Things That Go Bump in the Night: Inspiration for Thriller Books
“Where do you get your ideas from?” This question is posed by readers more than any other. While in part my overactive imagination plays a big role in writing my Vermont-based thriller novels, there is also a fertile supply of ideas right outside my front door.
Take the Green Mountain National Forest for example. Made up of approximately 400,000 acres, this stretch of wilderness which crosses southern and central parts of the state is home to black bear, pine martens, bobcats…and perhaps even giant man-eating bats or snakes.
That’s right: Vermont is a land flowing in books and maple syrup, and also folk legends. If you’re interested in a nonfiction source of these stories, be sure to check out collections by Joseph A. Citro, particularly his book, The Vermont Monster Guide. It offers a fascinating look at some of the more well-known and unusual monsters living in the state.
Vermont forest, image credit JPC
The Green Mountain National Forest
This forest which spans a large chunk of the small state, is known for its rugged beauty. Visitors can enjoy hiking, camping, mountain biking, fishing and hunting. There are many well-marked trails in the forest. Not all areas, however, are meant for exploration.
In fact, a large section of land within the forest is labeled, “wilderness” and only accessible through service trails…and even those are few and far between. In today’s modern-day society it’s easy to think that real wild places are gone, or at the very least, far away from civilization. But the Green Mountain National Forest proves that a true wilderness experience is closer than you might think.
But getting back to those monsters…
Monsters in the Green Mountains
As I research and write the third book in the “Monsters in the Green Mountain” series, I’m learning more and more about Vermont’s wild places. And about the old legends and myths that surround many rural areas of the state.
While several accounts of a giant snake between 10 and 12 feet in length have been reported in central and southern Vermont, that’s only the beginning. It’s also believed that there are pigmen, a “forest wanderer,” who looks suspiciously like Bigfoot, huge mountain cats and of course, Vermont’s better known lake monster, affectionately nicknamed, “Champ”.
What if I took some of these legendary creatures and plopped them and some hapless characters into the Green Mountain National Forest, I thought. And that idea launched this book series.
While Book One and Book Two deal with a “man beast” and a demonic spirit, other books focus on the aforementioned giant snakes, a terrifying lake monster that turns human every 25 years and a huge, man-eating bat.
I recently asked on Instagram, what legends or monsters were well known in followers areas. The answers were interesting…there is definitely some overlap between stories, though variations keep things fresh and intriguing.
What about you? What folklore or folk legends are prominent where you live? Please share in the comments.
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