An Interview with The Dinosaur Guy

Welcome back to another JP fanfiction author interview! Today I got the chance to talk to The Dinosaur Guy. If you don’t know him already, he’s the author of a fanfic called Isla Sorna Field Journal and runs a blog called When Dinosaurs Ruled the Mind. He regularly reviews dinosaur documentaries, spotlights dinosaurs that deserve more time in the public eye and, of course, writes about Jurassic Park. He’s been a friend of mine for a while, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to interview him. Ladies and gentlemen, The Dinosaur Guy.

Hello, Dinosaur Guy! Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. It’s great to talk to you!

Your welcome! It’s a pleasure to do so.

Your Jurassic Park fanfic is called Isla Sorna Field Journal. Can you tell us a little about it?

Well, the basic premise is that a noted but haughty paleontologist illegally embarks to Isla Sorna so he can study the dinosaurs. At first he thinks it’s a dream come true, but things start to go downhill after the first couple of days, and he has to find a way to survive on an island filled to the brim with dangerous animals. This story was conceived before many plot points in Jurassic World were revealed, so it kind of ignores the events of the upcoming film.

How did you get the idea for the story?

I’ve dabbled a few times in fan fiction, as I have a love for writing, and I knew I wanted to eventually do a JP fic. However, most JP fics tend to involve established characters from the franchise, author avatars on adventures in the JP universe, or stories that greatly expand on what was set up in the films and novels; fixing plot holes or telling the story from someone else’s perspective. Those are fine on their own, but I knew I wanted to do something a little more low key, not really expand on the mythology but instead write about something that can feasibly happen within the film universe.

I knew I wanted to tell something different from what I normally write, but I wasn’t sure what direction to go into at first. My first idea was to tell a story through the eyes of a dinosaur living on Isla Sorna, or perhaps the first film through the eyes of the T. rex. I then realized there were already fics like that, and I would have trouble keeping those stories interesting anyway. There was also this crazy idea I considered for a bit where the dinosaurs were anthropomorphic, they engaged in a war, the raptors were neural mediators, and a T. Rex and Spinosaurus were allies before JP3. As I expanded on it, however, I realized how strange it was. The ideas quickly got very convoluted, clichéd, and downright surreal. I knew I had to do something smaller.

I always wondered how the paleontology community as a whole reacted to Jurassic Park in that universe. We have the opinion of Grant, but not that of every single dinosaur expert and/or enthusiast. I figured someone would risk arm and limb to see these creatures alive, and from that idea stemmed the basic premise.

Still, I wanted to separate it from other fan fictions. Most fics tell the tale from either the first or third person; either from the point of view of the main character or the point of view of the writer. So, I decided I would tell the tale as if the main character was writing it down. I was heavily inspired by the book Flowers for Algernon, which is told through the progress reports of a mentally handicapped man whose intelligence is artificially enhanced. The entire story is composed of the main character’s journal entries, and the story is much more powerful with this narrative style as oppose to a much more conventional framing device. I figured it would make sense for a scientist observing these creatures to have some way of recording his thoughts, so an epistolary style seemed to fit perfectly.

What’s the easiest part of writing the story? The hardest?

I’m really glad about my choice in narrative style. The fact that the entire story is composed of the main character’s journal entries actually makes writing for it much easier. As you may know, it’s easy to fall into common writing traps and clichés when writing a fan fic, and we are all guilty of it. So instead of unintentionally using tired old phrases and expressions to describe what’s going on in the story, I just write it out as if I was observing the events before me. It keeps the diction from sounding trite, and also helps the story keep a dynamic flow.

The hardest part about writing is simply finding the time. Between school, work, and a life, it can be hard to stay motivated. This story remained dormant in my computer for a long time, and I finally found the courage to once more continue it.

I’m also very critical of my work, and sometimes find myself cringing at my own writing. Sometimes I don’t even like reading my own blog posts for that reason. Sometimes, I just have to step back and reassure myself that I’m satisfied with my work.

What’s your original character like? How is he like and unlike you?

He’s a brilliant scientist and very intelligent, but he’s also a bit of a jerk. He puts himself on a pedestal and is often too proud to look ahead in his own actions.  The whole story boils down to him putting himself in a dangerous situation because of his overconfidence. He also has a low opinion of people who don’t share his beliefs, and hates Alan Grant for talking unfavorably about the park.

I didn’t want this story to be another fan fiction starring an author avatar, so I disconnected this character from myself as much as possible. I instead wrote it as if I was the outsider reading these journal entries, if that makes sense. I do, however, put myself in the character when he sees the dinosaurs. His reaction to seeing the creatures is probably close to how I would react, and the way he observes and describes them is also in my style. But other than that, we aren’t very similar.

Do you have a plan for how your story will end and/or how it will progress?

I have a basic idea. Key events are already planned out, but as a write I may add or delete things I contemplated. I also know how I want the story to end, but I won’t spoil it here. I also don’t plan to make the story too long, and it’ll definitely be nowhere near novel length.

How long have you liked Jurassic Park, and what impacts has it had on your life?

Jurassic Park has been a major part of my childhood since the very beginning. It, along with The Land Before Time, was one of the many reasons I got into dinosaurs as a kid and why I am still into them today.

What’s your favorite part of the Jurassic Park franchise? (Movie, game, comic book line, toy line, ride, etc.)

The first film definitely holds a special place in my heart. I also had lots of toys from the JP3 toyline, and I have fond memories of me playing with them. They weren’t as high quality as some of the earlier JP action figures, but I didn’t care at the time. I instantly loved any dinosaur toy you put in front of me.

How did you get the idea to run your blog, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Mind?

I’ve always had a fascination with film and television reviews, and I thought it would be neat if I gave it a try. I am a fan of The Unshaved Mouse, a blog that reviewed all 53 Disney Animated Films (I am also a huge Disney fan and a fan of animation in general). I loved his format, which was informative but also incredibly witty. The entire writing aesthetic of my blog is a blatant rip off of his, right down to the cast of recurring characters that look completely random to first time readers.

Reading his blog inspired me to do my own, but I then had to decide what I wanted the blog to be about. My other interests include animation and superheroes, but there are already a billion blogs out there dealing with those subjects. I then decided on dinosaurs, but there are also countless blogs dealing with dinosaurs as well. I knew I wanted to do something that would help me stand out, so I decided to combine my interests of dinosaurs and film reviews into one glorious thing.

In my blog, I review dinosaur depictions in popular movies, TV, cartoons, video games, books, and art. So my blog isn’t just a celebration of dinosaur science, but of dinosaur pop culture as well. Because of that, it’s not coldly scientific, but instead fun and entertaining while at the same time being analytical.

The name ‘When Dinosaurs Ruled The Mind’ obviously came from the often heard phrase ‘When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth’. The ‘Mind’ part of the title came from something a little more philosophical. If you are a kid who loves dinosaurs, you are always thinking about them, and pop culture depictions of dinosaurs fuel that love. I remember myself as a kid watching dinosaur movies and reading dinosaur books. Reviewing these same films I loved as a kid bring me back to a much simpler time in my life, back when dinosaurs were all I could think about. Back when ‘Dinosaurs Ruled The Mind’.

I know, pretty cheesy, but it’s true. Seeing how my blog is a celebration of dinosaur pop culture, it’s only natural to be reminded of a time when you got so excited to see dinosaurs on TV.

What’s your favorite part of writing and running the blog?

Well, I’m writing about things I love, so that really helps. I’m also glad to have an audience, and I wouldn’t be posting nearly as much if it weren’t for them. I feel so honored that someone can enjoy the things I do here.

How do you learn so much about dinosaurs? Do you do your own research or are you employed/in classes to enter the field of paleontology?

I’m just an enthusiast, and don’t plan to take on paleontology professionally. I do all my own research on my blog, which explains some factual errors you may see in the text. Dinosaur science changes so quickly and so many people have different theories on how dinosaurs looked and behaved that it’s hard to distinguish what’s generally considered correct. That being so, always take the info you read in my blog with a grain of salt. I’m only an enthusiast, and the blog is mostly for entertainment purposes. I own up to any factual errors presented, but also note that one thing considered to be fact can be debunked with a single new discovery and two scientists can look at the same fossil and come to very different conclusions. That makes distinguishing what’s ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ about a dinosaur depiction in a movie somewhat difficult.

What’s your favorite dinosaur of all time and why?

Brachiosaurus is definitely my favorite herbivore, with Ceratosaurus and Allosaurus tied for favorite carnivore. But all dinosaurs receive my love.

What are your thoughts on Jurassic World? Do you think it will be a good movie? Is there a part you’re especially looking forward to?

I’m cautiously optimistic. I tend not to get myself too hyped for movies in fear of disappointment, but with this being a franchise I’ve been waiting so long to resurface again I can’t help but get excited.

I mean, it has dinosaurs in it! It’s been so long since we’ve had a popular dinosaur movie in the theaters, and I hope this film gets kids into dinosaurs once again. I fear they have been losing popularity.

I’m really excited to see a functioning park. I always wondered what it would be like if Jurassic Park actually succeeded, and I think that is a question a lot of us are happy to get answered.

If someone offered you the chance to go to Jurassic World, would you go? What would you want to see and do there?

I would go in a heartbeat, but only if the dinosaurs decided not to break out the day I visit. The website has done a really good job at showing us what the park would be like, and I know I would be geeking out at every moment being there. I would love to see the dinosaurs of course, but I know I would also be all over that gift shop.

Thanks again, Dinosaur Guy. It’s been great talking to you!

My pleasure. Thank you for the opportunity.

BLOGGY STUFF: Yeah, I know I’ve been dead for a few days. Tomorrow I have another post lined up. I’ve recently gotten a look at another LEGO set, some pretty nice toys and some toys so hideously deformed they will rot your eyes. Stay tuned!

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