In Bigfoot and Nessie: The Haunting of Loch Ness Castle by Chelsea M. Campbell and Laura Knetzger, Bigfoot and Nessie return for a second adventure… and this time, they’re visiting Nessie’s underwater home, Loch Ness Castle.

The Haunting of Loch Ness Castle is available from Penguin Workshop now. To celebrate, The Beat caught up with Campbell and Knetzger over email. We asked all about the genesis of the series, about what went into costume design, and about the undeniable and enduring appeal of cryptids!

AVERY KAPLAN: This is the second Bigfoot and Nessie book, but since it’s our first time chatting about it, can you tell us about the genesis of the series?

LAURA KNETZGER: I was brought on the project after the script for book 1 was finished, so I’ll let Chelsea speak to the early genesis. I joined up because I wanted to draw cute cryptids, and I loved the concept of cryptids being celebrities who put lots of effort into staying relevant. 

CHELSEA M. CAMPBELL: I’d been watching a lot of We Bare Bears, and there’s a bigfoot in that named Charlie who’s really afraid of having his picture taken, and I thought what if a bigfoot was trying to get their picture taken? And then I wrote down a paragraph that basically outlined this whole story of Bigfoot trying to be seen and meeting Nessie, who was uber famous but just wanted to hide, and them becoming friends.

KAPLAN: Do you each have a favorite character?

KNETZGER: Nessie and her mom were fun to draw. And Bigfoot and his family are all so huggable.

CAMPBELL: I love both Bigfoot and Nessie! I’m not sure I can choose.

KAPLAN: In addition to fantastic elements like cryptids, The Haunting of Loch Ness Castle features relatable themes like managing unrealistic parental expectations. What went into the process of combining these two seemingly disparate narrative elements?

CAMPBELL: This is a tough question! It’s hard to disentangle these now that they’ve been woven together for so long in my mind. I think I thought of the ghost storyline first, but that’s the external journey they go through, so I needed an inner journey to go with it, and since to me both of these are about my fear of confrontation, Nessie having to confront a loved one about her needs felt equally scary! 

KAPLAN: To what do you attribute the immense appeal of cryptids?

KNETZGER: The mystery! So much about them is hearsay or unknown, they’re a blank slate for our imaginations. The truth is out there…

CAMPBELL: I think it’s the feeling that these creatures could be real, and if they are, then what other magic might exist in the world? It makes life seem a little brighter!

KAPLAN: What was the process of designing Nessie’s dresses like? How much time did you spend laughing?

KNETZGER: It was such a struggle to design outfits that read as “cute girl” on a quadruped. You’ll notice Nessie and her mom mostly use accessories like hats, scarves, and jewelry to look feminine. I had to ask our book designer, Jay Emmanuel, to help me brainstorm ideas for Nessie’s big premiere dress. It was really hard to make a garment read clearly as a dress without the traditional silhouette, let alone a cute party dress.

KAPLAN: Was the Aquaticar inspired by anything in particular? What was the process of designing it like?

KNETZGER: The way it looks was inspired by the aquacar from The Spy Who Loved Me. What better for a celebrity who lives at the bottom of a lake than one of James Bond’s fanciest gadgets?

CAMPBELL: For me, I wasn’t thinking of anything in particular – I just needed them to have a convenient way to get underwater that didn’t involve a lot of transitions, lol.

KAPLAN: Laura, I am familiar with your work on the Bug Boys series, which is more based on the natural world. I’m curious how your creative process might change or stay the same on a more fantastic project like Bigfoot and Nessie?

KNETZGER: It was more the mundane setting elements than the fantastical that set the two series apart for me. In Bug Boys I would never have to draw an airport, car interior, or smartphone. Bigfoot and Nessie are fantastical creatures, but they live in the real world, so the details of the real world have to be right so the reader feels grounded. I had to use way more reference pictures for Bigfoot and Nessie than I ever did for Bug Boys. 

KAPLAN: Chelsea, your author bio for Bigfoot and Nessie specifies that you wear a lot of hats, but “definitely not to disguise herself because she’s secretly a cryptid.” Respectfully, isn’t this exactly what someone who is secretly a cryptid would write in her author bio?

CAMPBELL: I see where you’re coming from with this, but I think that’s something any normal human type person would say and isn’t suspicious at all. And just because no humans have ever seen me without a hat on doesn’t mean anything. Sometimes a hat is just a hat and not a cleverly planned disguise to fool everyone. Except when it is, of course, but I wouldn’t know anything about that. 

KAPLAN: Is there anything else you’d like me to include?

KNETZGER: It was hard to draw Nessie interacting with stuff in a believable way, but now I kind of miss drawing it. Anyway, the truth is out there…

Bigfoot and Nessie: The Haunting of Loch Ness Castle is available at your local bookstore and/or public library today.