Saturday, June 9, 2018

Summer Sea Serpents



Summer Sea Serpents


Bigfoot is one of my favorite topics because he’s the subject of my novel Bigfoot CSI, but he’s not the only cryptid in town. Cryptids are creatures that science doesn’t recognize because scientists can’t get their hands on a specimen to slaughter it and cut it up, or lock it in a cage to become the subject of painful, unnecessary experiments. Cryptids are the focus of Cryptozoology, a field of study considered a “pseudoscience” because it doesn’t have any unfortunate specimens to inflict the scientific method upon. Cryptids include Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, Chupacabra, Jersey Devil, and a long list of other such creatures which might or might not exist, but which are clever enough to avoid human laboratories.

The Loch Ness Monster is an exciting cryptid that has been luring the curious to Scotland for decades. There are those who claim it’s a plesiosaur, which is a long-necked sea-dwelling animal that became extinct 65 million years ago. Since Loch Ness is connected to the ocean, the theory that Nessy is a sea dinosaur makes sense to its supporters. While the Loch Ness Monster is the most famous of the sea-dwelling cryptids, it’s by no means the only one.

Lake Champlain in New York State, Vermont, and Quebec, Canada has its own maybe-plesiosaur. Nicknamed “Champ” after the lake where it lives, this creature has been seen and photographed for decades. There are even sound recordings that are similar to the vocalizations of Beluga whales, although no Belugas live in Lake Champlain.

The Southeast coast of Georgia has its own plesiosaur-like cryptid called Altamaha-ha (or Alty). This creature has been spotted in the Altamaha River, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Tales about Alty date back to the Native American Muscogee people who inhabited the area. In March, 2018, the body of a strange creature washed up on the Georgia coast near the mouth of the Altamaha River. Its long neck and flippers were reminiscent of the plesiosaur and the Alty sightings. Someone got a picture, but somehow the creature’s body was not recovered, so it couldn’t be studied to figure out what exactly this thing was. 

What I find particularly interesting about this creature on the Georgia coast is its similarity to the story in Bigfoot CSI. In my novel, there's a girl who has to destroy the bodies of dead Bigfoot creatures so they can't be found by humans. She and others like her are called "scrubs." Her function is vital because if humans knew Bigfoot (and other cryptids) existed, then they would devote more time and effort to tracking the creatures. 

It's fun to imagine that some real-life scrub tracked down the body of this sea serpent and destroyed it before it could be retrieved and studied. Maybe my next cryptid novel should focus on Alty or Champ or the Loch Ness Monster. Writing the book would be a good excuse for a nice vacation at the beach.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Why Bigfoot hides


“If Bigfoot really exists, why does he stay hidden? Why not show himself?” a friend asked me recently. We were discussing the premise of my new novel Bigfoot CSI, which is about a teenage girl whose job is to destroy the bodies of dead Bigfoot so they won’t be discovered by humans.

My response to the question was simply that interaction with humans tends to go badly for animals of all sorts. Even creatures like gorillas that look like hairy humans get shot, locked in cages, and experimented on. What sensible Bigfoot would want to sign up for that? My friend didn’t think I was giving humans enough credit and disagreed with my negative assessment of how we treat the creatures we share the Earth with.

A few days after the conversation, I saw this article about a loose African warthog was spotted running around Port St. Lucie, Florida. Apparently, a warthog—which had probably belonged to a local resident because it was friendly—was roaming the area. It took some time, but wildlife officials finally caught it. It’s unclear why that was necessary. It was living in Florida, for goodness’ sake! It’s warm enough for a warthog to survive, there are already alligators and massive snakes, and if you’ve ever been to Key West. you know that an African warthog isn’t the strangest mammal they’ve got down there. 
Image result for African warthog image

Once they caught the poor pig, they promptly killed it. “Euthanize” is the word used in one article. That word suggests putting a creature out of its misery for humane reasons. There was no reason to believe this pig was in any misery. He acted tame and friendly. The wildlife officials claimed to be concerned about disease transmission since they didn’t know where he had come from. If they didn’t want to have him running the streets, then why not put him in a zoo? Or turn him over to ICE so they could deport him back to Africa? He was Pumba from the Lion King! How can you murder Pumba?

This incident was the perfect support for my argument that interaction with humans is never a good thing for wild creatures. Why would Bigfoot refuse to show himself? Because wildlife officials could pretend they’re worried about diseases he might have, so it would be safer to just kill him. Then they would study his body, which is what another article reported they did with the poor warthog.
That warthog wasn’t bothering anyone, just blending in with the other wild, hairy, naked things in Florida, yet he had to be killed and cut open to satisfy some scientists’ curiosity. Tragic. 

You stay hidden, Bigfoot! And be careful in Florida because you’re probably not the biggest, hairiest, weirdest thing in the Sunshine State.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

BIGFOOT CSI is on the loose!

It's finally out! BIGFOOT CSI is the novel I've been working on for way longer than I care to admit. I started it years ago, before we even moved away from Illinois, then things got busy when we got to our new home in Georgia. Poor Bigfoot was pushed to the side too many times. I even finished a couple other projects in the meantime and published the adult novels SAUCY GIRL and DEAD GIRLS DON'T GET FAT.

No matter what happened, I couldn't stop thinking about Sasquatch. It was like he was lurking in the woods of my subconscious, waiting to stroll across the path when I least expected it--and when I happened to be without a decent camera--just like a typical cryptid.


So I buckled down and finished the book. Now it's published, and the whole world can read it! Please, Whole World, read it!

This is a funny, exciting novel about 16-year-old Piper O'Connell who has just learned that she's part of a secret sisterhood of girls and women who are born with the skills to protect the race of bigfoot from human hunters who seek to expose them. The job is dangerous, the hours stink, and Piper gets paid in trinkets like dead animal parts and shiny stones. The only perk is her tall, dark, handsome, and genetically complicated partner, Sam. Piper is intrigued by him, but she's reluctant to meet his mom, who's 7 feet tall and lives with a pod of other bigfoot in the Georgia mountains.

Piper is kept busy "scrubbing" the bodies of dead bigfoot near her small town of Senoia, Georgia, and she must solve the mystery of who is killing the creatures before her friends--and maybe even Piper herself--become the murderer's next victims.

Please check out BIGFOOT CSI and please write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. This book is the perfect companion for those long, cold vigils in the woods waiting for Bigfoot to show himself. Enjoy!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Review of MONSTERS AMONG US

I'll admit to being creeped out by parts of this book, but it was so cool, I couldn’t put it down.Author Linda S. Godfrey has compiled accounts of encounters with both cryptids of various kinds and unexplained phenomena. For anyone who doesn’t know, cryptids are legendary or supernatural creatures like Bigfoot, the Lock Ness Monster, wolfmen, etc. They are the focus of the field of cryptozoology. These creatures might exist, or they might not, but if they don’t, it’s surprising how many people claim to have seen one.

Godfrey starts her book with wolfmen/dogmen/transformation stories. My favorites include the dog-headed guy who was sitting in the backseat of a limo. He looked like a normal German shepherd, until he raised his human arm and propped it on the car window. I also liked the woman who transformed into a wolf-like creature in the middle of a Sunday church service. Church Lady appreciated showmanship.

There are lots of other cryptids represented throughout this book, including everything from Bigfoot to werewolves to UFOs. There are plenty of odd phenomena, too, like footprints appearing in the middle of a snowy field, all manner of unusual lights, and portals that allow creatures from who-knows-where to appear and disappear at will.

MONSTERS AMONG US uses a consistent approach when examining the cryptid and unusual phenomena stories. Typically, the author has been contacted by someone who claims to have seen something unexplained, and she interviews that person. Sometimes the incident was witnessed by multiple people, in which case, the stories from all witnesses are compared. Each incident is catalogued with its date, time, location, weather conditions, etc. in an effort to provide as much information as possible while ruling out alternative explanations for the phenomena. For instance, the sighting of a doglike creature that occurs at dusk might be easier to misinterpret than the same creature in broad daylight.

This is an intriguing collection of cryptid tales that has crept into my subconscious. This morning, when I accidentally dropped a spoon, my first thought was the old superstition that says dropping a spoon predicts that a child will be visiting. My second thought was that I hoped the visiting child wouldn’t be some supernatural monster that tumbles out of a portal onto my front porch. 

There’s another book on my to-be-read list called BLACK EYED CHILDREN  by David Weatherly. I can’t wait to read it, but the inevitable sleepless nights are worrisome. Almost as worrisome as uninvited cryptid kids showing up because of one stinking dropped spoon….