Writing the novel
What happened was, I had done a screenplay about a young graduate student who genetically engineered a single dinosaur from fossil remains. And the screenplay didn't work out. It was too fantastic an event to be kept secret, which was what happened in that story.
And I couldn't really... The problem always with these creatures is that once you have them, then what do you do with them? I mean, what is the story after they exist? It wasn't very satisfactory in that way, and I gave it up.
The other thing was, at that time, that I really had trouble believing that this might ever happen. Of course, it's a fantasy, but I had trouble for myself, believing that it might be true. And in the next few years there was more and more research that suggested that it wasn't so unlikely. And I began to take it in that way more seriously.
The other thing that happened was, I began to feel that if I was going to do this story, I'd better do it soon. I was then in my middle 40s, and it was starting to seem like an inherently juvenile fantasy story, no matter how you cut it, which, I think it still has those aspects, which are very pleasant.
So I finally sat down and really tried to do it, and do it as a book. The solution, which at the time I had found very unsatisfactory was to make it a theme park. And the reason why the dinosaurs were set in a theme park was just a logical problem. Although I, by then, believed that it was possible to genetically engineer these creatures so that eventually it would be possible I couldn't see who would pay for it. Who's gonna... Because it's not a cure for cancer. You know, it's very entertaining, and the only thing I could think of was that it would be some form of entertainment.
In terms of the actual writing, it occurred around the time my daughter was born and then I bought a lot of stuffed toys, and they were all dinosaurs because that was what was available at that time. My wife didn't like it. She had a colour scheme for the nursery and I was disrupting that. There were all these large, brightly coloured animals. So we had a kind of agreement that I wouldn't buy any more but then I bought some more. It was clearly obsessional.
I had to begin to wonder, at some point, what it was about dinosaurs that fascinated me so much or why I thought that they were so tied to childhood. And some of those concerns found their way into the book.
Of course, the characters have some relationship to me. Stendhal said that fiction is disguised autobiography. Or something to that effect, and I think it is. But in general, I prefer to take what is already true, if I can. I don't know how you would get the reality without taking the reality. So, in Jurassic Park, I think it's true that all the characters are based even loosely on real people.
Hammond, I suppose, is the least based on anybody. And certainly he has that quality in the novel anyway which is a certain unscrupulousness. And he was, in my conception, a much darker character than what Steven finally made. I really wanted to do the dark side of Walt Disney. And Steven is, I guess, more forgiving.
It seems to me that we live in a society in which technology is continuously presented as wonderful. We were less exposed to the negative aspects of technology which were inevitably there. One of my interests is to provide that kind of balance to these notions that cell phones and faxes are all wonderful and great. Isn't it fabulous that we all have computers? Well, yes and no is my response.
I was particularly interested in that, in working on Jurassic Park that aspect of what are the negative parts. Because in talking with the people who were doing this kind of research what I was hearing was that the most responsible of them were deciding not to proceed down certain lines of inquiry which is really a new phase in science. Traditionally in science what the scientists themselves have said is: "I might as well do it, because if I don't, someone else will. It is going to happen inevitably." I think there's recognition now, that it's no so inevitable and it's quite conceivable that if I don't do this research neither will anyone else. It's simply too dangerous.
Ordinarily, my working method is to do years of research. In the first book, it was probably about 10 years from start to finish of which maybe three years were really writing and the other period of time was accumulating. Of course, I wasn't only doing that during that time. But, I allowed myself a very long gestation period in that sense.
Novel became movie
I actually thought it would be possible to do a good movie but I thought it would be dauntingly expensive. I couldn't have any confidence in the late 1980s when I was doing this, that anyone would decide that dinosaurs were sufficiently interesting to spend a lot of money on them.
Turned out, someone did.