Creature Feature

If you’re a regular follower of my blog, it’s no secret I have a love affair with creatures—a passion I developed early, thanks in part to my older brother. He had a Creepy Crawler maker when we were kids. Remember those? You poured colored goop into a metal mold, then heated it up in a toy oven. After the mold baked, you ended up with rubbery scorpions, spiders, and snakes. My parents eventually got me a Flower Power maker, and although it was fun, I was partial to the slithery things (this from someone who detests bugs).

When I was seven, I remember my mom taking me to the opening of a new mall. Something on that scale was a big deal back in those days. There were kiddie rides in the parking lot and cotton candy machines, but what I treasured most was going home with a plastic blue brontosaurus. I still remember that thing. I was so smitten with my toy creature.

Not long after that came telescopes and fanciful tales of space creatures. I fell in love with the Gothic soap opera Dark shadows, thanks to my older sisters, and learned about werewolves and ghosts. When I hit my teen years, I discovered folklore, fantasy novels, and reruns of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. There’s nothing like giant squids, lobster men, or mutant plants for creature nirvana!

silhouette of creature in the woods at night, full moon in backgroundMy love for creatures eventually found its way into my writing. To date, I’ve told tales involving a werewolf, a sea monster, a changeling, and a notorious cryptid—the Mothman. With my upcoming release, Cusp of Night, I have a new monster to foist on readers, a Spring-Heeled Jack like being known as The Fiend. If that isn’t enough, I’ve tossed in a few ghosts for good measure. 😊

Cusp of Night releases on June 12th, and I’m doing everything I can to launch this one successfully. Several friends have already volunteered to host me on their blog. I’ve pre-written posts in preparation of book touring and have more posts simmering on the back burner. I rarely if ever reblog, but this time I’m going all out. You’re likely to see multiple posts and reblogs in this space over the next several weeks as I push Cusp into the world.

If you’d like to help spread the word, I’m looking for blog hosts with availability in June and July (or heck, even later). Please email me at maeclair (at) maeclair (dot) com if you’re interested. And no worries if you can’t help out—we all have crazy juggling acts of family, writing, and jobs. I get that there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

As for Cusp of Night, the story goes something like this:

book cover for Cusp of Night, a mystery/suspense novel by Mae ClairBLURB

Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house–a woman whose ghost may still linger.

Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

Cusp of Night is already available from all booksellers for pre-order through this link:  PURCHASE HERE

If you’re thinking of grabbing a copy, pre-ordering is a huge help for a successful book launch. I know we all have gargantuan TBRs but there’s no harm in padding them a little more, right? 😊

Thanks for considering, and thank you if you’re able to help with my book launch.

Exciting times!

I’m starting a new series *gulp*

I’ve got a new creature *gulp*

I’ve got dual timelines and dual mysteries *gulp, gulp*

Now if I could just find a plastic blue brontosaurus as a good luck charm! 😊

Mythical Monday: Pennsylvania’s Tearful Squonk by Mae Clair

It’s always fascinating when I stumble upon a new creature in my ongoing searches for all things odd, mythical, or cryptozoological. Even more rewarding when I discover a beastie from my native state of Pennsylvania.  Today, I’d like to introduce the Squonk.

Doesn’t the name sound like something out of Dr. Seuss or Jabberwocky? I love saying it. Give it a try… “Squonk.” It makes me want to cuddle the poor thing.

As it turns out, the squonk could probably use a good cuddle— assuming you could get past its ghastly appearance.  A mid-sized animal that goes about on four legs, the squonk will never win a beauty contest. Its skin, which sags and flops on its frame, is covered in a mish-mash of warts, boils, and moles.

Illustration of the mythical Squonk, a creature rumored to haunt the hemlock forests of northern Pennsylvania

Illustration from “Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods” illustrated by Coert Du Bois and by William T. Cox, 1910 PUBLIC DOMAIN . By Coert Du Bois and by William T. Cox;Tripodero at en.wikipedia [Public domain or Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Said to favor the dense Hemlock forests of Northern Pennsylvania, this pitiful creature spends most of its time hiding and weeping, ashamed of its grotesque appearance. Bashful and retiring, it usually ventures out at dusk when it is less likely to be seen. On nights illuminated by a full moon it prefers to stay completely hidden, fearing it might otherwise catch a glimpse of its reflection in a pond.

Numerous hunters have attempted to capture a squonk, tracking the animal by the trail of its tears. All have failed. If cornered, or even frightened, the squonk will quickly dissolve into a puddle of tears.

How terribly sad is that?

Legend tells of a particularly clever hunter who was able to lure one of the creatures into a sack. He quickly tied the bag and hefted the beast over his shoulder for the stroll home. Halfway there he realized his burden had grown incredibly light. When he looked inside the sack he discovered nothing but liquid—all that remained of the woefully despondent squonk.

Although it’s not entirely clear from the research I’ve done, I tend to think the squonk reverts back to its physical form when the threat has passed—and most assuredly begins weeping again.

Given its pitiful existence, I hereby nominate this Mythical Monday as “Hug a Squonk Day.” Assuming, of course, you can catch one long enough to brighten the poor thing’s dismal existence!