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When Bigfoot Kept Me Company

“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”—Socrates.

Last week, I talked about the wind shifting in our lives. Mel and I faced the decision to either set our sails and flow with the wind toward a new adventure or keep the sails tied up and continue forward as we were.

“As we were” meant working on book four of the Belied Outcast Legends—YA folklore romance (not published yet, but there’s some interest). Anyway, we had just traveled to New Mexico for research and were excited to write about our next folkloric creature. If you’ve seen our website, then you know we enjoy making up and illustrating stories about cryptids. We’re huge fans of the fun surrounding the unknown—the “what if…”.

After our research trip this past August, I plotted, joined a couple writing accountability groups, and started Nanowrimo in November. But after the first few thousand words of the new novel, our agent called with a potential non-fiction book deal from Indiana University Press–to write about Bigfoot!

Bigfoot is near and dear to my heart. He helped me during one of the most difficult times in my life. Laugh if you must, but please allow me to summarize: In the summer of 2014, I started the process of going through a divorce. Mel and I moved from China back to Ohio in the USA. In August of 2014, before Mel and I even thought about writing together, she returned to China to be with her boyfriend (now fiancé) and to go to college.

I was a mess. Not only because of the divorce, but Mel is my baby. We had never been apart. My boys were as supportive as time allowed, but I missed my daughter. Because mail delivery in China is an iffy-thing, I wrote and emailed Mel a short story to ensure she would have something meaningful from me on her birthday. At the time, Bigfoot was her favorite cryptid and he became my best friend.

After her departure, I dreamed up a story about an 18-year-old who tracks Bigfoot to vindicate her dead mom but finds herself caught between her dad’s silence about the past and a greedy hunter’s willingness to trade secrets for the Bigfoot location. (I may or may not have used the story as a therapeutic tool, but what can I say? Divorce is all consuming).

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Bigfoot by Mel Ayers

 

I researched all facets of Bigfoot and the surrounding culture. As I went through Divorce Care, obtained a new job, and reorganized my life, Bigfoot kept me company. Then, three months after she left, Mel moved home. Bigfoot was forgotten until July of 2016 when I took a career break from my job as a Social Worker. That’s when we turned the short story into a full-length book titled The Unfailing.

Fast forward to November of this year and the big decision. Did we want to place our current projects on hold and write this non-fiction book?

To try the project on for size, we worked up a proposal and explored what this book would mean for our future—for the future of Cryptid World. Through research and discussion, we both felt an excitement, a joy that comes with learning and sharing.

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So we said yes, and in December, we signed our first book contract with Indiana University Press. Book four of the Belied Outcast Legends will be placed on hold temporarily, but other folklore fiction projects will continue as well as Mel’s artwork. (The new book will feature up to 70 of her illustrations). I’m so proud of her.

I turned 50 this year. Mel turned 23. We’re on opposite ends of the career spectrum. Where she brings a fresh perspective to our team, I bring experience, both in writing and life. The future is wide-open for the both of us. But one thing is certain: We will never stop pushing one another to become the best writer and illustrator that our talents will allow.

“There is no substitute for hard work.” –Thomas Edison.

Want to hear Steve jobs say it. Here is a video that I found extremely helpful.

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a wonderful week!

Do you believe in Bigfoot?

Have you ever had to make a big unexpected decision?

5 thoughts on “When Bigfoot Kept Me Company”

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