An Interview With Eric Vernor or Eerie America
• Tell me more about yourself and your new television project “Eerie Amercia”?
My name is Eric Vernor, but most people know me as the author Corvis Nocturnum. I am an artist and publisher, and an author of over two dozen books. I have been a consultant for several television shows, spoken at college campuses, conventions and on television and radio as on various subjects ranging from occult history and secret societies to popular culture on vampires, zombies and about haunted asylums and prisons.
Eerie America could very well be called The Fodor’s Travel Guidebook for The Addams Family. This is a series of travel documentaries geared towards educating people on the unique historic locations, fun facts, and promote tourism to some of the most incredible spots across the nation. Eerie America’s special niche is in defining and exploring dark tourism – which celebrates the macabre, the unusual, and the strange. Dark tourism will serve to demystify the “demon in the dark” while retaining its intellectual allure. Where are these places and what are they? They can be found in every city, town and village throughout the nation, often hiding in plain sight. From bizarre dining experiences at The Jekyll & Hyde Restaurant and Bar to overnight stays at a the Lizzy Borden Bed and Breakfast murder scene and everything in between, Eerie America will shine a light on those secluded places across our vast country.
Like a documentary, occasionally special celebrity guests who have knowledge about a topic or location will make an appearance, such as special guests author Rosemary Ellen Guiley, MONSTER Quest’s Ken Gerhard, Paranormal State’s Michelle Belanger, Haunted Encounters Daniel Hooven and many others!
We are doing this as entertainment of the audience as they discover unusual locales while infusing the adventure with historical facts and trivia. With the cooperation of local museums and historical societies, this will not only be an ongoing series for a decade but available to fans on DVD. Each episode will serve as a road map for the viewer, detailing locations in the style of a travel guide, highlighting such categories as Attractions, Fine Dining, Lodging as well as Shopping. We are working in cooperation with cities department of tourism and local business to encourage travel for people who want to join us on our quest. We love meeting our supporters as we tour the paranormal and horror conventions showing the trailer and making friends with the fans. People have been great to us, the outpouring of comments from fans who have read the book or our online posts. Between fans giving us suggestions and our three years research we have located more than five hundred places to see.
• Where did the concept for “Eerie America” come from? Who is the target audience?
Our target audience is anyone with an interest in exploring the unusual. We have fans that are into true crime, the paranormal, cryptoids like Bigfoot and Mothman to horror fans. We are covering everything that touches on that up to UFO spots and old reputed haunted places and even locations like the replica Munsters House to fantastic restaurants you never hear about unless you live in that state, like Zombie Burger or hotels like The Lizzy Borden or The Bates Motel!
It began a few years ago when I visited Philadelphia to participate in an art gallery showing at the now closed Germ Gallery, a bookstore for the strange and unusual. While there, I passed the infamous East State Penn, as it is called, whose foreboding size and history is the stuff of documentaries, not to mention a ghost hunter’s delight. I knew tours were given there, and as I continued along my trek through one of America’s oldest cities, I discovered an even more unique place, The Mütter Museum. This was a thrill for me as I had never been in such a place.Not only was it creepy, in a way, but highly educational as well. As I listened to the tour guide I asked myself, “What other odd places were in the United States? Surely there were many others like this.” I overheard someone mention with a laugh that it reminded them of The Edgar Allen Poe Museum. I reflected back on this as I went on to write other books, and I couldn’t get it the idea of writing a book about such places out of my head.
While I attended college, my now colleague, Professor Kevin Eads (a law professor who is also a lover of television shows dealing with hauntings and a horror buff) was in the middle of a lecture on the importance of note taking. He made a joke to lighten up the academic monotony by referencing Elizabeth Bathory. In the beginning, Kevin knew me as his student, Eric Vernor, but later learned of my books under the pen name of Corvis Nocturnum. We hit it off after class and I told him my idea for this book. He was instantly intrigued with the idea and expressed his interest in lending a hand. I was delighted, seeing as taking on all fifty states was such a daunting task and would have taken me so much time, it was good to get some assistance.
Through the next couple months, into the following year, we researched, compared notes, and got together to add more and more to it. The idea to add in the travelling aspects was Kevin’s suggestion, as he moonlighted at a hotel as a night auditor, and joked about The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast. This is what inspired the comprehensive list of places to wine and dine at with an unusual story behind them so that you can treat yourself to thrills and chills along the way.
• Tell me about your experience with the crowd-sourcing aspect of this project?
Back in 2013 we decided to crowd source in order to do our first trailer and gained huge support to cover it. When things slightly changed and a potential cast member had to be replaced due to personal issues, we had to film a second one that utilized a bit of the first film and new material. We added the narrator, and all American girl next door to show we are really showcasing places anyone would love to see – after all, we all have that side of us that loves Halloween! We also reached out to our original first pick for the cast member and Adrienne just so happened to be finished with her work that prevented her from partaking in the first place so it worked great. We decided to crowd source again to help cover some of the costs like food, gas and post production expenses as I had already gained fans from speaking the year before to a crowd at DragonCon in Atlanta and from social media that was excited about our series. Being right after the holidays when we started hurt the level of financial support but the day the fundraiser ended a private investor stepped forward and offered to cover all but $2,000 that I added on top of the fundraiser. It is difficult to keep promoting a crowd source because people want to see what you have to offer but times are rough and few of us have money to help make it happen. Also, I found that selling books and t shirts helped just as much because people honestly want instant gratification and not wait a year to see it air.
• Where will you be filming in 2015?
The city of New Orleans, the French Quarter specifically, was chosen to be our pilot episode. It honestly was a difficult choice between NOLA and Salem Massachusetts as I have traveled to both places previously to scout locations and speak with store owners and browse the museum but NOLA ultimately won out due to being slightly more diverse. We will be visiting than a few special places in Florida but focusing on the city of Saint Augustine. Some of the locations selected are Voodoo Authentica, Boutique du Vampyre, Wicked Orleans, and some filming locations from the movie Interview with the Vampire, The Absinthe House. We plan on hitting The Wolf Mystery Museum, The Old Jail and Lighthouse in Florida and a lot of other places.
• How did you come to meet and work with your co-hosts?
Well, I was a student at the college Kevin taught at but as I mentioned earlier, we got along so well by the time I had graduated with my second degree we were already friends and collaborating on many books and film concepts so his part was easy. Adrienne is a model and author at my publishing company Dark Moon Press, and an expert on Gothic culture and anything Silence of the Lambs related and that genre in general. She is my protégée if you will on the various other aspects we will be covering and it is nice to have her youthful excitement to the team. Rebecca and I meet through a mutual friend as I was a consultant for Paranormal State for A&E, and she was a journalist asking me questions about the occult. We picked her because she has an inquisitive mind and fascination with spooky things like occultism, urban exploration and alternative lifestyles. The fact she has been a star of the YouTube hit Resident Undead and a guest on SyFy’s School Spirits was just an added bonus as the rest of us have little experience on national television. I truly think the personality types and differing ages and backgrounds, faiths and dynamics that shaped us of us shows that we are all different yet share a love of all things bizarre and delightfully creepy., hence the Addams Family of this age. I think the audience will find someone in the series they can relate to and understand that they could be tagging along for the ride.
• Where are you hoping to air the show once the first season is completed?
Whatever network that treats us well and enjoys the heart of what we are doing as much as we do! So far we have had a lot of interest from Travel Channel, SpikeTV and some others but we aren’t ruling anyone out. The vast majority of television networks now don’t just want a five minute trailer, they want to see a few episodes so we feel this way it is to our advantage as we will already be half a normal season into being familiar with each other and have planned things out for season two when the fans start asking for more we will be ready.
• Where can people find out more information about Eerie America?
People can buy the book by Kevin and myself, Eerie America: Travel Guide of the Macabre from the publisher, Schiffer Books or on Amazon. We are working on a second book through Dark Moon Press called Eerie Abroad: Travel Guide of the Macabre, and yes, we are planning a world adventure to spin off the United States if all goes well. There are plans for a website but we are waiting to complete the first mini season and get signed to the right network to air us first. I would like to thank all the fans who encouraged us, the staff and crew, the cast and the fine folks at Schiffer for believing in my vision. As our narrator says, this will be the adventure of a lifetime!
People can follow our progress and let us know where else they would like to see us visit online at https://www.facebook.com/EerieAmerica.
Watch our YouTube trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G62vtbiEEyo
********** For more information on Eric Vernor please visit www.corvisnocturnum.com.