While I was doing research for the last Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Kindred Spirits, I met and became friends with a Tolowa Native woman who lived in Crescent City CA. One of the many things she told me about was the Tolowa belief in Big Foot, including many recent sightings.
I did some research on the Internet about Big Foot and while I was reading, a site came up telling about another large creature called the Hairy Man. Imagine my surprise when I learned that a pictograph of the Hairy Man, a woman, and child are in a rock shelter in a place called Painted Rock. Painted Rock is on the Tule River Indian Reservation which is very near my home. I borrow a lot from the Tule River Indians and the reservation for my Deputy Tempe mysteries, though I am writing fiction and have changed the names of the Indians and the reservation.
When it was time to write the next book in the series, I began thinking about the Hairy Man and the Painted Rock site. I e-mailed the local college’s anthropology professor and asked where and what it looked like out there. He invited me to go along on a field trip his class was taking the very next Friday. Of course I went.
The Painted Rock site is tucked away at the far end of the reservation. A cave like shelter was created by huge boulders, one sitting atop two others. To get down to the cave, one must climb down the side of one of these very steep boulders. I’d never have made it if two of the young male students hadn’t helped me down.
The inside of the shelter is decorated with all sorts of very large and colorful pictographs of a coyote, moon, frog, centipede, the river, geometric figures—but on the inside wall is an eight-foot-tall depiction of the Hairy Man. Alongside him is a five-foot female and a three-foot child.
While listening to the Indian guide’s explanation of everything, I busily took notes. He looked at me sternly and said, “Don’t ever come down here at night.”
I asked, “Why not?”
His answer was, “There are too many spirits here at night.”
Of course I never would, I could barely get down there in the daylight, but I knew Tempe would definitely have to go there at nighttime.
My visit to the Painted Rock and the legend of the Hairy Man is what inspired Dispel the Mist.
I had more fun writing that book and talking about it than any other book I’ve written.
You can read the legend of the Hairy Man and the first chapter of the book on my website: http://fictionforyou and the book is available as an e-book or trade paperback directly from the publisher: http://www.mundaniapress.com or any online or regular bookstore.
Marilyn Meredith is the author of over twenty-five published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest, Dispel the Mist from Mundania Press. Under the name of F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series. No Sanctuary is the newest from Oak Tree Press.
She is a member of EPIC, four chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, WOK, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She was an instructor for Writer’s Digest School for ten years, served as an instructor at the Maui Writer’s Retreat and many other writer’s conferences. She makes her home in Springville CA, much like Bear Creek where Deputy Tempe Crabtree lives. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com/.