Minnesota author returns to Cambridge to promote new book

The 2009 Cambridge City-Wide Read author Thomas Maltman will return to Cambridge with his new book, Little Wolves.

Join Minnesota author Maltman at Scout & Morgan Books on Saturday, Feb. 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. for a reading and book signing of his new novel, which just came out in January.

Thomas Maltman
Thomas Maltman

Set on the Minnesota prairie in the late 1980s during a drought season that’s pushing family farms to the brink, Little Wolves features the intertwining stories of a father searching for answers after his son commits a heinous murder, and a pastor’s wife who has returned to the town for mysterious reasons of her own. A penetrating look at small-town America from the award-winning author of The Night Birds, Little Wolves weaves together elements of folklore and Norse mythology while being driven by a powerful murder mystery.

Maltman said he was inspired to write the story after a hunting trip with a rancher. During a car ride, he pointed out a coyote he spotted outside the window. The hunger slammed on the breaks, and his son shot the coyote.

“I was haunted by the experience, because I realized the coyote would still be alive if I hadn’t pointed it out,” he said.

At the same time, the birth of his daughter was happening.

“I had these two things going on at once, this birth and this death,” Maltman said. “I knew I had something, and I had to start writing.”

little-wolves-cover2It started as a small town story, but midway through writing it, Maltman said he woke up from a dream of a father talking to him about his son doing something terrible. That morning, he wrote and wrote.

“This simple small town story I wrote about a couple became a murder story, the story of a father searching for the truth of what had happened,” he said.

Maltman said the story is based on a true story he heard from high school, but the town of Lone Mountain in the novel is fictional.

The title, Little Wolves, refers to coyotes themselves; it’s a story about outsiders, people who exist on the outside of communities just as coyotes exist on the outside of communities, Maltman explained.

Taking place in rural Minnesota, Maltman said the book might be especially appealing to native Minnesotans.

One of the themes the book covers is the importance of land, he said. The novel is set in the mid-1980s during a time when family farms were going under, exacerbated by drought in 1987.

“One of the main themes is the importance of that connection between families and the land, a theme that will resonate with people who live in Minnesota,” said Maltman, who lives in Champlin, Minn. “It may seem on the surface because it’s a murder story that it’s a darker view of small town life, but it’s a story about a community that’s trying to heal after something tragic has happened.”

Maltman said he’s been writing for at least a couple decades. He’s known since he was 16 that he wanted to be a writer—it was always a dream to publish a novel.

Now that he’s published two, he said it feels great.

“It’s everything that I could have hoped for,” he said. “I always hope to write a story that’s capable of impacting readers.”

He said he’s grateful for the positive feedback on the first novel, which went on to win several awards. So far, the reviews for Little Wolves have been positive.

Maltman said his favorite part about writing is the daydreaming—the creative process of starting with a blank page and allowing it to develop.

“Fiction should struggle with timeless questions,” he said. “Little Wolves asks ‘why do people do evil things?’ and ‘what happens in a family or a community when something does something evil?’ How does a family or community respond and heal? I want to draw people to history, but I also want to explore universal questions we have about our human experience.”

This book event is free and open to the public. The book Little Wolves is available at Scout & Morgan Books. For more information call 763-689-2474.