrows other people’s whenever she gets the chance. After seven years in New York City and nine years as a San Franciscan, Dorothy now lives in Berkeley, California.
The first wolf in my life was named Happy, and we met in the summer of 1966 when we were both about six weeks old. My brother, Ed, got to pick out a dog to go with his new baby sister. When he got to the shelter and pressed his nose against Happy’s cage, she licked his face all over, and that was that. Happy was an incredibly sweet, smart terrier-spaniel mutt, and she used to do this great doggie dance at dinnertime. She lived to be seventeen, so we really did grow up together.
So to me, dogs and living life have always gone together. I don’t have my own dog (yet), but make liberal use of other people’s. The two main dogs in my life right now are Emmi, my sister’s very shiny black Lab, and Jude, a bed-hogging German Shepherd mix who lives with my friends Johanna and Fred, but whom I consider to be at least partly my dog.
I grew up surrounded by books. There were books in my room, books to steal from my brother’s and sister’s rooms and books all over the rest of the house. I also used to climb up the floor-to-ceiling shelves in the family library to get to the science fiction books, which were on the top shelf. I guess I could’ve ended up a rock climber, but instead, became a book junkie. I spent much of my childhood making up stories when I was supposed to be doing other things. I was also kind of a jock, spending a lot of time underwater on a swim team or upside down in gymnastics. I can still do a cartwheel, stand on my head, and do the splits (not all at the same time).
Although Promise of the Wolves is my first book released by a major publisher, it is actually my second book. My first book, published by my elementary school when I was about eight or nine, was entitled Katie and Todd Run Away and was about a sister and brother named Katie and Todd, who ran away. I don’t remember too much about it except that the cover was red, and they met a giant squirrel named Mitzi. My sister, Marti, did the illustrations, which were wonderful. Especially the one of the squirrel.
Like many writers, I was that incredibly nerdy kid in junior high school that everyone picked on, and the only slightly less nerdy kid in high school that not quite everyone picked on. Then I went to UC Berkeley where all the other nerdy kids were and actually got to go on dates and to parties. I majored in the always-practical English Literature, but spent much of my time in the even more practical Drama department. A couple years after graduation, I went to New York, where I was a spectacularly unsuccessful actor. Then, because my mother had the foresight to tell me to get a day job with book people, I eventually found my way to publishing, where I got to hang out with the ultimate nerdy kids, and all was right in the world. I got to edit books by and for the people who do good things in the world, so it was pretty much the best job I could’ve found.
I also began studying tae kwon do, and got my blackbelt for my 40th birthday. Martial arts completely changed my life, and gave me the confidence and perseverance to, among other things, write a first novel.
Much of this time, I was trying to write. I wrote first pages. A lot of first pages. They were good first pages, but I couldn’t get to the second page. Eventually I got up to 3 pages and then actually managed a few 15-page short stories, a couple of which got very nice rejection letters from magazines. Then one day, after about ten years of trying to be a writer, I started writing about wolves—and then I couldn’t shut up. And here’s the really cool thing: when I began to write Promise of the Wolves, I realized that I had actually already started writing it ten years before—on one of those first pages I could never finish. For more on how Promise of the Wolves came to be, check out the Inspiration page on this site.
I now live and write in Berkeley, California, which DHL apparently considers to be a “remote location.” There’s not quite as much delivery food as in San Francisco or Manhattan, but there are a lot of trees, and many, many dogs.
My creative packmates are my heroes and my inspiration. Check out their work below.
Joe Hearst, award-winning photographer
Jean Hearst, author of middle reader fiction, including the recently completed Last Troll of London Bridge. Read the first chapter here.
Pamela Rafael Berkman, author of Her Infinite Variety and The Falling Nun
Harriet Rohmer, author of fiction for adults and picture books for young people
Bruce Bellingham, author and columnist