I'm thrilled to be part of David Fulk's blog tour and am honored to have him appear on my blog. Thank you for taking the time to let me interview you and giving my readers a chance to know you better. David Falk's debut novel, Raising Rufus, is a delightful tale about what it takes to raise a dinosaur. Read our interview to find out what it takes to become an author.
What made you think of writing a book about raising a dinosaur? Was owning a pet dinosaur something you dreamed of as a child?
DF: Well, my mom would have never allowed a dinosaur in the house, so we had to settle for birds and turtles and fish. I don't think I fantasized about having an actual pet dinosaur... but for some reason I did sometimes imagine there was a fully grown T, rex in the front yard. Scared the bejeebers out of myself. As far as the book goes, I'm not sure how it first occurred to me, but when it did, I latched right onto it because it sure seemed like a great idea for a funny adventure story with a lot of edge.
What was the hardest part of writing your first novel? Tell us some of the challenges you faced in writing and in getting published.
DF: The hardest part for me is always going from zero to story. The blank page is terrifying! But once you've got your framework, the rest is a piece of cake by comparison, at least for me. The getting published part was much harder. You're competing with a gazillion other writers for the limited attention of agents and editors, so you have to (1) find a way to stand out from the crowd without being annoying, and (2) get lucky and be at the right place at the right time. It sounds harsh, but it's just the way it works, so a thick skin is is mandatory. The old cliche about being persistent is very true.
What were some of your favorite books growing up?
DF: First, a confession: I wasn't a big recreational reader growing up. I was more of a movie guy. But I loved a good story, as I do now, and lately I've been devouring as much of the great middle-grade stuff that's out there as I can. So, let's give a cheer for The Graveyard Book, When You Reach Me, Crispin: The Cross of Lead, Walk Two Moons, Wonder, Flora and Ulysses, Hoot, Holes. And Harry Potter, of course. And there are some wonderful debuts this year: The Honest Truth, My Near-Death Adventures (99% True!), I Am Drums, Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions, Blackbird Fly, many more. Am I over-sharing now?
Is there a children's book author you would really like to meet? If so, who, and why would you like to meet her or him?
DF: Though I'm not worthy, I would love to meet Gary D. Schmidt. He writes with such heart and such humanity. The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now are irresistible, and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy is wonderfully moving. Maybe by hanging out with him for a while I could get some of that talent to rub off on me.
Now that your book is published, is there anything you wish you could change?
DF: That's a very interesting question, and I know the answer should be yes, but I don't think I can point to specific things I would change. I'm sure there are a lot of things that could be improved, but my feeling is that the "baby" is born now and should stand or fall on its own. I'll try to bring the improvements to my next one.
Give us a fun fact about writing your novel.
DF: Okay, fun fact: It started out as a screenplay! I decided to try it as a book after not quite getting a Hollywood movie deal. And the publishing gods smiled on me.
Which of your novel's characters do you most relate to and why?
DF: You suspect it, so I'll say it: Martin! I wasn't a super scientist, and I didn't grow up lonely in a small town, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't pull some of his traits from my own experiences. Fitting in is a major challenge for everybody―some more than others. I did struggle with that to some extent. And I did have a modest bug collection, and yes, I was fascinated with dinosaurs!
Do you have plans for additional novels? Could you give us an idea what you are working on?
DF: I do indeed. Right now I'm working on another funny middle-grade adventure with a boy hero and elements of fantasy. (Interplanetary travelers, anyone?)
What would you like my young readers to know about the book writing process?
DF: Well, I could say it's really, really hard... but you don't need me to tell you that. So let me put it this way: if you love books, and you love telling stories, and you love the English l anguage, keep at it and don't let anything stop you from going after your goal. Be patient, be persistent, be brave, be generous, and always be learning. One day you just may wake up a published author.
Last, since we know you don't have a pet dinosaur, do you at least have a dog? or another pet? (Would love for you to share a photo with your pet if you do.)
DF: Alas, no dog, and no cat. Allergic to both. So I have to settle for smaller companions: ants, fruit flies, the occasional centipede. Okay, they're not actually pets, but they do visit me on a regular basis, and we have an understanding. (Unfortunately, they've threatened legal action if I photograph them, so I guess I'll have to disappoint on that score.)
Thank you for inviting me today. Boys who read rock!
David Fulk is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter/director, and
novelist. He grew up near Chicago and has lived in Missouri, Louisiana,
Michigan, California, Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, Belgium, India, and
Wisconsin. He currently lives near Boston with his pet T. rex, Rosie.