Book Announcement: THE FINAL GATE

Lucas Mangum, myself, and Encyclopocalyse Publications are proud to present THE FINAL GATE, a fiction tribute and loving homage to the films of Lucio Fulci! Also Includes a wonderful introduction by Ryan Harding. Coming August 3rd 2021 in paperback, e-book, and audiobook. Pre-order the e-book here. Paperback will be available on the day of release. BACK […]

Book Announcement: THE FINAL GATE

American Garbage: The Meager Rise and Massive Fall of a No-Name Rock Band

All authors have books they want to write. I want to write more Gods of the Dark Web books. I’d also like to try my hand at some dystopian science fiction. Maybe even some sword and sorcery. The universe behind the Gods books has an infinite amount of untapped potential. Dystopian science fiction is a genre I grew up loving. Sword and sorcery is just fucking cool.

But beyond the stories we want to tell, there are other stories. Stories that keep us up at night. Stories that fuck with our mood. Stories that won’t fall silent until they’ve been committed to the page. Not stories we want to write but stories we need to write.

American Garbage is such a story.

There’s a lot you don’t know about me. I used to be in a band. It’s not something I really advertise because it was a long time ago, a different me. We are not who we were yesterday, let alone 15-20 years ago. Still, we are haunted by the ghosts of who we were, of who we loved, of who hurt us, of who we aspired to be.

You can grow and change, build a life far different than the one you envisioned, especially if you didn’t expect to live past thirty. Even so, your ghosts never really leave.

These past few months, while hamstrung by genre and talking things through friends J. David Osborne and Kelby Losack, I planned a book untethered by conventions and tropes, one populated simply by people as real to me as those who shaped me.

That book is American Garbage. And when I say “past few months,” I mean it. This is the most organic work of mine you’re apt to read. I wrote it over the course of a month (mostly on a Neo by Alphasmart), edited it with Kelby Losack (who also made that incredible cover), and placed an order through Bookmobile.

Yes, Bookmobile. No Amazon this time around. We bitch and bitch about their business practices and monopoly on the industry, but we still buy and publish through them without batting an eye. Not this time.

You can preorder the paperback of American Garbage directly through me. It’s limited to 200 copies. There are currently no plans to print more. In other words: once it’s gone, it will likely be gone indefinitely. There will, however, be an audiobook (narrated by Kelby, a true Renaissance man) available on Bandcamp in the very near future.

Why not Audible? See above. We can’t take the power back with lip service.

What’s it about? It’s about a twenty-something trying to hold his band of burnout musicians together, while battling his own mental illness and navigating his tumultuous intimate relationships during the early years of the War on Terror.

Is it a memoir? Not quite. Call it autofiction.

Is it horror? Let’s call it horror adjacent. Picture Stand By Me in the post-9/11 landscape and you’ll be somewhat close to the mark.

Will this be my publishing model going forward? That’s harder to answer. There are other people in the community I’d like to work with, as well as some preexisting projects and agreements that won’t work with this model. Also, this is an experiment.

Note from Underground 5/4

Yesterday, I found a pic of my oldest and me. I won’t post it here because I want to respect my kid’s privacy, but it got me thinking about shit.

It was taken exactly three years ago, less than a month before I checked myself into the psych ward. You can see how worn down I am in it. The suicide prevention shirt, the tired smile, the unkempt hair, and the darkness around my eyes (I swear I somehow have less crow’s feet now). The kid, of course, looks angelic.

It’s hard to believe how much time has passed. Sometimes, it’s like I just got out and still have a plan for recovery. Other times, it feels more like a dream.

I honestly don’t have a lot to say about it other than life has stages. I’ve spent the better part of this year re-evaluating. I think a lot of us have.

You may have seen on Twitter that Gods of the Dark Web 2 needs some more time to cook. It won’t be released until later this year. Don’t worry, though. I have other things on the horizon that I can’t announce just yet, so watch this space in the coming days.

So, why did I decide to shelve it? Simple, really. As it stands, it’s a cool collection of scenes, but not a whole lot of connective tissue. I’m not comfortable releasing it as such. Imagine a map with great descriptions of landmarks but no roads. That’s kind of how I see Gods 2 in its current incarnation. I’m not abandoning it by any means, but it will just come out a little later than initially expected.

In the meantime, my pals J. David Osborne and Kelby Losack both have new books out. David’s Tomahawk continues his excellent Black Gum cycle. Kelby’s Hurricane Season perfectly captures the surrealism of surviving a natural disaster. Far more human than your favorite Roland Emmerich movie. My friend and collaborator Eve Harms also has a badass, trans body horror novella up for preorder.

You can also check out my new podcast, which is gaining some nice momentum over on Anchor and Spotify. It’s a Troma retrospective cohosted by Jeff Burk and me. Don’t know what Troma is? Our show is a good place to learn some things. It’s also a good time if you’re a fan looking for a nostalgia bump.

Anyway. I know I’ve been silent here. It’s been all about family and fiction these days. I’ll try to be more regular, though, because blogging can be therapeutic. We’ll see.

Some movies I’ve watched recently and enjoyed: Mother’s Day (1980, rewatch), Mortal Kombat (2021), and House by the Cemetery (1981, rewatch).

I’m reading a lot of shit that brought me to this dance, namely King and Koontz, but also a brand new essay collection by friend Robert Dean. It doesn’t have a publisher yet, but I have no doubt it will soon. It’s very good.

That’s all for now. Mangum, out.

Make Your Own Damn Podcast – 4/16/21

Marc Vuletich

I’m beyond thrilled to announce the launch of a new show. In addition to White Trash Occultism (which you can view on my YouTube channel), I am kicking off Make Your Own Damn Podcast, a show where we examine the filmography of the infamous provocateurs at Troma Entertainment with author and former editor at Deadite Press Jeff Burk as my cohost.

I’ve been a Troma fan for over two decades now. Their no-holds-barred approach to content, along with their leftist underpinnings, has been a huge influence on my work from day one. Their movies irreverent, bizarre, sexual, and gory. They have no scruples when it comes to elements that may offend. Their movies aren’t even always good, but they’re almost always interesting.

Like me, Jeff is also a longtime fan. He’s also met Lloyd Kaufman, the co-founder of Troma Entertainment, on numerous occasions and even had a book he published optioned by Troma at one time.

We have two episodes in the can already. They will be up very soon, so stay tuned.

Franchise Mindset 4/13/21

It’s occurred to me recently that I could probably write the Gods of the Dark Web books forever. If you’re a Richard Laymon fan or you remember my blog about his memoir A Writer’s Tale, you may know that one of his biggest pieces of advice was to find ideas that are “infinitely expandable.” This was a strategy he employed to turn his short, sharp thrillers into sprawling 600-page doorstoppers. While I don’t suspect you’ll be getting any doorstoppers from me, I do think the idea of infinitely expandable stories can be helpful even for a minimalist like me.

Written like a creepypasta for adults, the first Gods book had an intimate, small-scale narrative, but it also had hints of a larger world around it. With the writing of the second book, I wanted to show some of those bigger implications on the page. It led to what I’ll call James Herbert chapters. Herbert was a British author mainly famous for his nature-run-amok Rats books. He had a great knack for introducing characters and showing what’s interesting about them before killing them in spectacular fashion. This approach initially made me think I had a story collection instead of a new novella on my hands. Only when I figured out Dana’s story did the main narrative emerge.

At the same time I was writing book 2, I read a ton of comic books, specifically tie-in stuff. Think Aliens, Dungeons and Dragons, Robotech, Magic: The Gathering, stuff like that. While these franchises have established rules, they also have a ton of wiggle room. It’s not mandatory to reuse characters or continue storylines from previous books (though the occasional Easter egg doesn’t hurt). It’s more about exploring the established world, less about the sweeping arcs typically found in series like The Hunger Games or Outlander.

These observations over the last year have helped me develop what I call a FRANCHISE MINDSET.

So, what is the FRANCHISE MINDSET, how can you use it to build your writing career and how is it different than writing a proper series?

  1. A FRANCHISE MINDSET is a larger way of viewing your content, seeing all your stories as interconnected and how they interconnect, recognizing reoccurring themes, and remembering that because all these stories originated within you the connections are not as tenuous as you may initially suspect. A strategy that helped me was opening the corkboard feature on Scrivener and putting each of my stories (written, published, unwritten, unfinished, etc) onto a notecard. I don’t use Scrivener for writing, but I plot with it often. It helps me see big picture stuff. Having all this information laid out in front of me did something to me. I was able to see how each of my pieces could connect to each other. Admittedly, not all of them worked. Some of them were even pieces I would rather forget. Gods of the Dark Web jumped out at me as having its fingers embedded in a lot of other ideas I had. From there, it was into the Mangum-verse.
  2. How a FRANCHISE MINDSET can build your writing career is obvious. It gives your readers reasons to return. It makes your work recognizable. Because you’re not married to any plot threads from previous books, however, people can dip into your world at any given time. People like what’s familiar. If you’re a new-ish writer like me, though, you’re not a household name, so you have to build that familiarity. Finding a world or universe in which you can set stories linked only by themes and rules can be an effective way to get a good amount of somewhat related content out there, especially if you’re like me and you have reservations about writing the same type of book over and over.
  3. FRANCHISE MINDSET is different from writing a proper series because it doesn’t obligate the author to continue stories that already wrapped up in earlier books or stick with the same characters. Sure, C or D story threads can move to the forefront (as is the case with Dana who’s a minor character in Gods of the Dark Web but a major player in Darkness Digital). Characters and settings can even pop back up as a way to reward your fans. This is something Stephen King and Brian Keene do often and well. But you don’t have to finagle them into the new book’s story just because they starred in the previous book. It’s a lot looser and a lot more interesting.

Darkness, Digital Cover Reveal

Just when you thought it was safe to go on the Internet…

Cover by Jim Agpalza

It’s been years since true crime author Niles Highsmith and his brother Leon disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Left to pick up the pieces, Dana can’t seem to break free from the dark web cultists and their strange gods. As personal tragedies pile up, the world itself begins to fracture. The dark web isn’t just on the Internet anymore. Its influence spreads through the world’s darkest corners, whispering in the ears of elite and deplorable alike. Though pockets of resistance rise, time is a flat circle and nothing is what it seems.

Do stories haunt you?

This one haunted me. Gods of the Dark Web remains my most widely read and reviewed book, but the extreme violence and mean spirit of it unsettled me so much that I never wanted to return to its world again. Still, a lot went unsaid by the time I reached its final page. What happens to Dana after her uncomfortable encounter with Niles, the book’s protagonist (though not a hero)? How did all this start? What are some of the big picture consequences?

Despite the book’s success and the narrative’s plethora of unanswered questions, I moved on, writing messy attempts at epics with We Are the Accused and Extinction Peak, the transgressive but ultimately hopeful Saint Sadist, and the brutal fun of Pandemonium with Ryan Harding. However, as our world became a more frightening place every day–reaching the nightmarish peak of 2020–and I teetered on the verge of a mental relapse, the world I’d allowed my readers to glimpse in Gods, a twisted mirror of our own, haunted me.

I wrote Darkness, Digital over the course of a year. First, calling it Spidergod and attempting something larger in scale, something akin to Hellraiser meets The Matrix. That first draft petered out and I ultimately scrapped it, deciding to salvage what I could as short Dark Web-related stories, but soon, a through line emerged in the narrative. I found a way to collect these pieces into a new novella. Darkness, Digital: Gods of the Dark Web 2 is the result.

The book, this whole series, is a nightmare, one freakish simulation in a web of freakish simulations, a perfect reflection of this moment we’re all having. And yeah, I said “series,” so you can expect more of these, and a lot sooner than the three years that have passed since the first book’s publication.

Darkness, Digital will be out VERY soon. Others will follow.

Patterns of Chaos – New Limited Hardcover Omnibus

PATTERNS OF CHAOS, a signed limited edition hardcover collecting my novellas EXTINCTION PEAK, MANIA, SAINT SADIST, and the never-before-published SKULL FOREST is now available from Thunderstorm Books.

A brother and sister embark on a perilous journey across a wasteland overrun by dinosaurs to rob the mountain home of a corrupt California senator. But the home isn’t empty…

When the faces of their missing friends appear in an eerie painting, teenagers Nathaniel Ernest Brown and Haley descend into dark places to set things right. But the creature who took their friends is waiting…

A controversial film director plans to adapt a cursed screenplay and attracts the ire of a vengeful ghost. But she’s not the only one in Hollywood who wants him dead…

Pregnant with her father’s child, nineteen-year-old Courtney escapes her abusive home and finds shelter at the homestead of an earth-worshipping cult. But the congregants aren’t what they seem…

PATTERNS OF CHAOS collects four novellas by Lucas Mangum, including the Splatterpunk Award-nominated SAINT SADIST and the never-before published SKULL FOREST. 

You can grab it right here.

Gods of the Dark Web Turns 3

Yesterday, my nasty, cosmic horror creepypasta turned 3 years old.

Weird timing, as I finished work on the sequel last week. If you haven’t picked up this one yet, you can grab it on paperback, digital, or audio right here. I wrote this book in a month, yet it remains one of my most popular titles. Go figure. I DO have a very limited number of signed copies on hand. 17 bucks, includes shipping. If you’re interested, hit up the contact form and let me know.

As much as I like this book, it barely scratches the surface of the mythos behind the narrative. It’s something I explore a little deeper in the sequel. More on that later.

The rest of the week will be spent on the Wesley Southard collab and editing new episodes of White Trash Occultism.

13 Weeks

13 weeks. That’s how long it’s been since I’ve had any alcohol. Aside from some scatterbrained moments and bouts of mania, my focus feels a lot more stable. There were some real problems in the beginning. A shorter fuse. What felt like a million near-panic attacks. But that seems to have stabilized a bit.

I do feel the need to apologize. I anticipated ONE AND ONLY would be a bigger story than it is, but I dunno. I think it’s done, at least for now. I’m sorry if any of you were waiting on more. Ideas can be fickle sometimes. I’m not saying never, but I am saying not now.

Hopefully, that means more blogging here. I’ve missed connecting with you all on a daily basis.

Tomorrow morning, Jean and I head to the hospital to induce baby number two. I’m excited to meet her. Nervous about being a parent again, especially in this nightmare era, but mostly excited.

That’s all for now. The new episode of White Trash Occultism will go up later, so I’ll try to remember to link to it here.

All the Things People Say

People say I’m prolific. I also start a lot more projects than I finish.

People say they can’t imagine collaborating with another writer. Collaborations have kept my creativity alive these past couple of years.

People say I’m underrated. I’m always pushing forward.

People say extreme, transgressive art is problematic. That problematic shit has saved my life.

People say my work is triggering. Imagine living through the things that have inspired it.

People say lots of shit. Social media has turned everything into a worked shoot.

People say wrestling is fake. A plethora of injuries and premature deaths say otherwise.

Most of what people say is bullshit. But to them, the subjective is reality.

I’m not interested in what people say. But the people I love speak gospel.

Shut up. I’m talking.