As you may, or may not, have seen. I recently posted a review of Survive by Stephen Llewelyn. Spoiler alert, I loved it! If you want to read it, you can find it here. I was also lucky enough to be sent this lovely guest post by Stephen himself!
Thank you for your interest in my book. As you may be aware, we are living through something of a golden age of dinosaur discovery at the moment. Over the last few decades, the amount and quality of the research into these ever fascinating creatures has grown significantly. The huge popularity of Jurassic Park may have helped in this regard. We are now discovering roughly fifty completely new species of dinosaur a year. Yet, despite this enormous interest, there are very few novels for adults or teenagers written about the subject, the most prominent being Crichton’s Jurassic Park and Conan-Doyle’s Lost World. I hope that Survive may one day be seen as the third on a fairly short list :o)
The BBC Focus Magazine recently printed – “…to a new age of dinosaurs – the age of discovery. In the last 20 years about three quarters of all known dinosaur species have been found, and a new species is discovered almost every week.” The interest in the subject has never been greater.
Survive sees the dinosaurs in their natural time and environment.
My top five favourite dinosaurs in just 200,000 words! (Only joking).
Number 5 – Megalosaurus
Megalosaurus was a mid size theropod predator. This animal is one of my favourites because he was one of the very first dinosaurs named and properly described, so from that standpoint alone we owe him, or her, a lot. He was also English, like me!
This was the first full skeleton (replica) of a dinosaur that I ever saw as a child in the tiny Dudley Museum and Art Gallery. At 30 feet long this animal would have been pretty terrifying in its day and although far more dangerous animals would follow, I remember standing under and looking up at that skull, which was probably more than half the size of me back then, whilst my imagination caught fire!
Number 4 – Brachiosaurus
Brachiosaurus was a giant sauropod dinosaur (the long neck and long tail type). Many much larger animals have been discovered in recent decades, such as the Titanosaur, Argentinosaurus, featured in ‘Survive’. However, when I was growing up this Jurassic Giraffe was quite literally at the top of the tree. Standing more than 40 feet tall, the tops of the trees provided a tasty green platter for these incredible animals.
My parents bought me a dinosaur book for Christmas one year when I was very young, maybe seven, which showed a cartoon Brachiosaur on one side of a set of scales and twelve African bull elephants on the other. This creature will always be one of my favourites because its size struck me with such awe. I still remember trying to calculate its length, height and width in double-decker buses! I actually believe that this may have been one of the things which set me up for working in the construction industry, because I have no problem visualising measurements and sizes and seeing how items may sit alongside other items within a space – I’d never considered that before!
Number 3 – Mapusaurus
Mapusaurus was a giant, carnivorous theropod dinosaur – very nearly as big as T Rex. Of the Carcharodontosaur (shark-toothed lizard) family, this huge killer would have ripped at its prey with claws and most importantly large serrated teeth like steak knives. Unlike T Rex’s conical teeth, which could crush and smash through bone, Mapusaurus’ teeth were blade-like and probably more suited to bleeding a large prey animal to death by multiple lacerations. Should a human being cross paths with such a magnificent beast this fact would be largely irrelevant, however, as Mapusaurus was big enough to swallow a man whole.
I feel a great debt of gratitude towards this beautiful animal because he happened along at exactly the right time and place to be the chief, non-human terror in my book; Patagonia, about 99.2 million years ago! I could not wait to introduce him to the story about halfway through, which is why I employed a professional actor to read out that section, like a sample audio book, as part of the promotional material I was preparing for the launch (https://youtu.be/4F7NL9Pq_1I). Although the characters involved in that altercation lack the knowledge to put a name to the creatures which terrorise them, I think the description, coupled with their ignorance, actually provide for a more frightening narrative.
Mapusaurus has been my friend throughout the New World Trilogy process and when the royalties come in, I won’t even have to pay him anything; what a mate :o)
Number 2 – Tyrannosaurus Rex
Tyrannosaurus Rex needs no introduction at all! Who else from the past has a name which is known to virtually every human being alive today, Julius Caesar perhaps? Elvis? I believe the most complete remains we have for this force of nature are the fossilised bones of ‘Sue’, and she has always been one of the loves of my life.
In recent decades the media have been on the prowl for any animal which could ‘out-T Rex the T Rex’ and they have failed. Palaeontology is a very modern science in many respects and recent research on this phenomenal creature shows us that Sue may have run at 20-30 miles per hour (bear in mind she weighed about 8 tons and was almost 50 feet long). She had binocular vision with excellent eyesight and depth perception, an almost unprecedented sense of smell and excellent hearing. With a recently established EQ (Encephalisation Quotient, not to be confused with IQ), scientists theorise that Sue may have been even more intelligent than dogs and possibly comparable with chimpanzees. So, if you think by standing still she wouldn’t see you and would just wander off, good luck; and I don’t think throwing her a banana would help either! Her small, rather pathetic looking arms were not much longer than my own. However, each of them could probably lift more than 200kgs – sadly, rather more than my own. Now, this may be damaging to my male ego but if I had to choose one sight to see before dying, I would choose to see Sue in life.
Number 1 – Styracosaurus
Styracosaurus was a member of the ceratopsian family of dinosaurs, lorded over by the mighty, three horned Triceratops; although Styracosaurus was a little smaller.
After my last comment about Tyrannosaurus Rex you may well wonder how any other animal could possibly be my number 1? Well, I’ll try to explain.
My passion, for such it undoubtedly is, for dinosaurs started as a very small boy. In my first year of school, another little boy in my class, named Daniel, was playing with what appeared to be a toy monster. Like any five year old lad I thought this was pretty awesome, covered in giant spikes as it was. He then began to explain that this wasn’t just a many horned monster, this creature was once a real animal… and my world changed forever. It was the first dinosaur that I ever saw or knew about, it lived millions of years ago in the late Cretaceous and, although not huge by dinosaur standards, it would have filled the classroom we were in – hello Styracosaurus!
My fascination with Roman remains, Saxon relics and medieval castles borders on reverential, but when I see a dinosaur I am, and will always be, five years old and this is all because of Styracosaurus – my number 1!
I am a massive dinosaur fan myself, and highly recommend reading Survive. I was lucky enough to be the FIRST person to review it, and had a lovely message from Stephen so please, please support the book. Proceeds from the sales also go to Mind, which is an added bonus!