Yesterday, I went to the White Rose Comic Convention to see friends, and do an interview for The Horror Show with Brian Keene. Being on the podcast was a huge milestone for me, as I’m a longtime fan of Keene’s fiction and the podcast. However, something dawned on me while he was introducing me on the recording: despite my short career (and what the negative voices in my head say), I’ve managed to put out a lot of content. This got me thinking back on all my currently available books, so I figured I’d talk about them a little bit.
FLESH AND FIRE was my debut novel. It was released by Journalstone Publishing as part of their Double Down Series with a zombie book by Jonathan Maberry and Rachael Lavin, and described by Brian Keene as “SUPERNATURAL with balls.” It has a strong horror element, but at its heart, it is a love story. I suppose that makes it paranormal romance. I used to demure when discussing the book’s more romantic details, but no more. I’m owning it. FLESH AND FIRE is a paranormal romance. There, I said it. Even though it’s my first novel, I still have a deep affinity for it. I explored some themes that are near and dear to me, and many of the characters are based on either myself or people I’ve known.
BLOOD AND BRIMSTONE is the sequel to FLESH AND FIRE. It picks up a little after the first book’s ending, and mostly follows the hero’s daughter, as she tries to make sense of what happened to her family. Though FLESH AND FIRE is short by most novels’ standards, it has a deep lore behind it that I want to explore further. Good news for fans of the first book: BLOOD AND BRIMSTONE is being serialized for free here on my website. I talk about why in my podcast interview with Brian Keene, which you can check out later this week. There’s a new chapter posted every Wednesday, and you can get caught up at the above link.
MANIA was years in the making. I first got the idea for it in 2006 after I saw the John Carpenter movie CIGARETTE BURNS and didn’t finish it until early 2016. It’s my love letter to B movies. There’s some cool stuff in it. That said, it’s not really my favorite thing I’ve done. It was more of an attempt to write the kind of thing I loved, as opposed to writing something unique to me. That might have been because of inexperience on my part. Other people seem to like it though, and the Kindle edition is only 99 cents.
ENGINES OF RUIN collects nearly every short piece I’ve written from 2011 to 2018. The Crossroad Press edition contains 5 stories that weren’t included in previous editions (mainly because they weren’t done yet). Short stories are great. I love writing them. I love reading them. I love writing about them. Most, if not all, of the pieces in ENGINES OF RUIN have a sense of urgency and brashness that is usually only present in a young writer’s work. Included among these tales is “Video Inferno,” which remains my favorite thing I’ve written.
Back in early 2016, I went down a rabbit hole of supposedly true dark web stories. I found some of the material genuinely unsettling, and the presentation was reminiscent of that seen in cosmic horror tales. I wrote GODS OF THE DARK WEB in an effort to marry my current fascination with Lovecraft’s mythos. The book has some problems that I won’t go into here, but I think the good stuff in it is really good. Lots of others seem to like it quite a bit, too. It’s sold pretty well for a small press book and got mostly decent reviews.
A character in WE ARE THE ACCUSED says “All small towns are a little haunted, aren’t they?” If you’re a reader of horror fiction, you’d probably answer this in the affirmative. Small towns aren’t safe. Just ask Stephen King, Bentley Little, and Jonathan Maberry (to name a few). WE ARE THE ACCUSED was my small-town horror novel. It has some of my favorite characters I’ve written thus far and some of my most brutal scenes.
SAINT SADIST is my most recent book, and I really believe it’s the piece where I came into my own as an author. Sure, I still have limitations and things to learn, but aside from some of my short stories, it’s the closest thing to a purely Lucas Mangum piece I’ve done thus far. I started with a vague idea about a young woman who falls in with a cult, but beyond that, I just let my subconscious talk my way through it. I did no outlining. I didn’t care about whether or not I’d sell it. I still don’t exactly know what genre it is (though I’m marketing it as horror). I’m very proud of this book, and not just because it’s my most recent.
I’ve written many other pieces since picking up a pen at age six. Some are out for submission. Some have been temporarily abandoned. Others remain in the works. You’d think that with three books coming out in as many months, I’d be taking a break. You’d be wrong. This is just the beginning.
At school. It’s drizzling outside. I started revising my romance novel, and I’m eager to get back to it this afternoon.
The first 5-7k words are so rough, I cut them, and wouldn’t you know it? The story is already stronger. Of course, now it’s a novella (I hate that word; I think I’ll follow Carlton Mellick III’s cue and say “short novel”). I’m weirdly okay with it.
20-30k words is plenty to tell a story. Start in medias res. Cross the point of no return. Reverse the goal at the midpoint. Reach rock bottom. Ascend to a satisfying conclusion.
I haven’t the attention span for subplots, and I will hereby stop trying, unless I really hatch some good ones, or get offered money to write a book of a certain length.
My model of storytelling comes from Star Trek (TOS) and The Twilight Zone. I’m serious. If you want to write a lean, mean story, analyze the fuck out of each of those show’s episodes.
Now, that said, if I want to make a living at this, that means I have to up my productivity. When Saint Sadist comes out on March 16, it will be my third this year. Not bad.
I want to do more, and I can do more. It may be tough to get more than one or two more releases out there this year, but we’ll see. I’ve been reading How to Write Pulp Fiction by James Scott Bell and getting a lot of inspiration. I like this new productive me, and I aim to keep at it.
Look for my romance book to drop in May. I’ll be using the pseudonym Jamie St. John, but that’ll be our secret.