Monday, July 11, 2011

Interview with Robyn Hood Black

Today I am pleased to introduce you to Robyn Hood Black, author of WOLVES (illustrated by Colin Howard, Intervisual Books, Animal Vault Series, Ages 8 and up).

Robyn Hood Black
I "met" Robyn not long after my book One Wolf Howls was published by Sylvan Dell Publishing. We were brought together by Robyn's friend Gail Karwoski, another Sylvan Dell author, who noticed that Robyn and I shared an interest in wolves.

You can find out more about Robyn from her website at


Hello Robyn, and welcome to Wolf and Cat!

Thanks for having me!

I'm going to start by having you share a little bit about yourself. What basic information would you like readers to know about Robyn Hood Black?

Basic – hmm. I love to read, love to write, love to draw – and I’ve been crazy about animals since I was a baby pup myself. I enjoy writing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for children. I’m very active in SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and am the new assistant editor for an online haiku journal, Berry Blue Haiku. I also enjoy presenting to all age groups – school visits, book festivals, etc. My husband and I share life with a daughter in college and a son in high school. We’re all vegetarian – my husband’s a vegan, in fact.

It's obvious that you love animals. Do you have pets? Can you tell us a little about them?

The only time in my life I was ever without a pet was when I was in college. My husband and I married right after college graduation. When he was in grad school (seminary, then med school later), I nudged a move out of our nice little student housing duplex into a virtual shack after the first year, just so we could get a puppy – a Norwegian elkhound. We soon had a cat, too, of course. We just celebrated our 27th anniversary, and our current animal companion list includes a hound-shepherd mix, two dachshund mixes, and two cats – we’ve had all but one of them 10 years or more. We’ve lost two older kitties in the past year.

How did you become interested in wolves?

I don’t remember ever not being fascinated with wolves. During school visits, I enjoy showing kids my yellowed, tattered copies of the classics Kavik the Wolf Dog (Walt Morey) and Call of the Wild (Jack London) that I read at their age. We always had dogs growing up – usually shepherd or husky types – I’ve always loved wolfy-looking dogs!
photo by Alison Womack
You volunteer at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve in Dahlonega, Georgia. When did you start volunteering there? What has that experience been like for you?

It’s been a real blessing. I’ve been volunteering there over three years now. It’s a small, nonprofit zoo on about 20 acres, founded by C. W. Wathen almost 20 years ago. Much of his experience, by the way, is with big cats, and there are several at the preserve. Many of the animals there are rescues, given up by private owners or coming from other situations – sometimes the preserve is their last hope. 

Some of the resident animals were born there, such as Luna, a three-year-old wolf I’ve worked with since she was a pup. The other wolf currently at the preserve came a year ago when he was three months old. His name is Rio, and he’s now as big as Luna. 

I especially enjoy talking to kids about wolves, at the preserve or in schools – many young wolf enthusiasts keep me on my toes with their questions! I appreciate getting to share wolf education with people of all ages. And I’m always learning more myself.

How did you come to write the book WOLVES? What was the easiest aspect of writing it? What was the most difficult aspect?

At one of our SCBWI Southern Breeze conferences, I met an editor whom I’d previously “met” online, Peggy Shaw. At that time, she was a senior editor with Dalmatian Press/Intervisual Books and was looking for writers for an animal vault series. I waited patiently to talk with her, after hearing she needed a book on wolves, and handed her my business card with the words “loves wolves” written on it. We talked, and she kindly invited me to interview with the publisher, and they hired me! My good friend/critique group buddy Donna H. Bowman had just been hired to write the BIG CATS book in the series.  

The easiest aspect of writing the book was immersing myself in wolf information for weeks, and it was great fun coming up with ways to organize facts into the spreads. I had to write fast, so I called upon my inner newspaper writer from a few years back to churn out lots of words in a short period of time. It was a little challenging coming up with ideas for the interactive elements – I consulted lots of pop-up books. And now the most difficult aspect is that the series is sadly out of print. Some used copies are available online, and I have a few stashed away for school visits. [Fun fact:  In 2010, Donna’s and my books were printed in Portuguese in Brazil!]

photo by Betty King
You do a lot of school visits. What is the most unusual, most interesting, most unexpected, or funniest question a child has asked you about wolves?

Last year I was in a cafeteria with several hundred K-2nd graders piled in on the floor. I left a few minutes at the end of my presentation for questions, and the hand of a beautiful little blond-haired girl shot up – maybe five years old or so. “How can you tell if it’s a man wolf or a lady wolf?” she asked. I quickly noted the concerned look on the faces of a couple of teachers, and responded something to the effect of, “Well, just like with people – they are different.”   I moved on to the next question, and I think I heard the media specialist exhale.

Please tell us three things you would like everyone to know about wolves.
1.)     Wolves are incredibly intelligent, resourceful, social animals.
2.)     Even wolves in captivity are still wild animals and should be respected as such.
3.)    Wolves and so many other animals are dependent upon having wild places in which to live, and it’s our responsibility to protect their habitats even as human populations grow. 3 and a half): Wolf management is a very controversial issue, but the fate of wolves and other species depends upon “opposing sides” being able to work together.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Just a hearty thanks to you for allowing me to visit, and for your continued commitment to wolves, cats, and other animals! 


  1. That was a fun interview, Scotti. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Awesome interview! It's a shame the series is no longer in print, though. I love big cats, too, and elephants, horses, dolphins, whales...I could go on. *wink*

    Gisele :)

  3. Thanks so much, Dawn, Elizabeth, and Gisele - and to Scotti for inviting me to be on this great blog! Awrrroooooooo.... Robyn

  4. nice interview-- Wild blog background! Good luck with your book, Scotti.
    Carol Baldwin

  5. Thanks, Carol! I patched together the background from photos that I took of big cats and wolves.