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Hellbender Surfaces on Web and in Bookstores 

Welcome to the Virgin Islands...

...home of sailors and fishermen, millionaires and drug runners—and suddenly scientists and sea monsters. Hellbender, my new novel, is a scientific thriller about a prehistoric predator that emerges from the deep ocean to attack a small group of islands on the brink of the Continental Shelf, transforming a low-key Caribbean paradise into a media circus Ground Zero.

Hellbender is inspired by many weeks sailing in the Caribbean and the Chesapeake Bay—which, I suppose, makes me guilty of having a sailor’s imagination. The idea of monsters hiding in the unexplored reaches of the sea has always tantalized me; I wanted to write a book about what might happen if a giant, undiscovered creature, something that's been evolving in the deep for millions of years, suddenly decided to unleash its horrific carnivorousness on the water-goers from the land. I wanted my monster to be fierce and scientifically plausible, rather than the familiar friendly creatures in tales inspired by fantasy or childhood wonder, or the overblown, mythical sea-faring yarns marked by exaggeration. I wanted the story to be real for readers. But I also wanted it to be fun.

On the pages of this website, you'll find lots of details about the novel itself, about plesiosaurs, and about the history of monster sightings around Loch Ness and other places. You can check out the world through the eyes of the Cenozoic Society—a ficticious group of cryptozoologists featured in the novel—by visiting their home page on the Web, also included in this site. And you can scroll down to see how James A. Rock & Co., my friends, and I set about unleashing Hellbender on the rest of the world, with pictures from our exciting release party in Paoli, Pennsylvania, and a recipe for a fantastic new cocktail we invented to honor the monster.

One final note: Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible, especially Jeanne Alleva, Holly Franciamone, and Jim and Lynne Rock. Without them, none of this would have been possible.

This site is meant to be entertaining and informative; I hope you like it, and I hope you read my book!

            —Rob Grofe



Hellbender Release Party

 Hellbender the Tropical Drink

 Buy the Book





May 26, 2009: Hellbender released to the public, available at publishers site and on Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, and other Internet sites.
May 30, 2009: "Hellbender" tropical drink invented using Glen Ness single-malt Scotch whiskey, possibly the first tropical drink in history using Scotch.
May 31, 2009: Official Hellbender e-mail account activated at
June 13, 2009: Hellbender Caribbean release bash held in Paoli, Pennsylvania.
June 15, 2009: First Hellbender editions available in Plymoth Meeting, Pennsylvania. 
June 24, 2009: Official Hellbender website published at
July 2009: Hellbender available in bookstore websites nationally.
August 7, 2009: Second Hellbender book release celebration held on Long Beach Island, New Jersey.
August 2009: Hellbender available in 17 countries around the world.


"The pool is also an ideal hiding place." --- C.R. Gruver

Below: Promotional materials and pictures from the Caribbean-in-Pennsylvania Hellbender release party... posters, bookmarks, business cards, drink cards, napkins, banners, signed books, steel bands, tropical drinks, kabobs and crazy-fantanstic and colorful eats, a giant fish head, and yes, there was a monster lurking in the pool.



Lots of books with signatures


Steel-drum papa           
     David Gettes       

The author before the party, in front of his poster (above), and after, with Holly Franciamone and Jeanne Alleva,
the two extraordinary
party planners



"Hellie" goes after some "gastroliths."

The Hellbender: A New Potent Potable

In May 2009, while planning the Hellbender release party during an evening of Mojitos and burrito burgers in Paoli, Holly Franciamone, Jeanne Alleva, and Robert Grofe were hit with a somewhat hare-brained idea: concoct a drink called a "Hellbender" to help market the novel. It's a tropical-set novel; why not make a tropical drink to go along with it? A week later, after various recipes a good degree nastier than the hellbender beastie itself, it was down to a gut-wrenching manifestation incorporating six alcohols---Myers's Dark Rum, Malibu Coconut Rum, Cuervo Gold, vodka, blackberry brandy, and Blue Curacao---and lime juice. The desired color was achieved---a dark teal, like the color of the novel and of the Caribbean. The desired flavor, not so much. When the dust cleared the morning after, wisdom prevailed and the recipe was modified: dump the tequila, the vodka, and the Malibu and substitute the lime juice with pineapple. Then, in a flash of inspiration, it was decided that Scotch should be added, in honor of the legend of Loch Ness. "It's so crazy, it just might work," was the consensus. To sweeten and jazz up the mix, Sprite was added at the last, and the results were good.

The drink has received rave reviews so far; it's been called both "subtly powerful" and "delicious." The color is a bit scary at first look, but once the pineapple and Sprite are added, it's generally agreed that the drink is quite beautiful, and comments have been made that the drink tastes "nothing like you would think with Scotch and rum" and "much more light and refreshing than it looks."

Drink cards were produced, thanks to Jeanne Alleva, but a note of caution if you happen to acquire one: the card says to serve shaken... that sometimes doesn't work so well with the Sprite. Also, in a tall glass, the drink gets a nice layered look when you pour the four alcohols over the rocks and then flush in the pineapple and Sprite without stirring.

Here's to hoping that the drink makes it onto the menu at a pub near you!

  • 1/2 oz. Scotch whiskey (preferably Glen Ness)
  • 1/2 oz. Myers's Dark Rum
  • 1/2 oz. blackberry brandy
  • 1/2 oz. Blue Curacao
  • Fill with pineapple juice
  • Finish with Sprite
Serve on the rocks or up, preferably in a tall glass (Collins glass or wine glass); better left standing (not stirred or shaken); also good as a shot. May garnish with a pineapple slice, a twist of orange peel, a blueberry, all three, or none of the above.



James A. Rock & Company, Publishers:



Trade Paperback, 6" x 9"
412 pages
ISBN: 978-1-59663-727-6   
$21.95 (list price)


All original artwork, narrative text, and graphic design by Robert Grofe and James A. Rock & Co., Publishers. Note: Product names, logos, brands, and other trademarks occurring or referred to within the pages of this website are the property of their respective owners.

Additional images by Mark Pellegrini (2005), Arthur Weasley (2006, 2007, 2008), Dmitry Bogdanov (2008), Henry Alcock-White (2005, 2006), Tamas Iklodi (2008), Wikimedia Commons user MANOJTV (2006), and any others for whom identification was unknown and/or unobtainable are published by their respective authors under the following conditions: permission is granted to copy, distribute, and/or modify these images under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license can be found at the following location:

Additional images by William Tait (1842), Phillip O'Donnell, Timothy O'Donnell, and Garth Guessman (2008), Adam Stuart Smith and
www.plesiosauria.com (2002), Sam Fentress (2005), Pierre Brial (2008), Hugo Heikenwaelder (1999), Henry Alcock-White (2006), Zachary Davies (2007), Andrew Dunn (2004), Zach Tirrell (2005), Wikimedia Commons users "Celtus" (2007), "RJFerret" (2004), and "Wars" (2006), and any others for whom identification was unknown and/or unobtainable are published by their respective authors under the following conditions: permission is granted to copy, distribute, and modify the image on the condition that the author is accredited as specified in the Creative Commons Attribution Unported License, Version 3.0 or any later version published by the Creative Commons. A copy of the license can be found at the following location: creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/.

Other images by Bishop Erik Ludvigen Pontoppidan (1975), Albertus Seba and J. Fortuÿn (1734), Pierre Denys de Montfort (1802), Conrad Gesner (1558), Olaus Magnus (1555), Hans Egede (1734), Gustave Doré (1865), Robbie Cada (2007), Tobias Jakobs (2006), Tina R. Lamb (2002), Brian Adler (2007), and others are believed to be in the public domain.

"The Surgeon's Photo," purportedly copyrighted by Robert Kenneth Wilson (1934), "The Flipper Photo," copyrighted by the Academy of Applied Science and the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau (1972), and "The Mansi Photo," copyrighted by Sandi Mansi (1977), are presented here as faithful representations of these three unique historic images; the image of "the Abominable Snowman of the North" is a screenshot from the film Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, copyrighted by Rankin/Bass (1964), and is presented here solely because it makes a significant contribution to the reader's understanding of the descriptive text, which could not practically be conveyed by words alone, with the understanding that the use of this image for this purpose does not compete with the purposes of the original work, namely the creator providing graphic design services to film concerns and in turn marketing films to the public; it is believed that the use of all of these images qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law.

The image of blackberries isbelieved to be copyrighted by High Hopes Gardens (2008) and is presented as shown on the website www.highhopesgardens.com to illustrate the descriptive text with the understanding that the use of this image for this purpose does not compete with the purposes of the original work, namely the creator providing graphic design to market produce to the public; it is believed that the use this image qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law.

All original artwork, narrative text, graphic design, and images are presented in good faith that no copyright infringements are being committed; if we are in error and/or have inappropriately used or accredited design, text, or images, please notify us via e-mail at
hellbender.rwgrofe@gmail.com, and we will immediately accredit the item in question as instructed, provide any necessary links to the source, or have it removed.

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