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harkalark wrote in coast_to_coast
Hey everyone...

I've temporarily joined this community because I'm hoping that some of you might be able to help me with a book I'm writing. It's a book about vampires, and in it, lots of people in a city disappear as they're killed by the vampires (some of them become vampires themselves, but the majority of victims just have their bodies hidden). The police don't really know what's going on, nor does the general public, and the news media don't want to commit to anything other than very vague speculation. The reader knows that it's all due to the vampires' activity, though, but there's plenty of denial to go around in the narrative.

What I would like to do is include a minor character who thinks that the disappearances are due to alien abductions and/or some kind of government cover-up. He's wrong, of course, but this is his perspective based on what he knows and believes. The problem I'm running into is that this story takes place in the mid-1980s. If it were to take place today, this character could be someone who reads all sorts of alien-related websites and is on conspiracy theory based listservs and such, but that stuff wasn't around back then. When I came up with the character, I thought he might be a listener of Art Bell's radio show, but my research into Art Bell revealed that he didn't start doing the paranormal stuff he's now known for until 1995. So that's out. In a way, this character is kind of like Fox Mulder from The X-Files, but a lot less cool. (If my story took place in the 1990s, he'd be a fan of the show.) He's an average, ordinary guy with interesting beliefs and theories, but no one wants to listen to him because they think he's too weird.

So my main question is this: How did people like the guy I'm describing exist back in the 1980s? Belief in UFOs and aliens dates back way before this, and I know that people who were into this stuff must have had some way to communicate and perpetuate their beliefs at the time. Were there newsletters? Conventions? I don't want this character to be a goofy stereotype with a tin-foil hait; I want him to be realistic. Was the Fortean Times around during this time? Would that be appropriate to mention? Were there maybe other radio shows at the time that this guy could have been a fan of?

I'd appreciate any insight any of you could provide on this. As I said, this is a minor character in the book, and I'd like to include him if I can write him correctly. Thanks!

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Well, there are quite a few books out there about UFOs, aliens, abominable snowmen, the Loch Ness monster, and so on.

My suggestion--and this may sound corny--go talk to your local public librarian. Because chances are pretty good the person back in the 1980s would've found a lot of the resources in books and magazines as well as fiction, and the library would've been a big part of that. Not to mention, librarians are paid to do this kind of research for you. Now they just do it all online, but they've been using Google-type stuff since back then (just not publically accessible and fee-based).

Good luck.

Thanks. I had to smile at this, though:

My suggestion--and this may sound corny--go talk to your local public librarian.

Did I mention that I got my Master's in Library and Information Science two years ago? :)

Back then a person of that belief would have existed on the fringes of UFO groups like MUFON, followed books by Erik von Daniken and Bud Hopkins and would have attended the yearly meetings starting in Roswell NM. There were underground trade magazines like UFO Report and Fate magazine that carried ads for groups into those theories. It was a big time for Gov/Alien cooperation conspiracies involving abductions and cattle mutilations. They just as easily would be reading National Enquirer. Globe or the World Weekly News, tabloids that boosted knowledge of the Travis Walton incident, the Navy helicopter close encounter ad of course... BATBOY! (I still love the coverpage of an EBE standing next to Ross Perot!) Before email and webpages, newsletters were the coin of the realm, ad you could make up something that sounds like it existed; chances are it did!

As for radio, that was too early for most am talk radio. But you would find there were a bunch who did popular programs on shortwave radio which carried as far as a syndicated program would. I suggest you go to the source and ask: Art Bell. He may remember some he listened to with his interest. I do recall for that era the big thing was low budget independant VHS tapes you could find in mom&pop video rental stores; titles like "The UFO Conspiracy" "Hitler's Flying Saucer plans" or "The Hollow Earth". Not as good as some utube clips, but it was a new concept then.

And don't think "X-Files"; for era we're talking a serios jones for "Kolshak: the Night Stalker"!

Good suggestions. And you're right; I could just as easily make up a newsletter. This is fiction, after all. I'm not familiar with all of the names you cited, but I'll probably do some poking around to see what I can find. Thanks.

The above suggestions are great... He might also have hung out at an "alternative" bookstore. Especially in big cities or college towns, alternative bookstores have long been places where people could meet to exchange ideas about underground political movements, but also conspiracy theories and, naturally, UFO cover-ups. These bookstores would also have had bulletin boards which may have advertised meetings or newsletters one could send away for, or they might sell the newsletters right at the counter.

Hmm, that might not work for the town this is set in, but maybe. I'm not sure if they had any bookstores like that back then, and even these days, they're not all that common. But it's an idea to pursue. Thanks and stuff.

>but no one wants to listen to him because they think he's too weird

early computer hackers

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