Bestselling author to visit Hood River

Susan Chernak McElroy will be speaking and signing copies of her books at Waucoma Bookstore in downtown Hood River on Saturday from noon to 2 p.m.

McElroy, a national bestselling author, is touring to promote her new book, Heart in the Wild: A Journey of Self-Discovery with Animals of the Wilderness (Ballantine Books Hardcover; July 1, 2002; $24.95).

The work is a testament to the ability of wild animals to help people reconnect with the earth and its rhythms.

In Animals as Teachers, McElroy shared how her beloved animal companions guided and sustained her through her battle with advanced cancer.

The Seattle Times called the book “Stirring, emotional, and important ... For anyone who’s ever owned a pet, this kaleidoscope of emotions will elicit tears, laughter, and some very special memories.”

Twelve years later, when a fire ravaged McElroy’s mountain home, her experience with wild animals provided the guidance to help her heal and grow.

In Heart in the Wild, McElroy uses the metaphor of fire and other wild forces to craft a story of her personal quest to recover from the flames that destroyed her home. She explores wild animals’ roles as ambassadors to a wisdom older than humans’.

Especially significant is the six-pointed bull elk, which teaches her about stamina and endurance during the loss of her home and her divorce. Through physical and visionary interactions with the elk and other wild animals, McElroy embarks on a spiritual journey that leads her to a personal transition and a genuine sense of belonging in the world.

“I have always let my life lead me to my book work,” said McElroy. “Coincidentally, the day I sat down to begin writing ‘Heart in the Wild,’ my house burned down.

“Just two hours after finishing the introduction, I returned home from tea with a friend to find my home in flames. By the time I sat down to begin writing again a full year later, my life had given me a year’s worth of amazing stories of my own about transformation and regeneration.”

McElroy has also written Animals as Guides for the Soul, and her award-winning writing appears in numerous anthologies including Chicken Soup for Soul Survivors, the bestseller Intimate Nature: The Bond between Women and Animals, Kinship with the Animals, and Wounded Healers.

She has written for national magazines and is currently working on a series of children’s stories.

McElroy lectures extensively on the healing bond between humans and animals.

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