A trip Hunter Shea made to the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine two years ago sparked the idea for THE DOVER DEMON. While he was there, he met famed cryptozoologist, Loren Coleman and talked about creatures he’s personally investigated. It turns out, he was the man on the scene in Dover, MA in the late 70s when the uber strange biped was spotted by several people over the course of two nights in April, Hunter reported. He also gave it its name, Dover Demon.
First, thanks for having me here. It’s good to get out of my cage every once in a while. I’m a writer, husband, father and full time monster man. I live just outside of NYC, which is why a lot of my books take place down here (just like Stephen King is all over the Maine map – we know the horrors lurking within our home states). I do have a day job where I’m the director of a global company. I absolutely love writing and still can’t believe there are books out there with my name on the spine. I read a ton of books and watch movies all the time. Thanks to Netflix, my wife and I do a lot of binge watching. Right now, we’re in the middle of Breaking Bad. I share my home with 2 cats – one who is more like a dog. If I won the lottery today, I’d either dive into full time archaeology or become The Dude from The Big Lebowski.
Sierra: When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
Hunter: I dabbled with stories and poems all through grade school and high school, but I didn’t get really serious about writing until the mid-90s. A close friend was working on a book of his own and he inspired me to try my hand. I started with awful short stories, then a really bad novella, and back to stories. Only after I’d practiced my butt off did I try to write a novel. It was, of all things, a romantic comedy. I believe I wrote and finished it in 1998. I recently re-read it and though it has flaws, it’s actually pretty funny and touching. Getting to The End was such a milestone for me. I proved to myself that I could do it, and I started to learn the cadence of novel writing.
Sierra: Tell us a little bit about your first book or the first book in the series.
Hunter: My first published book with an honest to God legit publisher was Forest of Shadows. It’s a novel about ghosts and a man who lost his wife in her sleep the same day they won a big lottery. I set it in Alaska because I’d always wanted to go there. This was my way to live in Alaska for a while, at least in my mind. It was meant to be a one-and-done book, but readers asked for more and I had an idea for one of the characters that I just had to try out. The next books in the series were Sinister Entity and Island of the Forbidden. They’re very unique takes on haunting and interactions with the dead. I hope to write another one next year.
My current book is right in line with my obsession over cryptids. The Dover Demon takes the real story of a strange creature spotted in 1977 and turns it upside down.
Sierra: How did you choose the genre you write in?
Hunter: I grew up addicted to horror, so it was a no brainer that I was going to write horror. Seriously, no one who knew me growing up is surprised that I do what I do. J
Sierra: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write?
Hunter: In The Dover Demon, I loved the bond between the father Sam and his son, Nicky. The man ended a lucrative career so he could be with his son more, even buying a comic book shop together. I lost my own father a couple of years ago. This was my way of reuniting us.
Sierra: Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Hunter: The Dover Demon was an actual bizarre creature spotted by 6 teens over the course of 2 nights in the town of Dover, MA in 1977. It truly scared the bejeezus out of them and was investigated by the police, MUFON, cryptozoolgists, you name it. Some people thought, later on when the concept became more ubiquitous, that it was an alien. Most thought it was some kind of strange creature or animal, though one that could walk on its hind legs and had a humanoid face with enormous, black eyes. The accounts, when you consider the time it was spotted, are chilling.
Sierra: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Hunter: It’s probably cliché by now, but Stephen King was an enormous influence. I looked forward to his books and movies like they were Christmas and my birthday wrapped up in one. Reading him led me down paths to exploring other authors like Lovecraft, M.R.James, Wilke Collins and modern masters like Clive Barker and Robert McCammon.
Sierra: Do you ever experience writers block?
Hunter: So far, no. I think if I sat back too long and got lazy about writing, I’d find it hard to jump start my brain. I haven’t taken my foot off the pedal for the past 10 years, so I haven’t hit that roadblock yet. I hope I never do.
Sierra: Is there an author that you would really like to meet?
Hunter: Going to conventions since about 2000, I’ve met so many of my literary heroes like Jack Ketchum and Joe R. Lansdale. If I could sit at a bar with one author, I would pick Robert McCammon. When I read his stuff, I wonder why I even try, it’s so good. And he’s had a very interesting history with publishing and writing horror, some of it great, some terrible. I want to hear his war stories, get into his head, learn his process. Oh, and hopefully get rip-roaring drunk while we swap tales.
Sierra: Will you have a new book coming out soon? If so, can you tell us about it?
Hunter: It was a crazy summer, with 2 books coming out within a month of each other (Tortures of the Damned and The Dover Demon). My next book, I Kill In Peace, will be out April, 2016 through Samhain. It’s a nasty little novella that takes some scary leaps of faith.
Sierra: If you could go back and do it all over again, is there any aspect of your first novel or getting it published that you would change?
Hunter: No way. I didn’t take the traditional approach, but somehow, it worked. I wrote it for one publisher and editor in mind, and I sent it to them only. No querying agents, no shopping it around. If they didn’t want it, I was either done altogether or would write another for them and see what happened. I’m proof that miracles do come out of the slush pile. And it’s led to book deals with 4 other publishers over the past 5 years.
Sierra: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Hunter: Read. Read until your eyes are sore. Learn the music of writing. If you want to write genre fiction, make sure you read the best that genre has to offer. Get familiar with the authors, publishers, editors and agents who live in that world. When you sit down to write, keep at it until you finish and don’t be afraid to send you manuscript into the world.
Sierra: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Hunter: Thank you all so much for the support you’ve given me. I really couldn’t do this without you. I know my publishers wouldn’t let me keep plugging along if you didn’t buy my books. J I’ve written 4 books in 2015, so there’s a lot of scary new stuff coming your way. You can follow along at www.huntershea.com. I’m also doing something new with my latest book. As I write it, I’m sharing what’s going on with it daily. I’m posting updates on Twitter with the hashtag, #HunterWrites. If you’ve ever wondered what goes in to writing a novel, this is your chance to experience the daily grind.