Why I believe in Nessie, the Loch Ness “Monster”

I believe in Nessie, Scotland's Loch Ness Monster.

I’m guessing a lot of you have bucket lists. It won’t surprise many of you to learn mine has a separate section just for travel.

One of the longest standing places on that list is Scotland, and it’s not just because I have an affinity for haggis, men in plaid, and Scotland the Brave when played by a piper. It’s all about Nessie, the so-called Loch Ness “Monster.” It’s my dream to sit on the banks of the great lake for hours, waiting for the fabled creature to make an appearance.

Nessie is only a “monster” because of our own xenophobia. She’s simply a creature who hasn’t been officially discovered, catalogued, and researched yet. (Or she’s one we believed to be extinct who has somehow miraculously survived.)

Ever since I began this blog, people have asked me if I really “believe” in this stuff. Honestly? I like to keep an open mind. A lot of the things we now accept as part of our daily lives (powerful computers that fit in our pockets, cars that run on electricity instead of gasoline, prayer being scientifically proven to have health benefits for the ailing) were thought improbable or even impossible not so many years ago.

So, while keeping an open mind is important to me, an even more accurate answer would be…I want to believe.

When I was a child, I was one of the last people in my class to stop sending my wish lists to Santa Claus. One day my best friend came to me with inarguable proof that the great elf was not what he seemed–her parents had told her the “truth.” I was stunned. Shocked. Heartbroken. I confronted my own mother, asked if it was true. Her answer was something I’ve never forgotten:

“Santa Claus will exist as long as you believe in him.”

What a beautiful sentiment. For me, it’s the same with Nessie. She exists if we believe she does, and I don’t know about you, but I personally want to believe. I need to believe, in my heart of hearts, that there’s still magic in the world. There’s still things out there waiting to be discovered, questions we don’t have the answers to. Intellectually, I know that if the original Nessie still called the Loch home, she’d be very, very old. But why not? Parrots and elephants and tortoises can live for an extremely long time. Why not Nessie? As far as I’m concerned, the world is a better place with her in it.

Monsters in Our Wake by J.H. MoncrieffWhen Severed Press asked me for a “sea monster” novel, I had Nessie in mind, which is probably why the creatures in my resulting book aren’t monsters per se, but highly intelligent beings with the right to live in peace. Monsters in Our Wake is unusual for other reasons too–protagonists in this kind of story are usually macho men with more fire power than brains, while mine is a female scientist suffering from anxiety. Needless to say, I wasn’t sure what the folks at Severed would think of a sentient sea creature telling his story, never mind my underdog heroine, so it was a big relief when they said the words writers all live to hear:

“We’d love to publish this.”

Guess there is some magic left in the world after all.

Monsters in Our Wake has been unleashed on the universe in ebook form to start (trade paperback to follow shortly), and it could use some love in the way of reviews and blurbs. Even a sentence or two and a star rating would help tremendously. If you’d like a free copy in exchange for a review, please let me know in the comments. Need a good creature feature on your blog? I’m up for any and all guest posts.

And I’d love to know what you believe in. Have any of you visited Loch Ness? Caught a glimpse of the old girl herself? Please share your experience in the comments. What’s on your bucket list?

“I want to believe” image credit: JBaz

In the idyllic waters of the South Pacific lurks a dangerous and insatiable predator; a monster whose bloodlust and greed threatens the very survival of our planet.

Thousands of miles from the nearest human settlement, deep on the ocean floor, the creatures have lived peacefully for millennia. But when an oil drill bursts through their lair, Nøkken attacks, damaging the drilling ship’s engine and trapping the desperate crew.

The longer the humans remain in Nøkken’s territory, struggling to repair their ailing ship, the more confrontations occur between the two species. When the death toll rises, the crew turns on each other, and marine geologist Flora Duchovney realizes the scariest monsters aren’t below the surface.


  1. Terrific idea for a book! I’ll look forward to checking it out. Meanwhile, I’m sure you stumbled across the “water horse” or Uilepheist/each-uisge of Scottish folklore along the way, right?

    • JH

      Thanks so much, Randee! You’ve made my day.

      As the answer to your question, you’re going to enjoy some of the characters’ names in this one. 🙂

  2. Congratulations! I didn’t know you had that in the works.
    I’ve been to Loch Ness. While I don’t believe there is a giant creature living in the waters that looks like a dinosaur, I do believe something is there. Most of the locals have seen something and there is an aura of mystery about the place.

    • JH

      Ooh, I’m so jealous, Alex! Very cool that most of the locals have seen something at the Loch. I can’t wait to visit it myself.

      I try not to promote myself too much on this site and on social media, but unfortunately, I often swing too far the other way so no one knows about my books! Trying to get better at that.

      This contract came together quickly, though. SP had it up for sale in a few short months.

  3. I love your blurb – very professional with great inherent conflict and stakes. The sea scares me, and so this kind of book has an added “creep factor” for me. I’m not as imaginative as you though. I don’t believe in anything unless there’s physical, absolute scientific evidence. I figured out pretty quick that there was no Santa because presents from him were in the same wrapping paper as ones from my parents! lol

    • JH

      Thanks so much, Lexa. That’s great to hear, because blurbs, along with the dreaded synopsis, are my nemesis. This one was a combined effort between me, my copy editor, and my publisher.

      Sad about Santa. I did feel Christmas lost a bit of its magic when I finally stopped believing.

  4. Congrats! This book sounds really good, and different. I have been to Loch Ness, sadly failed to catch a glimpse though. I’m a bit in between with these things – I do like to keep an open mind, but then proof is always good. I do think belief is a powerful force.

    • JH

      Thanks so much, Nick! It’s definitely different…I’ll let my readers be the judge of the rest.

      You’re so lucky to have gone to Loch Ness, sighting or not! I hear what you’re saying: I like proof too, but then I think of how many things that were dismissed as impossible that we then got the proof of years and years later.

  5. Send one my way. I just had this conversation with one of my piano students. She’s play “The Loch Ness Monster” for our Spring Recital! She said she also believes Nessie is a dinosaur that survived extinction, AND we talked about how it could happen, and the old age of tortoises, etc. I’d also like to sit on the banks of Loch Ness and watch for its famous resident.

    mary.aalgaard at yahoo

    • JH

      Come with me, Mary! We’ll have lots of fun. Thanks for offering to review the book. That’s awesome of you. I hope you like it. 🙂

  6. Congratulations, dear J.H.! Can’t wait to read Monsters in our Wake.
    I’m sure this is going to be one fantastic read!
    Nessie is such a cool creature, plus I love nature and the outdoors – so this book is going to be right up my alley. Thank you! 🙂

    • JH

      You’re very welcome, Lisa! Thanks so much for the kind words. Your friendship, encouragement and support keep me going through the dark days.

  7. We visited there two years ago. Whatever you do don’t go to the visitor centre. I was in tears by the time I came out for the clinical way in which they crushed the myth. I want to believe.

  8. Congratulations on the new book!

    Your response to Alex re promoting your work cracked me up. I’m kind of the same way. I post about my stuff on my blog, it shows up on Goodreads then…that’s pretty much it. 🙂

    I try to keep an open mind, too. When I was a kid, after awhile, I suspected Santa wasn’t real but I wanted to believe so badly that I basically talked myself into it for a few more years. 🙂

  9. JH

    That’s awesome, Madeline, and thanks for the kind words. Glad to hear there’s other believers out there.

    I’m so hesitant about turning people off with self-promo. I get that it’s annoying if overdone, but it’s astounding how sensitive some are about it. An author friend once shared one of my more popular posts, and it had a link to a related post at the end. One of her friends made a snarky remark about how my “self promotion” ruined the post for him. My jaw dropped–the blog posts are free!

  10. Gord

    Hi J.H., great idea for a story. I have also been to the area of Loch Ness. The lake is very deep and is connected to a series of three or four lakes to span from the Atlantic ocean to the North sea on the other side of Scotland. The area is an old channel that could very easily harbour a relic from the past, and being over 250 meters deep whose to say what’s on the bottom. I look forward to your story.–gord.

    • JH

      Wow, that’s amazing, Gord. Thanks for sharing. I thought I knew a fair bit about it, but I didn’t realize how far reaching it was.

      If you do pick up the book, thank you so much and I hope you love it. Would be happy to hear your thoughts afterwards.

  11. I have not been to Loch Ness but was always intrigued by this creature. You know we have one in BC:) Can’t remember the name but I believe there is some creature that has yet to be discovered. I still recall a picture that a Japanese (I think it was them) ship hauled out of the water- some creature that looks like something from prehistoric time. They could live in the depths and feed on sharks and other bigger fish. Remember this sports guy in his speed boat on loch Ness? He was travelling fast and then hit something in the middle of the lake and broke up. He died but everyone was stumped because there were no rocks, logs or anything else in that area. I want to travel to so many places… Wittenberg to my mom’s birth place plus , well, the rest of Europe. I would love to go Transylvania like you did and there was a very haunted house called Borley rectory, I think, in England. It burned down but I would like to visit the site.

    • JH

      Of course! How could one ever forget Ogopogo? I give that creature props for the best name ever.

      I don’t think I knew the story about the guy who died in Loch Ness, but I believe you’ve just given me guest post fodder. Thanks, Birgit!

      Transylvania is well worth the visit, and the Borley rectory sounds so cool!

  12. This book sounds great – I love the idea that the “monsters” aren’t actually monsters! You’re always welcome to guest post over on my blog anytime, just drop me an email or tweet if you’re interested 🙂

    • JH

      Most definitely, Debbie! Thank you so much. From the feedback I’ve gotten so far, readers are loving that the creature has a point of view.

  13. What a great idea for a novel. A bestselling novel was written in 1971 by John Gardner through the viewpoint of the monster Grendel. May you have similar luck! I will do a post on your new book when the Mardi Gras madness allows me! 🙂

    • JH

      I had no idea, Roland! That sounds amazing, although I’m sure Gardner had a much bigger marketing push behind him than I do.

      I’ll do what I can. Enjoy Mardi Gras, and I’d love to be featured on your blog!

  14. I would love to sit on a bench near the Loch Ness, or any loch for that matter, but I have never been to Schotland. I’ll let you know if and when it happens! Maybe there is a certain way to call Nellie and nobody has found it yet. So much to see and do in this world…. I had no idea you went to Cuba as well, you busy travel bee.

    Congratulations with the new release; that sure was a nice surprise. And, I would love to read “Monsters in our Wake” and leave you a review. We have a comfy couch next to a warm fire place right now, in a very quiet area; an excellent place to learn about your writing and enjoy your last book!

    • JH

      Thanks so much, Liesbet! I’ll be happy to send you the book for review. I’m trying to build as much buzz as I can. So far, readers are liking it, which is a huge relief.

      Yes, the beginning of this year is crazy for travel. I go to Shanghai in March, California in April for StokerCon, and after that I’ll (hopefully) be home for a while.

  15. I love this! I’m just like you…I want to believe. I remember when I was a kid and I fought so hard to keep believing in Santa. I tell my nephews to this day that Santa is real…he’s everyone. 🙂

    Congratulations on your new book! It sounds awesome. I like that you incorporated the dangers of oil drills to sea life. I’m sure if they could tell us, they’d let us know how they hate it.

    • JH

      Thanks so much, Chrys. To be honest, the initial idea for this book was a thinly concealed rant against the oil industry–especially the offshore drillers–but it got a lot more complicated. As the characters became real to me, I realized no one is “all bad” or “all good.”

      And thanks for keeping Santa alive!

  16. The thing I most want to believe in is life on Mars or Europa. Maybe that’s because I don’t feel like there’s a whole lot of room left on Earth for magic and mystery, so I have to look to other places in the Solar System.

    Also, your book sounds awesome. I just purchased it, and I look forward to reading it.

  17. We must believe in Nessie. I think there’s a law written somewhere near that Loch that demands our belief. And standing there, looking out over that place you have no choice anyway.

    Sorry you gave up on Santa, though.

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