Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Researching the Unknown - Bigfoot

One of my friends asked me how I researched my "ghost" books. I mean, it isn't as if there are real ghosts, right?

This, my friends, is what we call artistic license. I've been reading scary stories and watching scary movies since I was a kid. I've seen dozens of incarnations of vampires and ghosts and mummies, etc. Add in a touch of my own proclivities, and that constitutes research.

For the book I'm currently working on, I had a wild hare to write about Bigfoot. I'm taking a quick detour away from Hillendale to write my version of a pandemic story (without the pandemic, because we don't know how that story ends quite yet). It's a romance, but you know me. I like a little something extra thrown in. A "lagniappe" as they say in Louisiana (learned that term writing The Twins!). Well, I have very little experience with the Bigfoot phenomenon, so I started into research. What documentation is there? What are the stories, the folklore? One of the amazing things is that all the sightings are fairly consistent. Another amazing thing is that there are actual scientists studying said animal. Sufficiently convinced it was worth pursuing, I tuned into a couple of documentaries done by people tracking the elusive Bigfoot. Elusive being the operative term.

What did I learn researching "the unknown?" Welp, it seems Bigfoot is extraordinarily smart. It knows how to avoid detection. Imagine that. The folks who have seen it? Let me put it this way. I have an open mind. I'm not going to doubt their stories, but the documentaries? (insert skeptical sigh here).

Let me go back to ghosts for a minute. I have always enjoyed the ghost hunter shows. They treat their topics seriously, and if they always filmed in the dark with people talking in hushed, spooky voices for dramatic effect, well, that sort of fits the theme, don't you think? Campy? Sometimes. Realistic? Not necessarily, but they always leave room for the imagination. "What was that?" And usually there's something that triggers their response.

Now. Back to Bigfoot. One of the documentaries showed how the scientists are researching traces--the things they've found. But the Bigfoot hunters? I watched two installments in the series and gave up not only watching, but also trying to incorporate the animal into my story. Bigfoot is NOT nocturnal, and yet they went out at night with heat vision goggles in search of their prey. They talked to witnesses who they said had credible stories, and yet they said the stories weren't necessarily credible... contradicting themselves. Bigfoot avoids human contact, apparently, and is always moving, and yet they went to the places it had been seen. Again, contradictory. The hunters appeared to be taking their job seriously, and yet I felt like I was watching Scooby Doo. Zoiks! Campy. Silly. Illogical. So silly, in fact, that I couldn't even come up with a credible "stretch my readers' sense of belief" scenario. If I couldn't buy into it, how am I going to convince a reader of the possibility?


So now what? How do I incorporate a little something extra into my current work in progress? Here's a spoiler. One of my characters sticks to science and logic and the other is an author with a vivid imagination. I'm still in the early stages, but I'm thinking the supernatural/preternatural discussion will carry the day without presenting them with an actual "sighting." Then again, it is early stages. You never know what might show up when they least expect it!


  1. When I read anything with paranormal elements, I always want a scientific explanation at the end. Guess that's because I studied science and married a biologist. I'm willing to suspend some disbelief but I have to accept going in that it's an "out of my comfort zone" book.

    It was interesting to hear 3 paranormal authors speak about how they created their worlds, and all of them said they used the "normal" world but added only one paranormal element.

    Of course, then there's fantasy/sci fi where the author creates an entire world.

    1. That sounds about right, in my experience. Thanks for stopping by