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Here are some presentations I am developing for for various groups, including schools, libararies, writers, art and history museums, pre-teen and teen boys and pre-teen and teen girls.
Prehistory in Art and Literature
(for schools, libraries, art and/or natural history museums)
Paleontology falls under the category of science, yet art and literature have been powerful influences on the public perception of prehistoric creatures such as sabercats and dinosaurs. The human fascination with images and love of narrative has combined with science to generate ever changing ideas about life in the past. Fiction by practicing paleontologists adds new levels of accuracy to fictional reconstructions; for example Robert Bakker's novel Raptor Red, and Bjorn Kurtin's Dance of the Tiger. Other authors who are not professional researchers have expanded prehistoric possibilities and played with new ideas. These include Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear, and sequels, Kenneth Oppel's Darkwing, as well as my own Ratha's Creature and the rest of the Named series.
Art has given flesh back to the bones of ancient creatures, providing an evolving conception of their structure and behavior. Examples include the first sculptural reconstruction of Iguanodon, early models for stop-motion animation,Charles R. Knight's paintings of active and agile dinosaurs, Mark Hallet's color-splashed sauropods, and Mauricio Anton's meticulous and beautiful reconstructions of ancient big cats. Anton's illustrations helped inspire my new novel, Ratha's Courage, the most recent one in the Named series.
Springboarding the Imagination: History and prehistory as a springboard for creating characters and stories in science fiction and fantasy.
(For schools and writer's groups)
The ancient and recent past contains millions of events and ideas for stories. Launching fiction from past times is a process I call “springboarding” and it has yielded unique and fascinating tales, including The Named or Ratha series of novels (20-25 mya on North America's Pacific coast), The Jaguar Princess (Pre-European Aztec Mexico circa 1400-1500 AD), and numerous short stories, set in times and places such as the early exploration of Tahiti, dam-building in the western US in the 1930s, and the battle that sank the German warship Bismarck in the 1940s. How to research history, use historical details, images and craft your creation.
(For pre-teen and teen girls)
Go beach exploring and tide-pooling with Ratha's daughter Thistle-chaser, (from the novel Ratha and Thistle-chaser). What sort of creatures would have lived on a prehistoric North American Pacific beach? Thistle knows them all! Web-footed sea ponies, proto-seals, walruses, snaky whales, and beautiful exotic dancing water-snails that lived in ancient tide pools. What are you waiting for? The tide is going out.
Major Miocene Monsters
(For pre-teen and teen boys). The Big Guys of Ratha's world. Get ready to rumble with Grunt and Belch, the indricotheres (giant “stretched” rhinoceroses from Ratha's Courage) and their roaring rhino cousins. Meet mammoths and mastodons, the ponderous pachyderms that the Named call “face-tails”. Humongous clawed creatures such as the giant ground sloth, and. chalicotheres. Huge predators from both the cat and the dog families; the super sabercat Barburofelis and the huge hunting hyenas.