The great thing about Nick as compared to other cryptozoologists I have seen on the tele, or whose books or articles I have read is this: Nick is not full of shite. Plain and simple. He actually does proper research and digs for the truth. Nick does not just say something exists just because he wants it to exist. I admire him for this, as well as for his seemingly vast knowledge of many unexplainable topics. Topics, for example, that I was pretty sure only myself and a very small handful of people were familiar with. Now that is impressive.
Nick Redfern is what a research investigator in any field should strive to be like: thorough.
Do yourself a favour, my creepy creatures, visit Nick's web site, and buy a few of his books. The information you will glean because of his knowledge and research alone is worth every bob you spend.
You may go now. Read the interview and try not to get eaten by the unknown beasties lurking around your house.
- Lili's Lair: Please tell my readers what cryptozoology is, exactly.
Nick Redfern: Basically, cryptozoology is the study of, and the search for, unknown animals, such as Bigfoot, the Chupacabras, lake-monsters, sea-serpents, and the Yeti. However, cryptozoology can also encompass the search for known animals in areas where they shouldn't be seen. For example, Britain - where I'm originally from - has a lot of sightings every year of large, black-cats on the loose. Of course, there should not be any such animals roaming Britain. But people see them all the time. So, the mystery is: why are they being seen? That's one of the big questions we have: are they escapees from private zoos? Some cryptozoologists also spend time looking for animals that science tells us are extinct but that may not be so extinct, after all - such as stories of people reportedly seeing surviving pterodactyls. Then, there are those crypto-creatures that - to me, at least - are clearly not flesh-and-blood and that seem more paranormal in nature, but that some researchers place in a cryptozoology category. I'm talking here about Mothman, England's Owlman, the Jersey Devil; things like that. So, cryptozoology definitely covers a lot of diverse areas!
Lili's Lair: How long have you been interested in cryptozoology? And when did you realise it was what you wanted to do it as a career?
Nick Redfern: My interest came from when I was about 5 years old and my mum and dad took me to Scotland for a week-long holiday. While we were there, we spent a day at Loch Ness, and my dad told me the story of the monster - or monsters - of the loch, and even at that young age, it caught my imagination. As I got into my teens, I began to read more about the subject. Then after school, I began working on a rock-music magazine back in England called Zero, and broke into mainstream journalism that way. I would stress that I work full-time as a writer, but cryptozoology is just a part of what I do - rather than a career on its own. I also investigate and write about UFOs, conspiracy theories, and things like that. I've also written a book on Hollywood scandal and cover-ups. And, I do a lot of ghost-writing for other authors on non-paranormal issues.
Lili's Lair: For anyone out there interested in the field of cryptozoology, what advice can you give them? And what type of education is required?
Nick Redfern: Really, because the things we're looking for are, by definition, unknown animals, education is often a self-learning process. But, what I would say, is that having a good understanding of what regular, normal animal tracks look like, and what their cries sound like, is always a good thing; because when you're in the woods and hear something weird, it's essential to first rule out conventional animals. Also: on an expedition, always ensure you have plenty of recording equipment: digi-cameras; digi-voice-recorders; camcorders and so on. Getting as much evidence on record is essential. And, learn about the subject, the people in it, and obtain a good, solid knowledge of the subject and its history.
Lili's Lair: Is there something specific you wish to accomplish in your field of research?
Nick Redfern: Well, I suppose like all cryptozoologists, it would be to get hard, definitive proof of what we're looking for. I would probably refer to myself as a Fortean rather than a regular cryptozoologist, as my areas of research do touch on some very esoteric and paranormal things, too. But, that would be the goal: to prove these unknown animals exist, to where science and the skeptics could not deny the evidence.
Lili's Lair: In your honest opinion, what do you believe is the most likely "legendary" creature to exist in the realm of cryptozoology?
Nick Redfern: I think the Orang-Pendeks of Sumatra will, I hope in the near future, be shown to exist. These are small, bipedal apes that have been seen on Sumatra by a number of very credible sources. And, there's no doubt in my mind that they are very real, but very elusive, animals. I think we're close to actually getting proof, however.
Lili's Lair: How did you become involved in the History Channel series "Monster Quest?"
Nick Redfern: They just phoned me up one day and asked me if I was interested in taking part in an expedition in search of a Wisconsin version of Mothman. I do a lot of TV and I enjoy the adventure side of hitting the road and going in search of these things, and that's what we did. We went up there for about a week - this was a few months ago - went on a trek to where these creatures had been seen, did interviews, etc. It was an interesting week!
Lili's Lair: What is the most exciting and/or scariest thing that has happened to you on an expedition?
Nick Redfern: I don't really get scared - for me, it's more of an adrenalin rush. But, the things that always stand out for me is when we find tracks, hear strange screams, and even sometimes see shadowy figures - all of which has happened to me over the course of about 20 years. Not, I would stress, on a large scale. Sometimes - in fact, more often than not - we don't find anything at all. But, when we do - such as a large footprint, that definitely raises the excitement level.
Lili's Lair: What do you personally prefer: writing, television appearances, or the expeditions and research?
Nick Redfern: Definitely the expeditions first. After all, the only way we are going to find these creatures is to go and look for them. So, the road-trip and the searching, interviewing the witnesses at the scene, etc are all things that I enjoy. You should come along! I quite enjoy TV work, as it often involves traveling to places that - without the TV company's support - I wouldn't have chance to go and see and do an investigation. Writing is okay; but it can be a lonely task. It requires a lot of discipline to write books, and it means getting down to it, for me 7-5 Monday to Friday, unless I'm on an expedition. So, it's usually the case that I'm hunched over the computer most days pounding out words to meet a deadline. But, I'm not complaining at all: like all professions and jobs, there are parts I like more than others. But getting out there is the highlight.
Lili's Lair: What advancements, if any, would you like to see in the field of cryptozoology?
Nick Redfern: I'd like to see mainstream zoology and science get more involved, as it would help the status of the subject. But many people in those fields prefer to kiss the ass of their employers or the people who provide their grants. Or, they're worried about their ego and reputations. Too bad. We can do without them, but it would be nice to see some greater support from them. Fortunately, I don't have an academic background to worry about getting tarnished! LOL.
Lili's Lair: What is your ultimate personal goal as a cryptozoologist?
Nick Redfern: To prove the existence of these things that we're looking for. To have hard proof of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Ogopogo, etc. I'll keep looking for as long as I can and as long as I want to. If it ever feels like I'm just going through the motions, or that I lose my enthusiasm and it becomes like a job, that's when I'll get out of it. But, I don't think that will ever happen. I'm still as enthusiastic about it now as I was when I was a teenager. So, I'll keep looking for that ultimate goal: proof that these things exist.