At the back of my current edition of Piasa is a blurb about the upcoming second novel in this series, Cryptid. Cryptid was released in April of 2018. Although Cryptid references characters and events in Piasa, it stands alone.
Piasa is about the legendary bird that inhabited the area around Alton, Illinois, before the supposed ‘discovery’ of America. I think most people now know that people were living here long before the ‘discovery’ as such, so I won’t go there. In Piasa a number of other cryptids are mentioned as possible candidates for follow up by the protagonist, cryptozoologist Mike Kellogg. They included the Jersey Devil, Queensland Tiger or Tasmanian Devil, and the legendary black panthers sighted around England for many years.
While researching these cryptids to write about, I was drawn to the fact that cryptids are not only unknown animals few have ever seen, but they can be known animals out of place either in time or location. Black panthers are not cryptids if you live where leopards or jaguars abound. An African lion is not a cryptid in Africa but, unless he’s escaped from a zoo or other place, running free in the state of Illinois, he is. There have been reports of large African Lion like cats in Illinois. Not in zoos but running free. Most are thought to either be misidentified animals (large dogs or mountain lions) or escaped pets. I’m continually amazed at the number of lions, tigers and such that are kept as pets. To me, the domestic cat is a much prettier (as well as safer) version of these felines.
Of course, we in America’s Midwest, followed the ‘Lion in Milwaukee’ story in July of 2015. A short video showed what appeared to be a female lion strolling through a back yard there. No trace of it was ever found and depending on whose story you follow, it was thought to be a cougar, a big domestic cat, a dog, a dog whose hair was cut to look like a lion, or simply a hoax. It was briefly resurrected early in 2017 when someone claimed they caught a lion on their security tape. This video was not very clear and most people wrote that off as a large cat. You can still find these stories, and maybe some new ones, on the net, just search, ‘lion in Milwaukee.’
Further, most people do not know about melanism, why some animals, such as black panthers (they are either jaguars or leopards), are born black.
Putting these three things, (Out of time or place, lion in Milwaukee and melanism) together, I made that the focus of Cryptid. It takes place in downtown Chicago, continuing the personal story of Mike Kellogg and Sara Williams, a year or so after the events of Piasa. Whether or not you’ve read Piasa, I hope you read and enjoy Cryptid. I think I’ve gotten better as a writer and it’s different.
Will there be a third novel? At the present time, I’m not sure. I have an idea of a plot but other projects will tie up my time for the foreseeable future.