The Dinosaur’s Daughter

India with fossil turtle she excavated in 1985Read the first chapter of The Dinosaur’s Daughter, my memoir about growing up with an allosaurus who now rules the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The manuscript is complete and 77,000 words. 

The book will appeal worldwide to dinosaur nerds, impertinent teenagers, and readers of women’s memoirs of transformation set in unusual workplaces, including Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren, and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, by Caitlyn Doughty.

See below for the book summary, promotional plans, author qualifications, and illustrations.

BOOK SUMMARY

India with pick age 12

The docents at the museum weren’t telling my story right, so my pen revisited a runty 12-year old who hunted alone for dinosaur bones on a friend’s Colorado ranch amid the smell of cow pies and windblown junipers. A ranch woman who made canes out of bull penises mentored me in fossil hunting. I found one bone, then another, excavating joy and confidence far from my inept parents and any scientists. My older sister sometimes helped me dig. Before I had my driver’s license I had dug up a pile of dinosaur bones, identified them as a huge meat-eating allosaurus, and stuck them under my bed. I didn’t think I’d found anything important, since girls didn’t find that sort of thing. Then, my family fell apart and my mother demanded I get rid of the dinosaur who anchored my life. I had named her Alice.

I dropped off a few bones at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science–a day in 1982 that changed everything. They wanted my bones; I wanted a job and my dinosaur on display. So I excavated the allosaurus for two summers with their drunk paleontologist who was both mentor and lazy nemesis. His teenage son, hard-working and talented with both bones and boners, became my excavation partner, good friend, and brief lover. But, like an overloaded miner’s donkey, I had baggage. I lived mostly alone during high school. While my mother threatened suicide I searched for intimacy and found only drunken sex and self-loathing. I wanted to be taken seriously as a scientist but was treated as a paleo pinup girl and put in People magazine.

A near-fatal car wreck, in a moment of despair about the museum’s abandonment of my beloved excavation and my own drunken party victimization, made me realize I had to steer my own life. I swore off paleontology, then a male-ruled world that focused on tooth descriptions and finding new species, like stamp collecting. But a mediocre first year at Dartmouth College made me demand one last dose of paleo, my joy drug of choice, but I’d do it my way. I managed my own expedition to the old excavation and described an ecosystem of rare Jurassic fossils now at Harvard. I then flew into a new life with a Peace Corps internship in Africa. Meanwhile the nearly-bankrupt museum dumped Alice’s bones in a closet–a devastating end. But nine years later I cut the ribbon on the museum’s new paleontology hall where Alice rules!

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

PROMOTIONAL PLANS

India Wood, 2011

 This story has a growing national media platform. Media coverage began in 1984 with an article in People magazine and most recently was featured in a 2016 one-hour NPR podcast. The Denver Allosaurus’s Facebook page, which I write, has a few thousand organic likes. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS), which attracts 1,700,000 visitors annually, has assisted with the book’s development and will be a promotional partner. My allosaurus is judged one of the “coolest” and “most dynamic” dinosaur exhibits worldwide.

I will promote the book in the following ways:

  • Give author talks at natural history museums and dinosaur sites worldwide, starting with a book launch at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I am an accomplished speaker after 13 years as a trade show keynote presenter.
  • Line up promotional blurbs from paleontologists including friend Kirk Johnson, Smithsonian curator and a host of NOVA.
  • Post about the book on social media related to being true to one’s self (particularly in middle age), strange events that changed lives, getting outside, and dinosaurs. Run contests for art and photography related to the above.
  • Continue promoting the allosaurus and the book on my Facebook pages: https://www.facebook.com/denverallosaurus/ and https://www.facebook.com/indiawood4.
  • Continue using this website, which I built using WordPress, to promote the book.
  • Maintain an engaging Goodreads page and facilitate reviews on Amazon.

I have diverse marketing skills built upon an MBA from MIT. I have used social media posts, emails, and collaborative marketing with retailers and organizations to attract thousands of respondents to national artist surveys. Thirteen years as a keynote presenter and panelist at trade shows have made me an engaging public speaker.

 

AUTHOR QUALIFICATIONS

  • Past member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
  • English Literature B.A., Dartmouth College, 1988
  • MBA, MIT Sloan, 1996
  • Author of 12 publications on creative business management, 2002-2017
  • Completed four Denver Lighthouse Writers creative writing workshops in 2014-2016.
  • Laura Pritchett, recipient of the PEN USA Award for Fiction, has content edited two revisions of this manuscript.

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.