Tea’s Weird Week: A Tale of Two Chupacabras
There are two types of Chupacabras within you. Let’s discuss.
Well, actually, maybe I should back up. When my book Monster Hunters was released in 2015, I decided to celebrate by creating a Milwaukee Paranormal Conference. We needed a snappy logo and I decided on a Chupacabra. But why– Chupacabras has no connection to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, right? It’s legend is found in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Colombia, and southern states like Texas and New Mexico.
I’ll tell you why. Chupacabras are 100% certified badass, that’s why. That’s it. Plus artist David Beyer had drawn an incredibly badass Chup for Monster Hunters, for a chapter titled “The Slaying of the Chupacabras,” so we recycled that art into the logo. I wanted to switch up art every year, so subsequent MPC Chup logos were designed by artists Catherine Palmeno (2016), Alex Groh (2017), Tim Demeter (2019- we skipped’18), and Estephanie Mendoza (2021- we had a virtual event in 2020, that year we had a Sasquatch/UFO designed by Margot Lange).
I happen to love the word, story, and imagery of CHUPACABRAS. In fact, I have a long delayed fiction that has a trio of Chupacabras in the storyline. I would love to work on that some day (but it won’t be some day soon).
The first Chupacabras reports can be traced back, specifically, to Puerto Rico (let’s call it Chupacabras puertoricanus). In his book Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore (University of New Mexico Press, 2011), researcher Benjamin Radford lays out a compelling case that the original Chupacabra case stems from a Puerto Rican woman who had just seen the movie Species (1995) and shortly after claimed to have seen a similar creature on her property. Like the creature in Species (which was designed by the great artist H.R. Giger), this monster was described is looking somewhat like a hunched over Grey alien with rows of long spines on it’s back; later depictions also included bat-like wings and fangs.
The news grew bat wings on the island and soon people were talking about US experiments gone wrong and the creature was blamed for reports of livestock allegedly found drained of their blood. Chupacabras translates to “goat-sucker.” As my TWW podcast co-host Heidi likes to say: “Chupacabras: they really get your goat.”
The second style of Chup comes from the Mexico-US border area (Chupacabras texmexus) some years later. These reports, it was quickly determined, were not of supernatural creatures, but rather of poor dogs, foxes, and coyotes suffering from bad cases of mange. Mange causes animals to lose their fur. Imagine driving under the moonlight on a rural road and your headlights happen upon this poor devil lurking on the side of the road:
The southern Chupacabra has taken on a life as it’s own and sometimes you’ll see a crossbreed of the two– a canine-like animal with spines down the back and extra-terrestrial black eyes. Ah, the life of a Chupacabra breeder.
So now, as we begin planning stages of Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2022, I asked artist Jill Zgorzelski to design this year’s logo. She asked if I was looking for the Puerto Rican or Southern version, and although our previous artists have gone with the Puerto Rican, I told her either is acceptable, because we need to let all Chupacabras into our hearts and minds. She’s going for the Southern fried version and I know she’ll do something great.
SEE ALSO: My book Monster Hunters is still available here: Monster Hunters | Chicago Review Press
Keep an eye out for the new art and Milwaukee Paranormal Conference updates on our website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.
Check out Jill Zgorzelski’s art page here: Jill C. Zgorzelski | Facebook
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My latest books are:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021, Vegetarian Alcoholic Press)
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)
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!