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Author's research for new book becomes a passion
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Author Robyn Hood Black shows her book, “Wolves,” to two of the animals at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve near Dahlonega.

‘Wolves' book signing

When: 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday

Where: Hall Book Exchange, 1854 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville

How much: Free (books available for purchase)

More info: 770-718-1233

When researching her new book, “Wolves,” author Robyn Hood Black said she had no idea the work would turn into a special kinship with the animals.

But months after the book first arrived in its final bound form, Black is still hanging out with the wolves at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve near Dahlonega, the home of the closest wolves she could find to study while doing her research (wolves aren’t indigenous to Georgia).

The result of her wolf research, both in person and in print, is an oversized book for older children that’s lavishly illustrated and includes a realistically drawn wolf pop-up in the center of the book.

“Wolves” is one in a series of four books published by Atlanta-based Intervisual Books. The other three cover big cats, sharks and snakes. “Wolves” features information about different kinds of wolves, where they live, what they eat and how they fit into human society.

Black, who lives in Gainesville, will sign copies of her book from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Hall Book Exchange on Thompson Bridge Road in Gainesville.

This is her second published book; her previous book, “Sir Mike,” is a book of rhymes for children ages 4 to 8.

Since Black hadn’t written about wolves before, she said she started her research with books and the Internet — namely, the Web site for the International Wolf Center, wolf.org.

“I did some research online and tried to find really the most accurate information I could find,” she said, which included contacting noted wolf expert L. David Mech, with whom she initially consulted on the book, as well as Ed Bangs, the gray wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service in Montana.

Then, Black wanted to see wolves in person.

At first it seemed a difficult challenge — there are no wolves that exist naturally in Georgia, and there are none in any area zoos, either. But then, Black said, she discovered the wolves at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve.

“I learned there were a couple of adult wolves up there and I went and looked at them a couple times, and it just helped to see them in person,” she said.

She went back a few months after finishing the book, to check in on her new friends. And, she said, there were more.

“I didn’t go for a few months and I didn’t realize the female they have up there, she had been bred and she had pups in the spring, so when I went back out in the spring I got to meet the pups,” Black said. “And they were 4 weeks old at the time, and now they haven’t been able to get rid of me; I’m a regular volunteer with the wolves.

“I really, really, really enjoy going out there.”

Black said she’s filled out all the official paperwork to be a regular volunteer there, and helps socialize the pups.

“It’s kind of been a reverse process where writing the book actually has informed me to interact with them each week, because I can kind of say, ‘Oh, I know what they’d be doing in the wild at this age,’” she said. “So, I’m totally addicted to helping out with them.”

She even had a chance to show the wolves her book, the product of all her research about them.

Not long after the book was published, Black said she took a few copies to the wildlife preserve. She sat with wolves Juno and Luna and showed it to them.

“I opened it up (to the pop-up page) and Juno, who was looking over my shoulder, was gone, in like two seconds,” she said. “And Luna, who really is more — she acts more wolfy, she’s just a little more fearless around things — Luna looked at the pop-up (and) she did that thing where she stretched out on all fours to look at it and then, like a horse, spooked and jumped back about four feet.

“That was just amazing. I e-mailed the illustrator just to say this 7-month-old wolf growled at the pop-up.”

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