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A Dinosaur Adventure : MONSTERS IN THE CLOUDS by Russell James

I have a special treat this week. Russell James is one of the best horror writers around, and he’s joined the Severed Press family, penning some incredible adventure novels. His latest, MONSTERS IN THE CLOUDS, is chock full o’ dinosaur madness. Russell explains why we can’t get enough dinosaur fiction. Take it away buddy!


Dinosaurs. Who doesn’t love them?

It seems that every kid goes through a dinosaur phase. Not singing along with Barney, that purple monstrosity, but a fascination with the actual creatures that ruled the Earth a few hundred million years ago.

My obsession started when I was about eight years old. (I’ll let you know when it ends.) I drained the library of dinosaur books. I had the coolest 3D Viewmaster reels of dinosaurs locked in mortal combat. I watched the original King Kong movie a hundred times and always rooted for the T-Rex to beat the ape. A high point of that time was when my parents took me in to the American Museum of Natural History to see ACTUAL fossils. Coolest. Thing. Ever.

So after my novel Cavern of the Damned released, I needed a new adventure for the main character, Grant Coleman. Why not let him do what I’d always wanted to do, see real life dinosaurs? So I put him on a plane and sent him to Brazil, a beautiful country I’d visited twice.

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Grant gets to encounter an Ankylosaurus, a C list dino compared to the stars of Jurassic Park. I always loved this creature. Broad and squat, it had armor like an Abrams battle tank across its back and head. But that passive defense wasn’t enough, so it had a big bony club at the end of its tail. So while a predator futilely chomped at its back, it could knock the assailant unconscious with its tail. It was an herbivore, which isn’t that scary, so I switched it to carnivore and blamed evolution.

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The isolated butte they explore also has pterosaurs, winged lizards with long, pointed heads. These were carnivores. A lot about this creature remains conjecture. Did it have feathers? Did it fly or glide? Did it walk or climb? I read all the research I could find and made them as terrifying as I could.

There are some other creatures they encounter, but I don’t want to spoil any surprises by detailing them here. But they are all based on real animals, and that fact may be scarier than any fiction I’ve spun.

So if you’re up for an adventure and a battle with untamed dinosaurs, Monsters in the Clouds will be just what you need. And it’s safe for family reading, no language, no sex, and monster-movie-type violence. I just realized I think that people being eaten by dinosaurs constitutes “family reading.” I may have issues.

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Book blurb:

Paleontologist Grant Coleman and activist Janaina Silva are recruited by Thana Katsoros for a top secret expedition, one in search of a live Apatosaurus on a plateau deep in the Amazonian rain forest.

But their plane crashes short of their destination, and the entire group faces a terrifying fight for survival. This isolated area hosts unknown animals more fearsome than they’d expected, including giant ants and flesh-eating pterosaurs.

Even worse, Katsoros’ agenda has more to it than meets the eye, and Grant soon fears that it doesn’t include all of them getting back alive. Will any expedition members survive to be rescued, or will they be devoured by the creatures indigenous peoples call the monsters in the clouds?

BUY THE BOOK HERE

Bio:

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Russell R. James was raised on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching Chiller, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and Dark Shadows, despite his parents’ warnings. Bookshelves full of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe didn’t make things better. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida.

After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales best read in daylight. He has written the paranormal thrillers “Dark Inspiration”, “Sacrifice”, “Black Magic”, “Dark Vengeance”, “Dreamwalker”, and “Q Island”, the collections “Tales from Beyond”, “Deeper into Darkness”, “Outer Rim”, and “Forever Out of Time”.

His wife reads what he writes, rolls her eyes, and says “There is something seriously wrong with you.”

Visit his website at http://www.russellrjames.com and read some free short stories.

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THE DOVER DEMON Is Back!

Severed Press has just brought THE DOVER DEMON back to life. Originally published by Samhain Publishing in 2015, the book was left in limbo when Samhain closed its doors. This little beastie has returned with a kick ass new cover!

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Back in 2014, I was at the International Cryptozoology Museum for a book signing on my tour for The Montauk Monster. The museum’s owner is Loren Coleman, one of the most revered cryptozoologists in the world. Loren and I struck up a conversation and I asked him what cryptid I should write about next. He didn’t hesitate in urging me to look into the famous Dover Demon case, one that still baffles everyone associated with it 40 years later.

Over the course of two nights in 1977 during spring break in the affluent town of Dover, Massachusetts, six teenagers spotted a bizarre, bipedal creature scuttling along the dark roads. It appears that all saw the very same being, one of them (Bill Bartlett) drawing a sketch of the anomaly for the police.

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Today, a lot of people would say, “Oh, that’s one of those gray alien things.” But you have to remember, this creature was spotted before the iconic image of gray aliens was a thing. Hell, Close Encounters of the Third Kind hadn’t even come out yet. Loren Coleman was called to Dover and was the one to give it its name. Cryptozoologists are still puzzled by what the teenagers saw. They look at it in terms of being a terrestrial animal. UFOologists look to the case as an early example of the grays making themselves known.

A cryptid AND an alien? I couldn’t turn down the challenge. THE DOVER DEMON is both one of my most personal and strangest books to date. So, if you care to take a trip to Dover, the gates are once again open. Beware, you might never be the same!

A little bit of trivia : The man character is a man named Sam Brogna. I named him after a New York Mets short-lived first baseman, Rico Brogna. The man’s career was cut short due to injury, but he lives on in The Dover Demon. Well, sort of. 


The Dover Demon is real…and it has returned.

In 1977, Sam Brogna and his friends came upon a terrifying, alien creature on a deserted country road. What they witnessed was so bizarre, so chilling, they swore their silence. But their lives were changed forever. Decades later, the town of Dover has been hit by a massive blizzard. Sam’s son, Nicky, is drawn to search for the infamous cryptid, only to disappear into the bowels of a secret underground lair. The Dover Demon is far deadlier than anyone could have believed. And there are many of them. Can Sam and his reunited friends rescue Nicky and battle a race of creatures so powerful, so sinister, that history itself has been shaped by their secretive presence?

 

CLICK HERE TO BUY THE BOOK! 

The Mothman Is Back – In Chicago!

The cryptozoology world has been buzzing this year over a wave of supposed Mothman sightings around Chicago. The mysterious creature that terrorized the town of Point Pleasant, WV between 1966 and 1967, culminating in the Silver Bridge collapse, appears to be alive and well in the Windy City. There have been almost two dozen reports of a large (7 foot or taller) hominid with massive wings both on the ground and in the air since April.

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Other than the slew of Bigfoot encounters that are reported every year, this cluster of Mothman sightings represents one of the largest cryptid waves in the past 4 decades. What is truly out there? And is the Mothman circling Chicago a portent of something terrible to become?

[click here to read the Chicago Tribune article]

I’ve always said the original Mothman case is one of the most bizarre and intriguing in all of cryptozoology. You see, Point Pleasant wasn’t just visited by the Mothman. The entire town also saw strange lights in the sky, were visited by mysterious men in black, were witness to apparitions and ghostly phone calls and so much more, it makes my head spin. My partner Jack and I tackled the subject in one of our earliest Monster Men episodes.

 

Reporter John Keel was on the ground in Point Pleasant in the 60s, delving into dark corners and interviewing terrified witnesses. His efforts there (and many other bizarre cases) made him the inspiration for Carl Kolchak on television’s The Night Stalker. He wrote the definitive book on the Mothman, THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES : A TRUE STORY.

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If you’re a true blue fan of cryptids and the unexplained, this is a must have addition to your bookshelf. It’s as terrifying as it is perplexing. Keel called it the Mothman Prophecies because it is believed that the creature was, in its way, warning the citizens about the impending destruction of the Silver Bridge, which killed 46 people on December 15, 1967. I’ve always found the connection between the cryptid and the calamity a bit nebulous, the biggest case for it being that all strange activity stopped right after the bridge collapsed. Since 1967, there have been scattered sightings of a winged creature that resembles the Mothman, but nothing like what is currently occurring in Chicago.

If you want to learn about the original story from a fresh perspective, check out the new documentary, The Mothman of Point Pleasant by director Seth Breedlove and his Small Town Monsters crew. They’ve previously explored the Boggy Creek Monster, Minerva Monster and Beast of Whitehall. Always a good watch.

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There was also a 2002 film adaptation of Keel’s book called The Mothman Prophecies, starring Richard Gere. When I first saw the movie, I knew very little about the cryptid and it confused and disappointed. Viewing it after my own research into Mothman, I can now appreciate the movie and what they were trying to do. It’s very difficult to convey the high strangeness surrounding the Mothman to a wide audience.

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What is the Mothman? Is it a flesh and blood beast? An unknown type of bird? An angel? A demon? A figment of our imagination? I don’t know. But I think what’s happening in Chicago bears some close scrutiny. I’ll be interested to see if there is a spike in other paranormal phenomena there this year.

What’s your take on the Mothman? And do you think something dark and deadly lies in wait for the people of Chicago?

For the latest cryptid news and more, sign up for my free Dark Hunter Newsletter today.

 

Top 5 Bigfoot Recordings – Squatch Speaks!

Whether they are real or fake, nothing makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up straighter than audio recordings of Bigfoot yelling, screeching and speaking in the woods.

Look, I’m a city boy. The woods without a Bigfoot are big and scary places to me. If you add being surrounded by squatches, well, just bury me under a pine tree and tell my momma I died knowing the truth.

Arguably the most famous of all Bigfoot audio recordings are the Sierra Sounds, captured back in the 1970s. You can hear people interacting with squatches throughout. For you Bigfoot enthusiasts, this is a must listen.

 

Now here’s one that is quite controversial (aren’t they all?). It was recorded just a few years ago and features a camper having a relatively pleasant conversation with a Bigfoot. Hell, even if this was some dude talking to me in the dark, I’d mess myself.

 

This one is strange but again, it sucks me down the rabbit hole. Not sure a Sasquatch would speak English, but the interpretation comes from the person making the recording, similar to EVP. You hear what you want to or think you should hear.

 

Team Squatchin’ USA has a host of Bigfoot audio you can listen to right on their home page. Play it so loud the neighbors can hear and wonder what the hell is going on in your house. Click their logo to go down a deep, dark, wonderful rabbit hole.

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This is supposedly a very pissed off Bigfoot pitching a fit. Not sure if I’d stick around to record it, but hey, some folks are braver than me.

Talking about the Jersey Devil on Jim Harold’s Cryptid Report

I can’t even express how exciting it was to be featured on Jim Harold’s Cryptid Report. He has the world’s #1 paranormal podcast, featuring the brightest stars in the fields of the paranormal, UFOs and cryptozoology. And here I come, interloping on greatness. 🙂

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We sat back and talked about The Jersey Devil. Is it real? Where did it come from? Where is it today? And what else is lurking in the dense, remote Pine Barrens? Click here to listen to the interview and find out…

And you can still grab a copy of The Jersey Devil for only 99 cents. Offer ends March 1st.

Jersey Devil Cover

Creature Features, Cow Carcasses and Kindle Deals

I know, Hellions, that’s one strange ass title for a blog post, but that’s exactly what it’s all about.

Thanks goes out to an old friend, Brenda B., for sharing this photo and story with me. Somehow, during my research into the Jersey Devil, I missed this! Back in the 60’s in New Jersey, a cow and a deer carcass somehow made it to the top of a telephone pole. Locals attributed it to their friendly neighborhood monster.

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Cryptozoologists say the Jersey Devil has kept a very low profile since the early 1900s, but if you go out and talk to the people who live there, you’ll get a completely different opinion. And here’s another shocker – I can’t believe how many folks have first hand Bigfoot encounters in the Pine Barrens. I’ve spoken to quite a few, some of them still visibly upset, even if it happened years ago.

I wonder if this was the Jersey Devil’s idea of a pinata? Maybe she just wanted to throw a party for her horrid offspring.

And speaking of horrid offspring, Pinnacle has discounted all of my books for the month of February. You can snag an ebook of The Montauk Monster for $1.99, The Jersey Devil for 99 cents or Tortures of the Damned for 99 cents. Time to load up those e-readers on the cheap!

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Jersey Devil Cover

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What’s the strangest thing ever found on a telephone pole? For me, we threw a Batman figure that had a parachute attached to our phone line. It stayed there for about 10 years, poor Batsy’s color fading with each year.

Lake Monster Madness – NIGHTMARE FROM WORLD’S END

Author Robert Stava and I met 5 years ago at a writer’s group I cobbled together. The group lasted about a year, but I’m glad he and I have become good friends. He’s a renaissance kind of guy – writer, artist, musician, historian, martial artist. I wouldn’t bat an eye if he told me he’d climbed Everest while balancing the US budget.

Amazingly, both of us ended up having books published by Severed Press – all this done without the other knowing we were submitted manuscripts there. Great minds, great minds…

Robert’s premier book with Severed, NIGHTMARE FROM WORLD’S END, recently came out and it’s a doozy! Here’s my 10 cent review – Move over Nessie and Champ, there’s a new kick ass lake monster in town! Nightmare from World’s End is a sharp, intelligent, witty and wild ride across the turbid waters of the Hudson River. Set in author Robert Stava’s mysterious Wyvern Falls, this is one monster tale not to be missed because you get not one, but TWO underwater leviathans duking it out. And God help the puny humans who dare not just go in the water, but even near it. The last act blew my mind. Treat yourself and grab a copy.

So, let’s get to know Robert and this awesome book a little, shall we?


Please tell my Hellions what your latest book, Nightmare from World’s End, is all about and the sheer bat crap insanity that you somehow managed to tie together.

It’s a spin on the usual sea-monster tale, in this case not one but two that turn up in the Hudson River at an inopportune time – on the eve of a major Folk Festival at the local river town of Wyvern Falls. It mainly comes down to two people, an expat British detective named Easton and an American Indian Archeologist named Sarah Ramhorne to save the day. Along the way they get tangled up with a corrupt mayor, a failing Ancient Alien TV show host and some overzealous activists. For starters.

As far as how I tied it all together: truth is I pretty much winged it. Luckily it was one of those instances that just spun itself out in the right fashion without much thought or editing. I wish every story came out that easy!

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 I love the true history that you weave into your tales. This time, we got quite the education on American Indians in New York’s Westchester County. How did you go about researching everything?

It’s a MacGyver approach: a little this, some chewing gum there, a little masking tape here, etc. I grew up with books on the Wyandot & Iroquois (and knew several) but knew next to nothing about the Hudson River Indians outside some vague misinformation. Since moving up here to Ossining however, I took a keen interest and did everything from attending lectures at Croton Point given by the NY State Archeologist Association, going through artifacts in our Historical Society collection and reaching out to the descendants of the tribes that once lived here. They’re in Oklahoma now, btw. It’s a tragic story and they had a few choice things to say. Also, I put all the American Indian history books I used into the afterword of the novel. A lot of times it just about getting out and talking to people. That bizarre scene where Easton meets the American Indian vendor talking to him about Atlantis and lost technologies? That really happened to me at an Indian Pow-Wow I attended. You can’t make this stuff up.

It’s so awesome to have you as a publishing mate at Severed Press, the land of sea monsters! What made you decide to dip your toes in these brackish waters? And how did you come up with the monstrous Ossie? Any truth in the legend?

It is awesome – I had no idea when I submitted the manuscript! I was combing through stuff at my job one day and saw they were looking for submissions, and realized I already had a completed novel right up their alley. They accepted it pretty fast, which had me a little suspicious after so many rejections from other publishers. When I got the low-down from yourself I realized I had lucked out. Call it serendipity.

‘Ossie’ came from an off-hand remark my wife made one day while we were having lunch out by the river. I saw something out there – it might have been a cormorant – that reminded me of the classic 30s ‘Nessie” pic, so I snapped a zoom photo of it. When I showed it to my wife she replied, in that matter-of-fact way she has, “Oh, that’s ‘Ossie’!”. I’m sure an evil grin stole across my face as I then said “Yes, yes…of course it is…and I bet Ossie likes people – because they taste just like chicken!” That’s how my mind rolls.

I don’t know if there’s any truth to the legend, but who can rule anything out? There’s all kinds of species in the ocean we have no idea existed. Part of the inspiration behind ‘Typhon’ was this horrifying giant ‘sea bug’ – a 30” isopod -that was discovered a few years back that came up clinging to a submersible in the Gulf of Mexico. Everyone thought it was a hoax. It wasn’t until 2013 that a giant squid was finally caught on film. I think there’s plenty of other things down there we know nothing about (shudder).

 

After this book, I don’t think you’re ever going to get a call to appear on Ancient Aliens. Which is not a bad thing. Do you watch the show? What do you think of the ancient astronaut theory?

Ha! Probably not. I loved that stuff as a kid, but it all falls apart under any kind of basic logical scrutiny. Most these guys are nuttier than a crate of pistachios. They only focus on what ‘evidence’ supports their conclusions and refuse to acknowledge any other possible explanations, which is hardly scientific. That said, I do believe alien life is out there and can testify to a UFO I witnessed as a kid. Also, while researching the non-fiction book I wrote on my uncle’s WWII experiences in the Southwest Pacific, I came across a folder of very unusual reports in the National Archives. It was a series of 5th Air Force eye-witness reports on UFO’s spotted from airplane observation posts in New Guinea in 1943-44, well before Roswell. Throughout my novel though, it’s all part of a running joke: the characters keep getting distracted by the hoaxes happening to one side while completely missing the very real phenomena occurring on the other. I suspect the truth about aliens is somewhat like that.

Stephen King has Castle Rock, you have Wyvern Falls. What the hell is up with that place? Why would anyone live there? It’s fascinating, but bad for your health.

It was originally inspired by ‘Twin Peaks’, actually! And obviously the many scenic towns up and down here along the Hudson. I was drawing up a helpful ‘50 things you should NEVER DO in Wyvern Falls’ user guide but haven’t completed to date. But there’s lots of reasons to live there – it’s a place where truly weird shit can happen, and isn’t there a part of all of us that longs for that affirmation? That there’s more to the world than 401k’s, vanishing retirement options and the dreariness of everything being logically explained by a bunch of people you dread hanging out with by the water cooler? Fear is the antidote to complacency. The supernatural is about faith in things beyond our comprehension. I’ve experienced both those things in varying amounts: Wyvern Falls is about a place where you can too.

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Okay, I’m going to pepper you with some quick hits :

  • Favorite band – The Who. Nobody attacks the drums like Keith Moon.
  • Dream spot to write – My library – what could be more inspirational?
  • Craziest celebrity encounter – I’ve had some pretty good ones over the years, especially living in NYC. One of the craziest though, was a conversation I got into with Lenny Kravitz at a party years back at the studio control room in the Edison Hotel (a famous midtown studio where Jazz greats like Charlie Parker recorded). He’d bought the place with an advertising partner. I was pretty blotto from the open bar when I ran into him and started running off about Cindy Blackman, whom I’d met a few times though my old drummer, Tedd. Kravitz was nothing at all what I’d imagined from his videos. He was like a shy, dysfunctional little kid. He stared at his toes the whole time we were talking, though he did tell me some interesting things I won’t repeat here. After about 15 minutes he awkwardly reached out, shook my hand and said “Hi. I’m Lenny!” I said, “Uh, hi, I’m Bob. Nice talking to you,” and left. I must have talked a good game though, as a few days later a marketing package showed up at my office from him and his partner, which included some of Kravitz’s demos. I still have it here somewhere.
  • Favorite horror movie – Tie between ‘American Werewolf in London’ and ‘Dead Alive’ – both had me simultaneously freaked out and laughing my ass off. But the scariest movies I’ve ever watched was ‘Session 9’ and “Jacob’s Ladder”. Do not watch either at 3 a.m. Very bad idea.
  • Beer of choice – Sapporo

Last but not least, what new delights do you have in store for your readers?

Well, the next two novels in the Wyvern Falls series are written so we’ll see where those get to. I’m currently writing a second novel for Severed Press which is due out his year – it’s a visit to classic Crichton territory titled “The Lost World of Kharamu”, there’s a new short “The Witchering”, coming out in Dark Chapter Press’s “Edge of Darkness” anthology and I’m waiting to hear on 3 novellas that were rewritten for Sinister Grin Press a few months back. At least one, “The Invasion” is slated for a 2017 release from them, last I heard. Fingers crossed, just in case!

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