After collaborating on my latest book, Bigfoot in the Bronx, Sasquatch and I celebrated by taking a four day bender fueled by cheap whisky and expensive cigars. Truth be told, I vaguely remember where we went during that trippy odyssey. It was all about celebrating the success of an interspecies project and just plain having fun after a year in lockdown and the mental assault of pandemic mania brought on by way too much media consumption. We were done and we were free to roam about the cabin.
Now the book was out, the party ended and we parted ways for a few weeks, Sassy disappearing into the wilds of the Catskills (where I hoped he wouldn’t come across the Wraith!) and I back to my belfry of broken dreams. He’d told me he had matters to attend to, while I had another book to start. We agreed to meet after a spell at the Little Red Lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge. There, we’d fish the Hudson, take in some sun and crack a few imperial IPAs.
Not one to waste a special moment, I asked Sassy if he would agree to an interview that I could share with my readers. It’s one thing to enjoy the fictional madness we had concocted, but another to get some insight into what it’s like to be a cryptid in a world of crushing, idiotic humanity. He clipped off the end of a Nat Sherman cigar, ate a raw fish he’d snagged a few moments before, and said, “Sure. Why the fuck not?”
What follows is all real, and so very, very true.
HUNTER – We humans have given you and your kind a load of monikers over the decades. What do you prefer to be called, other than Sassy?
SASQUATCH – Let’s get this out there now. You are the ONLY person who can call me Sassy. I mean, you get me, man, so we’re cool. But if someone came to my neck of the woods and tried that, things probably wouldn’t end well for them. For me, personally, I dig Bigfoot because look at these U-boats! That’s an undeniably big foot. In a formal setting, I’ll take Mr. Foot, too, I guess. And hey, we all know what it means when you have big feet.
HUNTER – I’m well aware, since you don’t wear pants. When you’re not hanging with this mid-list horror writer, where do you spend your time?
MR. FOOT (because it sounds funnny) – Let’s just say the Catskills. I have family and friends up there, and the last thing we need is Matt Moneymaker and Bobo coming up and invading our space. Nice guys and all, but after they leave, a gaggle of idiots come swarming in. You humans are loud and messy and annoying as hell with all that wood knocking. It’s like trying to sleep next to a demented woodpecker.
HUNTER – So, wood knocking is a myth?
MR. FOOT – Total. I don’t know who made that up, but it didn’t come from us. We’re not Neanderthals. We know how to speak. Do you just randomly pound on a tree when you want to talk to someone?
HUNTER – Never have.
MR. FOOT – Exactly. It’s dumb. Plus, it hurts the trees. I’m not saying I’m a tree hugger, but I do respect nature.
HUNTER – If you could have voted in the last presidential election, who would you have voted for?
MR. FOOT – Seriously? I would have voted both candidates off the quote, un-quote island. There are many reasons we keep to the shadows, and that’s just a glaring example. Shit, I’d rather see a Chupacabra in office than anyone you’d selected. And Chupacabras are jerks. But at least they have a lick of common sense and a moral compass.
HUNTER – Wait, Chupacabras are real?
MR. FOOT – If you don’t believe, ask any random goat.
HUNTER – Okay, let me switch gears. When we were working on Bigfoot in the Bronx, we took a little trip through my old stomping grounds one night.
MR. FOOT – Brilliant idea to do it during Halloween.
HUNTER – And that’s when you told me we had to set the book during Halloween, too. Remember how I wanted to set it during Groundhog Day?
MR. FOOT – Yeah, that still doesn’t make sense.
HUNTER – Considering how much we argued about it last time, I’m going to just let it go. Anyway, what were your impressions of the Bronx.
MR. FOOT – First, I dig how you people call it the Bronx. It’s like that with my kind. We live in the woods, not just woods. I have to say, I liked the tiny street your grew up on. Kinda quaint, which I wasn’t expecting. And that cemetery! There’s a world of history under that dirt. I could have explored that place for weeks.
HUNTER – Pardon the interruption, but you mentioned the cemetery. A lot of people claim that since they never find a Sasquatch body, you can’t exist. Some say that like us, you bury your dead. Is that true?
MR. FOOT – Different tribes handle it their own way. I once ran across this extended family down near Fouke who ate their dead. (Visibly shivers). Not cool, man. For us, we’re all about the cyclical nature of life and death. We know how difficult it can be to find a good meal when you’re a large mammal. We’re very in tune with others like us, say, like bears and big cats. When we die, we’re brought to where those guys hang out and fill their bellies.
HUNTER – Sounds pretty gruesome.
MR. FOOT – I mean, we’re dead at that point, so it’s not like we give an antelope’s asshole what happens to our body. Anyway, back to the Bronx, it was a cool place. That is, until you took me to where the subway runs. Look, I mark my territory, too, but the smell of urine there is bat crap crazy. What is with you people? And speaking of people, how can you live on top of each other like that? There’s a big, beautiful world out there. Why resign yourself to living like canned sardines? I have to say, when we were done, I kinda felt sorry for you as a species.
HUNTER – That’s funny, because my readers felt sorry for your character in the book.
MR. FOOT – Well, it was about time you didn’t just go all hog wild on killing cryptids. You’ve always been a stand up guy to me, but there are some cryptids out there who have dart boards with your face on them.
HUNTER – Jesus, really?
MR. FOOT – Oh yeah. What if I wrote twenty books about killing humans? You think I would be on any human Christmas card lists? No way. If you ever plan to go searching for a cryptid, come to me first. I’ll let you know if you’ll be treading on friendly ground or not.
HUNTER – Like the Jersey Pine Barrens?
MR. FOOT – That is now a no-go. JD is pretty pissed at you.
HUNTER – Telling a New Yorker to stay out of Jersey isn’t a bad thing. Now, speaking of whisky.
MR. FOOT – We weren’t talking about whisky.
HUNTER – Hey, I’m the interviewer here. What’s your favorite adult beverage of choice?
MR. FOOT – Honestly? I know you and I have poured a lot of that brown fire water down our necks, but if I had my way, I’d be just as happy with one of those Skinny Girl margaritas. Or their peach vodka. Good stuff, and I don’t have to worry about counting calories.
HUNTER – Are you messing with me?
MR. FOOT – Hell no. My wife loves it, too. Saturday afternoons, after a day of wrangling the kids, we like to split a bottle and just chill as we watch the sun set.
HUNTER – How many kids do you have?
MR. FOOT – Three with my current wife. I have seven in total from a mix of exes and a hookup here and there.
HUNTER – Sasquatches have hookups?
MR. FOOT – Unlike you, we don’t fight against our nature. It’s all about survival of the species, man. Don’t look at me funny. I’ve noticed quite a few of your kind excelling at spreading their seed. Like the world needs more humans. Sheesh.
HUNTER – This is not going where I had expected.
MR. FOOT – I’ve read your books. Neither is your career. (laughs his fool head off) I’m just kidding. You know I love you.
HUNTER – As much as the Jersey Devil hates me?
MR. FOOT – I wouldn’t go that far. The wife might get jealous.
HUNTER – Are there any other things you’d like people to know about you that they wouldn’t have guessed in a thousand years?
MR. FOOT – I like to retain some mystery. But let me see. You know those shirts that all say we’re the hide and seek champions? As a general rule, we HATE that game. Give me Stratego or poker any day. We’re much deeper thinkers than you give us credit for. I’ve binge watched the entire series of Homeland about four times.
HUNTER – Wait, you live in the middle of nowhere. How can you watch television?
MR. FOOT – (with a smile) That’s for me to know. I’m huge into Tex-Mex. Got a taste for it when I lived down in south Texas. Oh, and my favorite color is puce.
HUNTER – Puce? I don’t even know what that would look like.
MR. FOOT – Google it, buddy. Puce with a p-u. (laughs)
HUNTER – We need more cigars. How about we end this and go grab some?
MR. FOOT – Can we get some Skinny Girl?
HUNTER – Really? That’s how you want to end this? My readers will think you’re a wimp.
MR. FOOT – Yeah, well, the day they can call me that to my face is the day a T-Rex will march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
HUNTER – Good point.
As the great Bugs Bunny said, That’s All Folks! At least for now. Want to make Sassy a happy Squatch? Grab a copy of BIGFOOT IN THE BRONX. And next time you’re deep in the woods, leave a bottle of Skinny Girl margarita behind. Oh, and stop knocking on trees!
Believe it or not, it’s pure coincidence that the release of Bigfoot in the Bronx happens to fall on the same day as King Kong vs. Godzilla. I could never have planned it so well. Trust me.
So, who wants to squatch this place up?
It’s hunting season for best friends Shay and Vito. This year, with a bad economy and Shay out of work, it’s more important than ever to bag a deer so they can feed their families. Tucking their truck in their secret spot outside a state park in the Catskills, they settle down, waiting for a deer to come to them.
What they get is a giant creature that outruns a speeding deer and savages it with its bare hands and jagged teeth. Someone hidden in the woods shoots it with a tranquilizer dart. Shay knows what the beast at their feet is, and how its discovery can change their lives forever. They load it into their truck and head home for…
The drugged Bigfoot awakens in a cramped shed in Shay’s backyard. Confused, terrified, angry, it breaks loose in the middle of the night, seeking refuge in a nearby cemetery. When the bagpipes of a morning funeral drive it into a killing rage, the carnage has just begun.
From playgrounds to golf courses, apartment buildings to subway cars, the bigfoot is on the move – and it’s not happy. Can Shay and Vito find and recapture the beast before it burns the Bronx to the ground?
Now that I’ve survived the move and am settling into the new lair, it’s time to get back to readin’ and writin’. To that end, I’m 50 pages into my next novel for Flame Tree Press, titled MISFITS. I just finished writing the latest chapter early this morning. Brutal stuff, believe me.
But the book that I devoured like a starving man at a crab boil was CLAWS by Russell James and published by Severed Press, the king of monster adventure. I’m here to tell you that CLAWS is my definitive, best beach read of the summer!
I mean, look at that cover. Remind you of anything? 🙂 CLAWS has all of the B movie, chomp-stomping action I want in a page turning yarn while I sit under the hot sun. Russell James has knocked it out of the park and deep into the Atlantic Ocean with this one. I can’t recommend it enough, though I am trying. As we colorfully say in my neighborhood, this is the motherfucking shit.
About the book :
National Park Service Rangers Kathy West and Nathan Toland are the only ones stationed at Fort Jefferson, a restored Civil War fort sixty miles off Key West, Florida. Two overnight campers go missing, but before the rangers can investigate, shady Homeland Security agent Glen Larsson arrives to close the park due to a purportedly imminent red tide.
Things quickly escalate out of control when mercenaries arrive to back up Larsson and imprison the rangers. Larsson’s plan is to free a cast of giant crabs to overrun the park, and then Florida beyond.
It’s up to Kathy and Nathan to escape the fort, and then, with the help of an old Coast Guard vet and a scientist with inside knowledge of the plot, to save millions of innocents from rampaging giant crabs. But Larsson’s evil plan has been decades in the making, and the crabs seem indestructible. It will take courage, teamwork, and perhaps the ultimate sacrifice, to avert disaster.
Now stop wasting time reading blogs, liking Instagram pics and trying to find a one night stand on Tinder and buy Claws now!
When Severed Press asked me to write a lost world themed book, I put on several layers of coats and a balaclava and zipped my brain down to Antarctica. As a lover of The Thing, I couldn’t wait to strand a cast of characters in a cold, dark and bleak land. Many taps of the keyboard later, ANTARCTIC ICE BEASTS is born!
The ebook is out now, with trade paperback to follow shortly. So, what’s this little tale of winter horror about?
The South Pole in winter is one of the deadliest places on Earth. The seven person crew of the US Freedom Base lives alone in months of utter darkness with no hope of help or rescue. A freak storm batters the walls and threatens to expose them to the deadly cold. All they can do is wait…and pray.
The ground quakes. An alien screech rips through the night. There’s something, or someone, lurking outside. Fists bang on the walls. Each tiny crack in the base spells death by hypothermia.
Untold horrors have come to Freedom Base…and they want in!
It’s a new year and time for some new books for your ravenous eyeballs! First up in 2019 will be my next Severed Press action/adventure/horror novella, ANTARCTIC ICE BEASTS. The fine folks at Severed just sent over the cover and as always, they nailed it.
The hard, and fun part, was writing a story set in a US base in Antarctica that wasn’t a ripoff of The Thing or another tired Journey to the Center of the Earth tale. I think and hope I did just that.
I’ll let you know the publication date once I get it.
So, what do y’all think?
My new novel Curse of the Viper King is Grant Coleman’s latest adventure fighting (or maybe just surviving) giant monsters. In this story, he and a crew of loggers in the Amazon have to fight off giant spiders, among other things.
Spiders are naturally creepy. Furry, but not cute. Way too many legs. Fangs. We may love Spider-man, but we don’t love spiders, man. Fearing them even has its own name, arachnophobia. There’s no specific phobia for most other animals.
I didn’t have to spin too much fiction to come up with the spiders in this book. I just scaled up the real thing. They were scary enough.
Ground spiders are a set of species that do not spin conventional webs. They build web-lined burrows and shoot balls of immobilizing webbing at their prey. They have fewer, but much larger silk producing glands. So while most spiders are passive predators, waiting for prey to blunder into a web, ground spiders are active hunters, finding and felling prey.
And they are good at it. They are able to shoot silk with enough accuracy to hit legs and mouths of prey much larger than themselves. And this silk is sticky. The glue can withstand shear stresses that are more than 750 times what artificial glues can handle. Getting hit with this stuff is worse than being wrapped in a blanket of super glue.
And if that’s not chilling enough, the spider doesn’t eat the prey. It just sucks out all the fluid leaving a desiccated corpse behind. Do not volunteer to clean up after one of their dinner parties.
In Curse of the Viper King, Professor Grant Coleman and activist Janaina Silva are lost in the Amazon. They come across a logging team and hope they can hitch a ride home through them. But workers discover the remains of a giant snake that send them into a superstitious panic. Then that night, giant spiders arrive. The survivors of the attack find that their only hope for salvation lies in the lost Aztec temple of the infamous Viper King. But they have to get there and back alive.
So as your read about Grant’s harrowing exploits among the spiders, don’t give my imagination all the credit. This spider-induced terror plays out every day all over the world, just on a much smaller scale. Just be glad you aren’t a quarter-inch tall.
Russell James grew up on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching late night horror. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida. After flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales, including paranormal thrillers Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Black Magic, Dark Vengeance, Dreamwalker, and Q Island. His Grant Coleman adventure series covers Cavern of the Damned, Monsters in the Clouds, and Curse of the Viper King. His wife reads his work, rolls her eyes, and says “There is something seriously wrong with you.”
For starters, I’d really like to thank Hunter for inviting me here to be a guest on his blog and talk about my own recent take on dinosaurs, “The Lost World of Kharamu”. We both tackle horror from different directions, so it’s kind of amusing we’ve crossed paths this summer at an intersection marked by giant man-eating lizards.
For me, this is my first venture into the sci-fi arena – traditional, old-school horror stories are my usual dish – but truth be told, I’ve always been fascinated by dinosaurs. My earliest figurines were those hard-wax dino figures they used to sell in mall parking lots back in the day, the ones that used to melt in the sun if you forgot and left them out on the back porch (like I did). From there I went on to an ill-conceived attempt to build a dino-diorama, signing out every dinosaur book in our local library and Saturday afternoon features like “Lost World”, “The Land That Time Forgot”, and so on, movies that were pretty much over-the-top schmaltzy kid’s stuff. But I didn’t take them that seriously.
Until, that is, “Jurassic Park” showed up in the theaters.
Spielberg’s block-buster was a game changer. No stop-action Harryhausen figurines here – from the moment those thundering creatures appeared on that huge IMAX movie screen, those suckers looked terrifyingly real. The first time that T. rex roared, my knuckles went white on the arm rest and that scene where Jeff Goldblum is being chased? I still cringe. Michael Crichton’s book were no less amazing because the science behind them all seem plausible.
So, when it came time for me to cook up my take on the genre, the obvious question was: What on earth could I possible add to this?
Drawing from my experiences traveling in England, India, China and southeast Asia seemed like a good place to begin. Along with a whole bucketload of ‘what ifs?’. “The Lost World of Kharamu” takes its main character, renegade paleontologist Dr. Grant Taylan, on a rollercoaster ride from the Hudson Valley to the Natural History Museum in London, Mumbai India, and ultimately to a remote island in the South Pacific where a Chinese tech corporation is having the beta trial run of its ultimate cosplay themed vacation park. This ‘Lost World’, however, has its own special perks: a place where the ultra-rich not only get to play out their 1950s Universal monster-movie fantasies, but fight and kill real dinosaurs in the bargain.
Along with Australian dino-expert Audrey Adams and Indian Systemologist Roma Banaji, Taylan has to outsmart Russian black-market fossil traffickers, a relentless bunch of Vietnamese commandoes with a contract on his head, a psychotic ex-girlfriend, a Texas billionaire with a John Wayne complex and of course, dinosaurs. Not just the traditional sauropods and Tyrannosaurs we know and love, but also the swift, brilliantly-feathered Zhenyuanlong and the terrifying Utahraptor.
“The Lost World of Kharamu” is really intended as a throwback to adventure story-telling, with more of an adult twist and plenty of black humor. Don’t look for a Disney-theme here. If that interests you, I’ll be giving away two ebook copies free to random drawn responses to this blog, on Hunter’s discretion.
Thanks again, and as Mr. Romero said: stay afraid!
If you’re looking for one hell of a read that is grounded in a real life mystery, J.H. Moncrieff’s lates, RETURN TO DYATLOV PASS is a can’t miss. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek so I could provide a blurb. It’s a creepy tale filled with enough facts to make you wonder as an icy finger trails down your spine. I highly suggest you also read up on the real Dyatlov Pass incident, then go watch the horror movie, The Devil’s Pass. Fully immerse yourself in one of the strangest mysteries of the 20th century.
About the book:
In 1959, nine Russian students set off on a skiing expedition in the Ural Mountains. Their mutilated bodies were discovered weeks later. Their bizarre and unexplained deaths are one of the most enduring true mysteries of our time.
Nearly sixty years later, podcast host Nat McPherson ventures into the same mountains with her team, determined to finally solve the mystery of the Dyatlov Pass incident. Her plans are thwarted on the first night, when two trackers from her group are brutally slaughtered.
The team’s guide, a superstitious man from a neighboring village, blames the killings on yetis, but no one believes him. As members of Nat’s team die one by one, she must figure out if there’s a murderer in their midst—or something even worse—before history repeats itself and her group becomes another casualty of the infamous Dead Mountain.
Available in ebook and trade paperback.
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!
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.
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?