Professional monster chaser, musician, and author “Count” Lyle Blackburn turns 52 this week, and he gave Fort Worth Weekly some insights into what it’s like being known as a member of the Western-gothic horror band Ghoultown and an expert on fantastical creatures. Born Robert Lyle Steadham on Oct. 23, 1966, in Fort Worth, he began using the pen name Lyle Blackburn after becoming a published author.
Weekly: Tell us about Count Lyle. Where did that name come from?
Blackburn: I was more known and successful as Count Lyle before I started writing books. Ghoultown has toured all over Europe, Canada, and the U.S. Somebody gave me the name Count Lyle when I was in high school. It was kind of a joke just between counting in the songs, because I was a drummer, and the Count Dracula thing.
You’ve also acted in films.
I’ve been in films and television shows, but I’m not a filmmaker. I’m more of an author, mostly in the world of cryptozoology. I’ve written four books [including The Beast of Boggy Creek and Lizard Man]. Subsequently, that is why television has had me on different shows as an expert on the subject.
You’re also a columnist for a horror magazine, right?
Yes. It’s bi-monthly. You can pick it up at Barnes & Noble and wherever. There are only a few major horror magazines, and Rue Morgue is one of them.
So how do you go from North Texas kid to monster hunter?
Well, it’s not something that one envisions for their life. Though, as a kid, one might think that might be cool, but I’ve always been interested in horror and horror movies and, of course, the possibility that monsters might exist in real life, whether it be Bigfoot or Yeti or the Loch Ness Monster. Just about everything I’ve ever done has involved horror in some kind of a way. All the bands I’ve been in were of a dark nature. I was good at writing, and it helped to create income between tours and things. I wrote for a variety of music magazines.
As an investigative journalist, so to speak, I need to go to places where people have seen these things. I essentially go into the woods and look for monsters and/or interview people who’ve had sightings. In a long roundabout way, I end up as a monster hunter. I’m OK with that.
You presented a sneak peek of [your and Ken Gerhard’s] upcoming web series American Monster Tour at the Texas Bigfoot Conference in Jefferson earlier this month. What type of ghoulish plans do you have for Halloween?
I usually try to take Halloween off. I mean, the September/October season is super-busy. I’ve been traveling around to numerous states either speaking at conferences or conventions and even at libraries. So Halloween, I usually stay home and trick-or-treat with my [6-year-old daughter Lyla]. That’s the thing to do, you know, for these days. It’s great to spend Halloween with a kid.