The Dinosaur’s Daughter

India with fossil turtle she excavated in 1985

Read the first chapter of The Dinosaur’s Daughter .

The Dinosaur’s Daughter is the memoir of a bullheaded and unqualified young woman who sets out to dig up a dinosaur on a remote Colorado ranch and in the process discovers herself. India’s desert adventure encompasses scientific joy, romance, a sexist boss, and wise cowhands. The manuscript is complete and 79,000 words. 

India Wood is the youngest person ever to find and dig up a dinosaur on her own. Her allosaurus now rules the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS), visited by 1.7 million people per year. 

Media coverage of her allosaurus story includes an article in People magazine and a one hour public radio podcast. India writes the allosaurus’s Facebook page, which has attracted a few thousand likes.

India’s qualifications include a BA in English literature from Dartmouth College, four multi-month creative writing workshops, authorship of 10 national business publications, and writing coaching from PEN award recipient Laura Pritchett.

BOOK SUMMARY

India with pick age 12

India Wood looks back from middle age to her teenage years of adventure digging up a dinosaur, wondering how she got there, then and now. At age 12 she discovers an allosaurus bone by herself on a friend’s Colorado ranch. Her mentor is a rock-hunting cowgirl who makes canes out of bull penises. India’s unqualified hammer and old screwdriver probe ever deeper into the monastic hill as she digs for the joy and confidence it gives her, and to get away from her bumbling parents. Her world-weary older sister is her occasional sidekick. Imagining herself as Charles Darwin, India excavates 18 allosaurus bones but keeps them in her bedroom because she thinks, “I’m a girl. I can’t have found anything important.” Then, as her family falls apart, her mother insists the dinosaur India is addicted to (and has named Alice) must go.

India, now 16, drops off a few bones at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science–a day that changes everything. They want a carnivore to display and she needs Alice’s steadying claws. She excavates the allosaurus for two summers with their drunk paleontologist who becomes both mentor and nemesis. His teenage son, talented with both bones and boners, becomes her ally and brief lover. India just wants to dig up her dinosaur but she has to battle her own impatience, alcoholism, and righteousness; desert loneliness; stupid bosses; sexism; hordes of insects; a flood; the museum’s financial straits; and the PR pimps who put her story in People magazine.

A near-fatal car wreck, in a moment of despair about love and the museum’s closing of the dinosaur excavation, makes her realize she’s got to steer her own life where she wants to go. Now age 19, she manages her own final expedition to the site and finds scientifically-important fossils (now at Harvard), gaining the confidence to start her next career in Africa. Meanwhile the nearly-bankrupt museum dumps Alice’s bones in a closet–this wasn’t the ending she sought. Finally, nine years later, the revitalized museum displays Alice with India’s name on the plaque. The allosaurus is judged one of the “coolest” and “most dynamic” dinosaur exhibits worldwide.

Looking back at her years with Alice, India realizes personal evolution is good, from paleontologist to business woman in Africa, mother, entrepreneur, writer, and whatever comes next, as long as that life holds purpose, love, curious joy, and wild places.

India's allosaurus at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, 1995

PROMOTIONAL PLANS

India Wood, 2011

India will promote the book on social media related to dinosaurs, using contests and prize drawings. She has extensive experience with social media promotion, using it in her previous work to attract 15,000 respondents to a fiber artist survey.

India will give talks at natural history museums worldwide. She has contacts at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (1,700,000 visitors annually) and the Smithsonian (7,000,000 visitors). Her talks at museums, schools, and organizations will address current topics:

  • Experiential learning
  • Nature deficit disorder
  • Young adults finding their own path
  • Women building lives of meaning and joy

ILLUSTRATIONS

The manuscript includes 88 photos and illustrations of the ranch, main characters, dinosaur bones, and vintage journal sketches. Many of the photographs are professional quality and were taken by India’s parents, Myron Wood and Nancy Wood. India has the photographic rights or can easily obtain them. Photographs are available as negatives or vintage prints.