Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Neil on White Noise Paranormal Radio

This Halloween Neil Arnold will be appearing on WHITE NOISE PARANORMAL RADIO from 10:00 pm

Friday, 17 October 2008

The Snallygaster!

This particular monster gained entry into Monster! The A-Z Of Zooform Phenomena, and it seems as though the mystery beast is back in the news again and the subject of a new book HERE

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Interview with Kurt McCoy

Below, Morgan's Ridge Mine (photo by Kurt McCoy)
On October 14th 2008 I interviewed Kurt McCoy, the author of WHITE THINGS: WEST VIRGINIA'S WEIRD WHITE MONSTERS. It was a pleasure to interview him as he was new to the game with regards to interviews, but I feel fortunate to have picked up a copy of his interesting book and hopefully, after reading this interview, you too will spend your hard-earned cash on WHITE THINGS.

The Interview:

1) Hi Kurt, thanks very much for agreeing to be interviewed, please tell the readers a little about what prompted you to write a book on West Virginia's 'white things' ?

Heya, Neil! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to be heard far from these shadow-haunted hollers. The book grew out of research I was doing for a volume specifically on the Grafton Monster sightings back in 1964 and the ensuing "monster hunt." Newspaper stories were easy to find, but I've had much less success in finding actual witnesses who were willing to discuss their experiences. I kept running across other stories of other monsters, and since I already had several stories I'd collected back in my student days, I thought I might as well put all those together and see if a book on the wider phenomenon might encourage more witnesses to speak up. That and I wanted to put together a sort of "test volume" in order to find out how difficult and expensive publishing would be. Turns out, it's much more work than I anticipated and considerably less cost than I'd feared!

2) Of all the stories you unearthed, what creature in the book fascinates you the most ?

The Morgan's Ridge Monster has a three to four generations deep history in Mason County. There are cycles of sightings and stories, and hoaxes based on those stories, going back many years. It's a fascinating social phenomenon, if nothing else. The Grafton Monster is a dramatic and exotic beastie that deserves not to be forgotten. But above all, you've gotta love Sheepsquatch! I think that eventually ol' Sheepsquatch will be right up there with Mothman as part of our regional folklore.

3) What are your opinions on such monsters - do you believe they actually haunt the woods of West Virginia or are something far more complex ?

Truthfully, I think most of these stories are the product of social phenomenon, yarnin', hoaxes, exaggerations and the like. But it is undeniable that there really are some people out there who are seeing Something. While I'd like to believe that at least some of those Somethings are real, biological entities, there has to be something more complicated, something stranger at work. There are too many different "types" of beings that have been seen and the circumstances under which they are observed range from mundane to the extremely bizarre. Ultimately, all I can say is that we have a genuine mystery of some sort roaming our hills and forests.

4) My book 'zooform' is the first ever book to collate these kind of ethereal creatures. What are your opinions on such apparitions which remain out of the framework of the paranormal and cryptozoology ?

It's a fantastic book, by the way, and I have personally adopted the term "zooform" as the best label to put on these weird creatures. As with John Keel's "Ultraterrestrials" there is a sense that a lot of these different beings are very similar, under the skin, as it were. I think anyone who seriously researches these sorts of sightings will quickly find themselves deep into a paranormal phenomenon rather than a biological one. We have widely disparate entities being seen which behave in almost the exact same manner. We have exactly similar entities being seen across an impossibly wide geographical range. They are literally everywhere we are. Some of that can be explained sociologically, but a lot of it cannot. We are sharing our world with...Something, something that we do not understand or even have a solid name for."Zooform" is about the best term we've got, to date.

5) Do you believe the colour of the creatures you've covered is relevant to their mythical status ?

Oh certainly! We generally get either black or white in our beastly apparitions, and both have deep social and symbolic significance. Either can represent supernatural or otherworldly origins. It so happens that here in West Virginia, we seem to have a significantly higher number of the white variety, compared to our neighboring states. The conventions of storytelling can account for some of that, of course. But we are still left with a glaringly obvious regional anomaly, any which way you look at it.

6) Why do certain regions of the USA, i.e. West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, seem to harbour a wealth of weird things, and also appear to be plagued by such monstrosities ?

The most sigficant reason for the apparent clustering, I think, is the presence or absence of researchers who document the sightings. Maryland has a very high number of weird creature sightings for it's size and population, but it also has a number of very vocal, prolific and diligent researchers. West Virginia turns out to have had many more sightings than I would have expected, given what I'd read in the literature. Once you start digging into the old papers and talking to long time local residents, monsters literally start popping out of the wood work. These things are not really "rare." Almost every town or community has had their own encounters at some point in their history.West Virginia has always had a reputation for being a place that is not quite like the surrounding regions. The conspicuous absence of large Indian populations here in the Colonial era and the often dire stories that surrounding tribes told about this region leads one to suspect that there is something particularly anomalous about our strange little mountain state. It is easy to believe that something is lurking in the deep woods, in the dark hollows, or under the hills.As for Ohio, well, Ohio is just weird like that. Place is crawling with monsters and spectres and whatnot! They really out to do something about that. Yessir!

7) Have you ever experienced a 'white thing' ?

Other than the odd experience I wrote about in the afterword, not really. My only crypto-relevent sighting was of a huge dark shape outside my window when I was a child. Since that was on the other side of the curtains, all I can say about it was that it was very large and dark and reeked of menace. 'Course, all too many of our neighbors could have been described the same way, so...

8) What has the response been like to the book ?

Surprisingly positive! Since I'm so close to it, I see every gaffe and wrinkle and flaw. Most of the people I've talked to about it seem to have enjoyed it, which was the main goal. Heck, even my Dad had nice things to say about it!

9) Was it easy to find a publisher regarding the book ?

Easy as looking in the mirror! Heh. This was my test project for entering self-publishing. Given the state of the art in print on demand and desktop publishing, self-publishing is much more practical than ever before. For books like mine with an unusual topic and a narrow regional focus, self-publishing seemed about the only way to go. 'Sides, it's nice to be in control of one's own work from start to finish, though it would be nice to have the validation that being picked up by a big publishing house would provide.

10) What books influenced you whilst writing WHITE THINGS ?

The biggest influences have been Dr. Ruth Ann Musick's The Tell-Tale Lilac Bush and John Keel's Mothman Prophecies. Dr. Musick really discovered and documented the archetypal White Thing cases. John Keel opened my eyes to the delightful depth of weirdness that my own home state contained. Just about as important as either, though, was John Moore's WVGhosts.com site. John was doing online what I'd been doing as an undergrad, collecting and preserving stories. His work is what convinced me that this phenomenon was more widely spread than just a local monster legend.

11) Have you ever gone looking for a 'white thing' ?

Certainly! Part of the fun of monster-hunting or story collecting is going out in the field and seeing these places and talking to the witnesses first hand! I've crouched in reputedly monster-haunted woods in the dark, stayed overnight in haunted hotels--walking the floors through the wee hours, boated above the sunken lair of river monsters and stared into subterranean tunnels whispered to be home to horrors unimaginable. Didn't go into the tunnels, mind you, I'm a rabid claustrophobe, so I don't do tunnels or caves. Nope! Never.

12) I once wrote an article on Sheep-squatch and other WV odd-bodies. Do you plan on an update or have you covered all that's to cover ?

Well, one always hopes to have written a definitive account, but there's guaranteed to be something that escaped notice the first time 'round. I know that there are more stories about the Kanawha County Creature, but I didn't have the transportation or social networking necessary to ferret them out. There are still stories buried in local newspapers that I didn't find, witnesses that I don't know about, etc. I suspect that I've barely scratched the surface of the whole story. Then there are significant other works such as your own article that I didn't have access to while I wrote this book. I've toyed with the idea of doing a second edition, but I think I'd rather do a follow up volume down the road. I still want to do books specifically on the Grafton Monster and the Morgan's Ridge Monster--as new information comes to light. And then there's Sheepsquatch. Sheepsquatch has got to have his own book, someday. It's a vitally necessary type thing.

13) Do you believe the 'white things' are all connected or separate mysteries ?

A little of both, really. Each individual story, each encounter is a unique event with elements exclusive to that particular experience. But it's impossible not to think that there is something fundamental underlying the whole range of events. Whether that something will turn out to be purely sociological or a metaphysical mystery, I dunno. Not knowing is half the fun!

14) Have there been any fresh sightings of a 'white thing' ?

Oh yes! The more I circulate the book the more I get people coming up to me with their own tales. There was a gray hairy thing sighted near Rosemont, WV that greatly resembles the Baker's Ridge Monster and the Beans Mill Monster. A friend told me of a cousin who saw somthing "not an animal and not a person" on the Goshen Road at night. More stories of Sheepsquatch emerge as people find out that others have likewise witnessed the bizarre beastie. One cannot overestimate the importance of the "But I'm Not Crazy!" factor.

15) Anything else you'd like to mention to promote your book ?

Sure! To date I've only printed a small batch of the book to test the publishing process and feel out what the demand might be like. As soon as I'm properly licensed and Ogua Books has it's full legal existence, I will be selling the book to bookstores and libraries, and hopefully soon on Amazon.com as well. Meanwhile, the next couple of books are already in progress! "The Truth is Out There!" And I want to make sure that anyone who is interested will get to read about it!Thanks!

Thursday, 9 October 2008


In 2007 when my book MONSTER! THE A-Z OF ZOOFORM PHENOMENA was published I attempted, within its 400 pages, to categorise many bizarre creatures and monstrous manifestations across the world which clearly were not flesh and blood forms but something far more strange, and often malignant. Since then, not many zooform-related books have emerged which is a shame considering most regions throughout the world are littered with spectral beasts, animal appairions and other incomprehensible monsters. So, thank goodness for Kurt McCoy and his 100-page book WHITE THINGS: WEST VIRGINIA'S WEIRD WHITE MONSTERS, published by Ogua Books.

Even the most hardened monster-hunters will not have heard of some of the strange entries in this book which are simply presented as stories rather than matter of fact events. Sure, some of the entries in WHITE THINGS are vague, others are foggy legends, some mere whispers, but that's the power and the magic of zooform creatures, entities which over time have had the power to terrify us, to shape shift and then vanish, never to be heard from again.

McCoy looks at a true phantom menagerie of West Virginia monsters, from the Graveyard Dogs, to the monster of Morgan's Ridge, and not forgetting the Sheepsquatch and an alien ark of white anomalies, some of which made it into my book.

A majority of these tales are sightings which have been passed down as campfire tales, and you can imagine some of these stories being read by the glow of a flickering flame. Of course, you'll be familiar with the Mothman weirdness which is mentioned here, but most of the cases are brand new yarns of terror, so, if you want to read another classic zooform book, then fix your eyes on this before it slips away into obscurity, because I'm pretty sure that monsters such as The White Devil, The Beast Of Boaz, and the White Wolf Of Elkins will have you reaching for the light switch.