This post is not about the origin of the legendary cryptid. I’m writing about the origin of our book The Legend of Bigfoot: Leaving His Mark On the World. The book doesn’t release for five months yet, so I wasn’t sure what sort of blog post should be the first. The beginning seemed like a good place to start.
Before A Thought
The journey for this book began six years ago, before Cryptid World was even a thought. Bigfoot entered our lives when Mel moved to China in August of 2014 to be with her boyfriend and attend the University.
For Mel’s 19th birthday, I sent her a care package, but I knew she might not get it in time, if at all. As a back up plan, I wrote her a short story. It had to be about something she loved. Always a cryptid and monster lover, I chose her favorite at the time–Bigfoot.
I knew very little about Bigfoot beyond the tabloid articles my step-dad used to leave lying around. I had never heard the word cryptid before. But I desired to create a true-to-life story, depicting Bigfoot–one that Mel would enjoy and be proud of. Thus began my research into the origin of a worldwide phenomenon in which an over-sized harry hominid had been elevated to iconic status.
My very first search was something like: “Bigfoot in Kentucky” because Kentucky was the setting for the short story. Why? No reason. Close to home, I guess. So what did I find? A story about Daniel Boone, the Yahoos or Yeahoh, some Cherokee legends, and some pretty twisted hillbilly tales. But the stories were so fun! And so was the idea of this animal-monster roaming the hillsides. I began to understand the appeal.
The Next Phase
Long story short, I wrote an 18,000 word piece called “Protecting Bigfoot.” Fast-forward a half year. Mel returned home from China and my oldest son moved to Chattanooga. On a road trip to deliver his belongings, Mel and I discussed writing and illustrating other short stories together. We even laid out a few. This was how we discovered road trips were a wonderful plotting tool for us. After writing three novels, Mel and I acquired an agent who’d never hear of cryptids, but he liked our stories, our concept, and Mel’s extraordinary ability to illustrate.
About this same time our editor, whom we didn’t know at the time, was dreaming about publishing cryptid resources for fans.
There are times when the stars align and all the pieces of a dream fall into place.
Having taken a career break to reset after a divorce, move, and a job change, etc., I accepted the challenge to write a couple non-fiction books with Mel for Indiana University Press’ imprint, Red Lightning Books. What did we have to lose?
We threw ourselves into researching, interviewing, and documenting what we believed to be the most diverse and interesting aspects of Bigfoot. What resulted was a fairly comprehensive guide. Not complete by any means. There isn’t enough room in one book to document everything that centers around Bigfoot. But we pushed our word count and illustration count a little over the max and the end result is a unique and fun resource for Bigfoot fans.
The End Result
Right at one year ago, we applied the finishing touches to the unedited Bigfoot manuscript titled: Bigfoot: America’s Favorite Cryptid. (I still kind of miss that title). The press changed it to The Legend of Bigfoot: The Inside Story Behind America’s Favorite Cryptid, and then changed it again to the current title. It’s since been edited, designed, and proofed. Now the fun task of marketing so that all Bigfoot fans are aware that it exists.
I’ll be forever enamored by how this cryptid entered the scene and took front and center on the world’s stage. While his suspected purpose and role in our culture has changed over the years, he is no less popular and no less fascinating. This is the definition of an icon. That is why we found so much enjoyment in writing this book, showing how Bigfoot has left his mark on the world.
If you’d like to read an excerpt, click here.
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