Ghouls and Gals,
Let me introduce you to your new favorite Horror author Lucas Mangum.
I first met Lucas at World Horror Con here in Portland. We were both on a panel where we got to talk about Erotica in Horror (panel aptly named Smut, Gore, and More). Young, energetic, and a fellow cat person, I knew I had made a new friend. So let's meet this dude!
Tiffany Scandal: What inspired you to start writing Horror?
Lucas Mangum: The initial desire to write Horror was sparked in me when I was only six years old. It was Halloween, and my family sat down to watch Stephen King’s Silver Bullet. You know the werewolf movie where Gary Busey plays Corey Haim’s drunk-ass uncle? That’s the one. Pure 80s cheese, but not without genuine scares and character-driven tenderness. Well, I saw it and got scared to death. Slept with the lights on and everything, but the damnedest thing happened. On some deep level, I fucking liked feeling that way. When I learned that the movie was written by a man named Stephen King, it dawned on me that a writer was something people could be when they grew up.
Writing horror dethroned space, sharks, and tractors to become my primary interest. I’d fold up a stack of paper, write a story in it (complete with my illustrations), and sell them to neighbors for a dollar a piece. I guess you could say I was pushing chapbooks long before I knew what the hell they were.
Hmm… I suddenly feel compelled to write a story featuring space, sharks and tractors. Space Sharks vs Tractors? Sorry, this is my mind at 5:30 am.
TS: Your novel FLESH AND FIRE drops in August. Care to tell us about it?
LM: FLESH AND FIRE is a story about a man in the midst of a midlife crisis who accidentally conjures his long-dead lover, Chloe, by playing an old song he wrote, and has to help her escape Hell. My starting point was asking myself the question, “What if Clive Barker wrote a paranormal romance?” and just kind of ran with it from there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very much a horror novel. The villain, Samael is one mean bastard who’s been in Hell so long he’s started to enjoy himself, and he wreaks all kinds of carnage.
I also tried to mess with a lot of pre-existing themes in the subgenre. Like, instead of just having Todd, my main character, rescue Chloe, she also has to rescue him. They’re both in Hell, after all, even if hers is a lot more literal.
It comes out on August 14th as part of Journalstone’s Double Down Series, packaged with a new one from Jonathan Maberry.
TS: Who and/or what are some of your influences?
LM: Oh, wow, so many! The aforementioned King and Barker, but I guess that’s every horror writer of the last generation. Poppy Z. Brite’s Drawing Blood and Sara Gran’s Come Closer were huge touchstones for me (the former showed me horror could be sexy; the latter is the scariest book I’ve ever read).
Also, I have to recognize Brian Keene (for his industry commentary just as much as for his novels), Jonathan Maberry (who has been a great mentor and even better friend), and Shane McKenzie (who constantly inspires me to push boundaries and reminds me that, above all, this writing stuff is FUN).
Lastly, all you crazy bizarro kids have been a great influence as well. I recommend writers in any genre to read bizarro, because it’s helped me think about my own writing in a totally different of way.
TS: You also co-wrote the sci-fi/horror film Epigenesis. What was your experience writing for film, and do you have any other film projects on the horizon?
LM: I co-wrote that with my friend Scout Tafoya and we shot it for something like fifty bucks. Scout describes it at Gus Van Sant’s My Private Idaho with an alien, but I promise it’s not that pretentious.
Movies were my first love. For a while, in high school and the first couple of years of college, I toyed with the idea of directing and screenwriting. Doing Epigenesis was a real dream come true. While it has yet to find distribution, I regret nothing. It was a blast. I may even novelize it one day.
My current project on the film front is called “Tap, Tap, Tap.” It’s a short film in the vein of “Lights Out,” which you should totally see, if you haven’t already. I wrote the script and right now it’s just a matter of pulling our resources together and shooting the damn thing.
TS: What’s a novel that makes you angry because you wish you wrote it?
LM: Not exactly a novel, but Preacher. I tell people all the time I think it’s the best story ever told. It’s got great emotional arcs, antiheroes, bizarro-worthy weirdness, horror, and God’s the villain. How do you go wrong?
TS: If you could sit with any literary idol (living or dead) and chat with them over some beverage, who would it be and what would you ask them?
LM: I hate to give a cliché answer, but I wouldn’t feel right not answering with Stephen King. In this age of conventions, there’s a good chance us horror writers CAN have a drink with anyone we like, if we’re not an asshole or the wrong kind of weird. The exception would be someone like King, who’s pretty inaccessible.
I understand he doesn’t drink, so I’d settle for coffee, spike mine with bourbon, and try my damnedest to ask him something he hasn’t already been asked before.
TS: Where can we check out some of your short stories?
LM: I started posting a lot of my stories (some reprints, others brand new) on my Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/lucasmangum. For as little as a buck a month, you can get a story every other week. I also have a story in the Fall ’14 Issue of Blight Digest alongside Kealan Patrick Burke, Ed Kurtz, MP Johnson, John Boden, and Michael Bailey: http://www.amazon.com/Blight-Digest-Fall-2014-Kurtz-ebook/dp/B00O4B6FE6.
My most recent sale is probably the one I’m most proud of. It’s for the fourth volume of IDW’s V-Wars anthology. That comes out either later this year or sometime next year.
TS: I heard you’re working on a Dinosaur novel?
LM: Yes! It’s called EXTINCTION PEAK and it’s about dinosaurs that burst out of the ground in a California mountain town and start eating everybody. There’s a serial killer among the survivors and a weird paranormal twist. It’s really one of the most insane things I’ve ever written. The first draft is done, but I still have quite a bit of revising to do.
TS: Favorite cat meme?
I’ve been trying to get my orange cat, Eva, to twerk ever since.
TS: YES!!! Now Lucas, any final words?
LM: Now pass the scotch, please.
There you have it. Lucas Mangum. Keep your eyes peeled on this one. Remember his book FLESH AND FIRE comes out August 14th.
Keep it creepy.