The Dinosaur’s Daughter

Alice and I at the DMNS
Photo by Essdras Suarez © Denver Public Library

The Dinosaur’s Daughter is my 1980s memoir as an unparented Colorado teenager with a Jurassic meat-eating dinosaur in my bedroom. The fossilized bones are both a possible museum display and ticket to the profession of paleontology, but I wanted family and financial stability, too.

Improbably, I had discovered the allosaurus when I was 12 years old while hiking solo along the sagebrush-studded mesas of a family friend’s Colorado ranch. Fleeing my destroyed family, I dug fossil bones out of a cliff with the occasional help of an ax-wielding cowgirl and my sensible sister and stashed the dinosaur in my bedroom. I named her Alice.

Then my mother, a bipolar writer I wanted to emulate professionally but could not follow, wanted the dinosaur gone. So, I cajoled the Denver Museum of Nature and Science into hiring me at age 16 to help excavate the rest of the allosaurus alongside their drunk of a paleontologist and his capable teenage son. But, within a few years the then-penniless museum abandoned Alice in a dusty closet. Unable to leave behind my joy-drug of fossils, I led my own paleontological expedition as a college freshman and wrote a scientific paper. I then chose a different path, but eventually no one can outrun one’s literary mother, or an allosaurus.

I am currently seeking an agent for this complete 96,000-word memoir.