Greg - Where did you get the idea for The Jersey Devil?
Hunter - Growing up in New York, I was always aware of the Jersey Devil legend. When NJ named their hockey team the Devils, I thought it was about the coolest move in professional sports (unlike, say, the Mighty Ducks…blech!). Plus there was the great X Files episode about ‘ol JD, not to mention one of the first found footage flicks, The Last Broadcast. As you probably know, I’m a cryptid nut. I’ve been dying to explore the twisted world of the Jersey Devil for years. I also talked to cryptozoologist Loren Coleman and he said it would be a fun creature to write about some day. Well, that day is now!
Greg - What is the scariest story you’ve ever read?
Hunter - The old Twilight Zone Magazine used to publish some of the best short fiction in the 80s. I remember a story called “The Tuck At The Foot of the Bed” by Ardath Mayhar. I was around 12 when I read this tale about a woman who obsessed about making sure her sheets were tucked in tight every night, lest her foot slip out and dangle over the side of the bed. Needless to say, it happens one night and the results scared the shit out of me. I was too old to be scared by monsters under the bed, but I’ll be damned if I never once allowed my feet to dangle over the edge of the bed again.
Greg - Who is your favorite Scooby Doo monster?
Hunter - It’s gotta be the Headless Horseman. And you know why? Because as a kid, I was taught the story in school. We even got to visit the location where the horseman was said to have ridden. To me at the time, they weren’t teaching me about a fictional story. It was a real story! Why else would teachers spend so much time on it? So the Headless Horseman was someone, or something, to rationally be afraid of. Scooby and Shaggy helped alleviate some of those fears. Nothing like a couple of stoners to dispel your worst nightmare.
Greg - You have been tasked with eliminating one of these from the collective human consciousness: King, Lovecraft or Stoker. Which one would it be?
Hunter - King and Lovecraft have such immense, influential bodies of work, I think it would be hard to eliminate them. Stoker is primarily known for Dracula. Sure, his absence will create a void (and eliminate Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee’s careers), but that’s far less a black hole than if you took away the fantasies and horrors of King and Lovecraft. Not to mention, I can re-read them with ease (okay, maybe Lovecrafts dense, clunky prose isn’t all that easy). I’ve read Dracula twice and that’s enough for me.
Greg - Tell me a little bit about your protagonist in The Jersey Devil. Is it a James Bond type, never in any real danger – always able to get out of trouble and into the leading ladies' pants? Or more of the John Rambo type – skilled and deadly but with a heavy cross to bear? Or perhaps Ripley (Alien) – a strong female who can take charge and kick butt when she needs to?
Hunter - I wanted to try something different this time around. Instead of people running from the monsters, I wanted to gather a group of brave souls to run to the monsters. In this case, it’s the Willet family, three generations of farmers who live in upstate New York (actually, Pine Bush which isn’t that upstate but home to countless UFO sightings, as well as ghosts, Bigfoot and Men in Black). Their patriarch, Boompah, watched as his wife was kidnapped by the Jersey Devil when they were courting. She returned a changed woman, and the entire family line has been scarred ever since. The Willets - Boompah, his son and daughter-in-law and their three twenty-something children - have been waiting their entire lives for the beast to pop its head up again. When it does, they race to the Pine Barrens armed to the teeth and with vengeance on their minds, but they are far from Rambo and not as prepared as they’d thought. This book is about a loving family banding together to face an improbable evil. I think readers will get a kick out of them and cheer them on.
Greg - Which authors have been the greatest influence on your writing?
Hunter - Stephen King, of course. He never stops being an influence. Robert McCammon is one of the best pure writers to ever hit the horror genre. Believe it or not, Ernest Hemingway and Elmore Leonard taught me to get right down to the story and discard all the unnecessary bullcrap. I’m a big reader, so there are innumerable authors who inspire me, teach me, guide me, I’d need an entire book just to go through them all.
Greg - You’ve got a gang coming over for a BBQ on the 4th of July. Naturally, you wait until 10 minutes before closing on the 3rd to get your meat. All they have left is ground turkey (burgers), lamb chops, or tofu sausages…what do you bring home?
Hunter - You’re talking to the man who slipped canned haggis on his friend’s nachos one day and told him it was ground beef under all that cheese. It stunk so bad, but he ate it. I’m going for the tofu sausages. First, it’ll be fun to tell everyone after they eat that they just had tofu. Second, I like the challenge of soaking those tubular sensations in enough beer to make them palatable on the grill. Not to mention I’ll get everyone good and drunk so they’d eat the package they came in and thank me for it.
Greg - Are your books the type of stories that you would allow your own children to read?
Hunter - Now that they’re 17 and 19, yes, but not when they were younger. I gotta put my foot down somewhere. This coming from the father who allowed his 13 year old to get a lip ring.
Greg - David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar?
Hunter - For sheer showmanship, spectacle and fun, David Lee Roth. When Hagar joined the band, I was pissed. However, looking back now, musically, Van Halen was a better band with Hagar. But I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Diamond Dave. If you ask me who to party with, I’m heading down to Cabo with Sammy.
Greg - Do you have a plan for the apocalypse, or will you just wing it?
Hunter - I’m just going to let it ride and see what happens. Unless I buy a house with a built in bomb shelter, I’m too preoccupied to take the time to do proper prepping. One thing I know I don’t have to prepare for is zombies. I’ll just have to take the rest as it comes. I actually think something from space will ultimately finish most of us off, no matter how many guns and rations we’ve stowed away. Goodbye iPhones, hello dinosaur graveyard. We’ll be tomorrow’s fossil fuel. I hope I at least make the premium gas!
The Jersey Devil
THE LEGEND LIVES
Everyone knows the legend of the Jersey Devil. Some believe it is an abomination of nature, a hybrid winged beast from hell that stalks the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey searching for prey. Others believe it is a hoax, a campfire story designed to scare children. But one man knows the truth...
THE DEVIL AWAKES
Sixty years ago, Boompa Willet came face to face with the Devil—and lived to tell the tale. Now, the creature’s stomping grounds are alive once again with strange sightings, disappearances, and worse. After all these years, Boompa must return to the Barrens, not to prove the legend is real but to wipe it off the face of the earth...
THE BEAST MUST DIE
It’ll take more than just courage to defeat the Devil. It will take four generations of the Willet clan, a lifetime of survivalist training, and all the firepower they can carry. But timing is critical. A summer music festival has attracted crowds of teenagers. The woods are filled with tender young prey. But this time, the Devil is not alone. The evil has grown into an unholy horde of mutant monstrosities. And hell has come home to New Jersey...
This week's guest is Hunter Shea
Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. His video podcast, Monster Men, is one of the most watched horror podcasts in the world. He’s a bestselling author of over 13 (lucky number!) books, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.
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