Bright Spots

Today, we’re going to talk about the positives.

Yeah, I know. What? How can the guy who wrote Saint Sadist write about positivity?

The answer’s obvious, of course. To paraphrase Walt Whitman, we contain multitudes.

But onto the meat of this thing. 2020 has been a terrible year, probably the first year I wouldn’t tell a doomsday-preaching evangelical they were crazy if they said we were living in the End Times. While I don’t think the apocalypse will play out quite the way they suspect, I’d say for all their years of playing this fear-mongering guessing game, they may have at least landed somewhere in the ballpark of reality.

I recently changed the name of this blog to Coping Mechanisms for the Apocalypse. Those five particular words have been in my head a lot over the last two years or so. It’s likely no accident they rose from the swamps of my subconscious around the same time I spent a long weekend in a psych ward.

There are two apocalypses. One is global and the other (and perhaps more important one) takes place inside of you. Why do most of my seemingly real-world horror stories often devolve into psychodrama and symbolism? I believe real world problems aren’t actually solved in the real world. They’re solved in our dreams, our subconscious–collective and otherwise.

The world’s on fire and everything hurts, so let’s cope together.

In the world of dark fiction, we’ve so far seen stunning debuts from Samantha Kolesnik and Jo Quenell. We got not one but TWO new releases from Chandler Morrison. We got Murder House by C.V. Hunt, a book I think will go down as one of her best. We also got another winning collection by Charles Austin Muir and new nonfiction by Brian Keene. Not bad at all, eh?

We can still stream movies and shows. Speaking of which, I recently saw a Thai film called The Pool. It’s GRUELING in the best way possible and cinematic storytelling at its best.

Lockdown sucks, but I’ve been cooped up with people I love more than anything. My kid’s at an age where he’s infinitely curious and can still hold down a conversation. My wife is the hardest working person I know and remains a beacon of light despite having her own struggles. Today is our son’s birthday and though I’m working the day job, I’m bound to get some quality time in during the evening.

I bring up The Pool because it’s probably the most apt metaphor for life in 2020 I’ve seen so far. It has lots of out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire-moments, heart-wrenching deaths, impossible odds, and luck both good and bad. Basically, the main character is trapped in a deep, empty pool with a hungry, pregnant crocodile. Anything else I say will spoil it.

I feel like we’re the film’s protagonist, Day. His circumstances constantly go from bad to worse. The exhaustion and pain on his face is our exhaustion and pain.

At least we’ve got some good reading material though, huh?


Signed copies of MANIA are still available here.

My Patreon now features weekly short fiction every Thursday. Posts are open to the public. Pledging is optional. Right now, all stories take place in the Gods of the Dark Web universe, but that may change.

The first episode of the Dark Corners Podcast, co-hosted by me, is now up. Check it out wherever you get your podcasts, or you can watch the video versions on YouTube or IGTV.

Born Fighting

By now, I’m sure all of you have read my most recent blog post. Some of you have seen fit to cut me out of your life as a result, which is sad, but also hardly surprising. Authenticity is rarely celebrated or even tolerated by those who wish to preserve their own brand.

And that’s fine.

I was born fighting. At six weeks overdue, I gave my mother a less than pleasant labor experience, even by labor experience standards. Multiple times throughout that long night we both almost died. The first things I felt in this life were pain and terror.

But I also learned how to fight for my life. I learned that I could.

In the wake of that blog post, I had good people come out of the woodwork to show their support. People like that can make the apocalypse a little more bearable.

In the heat of battle, you lose friends, but you also find out who your true friends are, who has your back and who will fight alongside you.

To those who have stood by me: you are seen, you are heard, and you are loved.

Because of you, I am okay.


Signed copies of MANIA are still available here.

My Patreon now features weekly short fiction every Thursday. Posts are open to the public. Pledging is optional. Right now, all stories take place in the Gods of the Dark Web universe, but that may change.

The first episode of the Dark Corners Podcast, co-hosted by me, is now up. Check it out wherever you get your podcasts, or you can watch the video versions on YouTube or IGTV.

 

The End?

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.

Tarot 6/7/2020

Keep Going

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.

Tarot Reading 5/2/2020

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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.”

Birthday Apocalypse

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.