Southern Appalachia goes squatchin’
Bigfoot is alive and well in Haywood County, at least through the pages of Eric S. Brown.
Creator of the acclaimed science fiction series Bigfoot War, the 38-year-old Canton author has made a name for himself around the world as one of the finest horror writers on the market. Emerging into the writing scene with his apocalyptic zombie novellas, Brown has shifted in recent years towards Bigfoot, the legendary half-man/half-ape terror of the wilderness.
Set in Haywood County, the seven book series has garnered significant praise from readers and critics alike, with a film on the first novel currently in production.
Brown has churned out about 50 books in his writing career over the past 12 years. Early on, he held down a gamut of day-jobs to pay the bills and support his writing habit. But now that he’s made it into the mainstream, it’s his full-time gig — that and being a stay-at-home dad to his two young kids.
With the pop-culture phenomenon of zombies and public obsession over an apocalyptic society at the end of its rope, the timing couldn’t have been better for the fast-paced, violent worlds created by Brown.
He recently sold the movie rights to Bigfoot War to Origin Releasing. The film is already in preproduction with a target release date of 2014. The movie, although technically set in Haywood County, will be filmed in Texas.
Alongside the hefty book sales, Brown’s entrance into Hollywood has surprised and delighted him. It won’t be Haywood’s first rodeo on the silver screen, however, although its other movie forays are of a decidedly different variety. Other novels set in Haywood that were made into films include Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain and Ron Rash’s Serena.
Brown sat down with The Smoky Mountain News to discuss the phenomenon of his work, why Bigfoot is perfect for horror writing and how deep down he’s still that curious kid with a love for comic books and monsters.
Smoky Mountain News: So why Bigfoot?
Eric S. Brown: I spent eight years writing apocalyptic zombie horror and I became pretty burnt out on them. So, I started looking for another monster. Growing up in the rural South, I was terrified of Bigfoot as a kid. And, there aren’t many Bigfoot books around. I told my publisher I’d like to do an apocalyptic Bigfoot book. They said it was insane, but it could sell. They took a chance and the first book came out in May 2010.
It kind of sat there for eight months with people wondering what the heck it was. Soon, people began picking it up and the whole thing exploded. It spent a year as the highest rated Bigfoot book on all of Amazon and Amazon U.K. The sales have been phenomenal for a small press book. I just kept writing them. There are seven books in the series currently on the market, with book eight ready to come out later this year.
SMN: You must be writing like a fiend.
ESB: [Laughs] I get up and get my wife and son (age 7) out the door, then write like crazy when my daughter (age 1) takes her nap. I try to write at least a minimum of a 1,000 words a day. But, if it’s a project I just started and I’m excited about it, I can get up to about 5,000 words a day.
SMN: Where does that love for writing come from?
ESB: I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I almost came out of the womb screaming to be taken to a comic book store. I’m a huge comic book geek. “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead” sealed it for me — I knew I wanted to write horror. I wrote and wrote, and it all gathered dust. After I got married, my wife said I should try and get published. I wrote some short stories and I had about 15 published stories my first year. It just snowballed from there.
SMN: Why the horror genre?
ESB: I think all writers are inherently damaged or we wouldn’t be writers. And this is kind of cathartic for me. It’s a good way to let out all of the negativity in your life.
SMN: What do you like about Bigfoot as a character?
ESB: He’s bigger, faster, stronger and meaner. With zombies, we’re talking billions of them, with Bigfoot maybe around 1,500 in my books. My Bigfoot can run about 30 miles per hour, has the agility of an ape, can lift about half a ton or more. They are big, scary creatures. Their muscle density can deflect bullets, where zombies can be taken out with one gunshot.
SMN: Do you have personal views on Bigfoot?
ESB: It’d like to believe Bigfoot does exist, but I’m not completely sold on the idea. I’m not a scientist. I’m a horror writer.