Book Name: The Dinosaur Four
What gave you the idea for (your book)?
I wanted to write a monster story because I love reading them. I decided to go with dinosaurs because there just aren’t enough dinosaur novels out there.
The Dinosaur Four was partly inspired by the The Mist by Stephen King, which is about a group of people trapped in a supermarket when a monster-filled mist rolls into town. I like survival stories about everyday people. I find it easier to connect with characters when they aren’t super-soldiers or experts.
In The Dinosaur Four, a downtown café is transported back in time with ten people inside. The only one in the group who knows anything about dinosaurs is a single father who read dinosaur books to his boys. In both stories, the characters encounter hungry monsters, but the real danger comes from the nut-jobs trapped alongside them.
How does The Dinosaur Four compare to Jurassic Park?
Both books feature a lot of the same dinosaurs, but in The Dinosaur Four, the plant-eaters are just as dangerous as the carnivores. There are no friendly veggie-sauruses. The dinosaurs are as more monstrous than magnificent, covered with filth and parasites, and also feathers.
Jurassic Park spends more time exploring science and philosophy, while The Dinosaur Four is more about the relationships between the characters. It’s also a darker book and not as kid-friendly as Jurassic Park.
What got you into writing horror?
I like horror because of the sense that anything can happen. No one is safe, and that keeps me on my toes as a reader.
I also thought that horror would make a great fit for a dinosaur book because most people reading a dinosaur story want to see lots of great dinosaur attacks.
How long have you been writing?
I majored in Creative Writing in college, and then worked in video games for about sixteen years. Working on games allowed me to flex my creative muscles, and I helped write the scripts for most of the titles I worked on.
The games industry is pretty turbulent, however, and when the last studio I was working for closed down, I ended up getting a job at a business software company. I started writing The Dinosaur Four because I still needed a creative outlet.
What is the writing process like for you? What is your writing day like?
On most days, I write for at least an hour before work, and I try to carve out a few hours on the weekends. I wrote The Dinosaur Four from start to finish in about a year, and then spent two more years re-writing, polishing and editing it. I hired a professional editor and work-shopped much of the book with a local critique group.
One thing that I’ve found really helps my writing is to read each chapter aloud. Hearing it, actually performing it, helps me find the sections that don’t work.
What are some of your best books you’ve read in the past year or so?
The Girl with All the Gifts (M. R. Carey) is a fresh take on zombies, with a great mother-daughter sort of relationship.
The Wayward Pines trilogy (Blake Crouch) is a thrilling mix of Twin Peaks, The Twilight Zone, and The Fugitive.
Wool by Hugh Howey is a fantastic post-apocalyptic yarn.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy is hauntingly good, if you’re up for something really dark.
11/22/63 might just be Stephen King’s best book. A time-travelling high school teacher tries to stop the JFK assassination.
The Martian by Andy Weir is also loads of fun.
What are you doing next?
I’m working on a post-apocalyptic trilogy about a small group of people who survive the end of the world. Book one is in the polishing stage and books two and three are outlined.
It’s a bigger story than The Dinosaur Four, which has been challenging, but I’m having a lot of fun with it, and the feedback from my critique groups has been good.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
You have to force yourself to write. Even if what you are writing is lousy, get it down. Jump around. Write the scenes that inspire you and then come back later to figure out how they connect together.
A lot of writers complain about plotting challenges. I’ve found that a spreadsheet helps. I have a row for every chapter, and columns for the key events, times, PoVs, introductions, deaths, mysteries introduced, mysteries resolved, and even the word count. When you can look at the entire book this way, it helps you see the big picture.
Feedback is gold. I learned this working in video games. It’s far better to hear complaints from Beta readers or an editor than from a customer or a review. Find a local critique group, build a circle of Beta readers, and when you think the book is perfect, hire an editor.
One of Geoff’s childhood memories is a nightmare about a Tyrannosaurus rex eating him off the fence in his back yard.
In those days, he begged his parents to let him see films like Alien and Poltergeist. Now the argument is reversed as he begs his kids to watch those movies with him.
The Dinosaur Four is his first novel.