Lair of the Beasts: The Monsters of Staffordshire (Mania.com)
Date: Saturday, July 13, 2013
When Jonathan Downes, the head-honcho of the British–based Center for Fortean Zoology, asked me, via a transatlantic telephone-call late one cold and icy winter’s night in 2007, if I would be interested in writing a book for his Mystery Animals of the British Isles series, I quickly and enthusiastically said: “Yes.”
The subject matter was to be the strange creatures of the English county of Staffordshire.
When Jon told me of his ambitious plans to publish a comprehensive series of books that would detail the many strange beasts and out-of-place animals that have been reported throughout all of the various counties that collectively comprise the British Isles, I immediately thought – and I still do think – that it was a truly excellent idea.
After all, (a) no-one had previously ever embarked upon such a truly ambitious and wide-ranging project; and (b) each and every title would amply, and undoubtedly, serve to demonstrate the overwhelmingly rich diversity of beasts – some of straightforward flesh-and-blood origins, and others of a far stranger nature – that inhabit the darkened, and sometimes the not quite so darkened, corners of the British Isles.
And, anyway, Jon is my closest mate within the strange realm of creature-seeking; so I could hardly say “no” to his generous offer. As for the second reason why I quickly came on board, well, it’s because, as some of you may know, I spent many years living deep within the heart of Staffordshire itself.
As a result of that particular latter factor, I have come to firmly appreciate that beneath the county’s image and veneer of friendly and inviting normality, there are distinctly strange and diabolical things afoot in those parts – and particularly so after the sun has set, when the moon is full, and while the chill wind howls loudly and ominously.
Exotic big cats are said to roam Staffordshire’s thick woods. Ghostly black dogs with red, glowing eyes faithfully haunt and patrol its ancient roads and well-worn pathways.
Bloodthirsty werewolves are rumoured to be on the loose throughout the county. Fantastic and vicious water-beasts lurk deep within its streams, rivers, lakes and pools.
Out-of-place wallabies, wild-boar, porcupines, coypu and armadillos have all been reported from Staffordshire. And even the world’s most famous hairy man-beast of all, Bigfoot, has been known to put in an appearance from time to time.
For me personally, having grown up in the county itself, but now living on the other side of the world (just outside of the city of Dallas, Texas), it was an absolute joy to be able to return to my old, green and wooded stomping grounds, and to secure a wealth of witness testimony, photographs and much more on the weird and wonderful wildlife that resides in the heart of mysterious Staffordshire.
The Mystery Animals of the British Isles: Staffordshire has been a long time coming, chiefly because Jon Downes had so many other titles in the series already lined up for publication.
But, it will finally be released in August of this year, demonstrating that wild, weird and bizarre beasts really do roam the British Isles. And more than a few of them call the county of Staffordshire their home.
Co-written with Glen Vaudrey, Nick Redfern’s The Mystery Animals of the British Isles: Staffordshire will be published by CFZ Press in August 2013.