Interview-Alternate Perceptions Magazine, June 2015
An Interview with:
Author of sixteen books on Cryptozoology
by: Brent Raynes
A California native, Michael Newton has published 292 books under his own name and various pseudonyms since 1977. He began writing professionally as a "ghost" for author Don Pendleton on the best-
Michael Newton has to date had published a staggering 292 books under his own name and various pseudonyms since 1977. His first book, under his own name, was a book on cryptozoological reports for younger readers entitled Monsters, Mysteries and Man, published back in 1979. He also authored Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology (2005), as well as Seeking Bigfoot (to be available this September) and Strange West Virginia Monsters (coming out in August). He has written a total of 16 books on the broad and fascinating subject of cryptozoology.
Michael maintains an extensive website at: www.michaelnewton.homestead.com
Brent Raynes: You've had a very impressive and busy writing career! 292 books so far! You ghost wrote with Don Pendelton the best selling Executioner series. You're well known for westerns, true crime stories, political thrillers and psychological suspense novels, but you've also penned a fair number of books on cryptozoology, going all the way back to your Monsters, Mysteries and Man back in 1979. What was it that drew you into this strange and controversial subject matter?
Michael Newton: As of this year, I've written sixteen books on cryptozoology spanning thirty-six years, with most of those appearing since 2005. Schiffer Books has been kind enough to publish eight of the sixteen, for which I'm very grateful. My interest in the subject dates somewhat vaguely from age six or seven, during 1957-1958. Within that period I read an article on Nessie in one of my grandmother's Reader's Digest magazines, and two others in the scouting publication Boy's Life, on Nessie and the Yeti. Born and raised in California, I was also aware of the October 1958 Bigfoot "flap" at Bluff Creek, which remains controversial to this day. From there on, I began collecting any press clippings I could find about strange creatures, and later books as they appeared. Bernard Heuvelmans published On The Track of Unknown Animals when I was four, and I caught up with it in high school. Likewise Ivan Sanderson's Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life, released when I was ten.
Brent Raynes: What evidence have you yourself found the most compelling, the most intriguing?
Michael Newton: I give more weight to eyewitness accounts than do professional "skofftics," but try to maintain a properly cautious attitude. As Ray Crowe often said, I "keep my skepticals on" when reviewing reports of strange creature sightings. As far as physical evidence, some cryptid species have been identified and scientifically catalogued, so there's no doubt of their existence any longer. Likewise, many new species are identified worldwide each year. Among the "unknowns," I lean toward acceptance of the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film, based on scientific analysis by Grover Krantz, Jeff Meldrum, and other experts in anthropology, anatomy, primatology, etc. On that same subject, the dubious tactics, hysterical tirades, double standards, and fatal self-contradictions of certain critics (Jeff Long, Karl K. Korff, etc.) make me certain that "the man in the ape suit" remains unidentified and probably didn't exist. Likewise, while many Sasquatch-Yeti footprints have admittedly been faked, others clearly have not—at least in my view—and the notion of a global conspiracy hoaxing unknown biped tracks and sightings for centuries on end is more preposterous than the alleged existence of the creatures themselves. Another prominent case is that of the 1896 St. Augustine "globster." For much more on that and related topics, see my book Hoaxed!, published by CFZ Press in 2014.
Brent Raynes: Have you been drawn to any specific theory or explanation that for you best fits the anomalous evidence described by so many credible seeming witnesses?
Michael Newton: I tend to be a "flesh and blood" proponent of cryptozoology, regarding cryptids as actual creatures presently unrecognized by science or believed to be extinct (sometimes despite thousands of modern sightings, in cases like that of the Eastern cougar). Even so, there exists a body of paranormal cases—Bigfoot seen with UFOs or other cryptids; creatures that defy earthly zoological description; others blinking in and out of existence in a flash, etc.—that give me serious pause. It seems too much to simply discount out of hand, as professional "skeptics" do for the vast majority of cryptid sightings worldwide. John Keel may have been onto something in his book Our Haunted Planet, but I can't begin to say what that might be.
Brent Raynes: What advice might you give a beginner who wants to look into this fascinating subject for him or her self?
Michael Newton: Since there are no cryptozoology courses in school (except the occasional offering from Loren Coleman as an elective in Maine), and only one textbook I know of—Chad Arment's Cryptozoology: Science & Speculation—I would advise would-be cryptid hunters to read widely on the subject(s) but, unless you're rich and have tons of free time on your hands, begin any personal searches locally. Every corner of the planet has cryptid reports on file. A person with minimal resources and basic mobility can always pursue reports of sightings near their home, combining field work with archival research. They may also, initially, have better luck seeking out-of-place creatures—"OOPs," in cryptospeak—which are known animals, large or small, found outside their normal range and therefore "unexpected" within the definition posited by Dr. Heuvelmans. They might even discover a wholly new species, which happens much more often than most people realize. A note of caution: be aware from day one that there are no careers for cryptozoologists funded by any American government agency or academic institution, thus cryptid hunters are self-supporting via one means or another, primarily mundane day jobs. For understanding of the field, extensive study of biology, zoology, and related subjects is basic and essential.