Dear Lee Brickley,
I expect that you don’t think very highly of me after I gave your book a critical review, and you’ve blocked me on Twitter but I really hope that you’ll hear me out. You are just one year older than me and yet it seems that our approaches to the paranormal are completely different. The nonsense you pulled with the Black Eyes Kids sightings was pretty bad, Lee. Surely you know that eyewitness testimony isn’t evidence? But, to claim that Slenderman is now in the area? That’s pretty out there. Sure, people have reported seeing “tall” creatures for a long time the world over – especially in the context of fairy sightings, for example, but you have linked the sightings reported in your area to Slenderman and then you have made the claim that this legend is centuries old when it most certainly isn’t. It is an urban legend created online. I think it’s really dishonest to say otherwise.
If Cannock’s Chase is as paranormally active as you claim it is- and if you’re making those claims for reasons other than just to sell books -then you need to rethink your approach to give the eyewitness testimonies that you so happily take to the press every time they land at your feet.
If all of this weird stuff is happening in such a geographically condensed area then it needs to be documented and investigated properly. The media refer to you as an investigator so either you need to pull your finger out and start doing some proper work on these cases, or you need to fess up and admit that you’re just a collector of strange stories. It’s absolutely fine to be a folklore author, as long as you are honest about it and don’t claim to be an investigator just to sound more interesting. If you are an investigator though then that’s great. Go investigate! We look forward to the data.
Earlier I mentioned that you and I are almost the same age and yet have two completely different approaches to reports of paranormal phenomena. Let me give you some insight into my approach in the hopes that it might help you a bit. To understand modern phenomena you need to have a good understanding of the history of ghosts. It’s that simple, I think. By this I don’t mean that you should sit down and read all of the ghost folklore books, or that you need to know about all the historic hauntings – I mean that it is really important to study the social history of ghosts, the history of ghost research and the history of ghosts in literature (especially considering the nature of the so-called reports coming from your area.)
If all you do is collect eyewitness reports and take them at face value then you will never truly understand what is happening and you will never be able to gain a better understanding of the human experience of weird stuff. You can look at individual cases and all you will see is individual cases – but if you look at that case in the wider context of human experience and a social phenomena (as an aside to whether or not it is a paranormal phenomena) you can gain so much more from it. Weird experiences are interesting, Lee, but you do not have to run to the paper every time something interesting lands in your inbox. To be honest, I had a look at your Twitter feed today and you are just sending links to the most recent news articles about your claims to other news outlets which looks a bit desperate and gives people the impression that you’re just an attention seeker. Why not prove that impression wrong, if it is? Go out, gain a better understanding of what you’re dealing with, do some actual fieldwork, create a hypothesis, investigate it and report on it. Until then though, your stories are just headlines that make people laugh.
I’ve never written a book but if I had I’d hope that it would sell on its merits and not because of silly headlines that piggyback on urban legends and the recent attention they have received. Lee, I got a really bad taste in my mouth when I read that you were claiming that Slenderman had been seen in Cannock’s Chase because my first thought was that you were making this up so that you could ride the last wave of media interest following lots of news reports late last year that teeangers had stabbed other children because Slenderman made them do it or they were trying to impress Slenderman, but then I thought ‘surely nobody would stoop so low as to use that sort of publicity to sale a few books’, would they? Then I remembered that the papers linked your paper-thin claims about Black Eyed Kids in the Cannock’s Chase area to the murders of teenage girls and I realised that maybe they would. Maybe you would, and maybe this post has just been a waste of my time…