Anyone who has ever hung around my blog and chain knows I’m a cryptid fanatic. Just check out Swamp Monster Massacre if you don’t believe me. Or my upcoming book, The Montauk Monster. Or the one after that, Hell Hole. I recently had my fortune read by a traveling gypsy, and for the price of one silver coin, a lock of my hair and two drops of blood, she said I was once the leader of a clan of Bigfoots and that one day I would return to the wild. That explains everything.
I was an enormous fan of Lyle Blackburn’s debut book, The Beast of Boggy Creek. Here was a man I could tell loved Sasquatch as much as me. His book was one of the best researched and well written in the vast cryptid library (no offense to Loren Coleman, who is the king of the field).
When I heard Blackburn’s follow up book would be about the Lizard Man of Bishopville, South Carolina, I chomped at the bit to get my hands on it. I snatched up a copy when it came out in October, but with writing deadlines, I had to wait until now to read it – or to put it more accurately, plow through it.
I have a confession to make. With all my fascination with monsters and beasties, and having half my family live in South Carolina, I’d actually never heard of the Lizard Man. I intentionally avoided looking anything up before reading the book. I trusted Lyle to give me all I’d need, and I was right.
Back in 1988, when hair metal was in full swing and I was playing cards in the cafeteria more than going to classes in college, there was a series of encounters with a large creature that walked on two legs, attacked cars and people and generally scared the bejeesus out of an entire town. That town was Bishopville, SC, which, like the ol’ beast of Boggy Creek, was home to the Scape Ore Swamp, prime living quarters for the strange beast.
Descriptions of the cryptid varied, and in truth, after reading the book, it didn’t seem to be at all like an actual Lizard Man. I get the feeling that what folks were seeing was more in line with a Bigfoot, and I feel Blackburn leans in the same direction. No matter what it was, the town was gripped with Lizard Man fever for a long, hot summer.
Blackburn went down to Bishopville and interviewed the man who had been sheriff at the time, as well as some of the people who had come in contact with the unknown. The man does his homework. He even explored stories of reptiles and lizard men in other areas, pop culture and movies. In fact, he mentioned a few I haven’t seen and will seek out when I go to Horrorhound in Cincinnati next week.
I totally dug Lizard Man and it’s now sitting proudly on my special shelf of prized cryptid and ghost books. I don’t want to spill the beans on the whole book, so I highly suggest you pick up a copy. I did get the feeling that with the flap being so brief and reports not jiving with one another, Blackburn had to pad the book a little to give it some weight. No matter. The padding was just as good as the underpinnings of the story itself.
Let me finish with a personal request for Lyle. Come on up to New York and knock on my door. There’s a place in Orange County I can take you to that will give you enough fodder for three books. I’ll do the driving and buy the first round. Hell, I’ll even break out my cowboy hat.
Saturday morning, an hour or so before I start ticking things off my weekend chore list. Since my father passed away, I make it a point to work on my mother’s house every week cleaning things out, doing repairs, and now, raking never ending piles of leaves. Then it’s on to do the shopping, getting the oil changed in the old Jeep and working on my house. Somewhere in there I hope to get some work in on my new book, the sequel to Sinister Entity.
I’ve written about my wife and her health struggles over the past two years. Thankfully, we’ve just about conquered the hanta-like virus that she caught, but discovered she also has lupus. It flared up pretty bad this fall, so she’s back on radiation to beat it back. Looks like she’ll stay on it until the end of the year. Add to that my youngest daughter who’s had mono since September and I’m basically living in a hospital ward. Thank God my oldest daughter is like her dad and can run around with me getting everything done.
I’m very fortunate to have a passion like writing in my life to help keep me sane when things have gone haywire. And I’m very grateful for everyone who has come along with me on this crazy ass journey. 2014 will be a better year. I’ll have 3 novels out next year and plan to attend a number of cons to mix and mingle with my peeps.
One of the bright spots of 2013 has been the success of my twisted little Bigfoot novella, Swamp Monster Massacre. The ebook continues to gain new fans, and I recently learned that the audiobook is a bestseller on The Audio Bookshop. It’s a pretty big honor to be listed beside great writers like Ron Malfi and Tim Lebbon. I love the narration – a dry, good old southern boy, just like the main character, Rooster Murphy. 25% of all royalties from the book will go to the Lupus Foundation of America, so you’ll not only get a fun audiobook, but you’ll also support a great cause to fight a terrible disease.
Try it, you’ll like it. Trust me. I’m not just a horror writer, I’m also the president of the horror nerds society. ;)
In honor of the return of Finding Bigfoot to the airwaves, I figured I’d list 11 (that’s right, mine goes to eleven!) Bigfoot movies for all you squatch lovers. I honestly feel that little show on Animal Planet is responsible for the rash of recent and upcoming Bigfoot movies – and in my book, that’s a good thing.
Even better news for all you movie producers, the definitive Bigfoot movie has yet to be made. Find a writer, quality director and Adam Sandler cash and get to work.
So, here’s the list. Thanks to Amazon, I’ve dropped in a quick synopsis for each followed by a 1 line personal review, because I can’t say no to Bigfoot movies, as well as my Squatch Rating of 1 to 5 Squatch Toes. There are dozens of sasquatch movies out there, the bulk being made in the 70′s and within the last few years. This should be a good place to start your squatch-ucation.
THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK
A 1970s documentary-style drama questions the existence of a hairy 7ft tall Sasquatch-type monster that lives in a swap outside of Fouke, Arkansas. According to the locals the monster walks on two feet, has a characteristic smelly odor and kills chickens.
Hunter : It put the low in low budget but is still a classic despite the terrible music. 2 1/2 Squatch Toes.
CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE
Some fishermen are attacked in the Louisiana swamps. When the word gets out of a mysterious Bigfoot-type creature, two researchers come to a small town to study and hopefully discover what the beast is. Their research from some farmers help the two men to learn that the creature may be a very angry and murderous missing link.
Hunter : Some actual, real life actors in here and though cheesy, has a couple of creepy moments. 3 Squatch Toes.
Scientists mount an expedition to find a Bigfoot-type creature. (Wow, could they spare the words???)
Hunter : Saw this as a kid in the theater and it scared the hell out of me, though I have a feeling I’d be less than impressed now. 2 Squatch Toes.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL BIGFOOT MOVIE
Dallas Gilbert and Wayne Burton, best friends from a dying former steel town in Ohio, are out to convince the world that Bigfoot exists.
Hunter : A wonderful documentary that’s more about two old and broke friends searching for Bigfoot than the hair fella. 4 Squatch Toes.
Based on found footage. A documentary filmmaker and his crew venture up to Siskiyou County to investigate the alleged Bigfoot sightings.
Hunter : Three ass-tards get what they deserve in this dreadful found footage flick. 1 Squatch Toe.
Jim (John Schneider) and his research team study the Canadian Lynx every year. This year, he has to take his rebelling 16 year-old daughter, Emmy (Danielle Chuchran), with him. But the lynx are missing. As Jim and his team–with the help of a local ranger (Jason London)–try to find out why, something stalks them–a predator no prey can escape.
Hunter : Perfect to fall asleep to on a Saturday afternoon after mowing the lawn. 2 Squatch Toes.
BIGFOOT : LOST COAST TAPES
After a Bigfoot Hunter claims to possess the body of a dead Sasquatch, a disgraced journalist stakes his comback and the lives of his documentary crew on proving the finding to be a hoax.
Hunter : Oddly strange yet effective found footage movie with the most bizarre ending any squatcher could conceive. 4 Squatch Toes.
SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED
What is the grisly, hides secret of the murdering white yeti? A group of college students finds out when they venture to a mysterious island. Low budget and REALLY awful in places, but at times chillingly effective. A Shostokovich type score much like that used in THE BRAIN EATERS.
Hunter : Considered by some to be an underground classic, but they’re all high. 2 Squatch Toes.
THE BIGFOOT HUNTER : STILL SEARCHING
In the summer of 2006, two Sasquatch hunters led a group of curious, young paranormal investigators into the hills of southern New York on a quest for evidence of the legendary beast known as Bigfoot.
Hunter : This documentary surprised the hell out of me and is a a must watch for squatchers. 3 1/2 Squatch Toes.
THE LEGEND OF BIGFOOT
Wildlife chronicler Ivan Marx became one of the world’s most notorious Bigfoot researchers. This film documents his journey, with plenty of raw footage and unique insight. Marx’s quest takes the viewer throughout the wilds of Northern US and Canada, where we follow the trail of ravaged farm animals and stunned eyewitnesses that Bigfoot is leaving in his wake. Not to mention some of the most famous footage ever shot of the elusive creature!
Hunter : A horribly shot nature flick that will bore you to no end. 1 Squatch Toe.
Everything you know about Bigfoot is about to change. Follow the travels of the world renowned Bigfoot hunter, Tom Biscardi, and his Searching for Bigfoot team. You will follow the team as they search the country from Montana to New York in search of the world’s most elusive and mysterious beast. Tom Biscardi has been in search of Bigfoot for close to 34 years and you will see what he has discovered! Journey further and deeper into the world of Bigfoot then ever before in this award-winning documentary.
Hunter : Find out why Tom Biscardi has been totally discredited by the Bigfoot community. No Squatch Toes.
And there you have it, 11 Bigfoot movies that should keep you busy through November. And if you’re looking for some squatchy reading material, you can always pick up a copy of Swamp Monster Massacre, where skunk apes get real.
OK, this Halloween nearly did me in! And that’s a good thing. I once again achieved my goal of watching a horror movie every day (my favorite new flicks – new to me – being Rites of Spring and Revenge of the Creature). I read all of the books on my Horrortober reading list. Kudos to Kealan Patrick Burke for making my stomach turn with Kin. Awesome stuff.
On Halloween night, we had over 300 costumed kiddies come to the house. After canceling Halloween last year due to super storm Sandy, they had to make up for lost time. Yes, I and my twisted children dressed up to scare those kids who only wanted some candy. What was I? I have no clue. I was something no one else was likely to see that night. You be the judge.
In the dark, with my hooded black jacket, it was effective enough to make trick or treaters pause. Heh heh heh.
The 99 cent sale for my first short story collection, ASYLUM SCRAWLS, is over, but it didn’t go up much. You can download a copy now for just $1.99. I noticed that quite a few folks have already checked into the asylum. How about you? A little thorazine, three hots and a cot, get some rest.
Congratulations to Lindsey Loucks who won a signed copy of SINISTER ENTITY. Thank you for playing along with my madness.
We’ve made some updates to the Monster Men website, adding a podcast archive so you can catch all the episodes you’ve missed.
I have some exciting announcements to make over the next few weeks, so stay tuned.
Oh, and thank you all for making SWAMP MONSTER MASSACRE an audiobook bestseller. It’s an honor to be beside the likes of Tim Lebbon and Ron Malfi. I’m telling you, those skunk apes are gonna rule the world one day.
OK, unless you live down in Florida or Louisiana in the middle of the swamps and you walk around shouting into a bullhorn, odds are, resident skunk apes (that’s an extra pungent, swampy Bigfoot for the uninitiated) aren’t going to pay you any mind.
However, you can now hear them! I am the very proud poppa of a bouncing baby audiobook. Swamp Monster Massacre is now an audiobook, expertly narrated by Michael Ray Davis, a man who nails the tenor and tone of the main character, Rooster Murphy. You can listen to a sample and pick up a copy at the Audio Bookshop for only $3.99 (you don’t see them come that inexpensive) by clicking on the audiobook cover below.
If you’re wondering just what the hell you’re in store for – skunk apes and a dude named Rooster? – I invite you to check out the latest review that was just posted on Horror Novel Reviews. Swampy earned a cool 4.5 out of 5. Not too shabby for creatures so shaggy. Here’s a quick excerpt from the review:
Hunter Shea’s novella is a great read that can be devoured in one sitting. It’s phenomenally paced, has great characters, and even better villains. The Skunk Apes (Bigfoot’s swampy cousin) are vicious creatures, hellbent on destroying the swamp’s intruders (or are they?). The way Shea introduces them to an unsuspecting audience is utterly fantastic. I tore through the story with the same anticipation as the eight-year old version of myself used to rip through R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps. — Tim Meyer for HNR
Location. Location. Location. Real estate’s three most important considerations also apply to fiction. Horror writers need the right location for a creepy story. Well, forget the abandoned house, the derelict cruise ship, clown college (shiver!) As Hunter Shea’s SWAMP MONSTER MASSACRE and my new novel BLACK MAGIC demonstrate, head for the Everglades.
Everglades National Park takes up the southern tip of Florida. It’s a swampy savannah that stretches out flat as far as the eye can see. It’s sometimes flooded, sometimes not, and dotted with islands of trees. There are good reasons (other than Skunk Apes) to put the Everglades high on the horror locale list:
1. Isolation. Though it’s just miles from Miami, cross the park border and there’s nothing and no one out there. No cell service, no roads and once you trek a few miles in, no landmarks worth mentioning. Expect to get lost moments after starting your hike. Especially in the dark.
2. Scary creatures. I have an evil sorcerer in BLACK MAGIC to up the scare factor, but the Everglades has its own menagerie from Hell. Alligators, crocodiles, vultures, deadly cottonmouth snakes, literally tons of mosquitoes, plus stingrays, sharks and jellyfish where the ‘Glades meet Biscayne Bay. The last time I visited, I counted sixteen alligators and crocodiles sunning themselves at just one observation point. Who’d ever want to meander through that?
Recently anacondas have taken up residence, after being released by moronic owners when they grew to adult size at over fifteen feet and 220 pounds. These constrictors eat anything and everything and have no natural predators. In my novel I describe one eating a deer. I did not make that up. There’s a picture on the NPS website if you don’t believe me.
In BLACK MAGIC, sorcerer Lyle Miller summons all of these creatures (and razor-toothed killer rabbits) to defend him as he tricks unwitting boys to help conjure a hurricane over south Florida. Read this non-tourist friendly Florida tale and you may cross the Everglades off your bucket list, if SWAMP MONSTER MASSACRE didn’t already do that for you. — Russell James
Hunter here. I highly suggest you grab a copy of Black Magic. Perfect summer reading! You can pick up a copy by clicking any of the links below:
You can also tag along with Russell as he journeys into the dark and strange at his website.
In the past, I’ve told you all how I’m an enormous fan of Jim Harold’s Paranormal Podcast. I’ve even become a paying member of his Plus Club and I’m loving every minute of it.
Today, I wanted to cue you in to 3 other podcasts that I listen to every week. The best part is that they are all FREE on iTunes.
First up is The Gralien Report. Despite its name, the host Micah Hanks doesn’t just talk about aliens. In fact, he covers every Fortean topic you can think of. Each episode is an hour or more and is run very much like a standard radio show. One of the most informative podcasts you’re going to find.
Next is a show that’s honest with a very homey kind of vibe. SEPS Paranormal Podcast. Host Paul Cagle is a paranormal investigator with a great Tennessee accent that puts you right at ease. He’s very down to earth and tells it like it is. He makes me laugh every time I listen, and that’s a good thing.
And last but not least is Whispers Radio , another show that mainly focuses on ghosts, but will also dip into UFOs and monsters from time to time. Jordan Cline, to me, sounds like a guy I want to have a few beers with.
So next time you’re hunting for something to load onto your iPod or listen to on your computer, give them a try. I wonder if there’s such a thing as podcast rehab?
The change in my household really hit home this Christmas when I realized that my wife and I didn’t need to go to a single toy store to get presents for our girls. They’re both officially teens now, and too cool for toys.
Which leaves me as the last child in the house. And you what the best part of being a man-child is? I get to buy any toy I want without asking for my parents’ permission. Nyah nyah!
Granted, I pick cool things up now under the auspices that they would make great set pieces for my Monster Men podcast. But really, let’s be honest, I’d buy this stuff even if I didn’t know what a podcast was.
I was with my brother-in-law Tom this weekend at Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. This is Kevin Smith’s awsome comic book store in Red Bank, NJ. On a side note, if you haven’t seen his movie Red State, you’re doing yourself a disservice. The movie has even sparked a wave of apocalypse hoaxes around the world.
Anyway, I digress like Gary Busey at a bris.
I was halfway into the store when I spotted my second favorite robot of all time.
You all remember Robbie the Robot? He made his debut in the great sci-fi flick, Forbidden Planet, and went on to do episodes of The Twilight Zone and Lost in Space. Robot from Lost in Space is my all time favorite. As a kid, I said if I ever made it rich, I would buy Robot and Robby and display them in my house. Still working on it. It was Robbie, it was a bobblehead, it was mine.
Then, tucked away in the back of the store was the action figure to beat all action figures. I’m not talking G.I. Joe with kung fu grip. It’s not an original Mego Captain America. No, I’m talking about the ultimate bionic Bigfoot!
I nearly wept when I saw him. If you click on the picture above, you can watch Steve Austin go toe-to-toe with the robotic bigfoot created by aliens. And really, isn’t that the case for all Bigfoots?
The ball has dropped. The confetti is now in a landfill. Your diet plans have already been thrown to the wind, ready to return for a couple of days next January. The Twilight Zone marathon has passed the signpost up ahead that reads : Hey, time to get back to work!
I’m not big on resolutions because I know that 99% of them are yesterday’s dreams by the end of January. The only ones I’ve been able to keep are the resolutions that pertain to writing. For me, writing has always been my escape, my sanctuary, and now it’s also an income-providing business. All the more reason to get my ass in gear and hunker down. I admit, I took a total break from writing most of December. I needed it. My brain, like a chicken wing, was fried. At times during the holidays, I could actually hear my cells vibrate as they recharged. It was a wise decision to step back for a bit. But rest time is now bye-bye.
I figured I’d start with a list of resolutions that would benefit others as much as myself. Writing is a lonely business and sometimes we need some outside influences to kick us in the pants. Consider this my loving tap on your authorly keister.
Here are my 2013 Writing Resolutions:
1. Read More. I know I’ve stressed this in other articles and interviews. You can’t write if you don’t read. Plain and simple. I must read 75 or more books a year. I know I can do more. The number one rule is to turn that damn TV off as much as possible. Naturally, I read a ton of horror novels. But i’s also good to branch out to other genres, as well as the classics and self-help books. It all leads to personal growth. In fact, this year, I vow to read at least one romance novel. It’s the last genre out there that I haven’t touched as a reader. Any suggestions?
2. Write. Write. Write. Even though I didn’t write over the holidays, I did think about what my projects will be for 2013 and hit the library to do research. What are my exact goals? I will write at least one novel from start to finish (revisions included). I want to write one novella, if not two. I need to get back in the short story swing, so I’ve set a goal of writing at least a half dozen shorts. I also want to write and publish a collection of true ghost stories in time for Halloween. There, that should keep me off the streets.
3. Query new markets. Yes, I have an agent that does a lot of this for me, but I can’t have her do all the work. This is my career, after all. I need to be more aggressive this year and see if I can open some new doors and different writing opportunities.
4. Pitch a story to a TV/film production company. I have a few ideas/stories that I can lead with. Now I need to figure out how to go about this. I’ll research on the internet and reach out to other authors that have had success pitching their stuff. Getting a development deal is one of my bucket list things, so I better get on the ball.
5. Attend more cons and writers conventions. I already signed up for a couple of writer’s organizations while I lounged around watching Arrested Development in my sweats. I intend to go to a few national and local cons to mix and mingle and learn a thing or three. I’ll also show my face at more horror cons, like World Horror Con, Horrorfind, KillerCon and Chiller Theatre. That’s always a fun time!
6. Keep my writing area organized. This seems like a little thing, but it’s far from it. I spent 4 hours cleaning out all the crap that had accumulated in my little writing space during the year. This year, it’s getting a monthly sprucing up so things don’t get lost in the shuffle.
7. Find new ways to market my work. As a writer today, you can’t fall alseep at the switch when it comes to marketing. There are always new services popping up that can help you get the word out about your work. Some work, some don’t, but you have to try. As an example, I jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon last year, but learned after a few months that it wasn’t doing much for me. Hey, at least I tried.
8. Expand the scope of the Monster Men podcast. You’re going to see a lot of new stuff with our video podcast in 2013. We’re going to interview authors, directors, publishers, paranormal groups, you name it. Jack and I can’t wait to get started. If you’re any of the above and would like to be on the show, shoot me an email and we’ll work out a schedule.
9. Listen to more podcasts. I’m an audio podcast junkie. I spend a lot of time in my car with my radio, but I’m not digging what’s on the air. Since my car is old, I’m going out to get an adapter so I can play the podcasts on my Nano through my car stereo. Podcasts are great ways to inform, educate, entertain, inspire and gain more depth into whatever topic that interests you. I highly suggest Jim Harold’s Paranormal Podcast. Great stuff.
10. Rest. I’ve learned that you can’t run around juggling 100 things at once, 24/7, and expect to remain sane. So even though I’ve set a heavy workload for myself, I will make it a point to find moments to rest my mind, body and spirit. Sometimes you need to step out and let your subconscious do some of the heavy lifting. Believe me, it will all be there when you need it.
So, what are your resolutions for 2013? You don’t have to be a writer to set a goal roadmap. If you put it in writing now, it actually helps you work harder to achieve it.
With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I started to think about this past year and the roller coaster ride I call a life. I’ve had great highs and scary lows that have left me numb, sometimes empty, sometimes full, but neither for long.
It’s easy to be thankful for the good that comes our way. But I’ve come to realize that what we have to be most grateful for are the hard times. When we face adversity, we learn a lot about our true nature and the importance of the people that surround us.
Case in point. For the past couple of weeks, my father had his first health scare, his first surgery, and his first brush with the big C. We found out today that the surgery was a success and he’ll be fine. But that 10 day waiting period to get the great news gave us all pause and made us realize how little time we have together. We’ll make the most of it on Thanksgiving. I can assure you that.
Another case. For the past year-plus, my wife has been battling an unknown infection and lupus. We’re at the point where the doctors think radiation is the only cure. Talk about a cure worse than the disease. It’s like watching the person you love most being tortured every second of every day as radiation sears its way through the cells of her entire body. It shows me, daily, how much she means to me, and how little everything else matters if you and the ones you love don’t have the gift of good health.
Looking back at what I’ve written, I saw that this is an overriding fear in almost all my work. In Forest of Shadows, John Backman’s wife dies in her sleep, forever altering his life and his mind. In Evil Eternal, a strong man named Liam watches his wife’s murder and offers his soul to avenge her death, becoming the undead Father Michael. His torment is sealed to go on for infinity. Even in Swamp Monster Massacre, my crazy skunk ape romp, when John’s wife is killed, so is his soul, and soon after, his body. All of these things crept into my work, my conscious mind completely unaware. I’m forcing myself to look into the abyss so I can be grateful that though at times I’m at the precipice, I haven’t fallen through. My wife battles on, and so do I.
In hard times, we turn to others, or God, for strength and support. It’s at these moments where we’re truly thankful for all of the good people and happy moments in our lives.
So this year, when you look back at those moments of hell in your life, don’t ask ‘why me?’ Use them as touchstones and appreciate what they reminded you of, or how they brought you closer to someone, or even changed your life for the better.
Most of all, give thanks.