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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!

montauk monster cover

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!

Interview with Cryptid Investigator and Author Lyle Blackburn

We recently interviewed Lyle Blackburn on the Monster Men to discuss his new movie, Boggy Creek Monster, and book, Monstro Bizzaro. If you’re obsessed with cryptids like I am, Lyle is one of the best investigators in the field today. His previous books, The Beast of Boggy Creek and Lizard Man have prominent positions on my bookshelf.

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When all was said and done, I realized I still had a few more questions I’d wanted to ask. So, here is the original video interview along with the bonus questions Lyle was kind enough to answer. Now let’s go squatchin!

We’re very much alike in that we grew up fascinated by tales of Bigfoot and other creatures (as well as a fondness for The Creature from the Black Lagoon!). How did you take the leap from being a rocker in Ghoultown to cryptid reporter?

LB : In addition to being a musician, I’ve always worked as a writer. Among other things, I wrote for a rock magazine and then for Rue Morgue (www.rue-morgue.com) as their cryptozoology-meets-horror columnist. I’ve always wanted to write a book, so I decided to take some time off from the band to pursue that. I ended up choosing one of my favorite subjects, The Legend of Boggy Creek. Once I started investigating these sort of cryptid cases and writing the books, I really enjoyed it so I continued. I always thought the job of a professional writer sounded boring, but this brought me to interesting places and I met interesting people as part of the writing process – not to mention it involved my fascination with cryptids. My band Ghoultown still plays and records, but we don’t tour like we used to.

One of the best things you bring to the field of cryptozoology is your straightforward, journalistic approach to researching and educating people about creatures like the Boggy Creek Monster and the Lizard Man of Bishopville. You report the stories and the facts as they are without dramatization for the sake of titillating your readers. What made you decide to go in this direction and do you think the field needs more level headed reporting so it can be taken more seriously by the mainstream media and public?

LB: I think these stories are fascinating unto themselves without trying to sway people toward a certain point of view. I just tell the story, report the facts, and let whatever evidence speak for itself. I like to take the reader along as I investigate and give them credit to make up their own mind.

Who are some of your biggest influences and why?

LB: As far as writing and cryptozoology, I would say John Green and Loren Coleman. Green always had a level-headed approach to Sasquatch research and presented the stories in an engaging way. He also paid attention to details and getting the facts correct as best he could. Coleman, of course, paved the way for the modern cryptozoology researcher and has investigated so many of the seminal cases. Many times as I’m doing research, when I trace an investigation back to its original source, Coleman was there first. I’m honored that he wrote the Foreword for my first book, The Beast of Boggy Creek. It’s like having one of your heroes endorse your efforts. So cool.

Out of all the photographic and video evidence for Bigfoot, which to you is the most compelling evidence that it is real? And with just about everyone having a camera/videocam in their pockets, why aren’t we getting more solid evidence? Could it be we are but because it’s so easy to fake now, the real deal might be hiding in plain sight?

LB: To me, the footprints represent the most compelling evidence. Examples such as the Elkins Creek cast from Georgia stand out, especially when I’ve been able to interview the police officer who originally discovered the track.

As far as all the photos and videos, it’s really hard to discern between what might be real and what is a possible case of pareidolia or just outright fake. All the blurry shots don’t do us any good. We need something much clearer in this day and age, and even that is suspect since modern technology allows for such amazing CGI. Most people do carry a smart phone camera these days, but the lack of a clear photo shouldn’t be used as a basis to completely rule out the possibility of these creatures. Chance encounters typically last only a few moments, making it hard to pull out a phone, open the camera app, aim, and take a photo.

I’m sure you’ve heard the Sierra Bigfoot recordings taken back in the 70s. What are your thoughts on it and other similar recordings? Most of them are downright chilling.

LB: They’re definitely creepy and very compelling. In my opinion the Sierra Sounds are legit. And if it’s not a hoax, then that leaves very few possibilities beyond an undiscovered creature such as Bigfoot. I’ve heard recordings from other places which sound very similar; sent to me by credible individuals. They just don’t sound like any known animal.

Do you have any plans to investigate the Skunk Ape in Florida? I have the Fate Magazine with the famous Skunk Ape picture on the cover and keep waiting for someone to hunker down and do some serious research in that corner of the country.

LB: Earlier this year I visited the Ocala National Forest in Florida where there’s been a good amount of Skunk Ape sightings over the years. This was part of the research for my upcoming book, “Beyond Boggy Creek: In Search of the Southern Sasquatch” in which I document the history of Bigfoot sightings all over the Southern U.S. I dedicate an entire chapter of the book to the Skunk Ape, although there’s so much to this cryptid’s history and so many sightings, that I could write an entire book on it. Perhaps in the future.

Follow Lyle Blackburn at http://www.lyleblackburn.com


In the mood for a good cryptid book? Check these out…

The Beast of Boggy Creek : The True Story of the Fouke Monster

Loch Ness Revenge

Monstro Bizarro

The Jersey Devil

 

 

Mystery of the Chupacabra

As a lover of all things cryptid, I’m naturally fascinated by the strange and mysterious Chupacabra. Is it an unknown animal, alien, government experiment gone wrong?

Well, to help us all out, I’ve turned to one of my buds, Raegan Butcher, who has just written an excellent monster novel, FURY OF THE CHUPACABRAS. To write the book, he dove into the deep end of the chupacabra pool.I can’t think of anyone better to teach us a thing or two about the dreaded goat sucker! So lock your doors and windows, settle in to a comfy chair and read on if you dare…


 

The chupacabra.

What is it?

The name, coined by Puerto Rican comedian Silverio Perez, means “goatsucker” in Spanish, and comes from the animal’s reported habit of drinking the blood of livestock—especially goats. The first reports of this mysterious creature came from Puerto Rico in 1995 when eight sheep were discovered dead, with three puncture wounds in the chest, and completely drained of blood. At first, a Satanic cult was suspected, but soon the first eyewitness reports appeared, which described a creature – some sort of lizard-like beast, about the size of a small bear, with sharp, glowing quills on its back and large, round eyes. The beast was said to be able to hop like a kangaroo, suck blood like a bat, and was reported to emit a strange, piercing cry.

cabra

As a youngster growing up in the 1970s, I was enthralled by the numerous Bigfoot sightings that occurred in my home state of Washington and other parts of the Pacific Northwest. The idea that some unknown animal could be lurking on the edge of civilization tickled my imagination in all the right ways. Because of my love of horror and sci fi, I have always been fascinated by monsters, and the chupacabra sounded right up my alley. Doing a bit of research, I discovered some cases from the past that were eerily similar to the infamous goatsucker.

In New Orleans there is a popular lover’s lane known as “Grunch Road”, named as such after several reports of a lizard-like beast haunting the vicinity and frightening horny teenagers appeared in the local press in the 1940s and ‘50s. And then there is a case which sounds almost exactly like a chupacabra: the dreaded “Vampire of Moca”. This unknown fiend kicked off its killing spree in February 1975, in Barrio Rocha, a sector of the town of Moca, in Puerto Rico, where it took the lives of a number of animals in a grisly manner never seen before. Fifteen cows, three goats, two geese and a pig were found dead with bizarre perforations on their hides. Autopsies showed that the animals had been bled dry, as if consumed by some predator. After six months, and the deaths of over 150 farm animals, the mysterious “Vampire of Moca” vanished into history and obscurity.

Or did it?

Almost exactly twenty years later, the chupacabra appeared, and the Puerto Rican press once again began to report sightings of a strange beast that preyed upon livestock. Some people on the island believe that chupacabras are a genetic bio-experiment which escaped from a secret laboratory (The US military has had a large presence across Puerto Rico since the 1930’s, with bases on the island used as Research and Development facilities for a number of classified projects). Others speculate that the creature is an escaped pet of alien visitors that wandered off while its master was visiting Earth. How’s that for a far-out theory? The chupacabra does have a slight resemblance to the Grey aliens, which could mean that they are somehow genetically related, a wonderfully tantalizing theory.

For reasons too complicated to explain here (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21972578-stone-hotel ) I ended up in prison from June 1996 to March 2003 for armed robbery (yeah, I was a crazy sumbitch, back then). As you might imagine, I had a lot of time on my hands. I was already a writer when I went down, so I tried to use my excess of time wisely and write as much as I could during those seven years. I’d always wanted to write something about the chupacabra, as they seemed heaven sent, as far as “rule of cool” goes: some kind of lizard monster that drinks blood? As a creature-feature fan from earliest childhood, I was all over it.

But I couldn’t get a handle on how to shape the story. At first I thought of that great old British sci-fi movie Island Of Terror, and I remembered the first scene with the constable finding a body with its bones sucked out. Maybe I could set my chupacabra story on a small island off the coast of Mexico…first scene would be some guy finding his livestock drained of blood…and we go from there? Hmmm. I put the idea in the back of my mind and went on with my life, such as it was.

Years passed. Then, one day in 2002, while I was walking the yard with another inmate (who, for legal reasons, shall remain nameless) it all clicked into place. This nameless inmate was telling me a story of almost getting busted at the Mexican border with a car full of illegal weapons and the anecdote was told with such flair that I immediately saw it as a scene in my chupacabra book. Two brothers, Americans, one of them an ex-soldier (as was the nameless inmate) smuggling guns into Mexico, and they get attacked by chupacabras. Story starts out with the tense scene at the border and we go from there. I wrote it as a screenplay first and, like I always do, I finished it, put it away, forgot about it, and moved on to the next thing.

chupa

Flash forward ten years. I was now a free man, with a few poetry books under my belt, (http://www.amazon.com/Raegan-Butcher/e/B00BO6QI3M/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1) and I wanted to work on my prose skills. I rummaged around in my papers and found the chupacabra script. I had such fun turning it into the novella Attack of the Chupacabras (included in the book Fury of the Chupacabras) http://necropublications.com/collections/raegan-butcher/products/fury-of-the-chupacabras-by-raegan-butcher-trade-paperback that I ended up writing four novels and creating a whole series, which I’ve dubbed the Chupacabra Chronicles. The books started out as simple survival-horror situations but they quickly became a series of action-conspiracy-monster-mystery-adventure-sci-fi-horror books. The Chupacabra Chronicles were written purely for fun. My goal was to keep the reader turning the pages, surprise them, make them gasp; keep them entertained by the developing story. I tried to fill the series with everything I like: action, tension, suspense, dark humor, and all of the most outlandish sci fi and conspiracy tropes I could come up with during my many hours of research on the internet.

I am grateful that Necro is crazy enough to publish these chupacabra books, one volume in the continuing saga of the chupacabra chronicles every six months for the next two years, with perhaps more after that. I had an absolute blast writing them. Now the pleasure is all yours. Have fun.

 

New Bigfoot Movie – Stomping Ground

You all know how much I like to get my squatch on. I’m always on the lookout for new flicks about Bigfoot…and aliens. Well, here’s one that hits DVD and VOD on March 8th. It’s called STOMPING GROUND and it looks like a hell of a ride. Hellions, start your squatches!

stomping-ground-dvd

First, the elevator pitch – “A young couple on a weekend trip in the American south embark on an impromptu “Bigfoot hunt” that threatens both their relationship & their lives.”

Ben & Annie are a young couple living in Chicago, on a weekend trip to Annie’s small North Carolina hometown. At the local bar they run into Paul, a charming old friend of Annie’s, and Ben learns something he never knew about his girlfriend: She believes in Bigfoot. In fact, she and her friends used to “hunt” for the creature when they were kids. Before Ben knows it, he’s off on an impromptu Squatchin’ trip deep in the Carolina backwoods. Amidst the Squatch calls, campfire stories and beers, Ben quickly realizes that Paul may have an ulterior motive in bringing Annie to the woods. And something else out here seems to be after her as well. Everyone but Ben thinks its Bigfoot. But it can’t be, can it? After all, Bigfoot isn’t real…

And as an added bonus, the film features a cameo performance from Theresa Tilly, best known as one of the original “Ladies of the Evil Dead” from Sam Raimi’s horror classic, The Evil Dead.

 

Check out some of the early reviews – 

“Successful in warming the hearts and chilling the bones, Stomping Ground is a whole lot of fun to watch.”Ain’t It Cool News

“A cast that delivers… Terrific use of the natural settings… A step above most Bigfoot films…”All Things Horror

“It’s not easy to find a creature feature where the characters are as relatable and believable as they are in Stomping Ground.”Film Bizarro

Get your best tree knocking bat and deer pheromones and join me in the forest, won’t ya?

Cover Reveal – THE JERSEY DEVIL

Are you all ho-ho-hoed out yet? I know I am. The fat man is back in his icy lair, and things can get back to normal.

Of course, normal for me means being surrounded by all sorts of monsters and beasties and ghosts. With the new year just around the corner, I’m gearing up for my 3 new releases in 2016. I just got the cover to what will be my third Pinnacle novel, THE JERSEY DEVIL, and it’s a doozy. From the Pine Barrens to your eyeballs, with love! The book comes out everywhere on August 30th.

Jersey Devil Cover

I hope the state of New Jersey lets me in to promote The Jersey Devil next fall. I’d love to find a way to host a special event deep in the Pine Barrens. Luckily, I have 8 months to figure it out.

Hope you all like the cover. More on what’s inside to come. If you loved The Montauk Monster, you’ll really dig The Jersey Devil. No cryptid is safe from me. Any suggestions on which one I should tackle next?

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