Michael Gerard Bauer is back in the house talking to us about his new book release “Dinosaur Knights”. After promising to teach him a few new hula hooping tricks he agreed to answer copious questions for me.
- Your latest book Dinosaur Knights combines chivalrous daring doers with ancient predators, what possessed you to combine the two? (how did you get your idea for the book)
One day I was watching a movie that was set in the Middle Ages. There was a dragon in it. I remember thinking how dragons were similar to dinosaurs and started wondering if the myths about dragons could have been real and that maybe dragons might have actually been dinosaurs. Then I wondered how dinosaurs could have made it to the Middle Ages so I started thinking about time and time travel and the story developed from there. When I first thought about the storyline I saw it more as a movie plot. I think I probably ended up writing it a bit like that as well. (Any big time movie producer moguls out there reading this????)
Interestingly enough my publisher at one stage suggested that perhaps we should change the title of the book. I remember many discussions at home around the kitchen table where my family and I came up with dozens of increasingly ridiculous alternatives to Dinosaur Knights. My personal favourite is still, ‘Dude, Where’s my Car-nivore!’
- In our last interview you spoke of acting out scenes to understand how things would work on paper, did you have to go wrestle crocodiles to gain more insight in dinosaur mentality?
Fortunately no. I think in the last interview we had a photo of me with my son’s old Jurassic Park T-Rex and some Action Men figurines. These certainly helped with the action scenes and also provided countless hours of idle entertainment when perhaps I should have been writing.
I found the dinosaur chapters fun but challenging. When I first told my publisher Dyan Blacklock from Omnibus Books about my early ideas for the plot, she asked me if I was going show any of the story from the dinosaur’s perspective. This became a very important part of the story for me. Even though the people in the Middle Ages see the dinosaur as a ‘beast’ and a ‘monster’ I wanted to show it as a victim and a helpless pawn in the future scientists’ experiment. That’s why I wrote chapters from the dinosaur’s perspective to reveal how terrifying and disorientating it would be for this amazing creature to be wrenched from everything it knew and dropped into a totally foreign and threatening world. Even though the Medieval people see the dinosaur as a threat and looked upon with horror, everything it does in the story is driven by its desperate need to survive. The same can’t be said for the actions of many of the human characters.
It sounds weird but as I wrote those dinosaur chapters I really did try to put myself in that creature’s position. I really did attempt to think like a dinosaur. Of course my children would tell you that I’ve been doing this for years anyway.
- Did you ever wish you could let the Dinosaurs win?
My dinosaur does win. Final score: Baryonyx walkeri 1 Homo Sapiens 0.
- Time travel going wrong is a major catalyst in your book, if you had a time travel machine where would you go first and why?
I wouldn’t travel too far. I’d go back to the early 1960s. I would go to Liverpool and watch the Beatles play in the Cavern and then I’d hang around and relive all the magical years when those four guys ruled the world. I’d do that because I think that the Beatles had a greater positive influence in the world than anyone else I can think of during my lifetime. It was a happier, more exciting and more hopeful place when they were around making music. Sadly I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like them again – not unless some band suddenly appears from Outer Space. Hey, now there’s an idea for a novel …
- I noted that the government officials even in the middle ages were quite corrupt, did you model them on anyone in particular?
Not really. Power corrupts as they say, so I guess Government Officials are always going to be possible sources of corruption and wrong doing in any time period. Besides, who better for a dinosaur to eat than a corrupt government official? Having said that, I should add that I think there are many hard working, honest politicians and I’m probably one of the few people in the country who actually enjoys watching Parliamentary Question Time. Sad, I know.
- Having two brothers trying to save their father and their town from a dinosaur sounds great, but in reality wouldn’t they just argue over whose turn it was to clean the equipment?
You make a good point there and I think my twin brothers Roland and Oswald are a bit like that in the novel. They’re certainly different personalities and they don’t always see eye to eye. Roland wants to be a knight. He’s more a boy of action, with very strong opinions and few words while Oswald is more the thinker and talker and ultimately a carer and healer. Because of these differences they do argue and clash at times like all siblings and these scenes hopefully generate some of the humour in the story. Ultimately though the brothers’ love for their father even with all his flaws, bonds them together in their quest. Of course Roland and Oswald also have the local Lord’s beautiful daughter Cristiana to save. Or does she save them?
- Have you started planning out your next book? If so can you give us a few hints? Say maybe a Leonardo Di Vinci/Ninja story?
Dinosaur Knights was my first adventure/sci-fi story and I enjoyed writing it, but I don’t know when, or even if, I’ll write another one. I’m more comfortable with realistic fiction. For instance, I’m not the sort of writer who could make up a fantasy or future world – too complex and too much work for my feeble brain I suspect.
Recently I sent away the ‘dog story’ manuscript that I mentioned in the last interview and thankfully my publishers really liked it. Now they just need to figure out what audience to aim it at. At the moment it’s called ‘Just a Dog – the stories of Mister Mosely’.
I’m now working on what will be the third and final book about Ishmael Leseur and his mates at St Daniels College (two chapters down!). This novel will cover the last two years of their school life. I’m really looking forward to completing the boys’ story but I know it will be a bitter sweet day for me when I write those last pages. The characters in Don’t Call Me Ishmael and the sequel are so real to me and they have been such good company for so long, it will be hard to finally say goodbye. Much harder than bidding farewell to a giant flesh-eating dinosaur!
After that? Not sure. There are a few ideas floating around in my head. A comedy/ninja story maybe; a collection of short stories perhaps; or a book for older readers more in the style of my first novel The Running Man. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see which characters take up residence in my head and refuse to leave until their story is told.
Thanks for the great questions Nat and the opportunity to return to your wonderful Blog.
Thanks Michael for being such a good sport. I will definitely teach you the halo, the helicopter, and the shimmy! And I’m looking forward to getting my hands on my own copy of Dinosaur Knights. It’s available now from all good book retailers.