When I was researching The Horse Whisperer I met a professor at the University of Montana in Missoula, called Bob Ream. Bob told me all about the return of wolves to Montana and the plan to reintroduce them to Yellowstone. There was something little short of a war going on between anti-wolf ranchers and pro-wolf environmental campaigners. I knew I had found the setting for my next book and went back a couple of years later to do the research. Another education.
I remember one spring morning, in the Nine Mile Valley, northwest of Missoula, crawling through the forest with a wolf biologist friend, Mike Jiminez. We got to a clearing and lay watching a pack of wolf pups playing around their mother. That fall, after the first snow in Yellowstone, I watched a pack of recently released wolves hunt and bring down an elk. The thrill of seeing these fabulous creatures is still with me.
Again, for me The Loop was never really an animal story. It’s about a pack of wolves returning to a place where they had been cruelly hunted to extinction and how their return sets aflame old hatreds. In a way it’s a fable about racism: how ignorance brees fear and hatred and, ultimately, violence.