Have you ever seen a title or read a blurb and found yourself wanting to jump up and down in excitement? I had one of these moments when I stumbled on the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. If you could imagine one Kitty Gulick clutching a copy of His Majesty’s Dragon and jumping up and down, drawing all sorts of attention to herself. Yes, this was a thing.
Allow me a moment to guide you into my headspace. I was one of those kids growing up, you know, the one who had the inflatable toy dinosaurs en lieu of Barbie and the worth of those dinosaurs was far greater than My Little Pony or even Fashion Star Fillies.
As a new adult and throughout my adult life, I’ve still had a fascination and love of dinosaurs. I devoured the Jurassic Park and the Lost World. I was also one of those people who bawled during that one scene in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom when the volcano erupted.
Why is all that important? Should I even hint at my reaction when I first saw the title and graphic for Dinos of the Old West? Let’s just say that had I stumbled on Dinos of the Old West by Jonathon Mast and Nathaniel J Peters in a book store, I would have been jumping up and down in excitement.
The other thing I would have been thinking after my insane display of… excitement? exuberance? entertained joy? would have to be the following. OMG! Please be good. You have to be good. Dinosaurs! Cowboys… it has to be good! Please be good!
And that was something that ran through my head while out exploring Glacier National Park last week while reading the last few episodes and re-reading my way through Dinos. Often I get so excited over a concept or a blurb that I’m not able to be as objective as I want or should be when writing a review.
Because of the concept, there was the opportunity for this work to go horribly campy, horribly wrong and in a way that I can’t even begin to explain after seeing the third Jurassic Park Movie. I’m not sure if you can recall the bad effects and unexpected horrible story telling featuring some of our favorite actors, actresses and characters.
I understand that it wasn’t intended to be campy, it just happened and when it came to Dinos of Old West there was the potential for an amazing idea to go horribly… horribly wrong.
The kind of horribly wrong that almost made reading through the later episodes something I dreaded because in the back of my head I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. It couldn’t really be this good?
The best news I have for you after completing my second read through is that my excitement didn’t wane. I was just as enthralled about the idea of dinosaurs and cowboys coming head to head at the end of the second read through as I was with the first.
To say that Mast and Peters open this work perfectly with a lines worthy of a Sergio Corbucci classic that in some ways took me back to days watching movies like Minnesota Clay (1964), Django (1966) and the Great Silence (1968). The only difference in my imagination, the presence of dinosaurs. I don’t know if any of my readers remember or have seen these amazing movies, but I can’t help but hear Franco Nero in my head as Sheriff Darrow and Remo De Angelis as Barnes.
While the authors may imagine other amazing representations of their characters, these ones just seem to ring true in my head.
Even better, there is a sense of excitement, of almost being dropped off a plot cliff and falling forever as the episodes pick up.
With ‘tops, raptors, brontos and gallimimus to spare, I can’t help but wonder if I’ve actually fallen into an alternate universe where dinosaurs still half ruled the world.
Having found myself immersed in a world where the characters breath, walk and talk like you would imagine, I can tell you that I’ve laughed, cried and just can’t stop smiling while reading. Even if I’m still angry about that thing in the fourth episode that I don’t want to spoil.
You know what I’m talking about gents. The fourth episode. If Mast and Peters could see me right now, they’d recognize the glare. I’ve had threats over things happening to Boscoe. But alas, it’s all part of amazing story telling. While I hate what happened (and I’ll make you read to find out), it was well done and drew me further into the story.
Sometimes when you have two authors working together in their craft, you don’t find yourself pulled in as deep as you can be because their voices don’t blend well together. In this case, I’m pleased to tell you that they do, and they do it amazingly.
Without giving away any more hints or spoilers, what can I tell you about Dinos of the Old West that would make a reader want to dig in? Here they are, straight to the point and without giving any spoilers (other than my hint above about episode four where our authors made me cry!!):
Each episode of Dinos of the Old West is well paced and leaves you wanting more.
The story is succinctly told, without fluff or anything extraneous that I would have run a marker through as a developmental editor. Not once have I ever thought: Well, we didn’t need to know that…
Dinos of the Old West can be enjoyed in a few minutes with each episode being posted or in a few hours as this tale is definitely binge worthy.
After reading, you will want to ride a velociraptor, and I don’t mean in the way we herd emu!
Finally, this tale is worth every token spent on it and deserves every thumbs up, follow and favorite token you can give it. It was definitely earned in this moment that I have to share:
Sadly you won’t find out how such an incredibly feet is accomplished until Episode 18: How to Milk a T-Re, but at least we find out.
And now for some amazing news! There are currently twenty-six episodes of Dinos of the Old West waiting for you and they’re all episodes I wouldn’t ever miss.
Nate: First, thank you for the opportunity to share our thoughts. Very kind of you and very neat for me.
On to the questions.
Kitty: What is your favorite book?
Nate: Seriously? Not books? *sigh* The Little Prince. There. Narrowed it down to one book. It felt magical reading it as a kid. It still feels magical reading it as an adult. There’s something wholesome, child-like and ethereal about it all. A reminder to keep your imagination and wonder.
Jon: Nate’s right. Picking a favorite book’s like picking a favorite leg. Um… I’m currently reading Mishap’s Heroes, a series of fantasy adventures where every member of the party is… unique. Not in the typical epic fantasy way, either. I don’t want to spoil anything, but Kendra Merritt’s writing and creativity really sparkle. Check that series out if you like fantasy.
Kitty: Who is your favorite author?
Nate: Again, seriously? Default is generally J.R.R. Tolkien but that almost feels like a cop-out. Everyone likes Tolkien.
Jon: There are a number of authors I pick up anytime I see their work. Brenda Cooper does amazing hard science fiction. I’ve started picking up the Spenser novels by Robert B. Parker. C. S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower books are perfect high adventure. Now I’m just listing things I like… arg! Fine. I’ll go with Brent Weeks as my favorite. He hasn’t steered me wrong yet!
Kitty: Have either influenced your writing style?
Nate: Most assuredly. I cannot specifically say how, only that they have.
Jon: I’ve found that I analyze writing far more than I ever did growing up. I’ve come to Mishap’s Heroes recently enough I can say confidently it’s not affected my writing. I do find I approach adventure and describing action scenes in a way that certainly approaches C. S. Forester’s, though when it comes to sword fights in my fantasy writing, I think Robert Jordan has directly influenced me far more! …now I feel like I’m name dropping!
Kitty: What inspired you to write about dinosaurs?
Nate: So, there was this shared Facebook posts with pictures of cowboys on raptors and stagecoaches hooked up to stegosauruses. I made a short comment in that thread, like a little story. A little further in the thread I said “Oh man, I would totally write more stories like this.” Jonathan came along and was like, “Really? How serious are you about that. Because we can make this happen.” I had already been following his start as an author and we’ve enjoyed storytelling together. I figured, why not? Let’s give it ago – and all because of some silly pictures on facebook.
Jon: You can find the original artist, Shaun Keenan, and his art here: http://www.shaunkeenan.com/ Do yourself a favor and look this guy up; he’s incredibly talented! And it’s pretty much what Nate said. We both saw those images and went, “There are so many stories here.” We tossed around a bunch of ideas.
Kitty: If you could tell your younger self anything about writing or becoming an author, what would it be?
Nate: All those stories you have in your head – write them down or record them for future reference. Save yourself some trouble. Doesn’t make them good. But it gets them out for refinement.
Jon: You need to work on it. You don’t have this writing thing mastered yet, but you’ve got the talent to write. Keep going. Honestly, that’s what I’d tell just about anyone who wants to be an author: it’s work, but it’s worth it. I hated hearing that earlier in my journey. I thought my writing was good! And it was, but it still needed work. And I still need to grow!
How has working with a co-author changed or impacted your writing process?
Nate: This is my first foray into the official writing world. I’ve appreciated the guidance. We are two very different authors though. That’s not a bad thing but it does mean putting ideas together in a collaborative manner. Helps that Jonathan and I were already good friends well before this venture and I’m fairly certain we are still very good friends in the middle of the process.
Jon: I’ve never really worked with another writer. We broke down the first “Season” of the story and divided up by individual story arcs. Though at this point, I think it’s time for a confession: We had started out doing every-other story arc, but at this point it’s pretty much all Nate. He’s done a FANTASTIC job developing characters. I’m still around making suggestions here or there, but this is his show, and he deserves the credit!
Kitty: Why a serial vs other forms of publication?
Nate: Nothing amazing here. My friend suggested it. I said, ‘Sure’.
Jon: We had originally set out to do a short story collection that simply explored this amazing world of Dinos of the Old West. That evolved into something more like a television season, and then Vella got announced. I talked to Nate, and we both thought we’d give it a try!
Kitty: If you could tell your readers anything about Dinos of the Old west, what would it be?
Nate: I would love to tell you all of the random scenarios and scenes that randomly come to mind. Some have been written. Some are not yet written. Some might have to be saved for one-off stories that are not part of a larger plot. If a reader has a story they would like to see, share the ideas!
Jon: It’s been a blast to mash up some genres, and I hope that fun comes through!
Kitty: If you could tell readers anything about yourself, what would it be?
Nate: I prefer oral story telling. It might be because I’m lazy or because I like coming up with nonsense off the cuff. I make up stories almost every night for my two older boys. My favorite ones are about a carrot-addicted rabbit named Roopaloop.
Jon: I often say I have an insanity of children, and I do. We’ve got four kids, and they keep me on my toes. They also help me be so much more creative! If you enjoy Dinos of the Old West, check out my other writing. Yep, I’m ending on an ad, I guess. You can find a handy list of what I’ve done here: https://jonathonmastauthor.com/published-works/
Someday, I will have the courage to ask the amazing authors I’ve reviewed to do actual podcast like interviews. Maybe… someday. Or maybe something on TikTok.
Nate can be found on FaceBook.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this review and the interview that followed. I promise that there will be a news letter coming in the near future for those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram. There’s that stigma about social media that still gets to some of us, me included!
This week, in addition to our review of Dinos, there have been two new episodes of my vellas posted. A celebratory Episode 14 of The Explorers (We’ve made that top favs list and stayed there for the month. I’m celebrating by sharing the love!), and Episode 12: Him of Exile. Stay tuned to the blog and to my Instagram account for an exciting announcement later this month and also for a Vella Scavenger Hunt hosted by the Kindle Vella Horror Author’s group. I’m so excited!
This will be my second foray into the magical and I’m excited for this one because there are dragons! Almost as good as dinosaurs but not quite.
Until next time, my wonderful bean sprouts, have amazing and exciting adventures. Just… not as exciting as X’s.