Those of you who know me, know that I love having authors on the blog and talking to them about important life things, writing, and absolutely absurd not-so-life-important things.
I’ve had a number of authors on like Julie Hutchings, Debbie Dadey & Marcia Thornton Jones, Romily Bernard, Susan McBride, Judith Graves, Kim Harrington, and more, and I’m so happy to be able to add another to the ranks.
I’ve learned so many fantastic things about authors I admire, that sometimes it blows my mind.
Today, I asked amazing (and hilarious) author Ron Valle on the site for an interview and a fun Q & A. We’re talking chickens, Hollywood actor casting, and The Land Before Time as an art.
Let’s begin, shall we?
Q & A with author Ron Valle
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a wee boy. I would watch movies and cartoons and be upset that they were over so I’d make picture books of sequels and new episodes. I made at least three Jurassic Park sequels. I even wrote Steven Spielberg a letter after The Lost World came out in which I told him that the third JP film should feature pteranodons, ankylosaurus, AND spinosaurus – which it freaking did! Too bad I didn’t send him a script that didn’t suck…
I wrote throughout middle and high school and finally got a BFA in Creative Writing at Chapman University in Orange, CA. I’ve been chugging along since writing short stories, which makes We Clocked the T-Rex my first novel. Guess I’ve come full circle in a way…
So I guess I should be thanking you for all the dino-y goodness, then? Well, thanks Ron! So speaking of creative types and writing, who is your favorite author?
I mean, this one is never answered easily. Right now I really love Manuel Gonzales who’s got a new book out called The Regional Office is Under Attack! I love all the classic people and the postmodern people. But if you were threatening to go back in time and assassinate one author, the one whose death would probably most affect my development and trajectory would be J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ve read his books too many times to count. I don’t write fantasy probably because I know him too well and would just be disappointed in what I’d come up with.
Awesome! I’ll have to check Manuel Gonzales out. But I do love J.R.R. Tolkien out. So I have to ask, how did the idea for We Clocked the T-Rex come about?
It actually started as the title of a blog I did for a few months where I would write small stories about a single scientific principle or idea. One of my favorites was about the Great Pacific Trash Vortex, a many-hundred-mile-wide patch of the ocean where all our plastic waste winds up. As I kept writing them, I noticed a few recurring ideas and one character stood out as someone I could spend more time writing about. That character was Vee. I started outlining a novel told through the perspectives of multiple characters. The principle thread that connected them all changed over time. It started as a bacteria that consumed plastic which everyone was racing to find and patent, then it was an MMORPG that began mimicking the deterioration of the natural world so that players got fed up with playing in it. None of those ideas carried me very far and then I thought, “It should just be about some conspiracy to bring dinosaurs back to life.” I had been reading about this new gene editing technique called CRISPR and saw famed paleontologist Jack Horner talk about reverse engineering a chicken into a dinosaur. I saw a lot of parallels between current discussions about de-extinction and the ethics thereof and thought there was a giant story there about how we’ve altered the planet and will continue to alter it, either back to how we think it should be or in some completely different path. So I got to work.
That’s truly fascinating. I absolutely love literature that makes you think, and I’m so excited to dive right in. So I have to ask then since you’re so into dinosaurs, if you could own an actual dinosaur, which one would it be and why?
A baby pterosaur, like a rhamphorhynchus. I’ve always loved their spade tail. It could be like a bird that I taught to sit on my shoulder. And when it got bigger, like really big, I could teach it to falcon or something. And it’d bring me fish from the river, and I’d get in trouble because I ain’t got no fishing permit.
Do you have a favorite character in We Clocked the T-Rex?
There are characters I like because they’re just fun and weird and different from what I’m used to writing and then there are characters who aren’t as fun to write because so much depends on their coming across as real people. But those characters mean more to me because I spend so much time and thought and panic with them. Vee is the number one character. Many of the feelings she has toward the world she lives in reflect my own feelings, and she acts on the things I fear. She’s a sort of hero that I wish I could be. So there’s that. Then there’s Eddie Dinh, who’s an old American spy trying to unravel the dinosaur plot, and he’s just an all-out blast to write. He’s the action hero, Vee’s the tragic figure.
I love this so much. Characters are SO MUCH fun and this story has been so much fun to read so far. So random, completely unrelated question…if you were stranded on an island and could only take three things, what would they be?
Probably Moby Dick, and a paper pad that I could draw and write in with charcoal, and a knife because I guess you always need a knife. The book and paper would do a lot for my sanity. The knife would maybe keep me alive?
If We Clocked the T-Rex was made into a movie, who would you cast as Vee?
I like movies where I’ve never seen the cast before in anything else. So hopefully someone new. But if we’re drawing from actresses I think would fit… I’m a real big fan of Emily Blunt. She can do anything – comedy, drama, sci-fi, Disney. She’d rock it.
Yes!! Oh my goodness, I love her too. So let me ask now that we are nearing the end here, if you could summarize your book in five words or pick five words to represent your novel, what would they be?
We, roaring, romping, raging, eels.
The three R words represent how I hope it feels when it’s read. ‘We’ represents the collective nature of the problems faced within the novel and also the way in which it’s currently being funded and hopefully published. It’s a group effort, we’re all making this work. ‘Eels’ is a wonderful word (and there are eels in the book).
Now, the most important question must be asked…Why is your hair so excellent?
I shampoo every day, conditioner twice a week, and comb it out with my hands during the car ride to school. So I guess it must be genetic.
You’ve sent some hilarious emails, recorded some amazing videos, and even had a Raffle party to help promote this contest for We Clocked the T-Rex. But what would winning it actually mean to you? Why should people support your story?
The cooking competition Chopped has taught me that there are only variations of two answers to this question.
1) I need to win this to validate my being a chef/that I’m where I ought to be/that I can still hang with these hot-to-trot young-punk cooks.
2) This money will help me open a restaurant/put my children through college/give my wife the honeymoon we never had. I guess my own answer is slightly derivative of the first one. Winning the Geek & Sundry contest would let me know that there are people interested in reading the stories I want to write. To be honest though, the response I’ve had from friends, family, aged acquaintances, other authors and sheer strangers has fulfilled that for me already. Even being interviewed by you, Jolene, tells me that there are people who are intrigued by the flavors in this first dish I’m serving. Winning will give me the opportunity to serve the full course. I know it’s great, and I want you all to enjoy it.
Oh my goodness yessss. I love Chopped. And I really, really get it. And I’m so thankful that you were up for being interviewed. This has been an absolute blast. Can you believe that we’re already done? Well, except for the lightning round!!!!
Coke or Pepsi?
Coke, the can’s red.
Cake or Ice Cream?
Ice cream, it’s cold.
Land Before Time I or Land Before Time II?
The Land Before Time is a legitimate work of art and I will act violently towards anyone who disagrees. The art style, the backgrounds, the voice work, script, and James Horner’s score all make it a thing that I will annually watch from my bed with sheets pulled to my chin. And yes my throat will contract when the baby pteranodon tries to console a depressed Littlefoot with a ruby-red cherry, and again when Littlefoot gallops after the shadow of his murdered mother, and yes I will sing along to Diana Ross’ “If We Hold on Together” as it plays over the credits while mesozoic willows droop into pristine purple pools of water. Chomper’s great and all, but the original is for me.
Pirates or ninjas?
Pirates cuz they got ships and were democratic. I’m ignoring the awful things they did.
Skittles or M&Ms?
Lobster army or crab army?
Crabs. Crabs for days.
Sunrises or sunsets?
Sunrises. I feel like I’m always travelling when I see them.
Thank you so much Ron for being such a wonderful sport! It was an honor having you here and pretty please come back some time, please?
If you want to support Ron with doing something he is SO passionate about, please pre-order his book. It’s only ten dollars (which here in California is less than you’d pay for lunch).
There’s also the possibility of getting your name in the book if you pre-order is Super Reader package. Because hello, books are forever. Make history!
He’s also posted some hilarious updates and raffle videos where you can watch him be buried alive and my favorite, a puppy that dreams of turtle burps!!! If you pre-order his book, you can automatically be entered to win in his raffle!