Martin Tinker may be the smartest kid in the sixth grade, but who cares? His classmates just think he’s weird. To the good folks of Menominee Springs, Wis., he’s practically invisible. Even his dad has a hard time relating to his bug-collecting, woods-exploring, maddeningly oddball ways. But when Martin accidentally unearths an ancient, frozen egg in a local quarry, he’s in for whole new dimensions of oddness.
When the egg thaws and hatches, he finds himself surrogate mom to a bright-eyed little lizard with a voracious appetite for meat and a tendency to GROW at an alarming rate. Pretty soon Martin figures it out: What he’s got is a living, breathing, honest-to-carnivorous baby T. rex! Martin bonds with his prehistoric pet, but knows this outlandish creature must be kept a secret.
Teaming up with Audrey Blanchard, another misfit from school, Martin struggles to keep “Rufus” fed, entertained, and hidden from the world. But when Rufus grows to 7 feet tall—and starts getting in touch with his inner primeval predator—the secret is blown, and all of Martin’s worst fears come to pass.
Somehow he will have to find the strength and self-confidence he’s never had to save Rufus (or the town?) from an unthinkable fate—and finally, maybe, win a little acceptance from his peers and his dad.
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.
INTERVIEW WITH DAVID FULK:
Describe your book in five words.
Boy raises growing baby T. rex. Wait, is “T. rex” one word or two?
We can call it one. Do you have a particular interest in dinosaurs?
Well, I certainly did when I was a kid. I don’t consider myself an expert on the subject, but you have to admit, they’re fascinating creatures. So different from anything that’s alive today.
What is your favorite scene in the book?
Oddly, it’s a scene that doesn’t involve Rufus at all—when Martin and Audrey are first getting to know each other. There’s something about the first bloom of a friendship that really cuts to the heart of our humanity, I think.
Which scene or characters were the most difficult for you to write and why?
Probably the climactic scene near the end, when everybody’s on the athletic field. So many loose ends to tie up!
How long did it take you to write the book?
Truthfully, many years. But there was a lot of on-and-off for much of that time. Once I really committed to finishing it, it was about a year and a half.
What inspired you to want to become a writer?
I learned at an early age that I was pretty good with words. But at the same time, I wasn’t a big recreational reader or story writer. It wasn’t until college that I decided to try my hand at writing a play, for a class assignment. It ended up winning an award, and so I thought, maybe this is worth pursuing.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
It may sound like a cliché, but it’s true: I’ve been thrilled and honored to be able to meet and befriend so many other writers, especially the ones who are debut novelists like me. You couldn’t ask to meet a more talented, supportive, and delightful bunch!
Who are your favorite authors of all time?
I’m a drama guy, so how can it not be Shakespeare? Lots of writers have written lots of great stuff, but is there anybody else who turned out so many masterpieces in one career?
What movie or book are you looking forward to this year?
Jurassic World, of course! It comes out just three days after my book.
In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?
Neil Gaiman. Not just because he’s a superb writer, but because he seems like a really decent human being, too. Are you free this year, Neil?
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m way older than your typical debut novelist. Or, as I prefer to think of it, perfectly seasoned.
What’s your biggest challenge as a writer? How did you overcome it, or how are you working to overcome it?
Writer’s block! I know you’re not supposed to admit that, but it’s my worst enemy. I think of all the reasons something will be rejected, and then I beat them to the punch. It’s the tyranny of the inner critic.
What’s your favorite word?
“Whippersnapper.” It’s off-the-wall words like that that make me love the English language.
Are you for or against books being made into movies?
Definitely for. Or even unproduced movie scripts being made into books (like RAISING RUFUS!).
What drives you insane about the writing process?
The waiting! I get that everybody’s busy, but still.
What is your favorite part of the writing and publishing process?
When a publisher says, “Yep, I think we’ll do this.”
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
First, make absolutely sure you’ve got the sensibility for it. There are lots of people who want to “be writers,” but don’t necessarily have the talent. So make sure you get feedback from people who, number one, don’t have a vested interest in telling you how wonderful you are—friends, family—and number two, have a lot of knowledge and experience in the field. Take classes, join a critique group, go to writers’ conferences. Read like a demon. Be writing and be learning, all the time. Immerse yourself in the craft and in the writing world. And then: don’t give up! Rejection comes with the territory, unfortunately. So you just have to bull your way through it, and be persistent and patient. Does that count as one piece of advice?
1 ARC of Raising Rufus
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