Today’s special guest is Paula Louise Salvador and we’re chatting about her middle grade children’s book, Trygg the Dinosaur.
During her virtual book tour, Paula will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.
Paula Louise Salvador has had great adventures as a documentary film maker and writer. The scariest was when she stood under the ribs of a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton – in the dark! The most fun was filming dinosaur dig-sites from a helicopter. On the dangerous side, she had to dodge alligators in Mississippi – and keep all fingers and toes out of the water.
Paula has met fascinating people, particularly jazz legend Oscar Peterson and composer Philip Glass, who performed in her show on electronic music.
In “BUILD GREEN” for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “THE NATURE OF THINGS”, Paula and Dr. David Suzuki visited rock star Randy Bachman’s super sustainable house. (He played his guitar for us.)
Finally, it was a tiny dinosaur that captured Paula’s heart. For her documentary “DINOSAUR BABIES The North American Story”, Paula held the fossilized egg of a little Troödon. He was curled up inside, just about to hatch. (His leg bones looked like a chicken’s.) That’s where Paula’s story of Trygg begins.
Paula has a Master’s in French Literature from l’Université de Provence, France and a Bachelor of Arts (including Children’s Literature) from McGill University, Canada.
Welcome, Paula. Please tell us about your current release.
Two young dinosaurs from opposite sides of the floodplain bump into each other by chance. He’s a small meat-eater, and she’s a big plant-eater. They’ve got no parents, no food, no friends. They’re supposed to be enemies, but they decide to stick together instead. It’s not easy. When she gets caught with him, she ends up banished from her herd. He faces a huge rival who could stomp him out with one back foot. They have to outsmart a gang of bullies with sharp teeth and long, curved claws. And they struggle to survive the natural disasters of drought, mudslides and a bubbling tar pit. Worst of all, when they lose contact with each other, they fear betrayal. What if their friendship has been broken?
What inspired you to write this book?
I actually held in my hands the fossils of the real dinosaurs that became my fictional characters Trygg the Troödon and Alta the Hypacrosaur. The scientists who showed these incredibly rare finds to me pointed out “Trygg’s” little leg, all curled up like a chicken in his egg, as well as “Alta’s” tiny teeth, which were a bit worn down, because she had been grinding them, preparing for all the chewing she would do once she hatched and began munching on plants. I still get goose bumps just thinking about these 76-million-year-old treasures!
Excerpt from Trygg the Dinosaur:
On the other side of the lake, the surrounding cliff quivered. A chunk of dark grey earth slid off the slope and gushed through the water. Barely ahead of the mud, another Troödon was running, kicking water into the air. He jumped onto the sand just before the sludge buried the shore behind him. The animal lurched forward then pulled up short. He was huge, bigger than the whole nest.
The little Troödon stretched both arms out. “Take me with you!”
The big Troödon leaned over, but instead of lifting him up, he placed a long clawed finger on his small head and pushed him roughly down, right on top of the closest egg.
“Hey!” the little dinosaur sputtered from the mess of smashed shell and sticky yolk. “That’s no way to help a friend.”
The big Troödon fixed his fierce yellow eyes on him, quickly sizing him up. “I got no time for friends,” he yelled as he sprinted off the island. His deep voice carried back over the water. “You’re on your own, runt.”
The little Troödon knew that he had to save himself. A mass of clay, stones and broken sticks was rising fast around him. He planted one foot in the base of his nest, then he hooked the strongest toe claw of his other foot into the rim. He pushed off and jumped out just before the mud surged over the edge and buried all the other eggs.
“Run!” he cried. “But where?”
What exciting story are you working on next?
The French language version of Trygg (Trygg le dinosaure) is almost ready to go. The translator is from France, with master’s degrees from France and Canada, and a whole career teaching in French to middle grade students. He also happens to be my hubby, so I definitely know how hard he’s been working on getting Trygg and Alta to sound good en français.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always loved to write, from documentary film scripts, to magazine and newspaper articles and finally to kids’ fiction with Trygg.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
It took me 9 years to write Trygg the Dinosaur, because I was busy making a living as a science documentary writer and producer. So writing the story was certainly not full time, but I kept picking away at it. And Trygg and Alta never gave up on me.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love animals, and I’m always giving them human emotions, motivations and words. It helps of course that they answer me back.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a little girl, apparently when I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered, “I want to be a Mommy and bake pies.” And hey, I’ve accomplished both!
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Great illustrations bring a kids’ book to life – quite literally in the case of our dinosaurs Trygg and Alta. Artist John Bindon’s stunning drawings are based on real dinosaur fossils. (John has illustrated many books on pre-historic creatures, with much success). For the characters in Trygg the Dinosaur, he added some smiles, a few scowls, and a delightful twinkle in the eye for Trygg.
Thanks for being here today, Paula.