So, I helped write Jurassic World’s official cookbook.

“Hold on to your butts.” I’ve been busy.

In and around the various other writing projects with which I’ve been involved over the past 18 months or so is this little slice of fun. Back in the spring of 2020, I was contacted by one of my editors at Insight Editions, with whom I’ve worked on — among other things — a handful of Star Trek projects over the past several years. Still, I was surprised when they came calling about something that wasn’t Star Trek.

Hey. Don’t look at me like that. Star Trek and I agreed I could see other franchises every so often.

Anyway, one of my awesome editors at Insight reached out to me waaaaaaaay back in March 2020 (yes, that March 2020, when the entire world was just being sent home to sit in its room and think about what it did), asking if I’d be interested in tackling this project with them.

Jurassic World: The Official Cookbook
Written by Dayton Ward – Recipes by Elena Craig

Cookbooks tying into various film and TV properties are pretty hot, right now, and Insight Editions has created several of them in recent years. According to my aforementioned editor back in March 2020, this book was envisioned as an “in-universe” souvenir; something you might find in a gift shop at the “actual” theme park as depicted in the 2015 film Jurassic World.

To that end, they hired Elena Craig, veteran recipe developer and food stylist who’s been doing her thing for about as long as I’ve been doing my thing. She’s already performed similar feats for Insight’s cookbooks devoted to Deadpool and Gilmore Girls. For this one she went all-out, creating over 50 recipes for dishes, snacks, cocktails, and other goodies designed to evoke the sort of cuisine to be found by visitors to the park.

You know, when the guests aren’t being chased and eaten by the local wildlife and stuff.

Anyway, all of the recipes are awesome. It was tremendous fun working with her and the crew at Insight to pull this book together. For me, it was obviously something of a departure from the writing I’m used to doing…but not completely out of my wheelhouse, either. According to my esteemed editor who approached me about the project, they were looking for “an author who can write in a strong in-world voice,” and my previous work on the Vulcan and Klingon travel guides had apparently gone a long way toward demonstrating I could pull off that sort of thing.

For this project, I was asked to provide what they described as “flavor text.” Basically, everything that wasn’t going to be a recipe or other information related to the preparation of the tasty dishes to be offered within the book’s pages. To that end, I was given a tremendous amount of latitude to mine the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World mythos. This evolved into writing about the theme park’s various areas and activities, excerpts from “field guides” about the different dinosaurs, and even bits of history about the Isla Nublar and the surrounding region as well as the backstory of John Hammond and his dream of creating the original Jurassic Park which eventually leads to the development of Jurassic World.

It didn’t hurt that I was a fan of the films, so it wasn’t as though I was going in cold. In addition to the materials I was given about the various dinosaurs depicted or referenced in the five movies (and even a bit of info from next year’s Jurassic World: Dominion), I ended up digging into the films themselves as well as the Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous animated series (albeit a great deal less of that than the movies, as it actually premiered after I’d already completed most of my portions of the book). I even managed a few callbacks to Michael Crichton’s original Jurassic Park novel, which I hadn’t read since before the first movie came out in 1993. You’ll have to go hunting for those references on your own, as I’m offering no spoilers here.

Most of the writing was done during the summer of 2020, but COVID played havoc with editorial and production schedules, mostly in the form of Jurassic World: Dominion‘s theatrical release being pushed back an entire year. Obviously the intention was always to position the book to take advantage of the film’s hype and marketing push, and so here we are.

Jurassic World: The Official Cookbook will be published by Insight Editions on April 19, 2022. Given that gift shops on Isla Nublar are…uh…”undergoing renovations,” it’s been decided the book will be made available through brick-n-mortar and online booksellers rather than simply remaining a “park exclusive.” I had a lot of fun working on this one and trust me when I tell you Elena’s recipes will send you into a cooking fit.

“Lunch finds a way.”

Lay it on me.

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