It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on this blog. I’ve been busy, my friends.
Today, as per my tradition, I took a train down to Chicago. I took a pleasant stroll from Union Station to Chicago Review Press’s offices on Franklin Street and Chicago Avenue. I turned in the manuscript for my second book.
The book is titled Monster Hunters: On the Trail with Ghost Hunters, Bigfooters, Ufologists, and Other Paranormal Investigators. I’ve spent the last 15 months working on it. It is about (for the most part) the lives of people who have dedicated a good part of their life seeking evidence of unknown entities—ghosts, Lake Monsters, Bigfoot, demons, extra-terrestrials, and many other things that go bump in the night.
The book’s release date is June 1, 2015. We have a solid cover, pending final word. I’ve been asked not to share it yet, but soon enough.
Like my last book, Heroes in the Night (still available HERE, on Amazon, and anywhere fine books are sold) this was quite a personal feat for me (it’s the longest thing I’ve ever written) and a huge learning experience.
I learned a lot about writing.
I worked hard on this book, harder than I’ve ever worked on anything before. I did countless hours of interviewing, read nothing but various books and articles on the paranormal for 15 months, and traveled to nine states. I spent many nights in haunted houses, alleged Bigfoot stomping grounds, on a lake said to have a monster in it, went to a UFO conference, and much more.
I learned some things that worked well for this book, and learned some things that didn’t work and that you shouldn’t do as a writer. It was often a challenge, and that’s what I loved about it.
I learned a lot about the paranormal…and it was awesome.
Before starting work on this book, I’d describe myself as a “casual fan” of the topics in my book. I read about them frequently when I was a youngster. Since then, I occasionally read stuff here and there and the times I did lounge in front of a TV, I’d watch some of those goofy reality shows. Good fun.
Well, the first thing I did upon signing on for this book is put down the book I was currently reading (Tom Wolfe’s Back to Blood) and filled up my desk with books on the paranormal. I took a couple of classes related to the topic and found a lot of fascinating cases that I had absolutely no idea existed.
Of course, the greatest learning experience was meeting the people involved in paranormal research. The people I met! It’s hard to see the forest from the trees, but looking back now, what a great experience. Just amazing and I’d like to give a heartfelt thanks to everyone who gave up time to do an interview and especially those who let me join them in the field. I absolutely had the time of my life. An extra special thanks to the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee. The largest word count in the book is about them and I appreciate them letting me join them and working with me to get what I think is a fantastic story.
I learned a lot about myself…and it was difficult.
Committing to a big project with a (relatively) short amount of time can, at times, take a lot out of you. It means that those of you who know me in real life, haven’t seen much of me (if at all) over the last 15 months. My social life suffered. I lost touch with people, became isolated. I spent a lot of time at home, in front of the laptop. I knew that to finish this project, I would need to do whatever it took.
I burnt through my money pretty quickly on travel. I could have just stayed at home and looked up ghost stories on Wikipedia, but you know that ain’t my style. My writing is not based on scholarly analysis, it’s based on getting out and meeting interesting people and joining them in the adventure of their lives. I ran out of money working on this project. I didn’t care.
I asked for more favors than I can ever hope to repay. I did problem solving in my head and crossed my fingers every day. I thought of the project when I woke up and when I went to sleep. It was a constant distraction. There are periods of days I would work on the book, not leaving the house, not caring about the outside world or anyone in it. I didn’t care if I had a place to live or a healthy diet, I just wanted to finish the book. It was intense. My goal wasn’t just to write a ding dong diddly book, but the best thing I’ve ever written.
You might ask if I think it was worth going through all that. Yes, it was. Absolutely.
Well, I tell ya. I do need to take it easy for a month or two. I got a bunch of little things I’m going to wrap up this fall. Really cool, fun side projects (stay tuned). I also am going to start planning a big event for the book’s release in June. I do have an idea for the next book I’d like to do and I’ve actually been quietly working on it for a couple years. I’ll snap into that project soon enough.
For now, though, I’m just going to relax a couple days and enjoy being relieved that Monster Hunters is done. I’m really looking forward to the day it’ll be available for all of you to read, too. I think it’s a look into a very interesting collection of people. And spoilers: plenty of weird stuff happens along the way.
A final note.
Thank you to everyone who has helped me in a big way or a small way or has just shown support or excitement to see this book. It really means a lot to me. There’s a ton of people I need to thank, but for now I’d especially like to thank the people who helped me out going through the final stage of the book. These include hard working editor Jan Christensen, who worked to clean up my language; my friends and talented writers Erin Petersen and Chris Roth (who has a book, Let’s Split! coming out soon), who gave feedback; Wendy Jean (who offered moral support, encouraging words, and photo editing) and my colleague David Beyer, Jr. who illustrated 15 stunning chapter header illustrations.
And as a sneak peek for that, check out this chapter header he drew for Chapter 3. It’s of the terrible blood-sucking entity known as the Chupacabras. Ooo-wee!
I will be updating this blog with more info on the book, it’s release event, and news on other side projects in a timely fashion.
Thanks for reading!