In the inaugural episode of the Dark Corners podcast, hosts Lucas and Rita unpack the strange, storied Room 322 at the Zaza Hotel in Houston. Plus, extreme horror fiction recs, growing up with a freemason stepfather, and much, much more.
It has been a very trying couple of weeks. Scratch that. It has been a very trying four months. The last couple of weeks, however, completely broke me.
First, I faced some drama over the cover of Saint Sadist. I won’t recap it here because I’m exhausted. Also, we managed to resolve it, even if I hate that it happened at all.
That bit of drama PALES in comparison to what else has transpired though. Long story short (and I will keep it short because it’s already been reported on extensively), the indie horror scene–like the movie industry, like the wrestling business, and like the music world–has an abusive men problem. The two prime examples are a prominent male author sending inappropriate messages to several females in our industry, then subsequently harassing one of these women for speaking out, and a renowned male bookseller assaulting his girlfriend and attempting to rape his own daughter.
To say that I now think of this so-called community as a hostile work environment is a gross understatement.
Couple this with rising COVID19 numbers in my state, racial tensions that could be eased today if our government only cared to do something about violent police, a series of transphobic comments by arguably the most powerful cis-woman in the world, rampant cancel-culture (yes, some deserve to be called out, but not every campaign is noble), our president’s constant use of the U.S. Constitution as toilet paper, my own social isolation, and the impossibility of work/life balance when my kid is home during the workday, I’m fucking exhausted.
Some things to know about me: I will never stop writing. Writing nurtures me. It cleanses and soothes me. It helps me and I used to think it helped others. Also, I am a person of my word. All preexisting obligations to publishers, even gentleman’s agreements in which I have yet to sign a contract, will be fulfilled. These include: the release of my dinosaur apocalypse novel Extinction Peak through Section 31 Productions, turning in a story for a top secret literary smut anthology, letting Grindhouse Press publish my story “Primitive” in an anthology this October, the release of a top-secret omnibus, and the eventual publication of my collaboration with Ryan Harding.
Once all these obligations have been met, I’m out. I’ve had it with the scene’s hostile cliquishness, abuse and harassment, and blatant favoritism toward people who later turn out to be abusers.
I will continue to post regular content to my Patreon. Posts will be accessible to the public, all pledges optional. I have a job. I don’t need the money, but I certainly won’t reject it either.
Also, I will continue to occasionally blog here. It can be very therapeutic and if I wasn’t always on Facebook and Twitter, I’d do it more often. Guess what accounts I’ll be staying away from for the foreseeable future.
Lastly, Sean Duregger will continue to produce excellent audiobook versions of my work and I will co-host the brand new Dark Corners Podcast with Rita Goodall.
That’s all I really have to say today. My tribe knows who they are. I would follow any one of them to the ends of the earth and I know they would do the same for me. If you are part of my tribe, thank you. You can follow my Patreon (again, pledging is optional), follow me here, support Sean’s audio productions of my work, and subscribe to the Dark Corners Podcast (all social media for the show is handled by Rita).
This is Lucas Mangum, signing off.
The Page of Pentacles shows me, holding the fruits of my labor in my hands. I’ve worked hard and I’m privileged to gain much from that.
With The Sun shining down, I can say my house is in order, the door to my imagination is open, and I have much I can be grateful for.
But there’s always room for improvement, internally and, in these tumultuous times, externally. We must carry what we can and push forward, keep going.
There’s much work to be done.
I’ve been doing occasional Tarot readings on my IG account the last few months. While that’s well and good, I thought it may also be cool to do them here. At the very least, it gives me more space for this contemplative practice.
The pictured cards came up for me this morning. For the uninitiated, these cards are (from left to right) the Five of Pentacles, the Seven of Swords, and Strength. Sometimes, readings require I do lots of research, as I’m still somewhat new to Tarot. However, today’s was immediately clear.
The Five of Pentacles with its vagrants outside a church during a snowstorm calls poverty to mind. Now, to apply this to my life, I can’t take the card to mean literal poverty, as I’m able to pay my bills and feed my family. However, when it comes to significance or leaving a legacy, I sometimes see myself as deficient, which could be a form of poverty, just an immaterial form.
To cope with this perceived deficiency, I often take on too much, like the man balancing five swords in his hands while leaving two behind, as pictured in the Seven of Swords. Taking on too much can be incredibly destructive. It can lead to things not being done correctly and to important things left undone.
Through it all, my Strength will be compassion for myself, for narrowing my focus, for postponing projects so as not to be spread to thin, for recognizing where I am and what I’ve done and saying, “that’s good enough for now.”
Yesterday, I turned 36. I spent much of the day eating good food and playing Magic the Gathering: Arena. My partner and toddler made my day special. They usually do. We spent time in the backyard and went for a brief walk.
My partner got me a heavy bag so I could practice what limited kickboxing strikes I know and stay in shape. My mother-in-law sent me a $50 Amazon gift card. I also received a bunch of nice messages.
Aside from this blog, I didn’t do any writing.
Progress was slow on Spider God this week, but I’m sure I’ll get back to it this week.
It’s been a time for reflection and pause.
Outside, the apocalypse continues. I can’t imagine doing this without an internet connection or alcohol. Supposedly, we’re going to reopen America, but the America we knew is gone. The world we knew is gone. I’m under no delusion things will be the same. My partner says the world is always changing, which is true, but this feels bigger and much scarier.
I’m tired and not okay, but at least I’m not alone.
If you know me personally, or if you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m a huge wrestling fan. I don’t get to watch it as much as I’d like these days, but I still follow AEW, NWA, and WWE pretty closely. Mostly, I listen to podcasts and watch highlights. I admire the art so much as a form of storytelling. The character work, when done right, can be even more effective and believable than what we see in movies, on TV, or inside a book.
In the business, there’s a term, “getting over,” which refers to how much a wrestler connects to the audience. Like anything, it’s not an exact science figuring out how to connect. It usually comes from practice, trial and error, and an uncanny ability for listening.
This brings me to something that happened four days ago. I saw wrestler Scott Steiner (aka Big Poppa Pump, aka Big Bad Booty Daddy, aka the genetic freak, aka White Thunder, aka the mathematician) was trending on Twitter. He was a favorite of mine when growing up. He was the type of guy you loved to hate: arrogant, unhinged, and VERY talented in the ring.
He’s also the author of the greatest wrestling promo ever spoken, the literary merit of which is indisputable.
Listen to that. Seriously. Art.
He also owns a Shoney’s. For the uninitiated, Shoney’s is a buffet-style restaurant located mostly in the Southern United States. Its food is about what you’d expect, but due to Steiner’s celebrity status and the unveiling of that glorious billboard, he was trending on Twitter.
Mostly, I tweet about books. Sometimes, I use humor. Sometimes, I shill for myself. Usually, I couldn’t care less about what’s trending, but when I saw a favorite wrestler from the glory days of the sport on the sidebar, I had to take a look. Without a second thought, tweeted that photo along with the following text: “The billboard for the Shoney’s owned by wrestler and esteemed mathematician Scott Steiner. I know where I’m going after this pandemic ends.”
That was it. No hashtags. Didn’t ‘@’ anyone.
As of this writing, it has been ‘liked’ 591 times, retweeted 139 times, and it’s inspired 30 replies.
I never get that kind of traction.
Will it translate into book sales? Doubtful. Is it a funny observation? Absolutely.
So, yeah, I ‘got over’ on Twitter this week. Pretty dope.
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I've been blogging a lot more regularly and I intend to continue to do so. If you enjoy my posts or enjoy my books, throw me a buck. You'll get a shoutout in my next post and help me buy frivolous things like beer and Halloween decorations.
It’s Saturday morning, somewhere in Texas. My son is playing with his Transformers. I got a couple of nice royalty payments this week, so I decided to get Game Pass for my PC. If you’ve got X-Box game recs, hit me up in the comments.
Games and comics are good for winding down. I still very much enjoy reading prose, but because doing so is necessary in order to keep my writing tools sharp, it sometimes feels more like work than play.
And I need to play.
It’s not just something kids do.
It’s something adults need.
Lately, I’ve been playing Magic, the Gathering: Arena . It’s a lot of fun. I didn’t play Magic as a kid, but always wanted to. There’s a lot to learn, but again, in the context of play, it doesn’t feel like work.
Reading comics and playing games has strengthened my writing, strangely enough. While I want Spider God (Gods of the Dark Web, Book 2) to have the quick pace of its predecessor, I want it to be more epic in scope. I want to deepen the world and give the characters more complications as they move toward their ultimate destinies.
Comics and games are great for this. Not only are the worlds rich, they enhance and keep the pace fast by having each obstacle tied to a different setting. Interaction with the world has a very specific role in the plot mechanics. I think that’s something prose writers can really learn from. I know I certainly have.
I’m about 11-12,000 words into Spider God. I’m shooting for 60,000, but I’d be happy with 50,000 and thrilled with 70,000. We’ll see where I land.
Yesterday, the audiobook for my Splatterpunk Award-nominated novella Saint Sadist was released. Today, it’s placed #88 in Gothic Horror audiobooks, so that’s pretty dope. You can help me reach #1 by ordering your copy here. It’s free with an Audible membership, or you can cop it for the price of a venti mocha. I know a lot of you have read it on paperback or e-book, but believe me when I say the audio, performed by Melody Muzljakovich, is the way this story was meant to be experienced. She brings the narrative and its characters to chilling life.
That’s it for now. Stay safe out there and remember: take time to play.
Hi gang! My Splatterpunk Award-nominated novella SAINT SADIST is now available on Audible. Brilliantly narrated by Melody Muzljakovich, THIS is the way it was meant to be experienced. Check it out here.
Occasionally, I mess with music composition. Check out my latest, created with Music Maker Jam. I may add vocals if I ever get the house to myself again. I rely on music for therapy, when I need a break from books. If you like this tune and want to hear more, let me know in the comments.
It’s 9 am, day I don’t even know of COVID-19 social distancing. I’m listening to my son play. My partner’s in the bedroom having virtual work meetings.
Last night, my buddy Nate Southard and I were interviewed for an episode of the Austin Outsiders podcast. We discussed favorite reads, weird Austin stories, and embarrassing moments from our pasts. Keep an ear out for the episode soon. I’ll probably post a link here when it goes up.
Afterward, I did a virtual watch-along of SLUGS with Austin Outsiders co-host Emily. She’d never seen it before, so it was fun to see her reactions. It’s a very silly movie and one of my favorites.
My kid woke up scared and crawled into bed with us. To make things easier on my partner, I moved upstairs to the couch.
I’m telling you all this, because they’re all things that would’ve happened regardless of the current situation in which we’ve found ourselves. Oh, sure, maybe we would’ve recorded the podcast and done the watch-along in-person under different circumstances. Otherwise though, I feel a sense of routine returning to my life. I’m adapting to this new normal, however horrifying.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still anxious as hell. I’m still frustrated and sad. Scared.
But people are resilient. I am resilient.
This may be the end of the world. If it is, I’m going down swinging.