Thursday, November 29, 2007

Exploring the Larger World

Since I come from a background of magazine feature writing I have the writers’ knack of becoming obsessed with a topic –for a while. Aside from the martial arts books I’ve written, I’ve also written articles about dating, mixology, jazz, blues, film, gastropod farming (no, that’s not a typo), business, parenting, writing, technology, folklore and dozens of other topics. When I’m in research mode I want to know everything I can about a subject, and then I find that one element –the hook—that will give me something unique that I can pitch.

For books, I feel that I’ve kind of ‘been there, done that’ with martial arts. I’ve been an active jujutsu practitioner for 46 years now and I’ve written extensively about it. In 2002 I ‘moved on’ from that topic and became more fully enmeshed in folklore, which has always been a passion of mine. I suppose it’s the closest thing to an abiding ‘obsession’ with me. There’s so much to say on the subject, even within my area of specialty, which is the folklore of the occult and paranormal.

My first book on that subject was The Vampire Slayers’ Field Guide to the Undead, which is the only book I ever did under a pen name (that of Shane MacDougall, an alter ego I’ve since bumped off).

That book gave me a taste for the supernatural and after I landed my agent I gave her a proposal for a new book on vampire folklore, VAMPIRE UNIVERSE, which is a collection of folklore and myths about vampires and other monsters from around the world and throughout history. That was bought by Citadel Press and bfore I’d even finished writing it the deal got tweaked and expanded so that I was suddenly under contract to write three more books in the same, um…’vein’.

The second in that series, THE CRYPTOPEDIA (co-authored with David F. Kramer) just debuted on September 1 and we’ve been touring bookstores doing talks and panel discussions. That one is an occult/paranormal dictionary covering thirteen different subject areas (from divination to UFOs).

The final two in that series are tentatively titled THEY BITE! (which discussed supernatural predators) and VAMPIRE HUNTERS AND OTHER ENEMIES OF EVIL, scheduled for release in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

In 2008 I’m diverting from folklore for a pop culture monster book: ZOMBIE CSU: The Forensic Science of the Living Dead, also for Citadel, in which I ask real-world experts in forensics, law enforcement, medicine, and science how they might react and respond to zombies (of the Night of the Living Dead variety).

One of the really fun aspects to this research is that I get to pick the brains of world-class folklorists, anthropologists, scientists, historians, as well as authors, artists and filmmakers. It’s a horror-buff’s dream job!

Cool websites to check out: (for info, art and cool facts on vampires, werewolves and other things that go bump in our collective night.) There’s even a page for the Yardley Yeti, our very own mysterious creature from here in Bucks County, PA. and for more on the fothcoming ZOMBIE CSU book. Not much stuff there now, but bookmark summer 2008 it will be zombie central!

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