Loren Coleman is currently the world’s leading cryptozoologist, having written such books as Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America, Mysterious America, and Cryptozoology A to Z. He has also appeared on and consulted for many TV shows, such as MonsterQuest, Weird Travels, In Search Of…, and many more. He runs the websites Cryptomundo and The Cryptozoologist, and is also the curator of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.
Recently, I reviewed the book Monsters of New Jersey: Mysterious Creatures in the Garden State by Loren Coleman here on The Occult Section. I loved the book, as I tend to do with any of Mr. Coleman’s writings, and it left me wanting more. So I decided to contact Mr. Coleman to see if he would be gracious enough to grant me an interview. Even though he is an extremely busy and dedicated professional, he graciously agreed to answer my questions.
Jason Stroming: Loren, thank you for taking the time to talk to us here at The Occult Section.
Loren Coleman: You are welcome. This is my busiest time of year, so I appreciate your patience with me getting back to you to answer your questions intelligently.
JS: I recently had the chance to read your newest book, Monsters of New Jersey. Can you tell us how that project came about?
LC: Stackpole approached me about writing a book on cryptozoology for them, and their editor Kyle Weaver had in mind a series for the states. I was interested, as regional books are fun to write.
JS: So out of the 50 states, what made you decide to focus on New Jersey for this book?
LC: Stackpole made that decision, based upon their readership research. The Jersey Devil, it appears, is a favorite of the NY media, so perhaps that came into play in their choice.
JS: Did you spend a lot of time in NJ while researching the book? And if so, what about it surprised you, cryptozoologically speaking?
LC: I have spent a great deal of time in NJ, over the years, in exploring the cryptozoology history of the area. Indeed, an early and important cryptozoology conference took place there, and I was able to meet Richard Greenwell, Patrick Huyghe, Richard Ellis, and some other significance figures in the field there too.
JS: Were there other New Jersey monsters that you came across that didn’t make it into the book, perhaps for being too “out there?” The giant wooden English-speaking bird comes to mind, but even he got mention in the book!
LC: What giant wooden English-speaking bird? That sounds more mythical than cryptozoological, and we decided to exclude myths vs legends from the book.
JS: Getting away from New Jersey a bit here. One of my favorite cryptid cases, and one that you basically broke open, was that of the Dover Demon. Like the Jersey Devil, the Demon doesn’t seem to fit into any neat cryptozoological archetype. Do you have a theory as to what you think it may have been?
LC: The Dover Demon, other than vague links to Little People and Merbeing stories, is one of those cases that I have always been happy to say “I don’t know” about it. Some accounts, frankly, we have to not be afraid to say “we do not have any clear answers about this one!!”
JS: Another favorite of mine, and one which you have written about extensively, is Mothman. Do you think that this was yet another cryptid that just eludes easy classification? Or was it just a number of different phenomena (UFO sightings, monster sightings, etc.) that all got mistakenly lumped into one “weird” penomenon?
LC: Mothman, Lizardmen, and Dover Demon-type “cryptids” are on the edge of cryptozoology due to some writers. But if you look at them from another angle, they are merely out-of-the-mainstream cryptids. They are all worthy of our attention.
JS: Are there any well-known (or even not so well-known) cryptids that you don’t believe exist? And why?
LC: I don’t “believe” in any cryptids. I accept or deny the evidence of the animals being reported, scientifically.
JS: New animal species are being discovered all the time. In your opinion, which has been the most significant in recent years?
LC: A hundred years ago, the answer would have been the okapi and mountain gorilla. Fifty years ago, I would have said the coelacanth. Today, the discovery of the saola, Homo floresiensis, and some of the other animals from Asia are the most important. But every new finding is important to show that new animals are being discovered every day, and these are large species, folks.
JS: If you had to hazard a guess, which currently undiscovered cryptid do you think has the best chance of being discovered in the near future?
LC: The current “celebrity cryptid” that will be found next and make a lot of news will be the Orang Pendek from Sumatra in the next 25 years.
JS: I know you reside in Maine, and your Cryptozoology Museum is in Portland. Stephen King bases a lot of his stories in Maine and I think a lot of people must think there is a lot of “high strangeness” there because of that. Do you have any favorite odd accounts from Maine?
LC: Too many to repeat. The fact that in central Maine there is a large dark animal, like a mysterious black cat or hynea-like creature, is still terrorizing people and livestock is one of the under-discussed secrets of the state.
JS: You’ve been “monster hunting” since you were pretty young. Can you share with our readers one of your favorite personal experiences from your travels?
LC: They all are my favorites and that’s why I’ve written over 32 books, including my newest one next month, True Giants, about Gigantopithecus. The books that have become classics, Mysterious America and Cryptozoology A to Z, certainly review my travels and give a good feel for my favorite topics, experiences, and stories, such as my Dover Demon investigation or my black panther examinations.
JS: Before you go, can you give us any ideas or hints about what you’ll be working on next?
LC: Well, several trips are in the works, as well as books. Besides True Giants that will be out next month, there are two or three books for next year. One is Bigfoot in Maine, another is Monsters of Massachusetts, and the third is Mothman: Evil Incarnate. I have several other books in the works. My books on Tom Slick, also, could be made into a movie in the next couple years.
JS: Thank you so much for your time Loren, it’s been a real pleasure!
LC: Thank you too and Happy Halloween!
Again, I would like to thank Loren Coleman for taking the time out of his very busy schedule to talk to me. As a paranormal investigator, and with any field, it’s always amazing to be able to talk with the people who inspired you to follow in their footsteps.