Welcome back to my series of interviews with Jurassic Park fanfiction authors! Today I got the pleasure of speaking with Fourth Mrs. Malcolm, writer, blogger and aficionado of the JP character– well, you can guess. She’s the author of a lovely series on Archive of our Own, and by far the most prolific and dedicated Ian Malcolm blogger I’ve ever seen.
Hello, Fourth Mrs. Malcolm. It’s great to be speaking with you. I’m a big fan of your work!
Thank you, RD, for the opportunity to visit your blog and chat about writing JP fanfiction. I love following you, and I absolutely adored the pictures from the birthday party you threw for your tiny Ians!
As evidenced by your name, social media presence and fanfiction work, you’re obviously Ian Malcolm’s biggest fan! What about Ian inspires you to write about him?
Well, I’ll get the obvious out of the way first: I have a huge crush on him 🙂 Aside from that, I have always been a fan of any science fiction that involves biology. For example, I love author Robin Cook (“Coma”, “Outbreak”). While medical thrillers are my first love, Crichton’s techno thrillers including “Disclosure”, “Airframe” and of course, “Jurassic Park” captivate me. It’s the combination of science and ethics. Ian stands out as the “voice of ethical reason” in both Jurassic Park the book and film.
Where do you get the inspiration for your work?
My first story was inspired by another fanfiction that was posted on Archive of our Own. It was so well-written that it stayed with me for days after I read it, and eventually my thoughts began to turn into ideas for another story. This became the first of the “Alice” stories. (That story was “Chaos” by thedevilchicken on AO3).
For tumblr, I generally take screencaps of unique/interesting/cute pictures of Ian or that are JP-related from eBay or elsewhere online and repost them. I also like to reblog others’ posts and add comments.
What’s your opinion on the changes in Malcolm’s character between his two movies?
It’s understandable given what happened at Isla Nublar and how he was treated by InGen after speaking out about the incident. Ian’s character development is deeper than typically happens in techno thriller series (for example, the Laurie/Jack Stapleton arc developed by Robin Cook in his novels from the early 2000s to now). While part of me is sad to “lose” the Ian we met on Nublar, I also love it because it provides more depth to the Jurassic Park saga as well as giving fanfiction writers a good jumping off point for exploring his character.
Ian is present in several Jurassic Park canons– the movies, the books, the comic books and several video games. Do you, in your mind, blend all of those canons to make up the same character– IE what he says and does in the books somehow happened “off camera” in the movies, etc– or do you have a particular favorite canon that you run with? Do you combine any two or three?
Interesting question. I would say I do a bit of blending, in other words I take into account the different aspects of his character that each canon illustrates. For example, we see the more cerebral, brooding aspect of his character in The Lost World than in the original Jurassic Park. While I prefer to write stories set in the world of the first film, I refer to his character development in other canons, and even other fanfictions, to give him depth and keep him in character.
How do you channel Ian’s voice in your writing– do you watch the movies, read other fanfics, etc. to “get into his head”? How well do you feel you’ve gotten his voice down?
I watch the movies on a regular basis, and I read other fanfictions and RPs on tumblr. I also participate in RPs and brainstorm story/scenario ideas with my beta reader, which really helps with getting to know his character. I think I’ve gotten his voice down pretty well, but if I’m in doubt, I run my dialogue past my beta to make sure it passes muster.
You’ve written a romance series about Ian and your OC, Alice Sigrund. Tell us more about Alice. What’s she like? How does she fit into the JP universe?
The “When Ian Met Alice” series is a fluffy romance without much character development for Alice on purpose. OCs are controversial for many reasons in fanfic, and personally I can’t stand Mary Sues. I wanted Alice’s presence to make sense without being a rip off of either Ellie or Sara, which was admittedly difficult.
The concept of a “paleo social worker” was not at all fleshed out when I began writing. Both parts were finished and my beta asked “what exactly does a paleo social worker do?” Borrowing from the broad social work practice of building capacity for individuals and groups, a paleo social worker would study relationships and communication between humans and dinosaurs (and perhaps also dinosaurs and other species) with the goal of facilitating healthy relationships between all parties.
Though we are not present for their discussion when the party leaves the tour to check out the sick trike, Alice agrees with Ian that InGen scientists have not sufficiently considered the risks of reanimating creatures that have never before lived alongside man and animals.
What’s the easiest part of writing for you? The hardest?
The easiest part is formulating the basic plot of the story/chapter, which, stereotypically, tends to come in a burst of inspiration. This is typically sparked by reading another fanfiction or tossing around ideas with my beta reader.
The most difficult part is balancing exposition and dialogue. I tend to write dialogue first, then try to flesh out the story by writing description and exposition around it. I mention the following because it’s germane to the discussion: I have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (specifically Asperger’s Syndrome) and I “think in pictures” as described by Dr. Temple Grandin. In writing, this means that I picture every detail of the scene like a movie and then transcribe it to paper, almost like a screenplay. I also have weak Theory of Mind skills, which means I have trouble figuring out what others “see and don’t see”, so I rely on my beta to point out where I’ve missed explaining background information clearly. Detail is very important!
What’s your favorite part of the Jurassic Park franchise? (Movie, book, game, comic book, etc.)
Definitely the first movie. I also love the original John Williams soundtrack and the Lego game that came out this past summer. I want to read the comics and am currently trying to track them down without paying $50 shipping from across the border, haha.
What’s your favorite dinosaur of all time and why?
I admit that as a child in the early 90s I was more into “The Land Before Time” than JP. My favourite character was Cera the triceratops and subsequently I always answered “triceratops!” when asked this question as a kid. After renewing my love for JP in recent times, I have a new appreciation for Rexy (her eyes are so expressive in her scene in JP), the raptors in JP and JW (the raptor pack are so cute the way they communicate amongst themselves, other dinosaurs, and Owen) as well as dimorphodons. The reason for the last is I thought the dimorphodons in JW were pteranodon/T. Rex hybrids until it was pointed out to me that they were actual historical dinosaurs. I still think they look like flying Rexys.
I understand that you’re an avid Jurassic Park toy collector. What’s your favorite JP toy of all time and why?
Can I name one in two different categories of toys? … Assuming that’s a yes:
1. JP Series II Ian Malcolm – of course! I’ve collected action figures and toys from many of my favourite fandoms going back to childhood, and this figure is one of the best I’ve ever seen. The designers truly captured Jeff Goldblum’s likeness and the outfit with the leather jacket is spot-on movie accurate. The two subsequent Ian toys that reused this head sculpt, TLW Ian Malcolm and Glider Pack with Ian Malcolm, are also fantastic for that same reason. I’m not even going to tell you how many of these Ian figures I’ve collected – it’s in the double digits – but sometimes I post pictures of the Ian family on my tumblr blog.
2. JP Series I Jungle Explorer – the iconic tour vehicle. I was lucky to get a complete one on eBay from a town about two hours from where I live, along with the rest of the Series I humans. They make for a fantastic display in my apartment and just looking at it makes me happy.
If someone offered you the chance to go to Jurassic World. would you take it? What would you be most excited to see there?
That would be awesome! I have vacation time coming up in the new year. I’d love to escape my cold city for Isla Nublar in February.
I would love to see the baby dinosaurs, they just melted my heart in the film. It would be like seeing Little Foot and Cera for real! While I would definitely check out all the attractions, I’d love to take a peek at the old Visitors’ Centre. Do you think they’ll have that on the tour?
What are your opinions on the upcoming fifth movie? Do you like the direction it may take, with hybrid dinosaurs and dinosaurs on the mainland?
I understand that many feel the next step may be armed dinosaurs, further developing Hoskins’ idea. If the franchise goes that route, I hope the tradition of questioning the ethics around bioengineering is maintained. I mean, it’s not hard to see how unleashing armed raptors on the world could bring about, uh, chaos.
Should Ian Malcolm come back for JP5, or do you think his arc in the movies has come to a satisfying end?
I enthusiastically join the chorus of fans who want to see him return in a cameo to the current trilogy! However, I am impressed that his book was given a cameo in JW – that’s more of Ian that I expected to see in the new film, considering that none of the original main cast appear.
Do you have any ideas for what you’d like to write next? Will you continue your series?
I’m glad you asked. Since publishing the Alice series I have been working on a few things with my beta/collaborator. I have read most of the Ian fanfictions that are out there and I assure you, we are working hard to create a new universe and it’s gonna be a wild ride. Alice will be back, and her sister Laura is part of the drama as well. We haven’t decided if it will be published in chapters or as a whole, but it will be posted on AO3.
Thanks for the interview, Fourth Mrs. Malcolm. It was a pleasure!
You’re welcome and thank you for the opportunity to talk JP and Ian with you. Hey, maybe we could collaborate some time in the future!