Ghoultown Frontman Lyle Blackburn Hunts For The Truth About Bigfoot With His First Book.
By Cory on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 11:15 AM
For more than a decade, "Count Lyle" Blackburn has fronted the Dallas-based hellbilly outfit Ghoultown, releasing nine albums, writing the theme song for Elvira's Mistress of the Dark and embarking on several European tours in the process.
For some time now, Blackburn has also been using his talents as a writer to pen more than just his band's spaghetti-western-meets-horror-flick lyrics, writing a regular column for horror magazine Rue Morgue on the subject of cryptids, a.k.a. those creatures whose existence has been suggested but never proven.
Over the past couple of years, he's taken his passion for the subject to a new level, intensely researching tales of the Boggy Creek Monster -- a sort of bigfoot-like creature -- from Fouke, Arkansas, and compiling his findings into his first ever book, The Beast of Boggy Creek: The True Story of the Fouke Monster.
When hearing Blackburn, who is also a member of the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy, talk about bigfoot, his absolute sincerity on the subject shines through.
Next Tuesday night, Blackburn will be at La Grange in Deep Ellum signing copies of his new book, prior to a screening of the film Southern Fried Bigfoot.
In advance of that appearance, we thought we'd ask the newly-minted author about writing his first book, his own encounters with bigfoot and his continuing hunt for the elusive creature.
Why did you feel like the true story of the Boggy Creek Monster needed to be put into book form?
I've always been a fan of the old movie The Legend of Boggy Creek ever since I was a kid. When I started writing for Rue Morgue, the horror magazine, I covered mostly topics that have to do with cryptozoology-type monsters because I've been interested in the bigfoot phenomenon in general. One of the things I started looking into was what exactly was true about The Legend of Boggy Creek thing and the movie, and I literally just started out going to the little town of Fouke and researching. I quickly discovered that there was a whole lot to the story, and that the sightings of the creature still go on today. There's never really been a book written that covers the whole thing, so I thought it would be a really cool topic for a book. That's how I got started. As it turned out, I had plenty of material and the book turned out great.
You've been interested in cryptid-type creatures for a while now, but how did you become such an authority on these kinds of creatures?
I was in the right place at the right time, I guess. Like I said, I had been interested in it and for some reason I wrote an article on the history of bigfoot in horror films. I knew the guys from Rue Morgue because they had covered our band [Ghoultown], and I happened to give them this article. They really liked the writing and the way I did, and that's how I got picked up covering stuff for Rue Morgue. From years of reading and researching and knowing a lot of people in that bigfoot community, and going out and doing my own research, I just kind of stumbled into being a writer on the subject.
How much research went into this book?
Quite a bit. I spent at least a solid year doing research and writing on it. That involved countless trips up to Fouke, which is close to Texarkana, just across the Texas state line, about three hours from Dallas-Fort Worth. I had to kind of gain the trust of the town that I was writing a serious book on the subject and that I wasn't going to make fun of them or anything like that, because I was truly interested in it and felt it had a great history. Once they kind of saw that I was doing a legitimate project, a lot of the locals and folks that had sightings and stories about the movie, or whose parents had seen the creature, started coming forward and telling me about their experiences. It took quite a long time.
Is this the first major thing you've written that's in more of a journalistic style?
I used to write for the Dallas-Fort Worth-based metal magazine Harder Beat years ago, and I covered music in that case. Then came the Rue Morgue stuff and some different writing projects. But this is my first book. In the last couple of years, I've really come into the journalistic-type writing.
Why do you think people are so fascinated by the idea that there could be mysterious creatures out there hiding in the woods?
I think that everybody loves a mystery. That, of course, applies to all those types of subjects, like UFOs and ghosts. All these things are very popular right now. Specifically for bigfoot, I think there is also an extra level of intrigue that this creature could possibly be similar to us in some ways, a primitive version of humans. It gives people a lot of things to imagine with regards to what this thing could really be. Is it human? Is it real or is it not? I think that kind of keeps people going. It's kind of like something that people are innately curious about and it's fun. For me, I like monsters, I like horror movies and I've always loved bigfoot. Really, whether it's real or not, it's still interesting to me. How cool is it that I can go up to the backwoods of Arkansas and hear people tell me that they saw a monster? That's totally cool.
What's your opinion of shows like Finding Bigfoot? Do you think that they're presented in a way that maybe makes fun of that culture more than tries to tell their story?
No, I don't see any of them making fun of it. In the case of Finding Bigfoot, people have to remember that it is TV and that it must be entertaining. You can't show actual bigfoot research because a lot of is very boring and nothing happens. Not a lot happens on the show sometimes. I know several of the cast members on Finding Bigfoot, and I was just at the filming they did in Oklahoma, and I can tell you for sure that the guys on the show are dedicated bigfoot researchers... I think, in general, that show and all the other documentaries they do on this stuff are quite well-done and very cool. Obviously, they're a hit with people because they keep churning these things out.
Do you hope that somebody does find or capture a bigfoot-type creature someday? Or would that kind of ruin the whole thing? In this case, is it more about the thrill of the chase than the possible end result?
It's hard to say. I've kind of pondered that question from time to time. I think, in some ways, people would go, "Wow, you were right! You wrote this book and this thing turned out to be real!" That would be cool, but of course science would kind of take things over and take things out of the hands of the amateur bigfooters. It could possibly put a stop to the way things are now. I think the interest would just be in a different facet of it, even if it is caught. People are still going to try to figure out, "Well, we caught this one in northern California, does that mean there's for sure some in Arkansas or Ohio or Oklahoma? What about those sightings?" There's still a lot for people to try and sort out and investigate.
Now that the book is finished, do you still see yourself periodically keeping tabs on these people or joining them in hunting for bigfoot?
Yeah, definitely. Even outside of the book research, I just enjoy bigfoot investigation. I didn't get into that just because I was writing a book. It made me kind of concentrate on a certain area, but I still am involved with a lot of other bigfoot research in Oklahoma and in Texas. I'm still going to continue to do those things. Quite possibly, I'll do a book in the same genre but on a different aspect.
Do you have any personal stories of any sightings or anything that you've come across in any of your hunts?
Unfortunately, I don't have anything that I've seen or heard that I could conclusively say is a bigfoot. I'd love to get a glimipse of the thing myself, but, regardless, my association in the field has put me face to face with so many people that have really really good sightings and that are really sincere about these. I have good friends that are very credible and that I definitely believe, and they have some pretty good sightings. So, even though I haven't seen one myself, it doesn't really take away from it.
Do you think fans of your band or people who know you more from that arena will be surprised that you wrote a book? How do people react when they hear you've written a book?
A lot of them have really gotten interested in the subject because of my involvement and my writing about this stuff. I've noticed that some of our fans that you'd see at shows are actually posting that they went to Fouke to check it out. They've even emailed me asking how to go about going on a bigfoot expedition. I think it has interested a lot of people. I have always stressed the quality of my lyrics in all the bands I've done, so I don't think it's too much of a stretch for people to imagine that I could write a book. I'm sure there are some that go, "Well, he's the singer in a band, how good could he really write?" But if you look at the reviews of the book, I think that I can compete with any authors out there.