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Today’s Spooky Legends guest is Melissa Darnell, author of the new The Clann paranormal young adult series from Harlequin Teen. The first book in the series is CRAVE, followed by COVET in 2012. Melissa is here to tell us about the legendary East Texas Black Panther urban legend.
The Legendary East Texas Black Panther
By Melissa Darnell
Growing up in East Texas, I actually somehow never heard of the legendary black panthers that have been seen by many in Texas and Louisiana for years. It wasn’t until I began to write The Clann Series, a YA paranormal romance series for Harlequin Teen, and researched East Texas monster legends that I learned about these huge black cats that have been scaring and attacking Texans and Louisianans for hundreds of years. And the sightings continue to this day.
On March 28, 2007, KLTV News reported residents in Upshur County’s Raintree lakes area were complaining about woman-like screams at night and face-to-face encounters with what they described as a big black panther-sized cat. And on March 22 of the same year, the Jacksonville Daily Progress reported that several Dialville residents had spotted a mother panther and her three cubs on the Dialville Highway on County Road 1610. There are also numerous firsthand posts, the most recent being for Sept. 12th, 2011, left at the Texas Cryptid Hunter blog, which report sightings ranging all over Texas from Anderson and Cherokee Counties to Harrison and Bastrop Counties. While wildlife experts claim it is impossible for black panthers to be in East Texas, there are too many modern day reports and even photographs (including these excellent daytime photos taken in Centerville, TX by Todd Overton, posted here on 11/8/09) to be ignored.
The publicly recorded history of the black panther presence in Texas goes all the way back to the 1800s. The Galveston Weekly News reported on June 1, 1874 in gruesome detail how “…The body of the man was lying in the road, and a huge panther was standing over it, eating one of his shoulders…”
What makes the black panther such a fearsome predator is, in addition to its black coat which hides it in the dark, the black panther can grow up to 200 pounds in weight, up to seven feet in length excluding its tail, and can be as tall as two feet at its shoulder. In addition to its size and coloring, the black panther stalks large prey on silent paws from branches of trees overhead, allowing it to watch unseen in the night before it drops down with a loud scream. Some wildlife experts state that instead of a panther, they believe the East Texas sightings are more likely of the larger black jaguars, which can grow up to 7.9 feet long, 220 pounds in weight, and up to 30 inches tall at the shoulder. (Isn’t that more comforting?) Their silent, stealthy approach from overhead, combined with sharp claws and even deadlier teeth, make these predators highly dangerous to cows, sheep, pets and humans alike.
While I missed out on growing up on stories of this legendary East Texas monster, as an adult and an author, I can definitely appreciate how the woodlands of my childhood home make the perfect environment for the black panthers of East Texas. This is why I’ve set my upcoming YA paranormal series amid those East Texas pines…the truth there is often far more frightening than any fiction I can add to the area’s myths! Look for the East Texas black panther to make quite a large and frequent appearance in Covet, the second book of my YA paranormal romance series, The Clann Series, in 2012, with the series’ first book, Crave, joining Harlequin Teen’s awesome lineup of teen novels this coming Tuesday, October 25th! Please feel free to visit The Clann Series website, where more information about the East Texas black panther will be posted closer to book #2 Covet’s release in 2012, or my author website to tell me about YOUR East Texas black panther sightings!
Melissa Darnell is a book lover through and through. In addition to authoring a growing list of adult and YA fiction and nonfiction books on a wide assortment of topics and genres, she is also a freelance book editor, layout and cover designer, and ebook formatter with more than 75 books to her professional credit. She wrote her first story in the third grade, was first published in the sixth grade when her poem was selected for an anthology, and has since won several regional and national essay contests with prizes ranging from the complete Harry Potter collection in hardback to an actual horse with a year’s worth of feed in the 1992 Ponies of America essay contest. Born in California, she grew up in East Texas and has also called the following states home at one time or another: Utah, West Virginia, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, and Iowa. A former award-winning dancer with 12 years’ formal training in jazz, tap, and ballet, she currently lives in South Dakota with her husband and two children, where she enjoys watching Whale Wars, UFC matches and True Blood, trying out new hair colors, designing fun stuff to sell in the virtual world of Second Life, and of course writing her latest book!
Want to read more from Melissa Darnell?
This giveaway is provided by Harlequin Teen
One winner will receive a copy of Crave by Melissa Darnell
Available on October 18, 2011 from Harlequin Teen
About the Book:
Savannah Colbert has never known why she’s so hated by the kids of the Clann. Nor can she deny her instinct to get close to Clann golden boy Tristan Coleman. Especially when she recovers from a strange illness and the attraction becomes nearly irresistible. It’s as if he’s a magnet, pulling her gaze, her thoughts, even her dreams. Her family has warned her to have nothing to do with him, or any members of the Clann. But when Tristan is suddenly everywhere she goes, Savannah fears she’s destined to fail.
For years, Tristan has been forbidden to even speak to Savannah Colbert. Then Savannah disappears from school for a week and comes back…different, and suddenly he can’t stay away. Boys seem intoxicated just from looking at her. His own family becomes stricter than ever. And Tristan has to fight his own urge to protect her, to be near her no matter the consequences….
**Don’t forget to visit All Things Urban Fantasy today for her Spooky Legends guest blog with Nancy Holzner and a chance to win a book from the DEADTOWN universe**
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