Episode 7

October 25, 2023


The Ozark Howler with Caroline Giammanco - Part 1 of 2

Hosted by

William Atkinson
The Ozark Howler with Caroline Giammanco - Part 1 of 2
Plot Pit
The Ozark Howler with Caroline Giammanco - Part 1 of 2

Oct 25 2023 | 00:29:35


Show Notes

When farmer Jones' prized cow is poised to win the county fair, their lives end abruptly in a bizarre series of town-wide murders. Begin the Descent with Caroline Giammanco as she weaves a plot around one of America's enigmatic cryptids, the Ozark Howler.

Bio: Caroline Giammanco, an author and high school English teacher, hails from Douglas County, Missouri, and later moved to Arizona to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with an English minor from the University of Arizona. She resides on her southern Missouri farm with her husband, Keith Giammanco, and treasures her two sons, two stepdaughters, and three charming grandchildren.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:02] Speaker A: Welcome back to plot pit, the show where we forge forging fiction from fact and folklore, showcasing the creative mind of independent authors as well as other creative storytellers. William atkinson here in studio with john lemay. And on the phone, we have caroline Giamanco. Hello, caroline. How are you? [00:00:19] Speaker B: I'm doing pretty well. It's good to be here. [00:00:22] Speaker A: Well, we are excited to be talking about today in the it the ozark howler, a very mysterious, potentially true cryptid upon which I believe I've heard through the grapevine. You have heard it twice? [00:00:35] Speaker B: I have. I live on a farm way out in the boonies. Like, even the locals think that it's the boonies, and it's almost like living in the middle of national forest land, but it's privately owned, and there have been two times where, when I have been leaving for work, I'm a teacher, but I have to leave really early in the morning because I have a long commute. There have been two different times over the past, say, four years, where when I have gone out, there's been a strange howl going on, probably from multiple sources. And I've grown up here in the missouri ozarks. I know what coyotes sound like, I know what howling dogs sound like, and I have some fearless english shepherds who are used to protecting the farm. And on the two occasions that I have heard this sound, which is not like anything I'd ever heard before or since, even my dogs are freaked out. Like, they're not excited at all at the idea of going out and challenging whatever it is. [00:01:38] Speaker A: This is really interesting, especially for this particular time of year being the spook season of halloween, before we dive further into the ozark howler and its mythology and everything else behind it. Caroline, would you mind providing a little bit of information and background for our listeners about yourself and your work? [00:01:57] Speaker B: Yeah. I am a high school english teacher in south central missouri, close to the arkansas border, and I am a missouri native. I grew up in this county, even though I have lived out west in arizona and new mexico for a few decades there after I went to college, and I even lived in roswell, so john might be interested in that. [00:02:23] Speaker C: Yes, definitely. Yeah, when we get around to it, I'd love to hear about that. [00:02:26] Speaker B: Yeah. In fact, I was there for the 50 year anniversary of the crash landing. [00:02:31] Speaker C: Oh, cool. [00:02:32] Speaker B: I lived there then, so I'm used to what's around here, and I know about creepy things that have happened in the area. But I was really surprised because ozark hour was actually something that I wasn't very familiar with until I was listening to a podcast and they were talking about the ozark hour, and I thought, uh oh. That's what that weird thing is that I have heard. And so more about me. I am, as I said, a high school english teacher. I have a small farm here. I raise different farm animals mainly just for fun. I have two sons and two stepdaughters. They're all adults, and I have three adorable grandchildren. I'm married and I started writing, actually nonfiction true Crime. [00:03:23] Speaker A: Oh, really? [00:03:25] Speaker B: Oh, yes. Two of my books are nonfiction, true Crime. But it was very personal and it was very emotionally heavy for me to write about. And I felt kind of traumatized. So it was cathartic. But it was also traumatizing to go through everything and put it down on paper. And for a while after I finished the second one, I thought, I don't know if I want to write anymore because this has just been really rough. And then I got the idea of writing science fiction and paranormal short stories. I have always been a fan of Twilight Zone, the Night Stalker, Night Gallery, my family when I was growing up, that's what we'd watch and have fun and we'd toss around ideas. And so I thought, let me just try my hand at those. And so that's when I first started writing the fiction. And I am three books into the into the Night series and I have book four completed. It will come out in March, and I'm almost done with book five, and that'll come out next December. [00:04:33] Speaker A: Oh, wow. Five books in the same series. [00:04:35] Speaker C: Yeah. And I'm totally enthralled that you're a Kolchak, the Night Stalker fan. So I have to ask, did that help influence your series in any way? [00:04:44] Speaker B: In a sense, it did. I've had people, not just friends and family, but I've had people say that the into the Night stories remind them of Twilight Zone. And all of them have kind of a twisted ending, a surprise where people weren't expecting it or maybe just kind of how Twilight Zone would end sometimes with a question posed, in a sense, so that the reader has to sit and think about it. It's not just something you can put the story down, go, oh, well, that was nice, and go on. It might kind of stick with you a little bit because you're a little unsettled. And I like to occasionally choose things that most people think of as everyday normal life items or situations and give them a little bit of a sinister twist. So I have one short story called Distant Relatives and it's actually about DNA testing, like ancestry type testing. And I have a fictitious company that does it. And there's a girl, the main character is adopted and she just wants to find out who she is because she's never looked like anybody in her family. And she's always just had this nagging feeling that she'd like to know a little bit more about herself. Well, the gist of the story is that the guy who owns the DNA company is actually a descendant of an alien civilization that was almost wiped out completely a long time ago here on Earth because they mingled with, say, the barbaric hordes in europe, and they were dispersed across the world. And this guy is trying to piece back his civilization again, and so he's finding breeding stock of people who also had that same DNA. [00:06:40] Speaker C: Awesome. Okay, cool. [00:06:41] Speaker A: That's got a little bit of a nephilim type or nephilim pronounced the other way vibe. The story from what is it? Right after the flood. Genesis, chapter six. Going into chapter seven, right? Giants in the land. [00:06:55] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:06:56] Speaker A: All right, excellent. So we've got this series that you started writing. You also teach creative writing. [00:07:02] Speaker B: I do. [00:07:03] Speaker A: What originally spawned you to write in the first place? I know you mentioned true crime was where you started. Was there a particular instigating moment in your childhood or a potential author or somebody that just made you fall in love with writing? [00:07:20] Speaker B: Well, I had always thought it would be interesting to write a book, but I never really had come across anything that I felt like I needed to write. And then I started working at a prison, maximum security prison here in missouri, and that was my catalyst for needing to tell some stories. So basically, I went from talking about real monsters in my books to creating monsters in my other books. [00:07:54] Speaker A: Let's go back to your farm set there in the ozarks, and you mentioned missouri, and you've potentially heard the ozark howler. So for our listeners who are unaware, the ozark howler is a cryptid that is allegedly living in and around the ozark mountains and the forest of arkansas, texas, missouri, oklahoma a little bit. And the general gist of it has got, like, these paranormally, glowing, piercing red eyes. Some accounts have it with, like, antlers from a deer or something, right. And it has this very distinctive blood curdling growl or a howl or a scream, and it's often depicted as something to deal with, like a dying hyena or some form of human version of, say, a wolf. It's very unique and very distinct. So, caroline, you mentioned you might have heard this thing twice. Give us a description and counts of your potential encounters and any other folklore or whatnot that you've heard from your particular area on this cryptid. [00:09:02] Speaker B: Well, the two times that I've heard it, it's been a howl that is definitely not coyotes, because I know what they sound like. You mentioned a screening hyena. It's kind of like that, but when I heard it, it was almost as if there were multiple ones, and it was in stereo, so some a little higher, some a little lower, but all going on at the same time. And it was almost like the air reverberated with this sound. And believe me, it was not fun walking away from my nicely lit house to walk down the driveway and get in my car and drive in the dark down my dirt road. After having heard that, I had to just tell myself, well, I don't think that was anything. I think I'll just go to work, not think about it. But believe me, I thought about it and it wasn't a normal sound that I have heard any other time. It's not a coyote, it's not a wolf, it's not dogs. And even my dogs thought that it was really strange sounding and it scared them. [00:10:07] Speaker C: I've heard different variations of it. Some say exactly what you said, and then others will say it sounded like a screaming woman. Did you hear any hints of a screaming woman? Would you attribute that in yours or. [00:10:20] Speaker B: No, no, the screaming woman is more of a mountain lion sound. I've heard that lots of times from the time I was a kid on up into adulthood that that is generally a mountain lion and not actually anything paranormal. [00:10:38] Speaker C: I'm just going to put it out there before I forget. I don't know of anyone having written a book on the ozark cower by itself yet. So as someone who's actually heard the cry, that might be something to tuck away in your hat of ideas, maybe you could be the first person and the first witness to do the book on the ozark. Howard so I'm just putting that out there. [00:11:00] Speaker A: I know that there's am I good? I'm sorry, Caroline. [00:11:03] Speaker B: I said I might do excellent. [00:11:06] Speaker A: I'm doing a little prep for the show. I got on YouTube, obviously, and started hunting know, various YouTube videos. And there's a few out there that do give various accounts and descriptions of the ozark howler. I'll leave a couple links in the podcast description below. In the meantime, we have the ozark howler set in the appalachian area or the ozarks of the United states. This cryptid is often depicted as having this just very distinctive, unique howl that is, shall we say, spine tingling and piercing, glowing red eyes, potentially with horns. If you were to take into or buy into some of the accounts of potential descriptions of this. Now, accounts of the ozark howler as far as encounters, go back into the 18 hundreds and there's been like a couple of surges of various reports. Seems kind of like the bigfoot yeah. [00:12:08] Speaker C: Sometimes they call them flaps, a flap of sightings. So, yeah, they'll just have a high window of activity for a while. [00:12:15] Speaker A: And that was similar to what we found in some of our previous episodes with the jersey devil and the frog man. [00:12:22] Speaker C: The frog man, yeah. And so those are cowler, I think really entered the mainstream in the mid 1950s. And what's interesting is there was a similar creature called the bladenborough beast around the same time. That's kind of what you call a what's it because they don't know whether it's a big canine or a big feline. It's just a big hairy beast and nobody can figure out what it is. What do you think, Caroline? Do you think it's feline or canine? I think it's more OK, interesting. [00:12:53] Speaker B: And because for one thing, if you look at just animal behavior, dogs, whether it's a little Yorkshire terrier or a mastiff or a coyote or a wolf, they tend to vocalize a lot where cats may meow or give out an occasional growl, whether you're looking at African lions or cheetahs or whatever it is. But they don't do this prolonged repeating vocalization. So I think behavior wise, it's probably more like a canine. [00:13:26] Speaker C: See, this is why you should write the book. You were on that right away, you had a good answer, and my apologies if there is a book out there already. I didn't really look, but I don't. [00:13:36] Speaker A: Think there so, yeah, speaking to animal behavior, I can attest that dogs will howl and once one of them goes, all of the whole neighborhood will just light up as well. And if you've got a cocker spaniel named Toby in the backyard, as soon as the sirens of any one of your local roswell emergency vehicles lights up, toby will just go off and then, of course, the rest of the neighborhood, and it's a bit of a pain to try to calm them all back down. That being said, I can definitely attest to the howling nature, the know, the pack nature of dogs. [00:14:18] Speaker B: Right. [00:14:19] Speaker A: It does sound like what you're describing would be, at least from what I kind of picked up, more canine than feline for the Ozark howler. Assuming that it's real. [00:14:28] Speaker B: Yeah, I mean, none of us ever complain about when a siren goes off that our cats all start yeah. [00:14:35] Speaker A: All right, so let's enter the pit and begin the descent into a fictitious story of, I don't know, something spooky for the, you know, the Halloween season. And Caroline, why don't you start us off? [00:14:51] Speaker B: Okay, so I think it needs to be a dark night. Of course, not necessarily stormy, but a dark night. And for some reason, the main character has to be out, say, on a dark road. Their car is broken down or they had to be outside of their house for some strange reason and they had a sick animal out in the field that they went out to check on something to that nature that would cause that person to be out in the dark where they can't see very well and vulnerable. [00:15:26] Speaker A: So we're set on a rural farm in the Appalachian Mountains. It's dark and there's a little bit of a cloud cover. So we could set this in like Halloween just for the thematics of it, or even, let's say, the first two weeks of November where fog starts really rolling in. [00:15:46] Speaker C: Right. [00:15:47] Speaker A: And so the moon is up there. It's kind of casting that general ominous glow, but it's not really distinct as a ball in the sky. And this farmer is checking up on cattle for some reason, or it's just after dusk and he's bringing everything back into the barn. [00:16:05] Speaker B: Yeah, that works. [00:16:07] Speaker C: Yeah. So I think this is definitely oh, no, go ahead, Caroline. [00:16:10] Speaker A: Sorry. [00:16:10] Speaker B: Oh, I was just going to say and at first, he doesn't seem to know that there's any kind of problem. But the reader has already been clued in that something ominous may be afoot out there. He's being watched, maybe. The narrator talks about how the farmer's every move is being watched, but at this point, the guy doesn't know that there's anything wrong. [00:16:34] Speaker A: What if we open up the prologue of the story with a series of events that would be akin to some cattle mutilations or something to do with other farm animals either disappearing or being discovered as half eaten or something? [00:16:50] Speaker B: Yeah, and that could be why he felt compelled to go out into the field to look for this particular cow, because she was about to calve soon, and he definitely didn't want to lose her. And he knew that something had been going around killing animals on his farm, the neighbor's farms. And so he's overriding what maybe would be common sense and not going out into the dark on a night when you already know something's been going around, killing things because maybe it's his favorite cow or it's worth a lot of money, or something has caused him to be like, no, we can't leave Daisy out in the field. I have to go find her. [00:17:28] Speaker A: We could set this in, like, 1925 Prohibition America in the Ozarks, where you still have the state fair as being, like, the big county event. And this is his prized cow. [00:17:41] Speaker C: I like that. [00:17:42] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:17:43] Speaker C: So, Caroline, I like that, too. Do you have, like, an overall? I have about three or four wildly different ideas of how we could do this. But before I put mine out there, do you have any? Because I'd rather go with yours if you have an idea for the story, because I feel like this is just the teaser to set up the monster. [00:18:00] Speaker B: Well, I kind of came into this a blank slate just to see where the story went. [00:18:07] Speaker C: Okay, well, I'll put out my ideas. Idea number one is so easy, it's practically a cheat. I don't think we want to do this, but idea number one is just your typical monster on the loose in which I think the 1920s is perfect, because I could see this as just it's only about the monster. And at the end of the story, the monster attacks the state fair or something. But again, that's way too easy. My more complex idea is something that kind of pays homage or riffs on Hound of the Baskervilles, where maybe you kind of spoof that overall plotline where you've got the rich heir to a certain family, where the family members are being killed off in the Hound of the Baskerville's case by this hound from hell. But the Ozark Howler is itself kind of similar to a you know, maybe we could do a version of that where these people are getting killed off by the ozark howler. And the folklore sometimes is that if you hear the howl three times is when you die. So maybe we've got a character who's heard it twice, and then the hero is trying to save them before they hear it for a third time. That sort of a thing. And then my third one goes back to some folklore we didn't get to put into our opening segment. I had read that supposedly daniel boone killed an ozark howler, and I don't believe that for a second. I think, honestly, what happened is someone did put that into a novel. And I think a reporter was writing an article on the ozark howler in a hurry. They saw that they thought it was fact, and then they started reporting it as fact. And they say that Daniel boone killed an ozark howler. But I was going to say that could be another avenue as we go the really old route. Daniel boone was very early 18 hundreds. So we could do daniel boone versus the ozark howler. So, I mean, those are just three options I came up with. [00:19:55] Speaker A: Kind of like I said, daniel boone versus the ozark howler. That kind of sounds a little bit like billy the kid versus dracula. [00:20:03] Speaker C: Yeah, exactly. [00:20:05] Speaker B: And I was thinking when you said that maybe he was writing an article about the ozark tower, maybe the reporter was writing a story about Daniel boone, and he thought that would make him sound even more heroic. [00:20:17] Speaker C: Okay, we're on a 1970s era TV show with a low budget. It's just a reporter, or it could even be a high school creative writing teacher. Just put yourself in there. But my idea, though, is we have to work within a low budget of a 1970s TV show 1 hour, and it's a monster of the week type thing. And in this case, the monster of the week is the ozark howler. And how would we do that on a low budget? And your prologue works for any of those, which is just the farmer goes out, encounters the monster, and that teaches the reader, the audience, the mystery for the week, and we go from there. So what do you like, Caroline? What do you want to do? [00:20:56] Speaker B: Well, I'm thinking a couple of things. First of all, I think it would be neat if the ozark teller was kind of like a werewolf, where it's actually somebody in the community who changes into this thing. [00:21:09] Speaker C: Some people think that's true. Some people think that that is like an appalachian shapeshifter witch. So that would work within the realm of the existing folklore. [00:21:19] Speaker B: And I think that the farmer who goes out to save daisy his price cow should just be the first victim, possibly. [00:21:26] Speaker C: Definitely. [00:21:27] Speaker A: All right, so what we've got is the setup of an ominous full moon kind of night in the end of October or early november. So kind of around the witching hour, if you will, farmer goes out of his kitchen from the back porch, walking out into the field for some reason because he's heard something rustling. We know from the prologue of the story that there are some unfortunate events occurring around farms and certain animals are disappearing. His prized cow, soon to be first place at the county fair, is at risk, and he wants to go out and check on her. So off he goes. And in the distance, we see the piercing, glowing red eyes and the blood curdling howl we hear from this ominous cryptid end. Farmer fade to black. Moving into act one. We now have a murder mystery, right? Sheriff shows up dead. Farmer potentially mutilated cow. What next? I think in the process of the investigation, we discover that Farmer what should we call him? Farmer Jones. Sure. All right. So Farmer Jones owes money to somebody in the community. [00:22:43] Speaker C: Yeah. [00:22:44] Speaker A: And shall we say, because this is hitting right at the Appalachian peak of 1920s, 1925, early 30s. So we're kind of at that Prohibition era. Farmer Jones is known to be either a distillery of his own accord, or he potentially owes money to one of the local bootleggers. [00:23:05] Speaker C: Yeah, I'm vibing. [00:23:07] Speaker B: How's this if we make it so that these are all, like, the cream of the crop of the community that are being killed. And they're so, like, nobody can believe that these wonderful Churchilling people who are just the salt of the earth, who everyone looks up to in the community, they're the ones that are being targeted. But then it turns out the reason why is because they're the ones who are really doing this dirty work, and they have felt like they didn't need to pay. The person who's helping them actually distribute their illegal goods, and they've shorted someone who feels that they don't have anything to lose. And he's always lived on the outskirts of a society anyway, and so he changes into descripted sometimes, but they don't know who it is that they have actually made mad. [00:23:59] Speaker C: Yeah. And who's our hero, Caroline? Is it a reporter? Is it a lawman? What do you think? [00:24:05] Speaker A: How about Farmer Jones's daughter or his wife? [00:24:08] Speaker B: I was thinking she might want to find out why this has happened and why people in her community are being killed. [00:24:20] Speaker A: So then what you've got is kind of like this backdrop of the seedy town, right? Has a false front on the outside looking in, they seem like all of these prim and proper, typical, heartwarming, midwestern type, welcoming community, tight knit, church going, all of that. But in reality, you've got this seedy underbelly of society that's basically it's just a corrupt cesspool. [00:24:51] Speaker B: And that's why the sheriff isn't a good person to have find out what the problem is, because he's afraid that his hands are just as dirty, too. [00:25:00] Speaker A: The whole town is like the shall we say, headquarters for a massive bootlegging drug prostitution ring that effectively takes care of, say, I don't know, three or four states, all right? And all of the money goes into this one town. And so it's like an upper class wealthy town and everything. Everybody's got some money there, but you've got all of the little communities, the rural communities or whatever, that are basically being bled dry. And the one guy or the one woman who's actually doing all of the work, the bootlegger up in the mountains, he's not getting his share or she's not getting her share and the Mecca of the town is just sucking it all dry and enslaving people around them. [00:25:47] Speaker B: Yeah, I like that. [00:25:48] Speaker C: I've got an angle for that. [00:25:49] Speaker B: Of course, we could have oh, I was just going to say, we could have the hero of the story be the school teacher. For some reason, that popped in my head. [00:25:57] Speaker C: Yeah, his wife could be the school teacher. And then my other angle, though, on that character, know, appalachian witchcraft is very interesting, and as opposed to Appalachian witches, they also mean you lived in Roswell for a little while, and in New Mexico, we have folk healers called curanderes who use folk remedies. I know in Appalachia, they have lots of folk healers that definitely aren't witches. They just use unorthodox healing methods. So I thought, well, what if the teacher farmer's wife is one of those good folk healers? And that was really prevalent in the 1920s, probably more so than today. So you could have, like, I wouldn't call it the good witch versus the bad witch, just the folk killer versus the witch that way, possibly. And that's why this folk killer female character, she might have knowledge of a special way to defeat the ozark howler, just like you have garlic with vampires and silver bullets with werewolves. So, I mean, maybe we can come up with something some uniquely Appalachian way of how you defeat the ozark howler. [00:26:57] Speaker B: Perhaps, I don't know, like sassafras root or something weird like that. [00:27:02] Speaker C: See, I never even heard of that. So that's why yeah, sassafras root, effectively. [00:27:06] Speaker A: The substance that you'd use to make root beer. [00:27:08] Speaker B: Yes, which would be funny, because they're distributing real beer and spirits, and the way to defeat the howler is with root beer. [00:27:18] Speaker C: I like that. That's immediately where my mind went. [00:27:21] Speaker A: All right, well, let's pick this up in a two parter. Before we do go, though, we have been on the phone with Caroline Giamanco. Caroline, would you give us your socials and your website for our listeners on our way out? [00:27:34] Speaker B: Oh, absolutely. You can find me at Caroline Giamonco, author, on Facebook, and I'm at Caroline Giamonco on Instagram and on X, formerly known as Twitter. I am at Giamonco book. [00:27:51] Speaker A: All right, well, before we do exit, do you want to summarize the story so far? [00:27:56] Speaker B: So far, we have a murder mystery going on in rural America where all these upstanding citizens are being killed by some mysterious beast. And the only thing that witnesses know is they have heard a howl, a strange, eerie howl going up. And our guess is these upstanding people who've been murdered are actually involved in criminal behavior and they have decided to short somebody that they should not have made mad. [00:28:30] Speaker C: Excellent. [00:28:31] Speaker A: All right, folks, we are going to take this up as a continuation in a part two. Stay tuned for that episode. Coming up soon, caroline Giamanco on the phone. Thank you for joining us today. It's been pleasure. [00:28:43] Speaker B: Oh, thank you for having me on. It's been fun. [00:28:46] Speaker A: And we will have you back for the second parter. In the meantime, William Atkinson here in studio, john Lemay and Caroline Giamanco on the phone again. Thank you, Caroline. [00:28:56] Speaker B: Thank you, folks. [00:28:57] Speaker A: You can follow us on formerly known as Twitter, the platform now known as X at plot Pit. We are also out on YouTube. You can find us there at plot pit. You can catch us on our discord server. If you want to interact, act with Caroline and all of the other guests that we've had on the program or myself, including John. There will be a link in the podcast description below. You can catch us on the web, www plot pit.com. And for now, I do believe that's about it. Goodbye from Roswell.

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