Amy Sutherland


WRITERLY ASPIRATIONS hit me hard at 13 in the suburbs of Cincinnati. I decided to be a poet and began writing gems under the pen name Emily Long. (Emily Dickinson was already taken.) In high school, I came to my senses, somewhat. Inspired by the Watergate hearings and by an encouraging English teacher, I changed my future profession from poet to journalist. My financial prospects improved ever so slightly.

My young heart had it right but as a chronic late bloomer it took me a while to make my way to the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Master’s in hand, I spent the next dozen years working for daily papers, first in Burlington, Vermont and then Portland, Maine.  I figured I’d do that forever until I went to the 2000 Pillsbury Bake-Off and got hooked on the crazy world of competitive cooking. I left newspapers behind to write Cookoff: Recipe Fever in America. For a year I crisscrossed the country interviewing chili heads, cowboys, state fair cooking champs, and a few cheats.  Along the  way I learned a lot about American ingenuity as well as a special variety of American lunacy.

For my next book Kicked Bitten and Scratched, I headed to Moorpark Community College in southern California, where the top school for exotic animal trainers can be found. My book chronicles the year I shadowed students through this improbable, magical, grueling program. I went on walks with the baboons, the cougars and a wolf named Legend. This understandably went to my head, which became apparent for all when I wrote a column for the New York Times on how I improved my life and my marriage by using animal training techniques I had learned at the school. That insane outburst earned me a movie deal  (like most movie deal yet to be realized) and the contract for my third book, What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love and Marriage.

Along the way, I’ve written numerous magazine and newspaper articles for magazines and, and taught journalism at Boston University. Currently I write the Bibliophiles column for the Boston Globe’s Sunday Books section, and await the publication of my fourth book, Rescuing Penny Jane: One Shelter Volunteer, Countless Dogs and the Quest to Find Them All Homes, the one close to my heart. This one is about shelter dogs, two of which, Walter Joe and Penny Jane, pictured below, share my home office in Boston. If you don’t find me at my desk it’s probably because my two assistants have convinced me it’s time for a walk.

© 2013 Amy Sutherland, All Rights Reserved