No (Le)Blanc Stares for Author at Fitchburg Schools’ Monster Talks
By Chad Garner
Special to the Sentinel & Enterprise
FITCHBURG -- Local author Ronny LeBlanc had students in Fitchburg Public Schools on the edge of their seats.
The Leominster-based writer who penned the 2016 book, “Monsterland: Encounters with UFOs, Bigfoot and Orange Orbs,” had his audiences captivated at Memorial Middle School and Goodrich Academy last week when discussing the supernatural.
“It was all positive feedback,” said Memorial teacher Tony Serafini. “They enjoyed listening to how he started to focus on the genre after his witch encounter in a bookstore, all the way to taking prints of a strange print in the woods. A few kids could relate, having weird, unexplained experiences themselves.”
Goodrich Academy student Cristian Mendez, 16, said he believed LeBlanc and his findings.
“This interests me,” Mendez said. “I believe it; I believe it all.”
LeBlanc certainly enjoyed his visit to Memorial and Goodrich Academy.
“I want to encourage reading and using your imagination, but also follow what you’re passionate about and what you want to do,” said LeBlanc. “I’m 44 and I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be in life.
“You never know who’s in this crowd right now. I might say something that sparks them or they might say something to me that inspires me. It’s a cool thing and I enjoy it.”
LeBlanc -- in front of several classes of seventh-graders at Memorial -- told his story about researching and collecting reports of the supernatural, and explained his writing and editing process to create the finished product.
The seventh-grade students later asked LeBlanc several predetermined questions. LeBlanc then chuckled after he was asked if he’s ever been hit up for an autograph.
“It’s a weird thing because I don’t think I’m worthy of all that,” LeBlanc said. “I feel blessed that I’m able to do this and do something I love.”
The experience of meeting a local author was wonderful for the students, said Serafini.
“I wanted them to take away a few things from this experience,” he said. “If they are passionate about something, there is nothing stopping them from writing about it. Ronny never went to school to become an author, he just made a goal for himself and achieved it.
“A lot of our middle-school students write stories to pass the time in their notebooks or on scrap paper. They like to write dialogue and poetry for fun. What’s stopping them from trying to publish their work? Writing a story takes time, research and patience. A lot of what we are studying in seventh grade relates to what he mentioned -- supporting a claim with evidence and creating a tone with your voice. I think this resonated with the students.”
LeBlanc calls writing about the supernatural “controversial in a sense.”
He added: “I just think there’s something to what’s been going on with people, and people have these different stories that can’t all be made up or fake. There’s some truth to it, and I think that’s what intrigues people. There’s that mystery.”
What type of experience does LeBlanc hope people get when they pick up his book and start to read it?
“A lot of people talk about reading the book and having memories unlocked from childhood and experiences that they kind of pushed away,” LeBlanc said. “I find that fascinating that the book is doing that. My biggest thing is that I wrote it for skeptics and for people that believe in it as well. So when they are reading it, it reaffirms what they believe. But for people that don’t believe it, I’m trying to find enough evidence for them to say, ‘Wow, something is going on.’”
LeBlanc also had a “weird” encounter with a possible Bigfoot when he was 12-years-old while riding his bike in his hometown of Leominster.
“I was peddling through and it was dead quiet, and instantly I felt like I was being watched,” LeBlanc said. “Those are two things that people talk about during Bigfoot experiences. I felt like I hit some invisible wall and stopped, and right in front of me (about 20 feet away), something the size of a moose or elephant crashed through the woods. I was like, ‘What is going on?’ I couldn’t move but I could feel it. As soon as it started, it stopped. I got on my bike and I pedaled so fast.”
LeBlanc said the name “Monsterland” comes from the area in Leominster where people have had sightings and encounters over the years.
“There was a guy that disappeared in the 50s, so the locals dubbed it ‘Monsterland,‘” he said. “But what I found out from the old-timers, it was called ‘The UFO landing area’ before. There’s a long history.”
As LeBlanc finished up his talk at Goodrich, he left the students with more to think about.
“Sweet dreams tonight people,” he joked.
Garner is the school district’s communications coordinator.