Interview with Paula Louise Salvador, author of Trygg the Dinosaur

Welcome to the book tour for Trygg the Dinosaur, a fun new middle grade book by Paula Louise Salvador! Today I have an excerpt for you from the book as well as an interview with the author where she tells us more about it. Be sure to follow the tour for more and stay tuned to my blog at Andi’s Middle Grade and Chapter Books for a review later this week! Best of luck entering the giveaway!

Trygg and Alta are two young dinosaurs from opposite sides of the floodplain.

He’s small in size and all alone in the world. He’s looking for some meat to eat.

She’s large and tall, and she hasn’t seen her parents in days. She’s looking for some plants to eat.
Could they really become friends?
This story takes place seventy-six million years ago, but good friendships can last forever.
Not that it is ever easy.
The hardest part is to stay loyal to each other in spite of what the rest of the herd thinks.

Read an excerpt:

His hard work had tired him out, so he sat down in the nest. He was about to fall asleep when he felt the island tremble slightly. It was enough to cause one of the other eggs to slip toward him. He put his mouth around the egg’s pointed end, making sure the sharp tips of his teeth didn’t break through the shell. Then he gently settled it back in the damp ground at his feet. But why was his nest moving like that? 

Using his tail for balance, he eased up and peeked over the top of the nest. A rush of cold air hit him in the face just as cawing broke out in the trees overhead. Flocks of birds darted from branch to branch, making loud warning calls. And the ground started to shake so much that he struggled to stay standing. 

At the edge of the island, a group of animals leapt out of the shallows. At first, he thought that they were like the birds above him, except they looked too big to be able to fly. Besides, they moved by running with their heads stuck out in front of them. Instead of wings, they had long arms and hands with three fingers—and they had claws. 

They were just like him. 

The pack swarmed past. A reddish-brown one at the end skidded to a stop. He towered over the nest, and slobber dribbled from his small pointed teeth. “Hey, little Troödon!” he called out, but when he got no reaction, he shook his head in frustration. “I’m talkin’ to YOU!” he said with a growl. “You see any other Troödons alive in that ring of dirt?” The dinosaur glanced nervously over his shoulder. “You’re gonna have to move fast, kid,” he shouted, then he turned to flee. 
“Mudslide comin’ through!”

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Describe your book in one sentence or fewer than 25 words.

Two orphan dinosaurs hide their forbidden friendship. Confronted with long-clawed bullies and pressured to conform to the group, can they stay loyal?

What was the inspiration behind this book?

Some of my best friends are dinosaurs. Yes, real dinosaurs. (Well, okay, their fossilized bones.) I had the huge privilege of producing a science documentary for television, “DINOSAUR BABIES: THE NORTH AMERICAN STORY”. At the Museum of the Rockies in Montana, we filmed the fossil of a tiny meat-eater still curled up in his egg. (This became Trygg). At the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta, we photographed the fossil of a plant-eater who had been just about to hatch – 76 million years ago. (This became my character Alta). We also filmed Albertosaurs (large tyrannosaurs that lived 10 million years before T. rex made his appearance). The skeletal mount of the Albertosaur was already scary, but then our cameraman wanted all the museum lights turned off so he could use his own spot lights. Then he needed a new battery, so I set off to fetch it, in the dark, with those big teeth and long claws right behind me. I never forgot that guy. But in this fiction book for kids, I made him part of a family (Dad, Mom and a little one), so even Alta the plant-eater would be less frightened than I was in the museum. (As well, scientists really have found fossils of Albertosaur family groups.) If you want to learn more about the real dinosaurs, the video is available for download. Check it out here: 

What was one of your favorite scenes?

I had great fun writing the scene where Alta and Trygg meet. Also, artist John Bindon created a beautiful illustration that captured the personalities of big Alta and small Trygg, and their surprise at bumping into each other.

“Alta set off on her own to the border of the plain. Her back foot dragged to the side, but she made good progress until she arrived at the ridge that overlooked the lake. The slope was very steep. She would never be able to keep her balance with only three good feet. She thought about giving up and heading back to the herd, but then a breeze reached her from the water below, bringing with it the scent of fresh plants that she’d certainly never tasted in her whole life. She had to figure out some way to get there. She leaned over the cliff to search for a path, but suddenly the sandy edge gave way beneath her. She fell on her haunches into the wet, slippery clay of the underlying bank. It felt wonderful. Alta giggled, lifted her feet in the air, and slid all the way to the bottom. She splash-landed in the marshy border of the lake. That was the most fun she’d ever had! Still laughing, she stuck her head right into the water.” –––––––––––––––––––––

“The little Troödon needed something bigger to eat. He followed the shore until he smelled frogs. Being careful, he got his footing in the marsh, then crouched down. Just beneath him, a fat, orange frog with black spots was crawling onto a water plant. He pounced—and sunk his teeth into his first catch of the day. Now he just needed to find a quiet spot to enjoy it.

Alta spied him right away. How could she miss a young Troödon strutting along with a frog dangling from his jaws and paying no attention to what was around him? If she had to, she could easily give the skinny little thing a good shove. His claws looked vicious, but she still didn’t think he was much of a danger to her. So when he reached her stand of flowers, she waited for him to swallow his frog, then she poked her head through the leaves and honked at him, just for fun.”

What is the best writing advice you ever received?

“That part is awful, Paula. Do it over.” (From an award winning author and superb editor who, thankfully, is a great old friend. And yes, I did that part over.)

What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?

I love eating squid! That’s because my husband makes the best paella with squid ever. It’s based on his Spanish grandmother’s recipe, by way of his French mother, and on to me, the little girl from a small town whose house was in the middle of a potato field on the shores of Lake Erie. We never had squid to eat there. Maybe that’s why I’ve given Trygg the Troödon all those snails and clams and frogs to eat. And for sure, Alta’s slide down the cliff of clay was inspired by one of my best adventures when I was young.

On what are you currently working?

The French version of the book, “Trygg le dinosaure”, is almost done. Lots of work for the translator. But he’s well qualified, with his French nationality, as well as his career as an elementary level teacher and a couple of Masters Degrees. (He’s also my hubby who cooks paella.)

How do you make yourself stand out in this genre?

The illustrations for TRYGG THE DINOSAUR are exquisite. Artist John Bindon has drawn lots of dinosaurs in his career, but the character that he’s given to these animals makes them spring to life. There is lots of scientific data behind the recreation of the dinosaurs, but it’s their smiles, and frowns, and even their scowls that touch middle grade readers’ hearts. Kids actually gasp when they get their first look at John’s drawings. It’s Trygg who stands out on the book cover.

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 Masters in French Literature from l’Université de Provence, France and a Bachelor of Arts (including Children’s Literature) from McGill University, Canada.






Paula Louise Salvador will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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