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.
Delnaz: Where did you get the idea to have a boy find a dinosaur egg?
David: In answer to this question, let’s do a multiple-choice quiz. Choose the correct answer from the following:
A. I got it at Walmart. Book ideas were on sale.
B. I was going to have him find an Easter egg, but a dinosaur egg was much more interesting.
C. I saw a boy walking his T. rex on the street one day, and I thought, hey, I could do a book about that!
D. It was originally going to be a girl finding the egg, but I thought, “Wait, I’m a boy,” so I did it that way.
E. I was basically sitting around trying to think up good story ideas.
If you answered “E,” you are correct! I know it’s kind of boring and disappointing compared to the others, but it’s true.
Delnaz: How long did it take you to complete this book?
David: Well, if you’re counting from the first germ of the idea to the final book―and I know it’s a bit shocking and I know I’m seriously dating myself by saying this―it was over 20 years! But I kind of have an excuse, because it was originally written as a screenplay (I used to be a screenwriter type). I shopped it around Hollywood, and even almost got a movie deal at one point, but not quite. So I decided to try it as a book, and that part of it took “only” about 8 years. But that was because I kept putting it aside, and didn’t get serious about finishing it until the last 3 years or so. So there’s your answer: 20 years, 8 years, and 3 years.
Delnaz: What was the hardest part about writing this book?
David: The hardest part was turning it from a screenplay into a book! In the screenplay, there were all kinds of scenes with just the other characters―Martin’s mom and dad, Ben Fairfield, the sheriff. Which is fine in a movie, but in a book, the rule is you have to tell the whole story from one character’s point of view. So I had to figure out how to do it all through Martin’s eyes. And, in spite of all my teeth-gnashing, I have to admit it works better that way!
Delnaz: What is your favorite scene and why?
David: You might be surprised by this, but it’s a scene that has nothing to do with Rufus. It’s when Audrey follows Martin and they go to his house and they first become friends. For some reason I got a little choked up writing that―probably because there’s just something special about that time when you first realize you like somebody and you can see yourself hanging out together. Especially if, like Martin, you’ve never really had a friend! So there, I said it: I’m a secret softie.
Delnaz: Who in this book do you relate to most?
David: Well, I could say Ben Fairfield, the greedy carnival guy, but then a) you’d probably hate me, and b) I’d be lying. Or I could say Rufus, but then you’d probably think I was slightly soft in the head. So I’ll fess up to what you probably expect: Martin. No, it’s not an autobiography (for one thing, my pet dinosaur was a stegosaurus, not a T. rex), and I didn’t grow up lonely in a small town. But I’ll have to admit a few of his characteristics probably came from yours truly. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which ones.
RAISING RUFUS releases Tuesday, June 9 and is available at:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound
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.
He can be found here: