I met Lucas Mangum in Portland, Oregon at 2014’s World Horror Convention. We were both there to meet n mingle, of course, but, being newbies on the scene, we were more focused on pitching our stories to the gathering of editors looking for new talent. We didn’t spend a lot of time together, but I liked Lucas right off the bat. He seemed serious, legit, hungry, and determined. These are all things I see in myself. I kept in touch with Lucas through Facebook and we’ve had plenty of great little conversations.
Well, now the rest of you get the opportunity to meet this cool MoFo. His new novella, FLESH AND FIRE, is out now as part of Journal Stone’s DoubleDown series. FLESH AND FIRE gets to share the pages with a new story (DARK OF NIGHT) co-written by Rachael Lavin and none other than Jonathan Maberry! That’s a pretty great way to introduce yourself!
Now, let’s get to know Mr. Mangum a little better…..
Glenn Rolfe: Hey Lucas! How have you been?
Lucas Mangum: I’ve been well. I’ll be thirty-two in April and I’ve been giving this whole adult thing a try and managing not to butcher it. Got a job with the city. Bought my first house back in September. Have my first kid on the way in July. Things are good, and not just on the creative front. I haven’t always been able to say that.
GR: Give us a couple of things people should know about you.
LM: I was born in San Diego, a ten minute drive from the beach, and a thirty minute drive from the mountains. Really, anything I would have wanted to do was at my fingertips, but I spent most of my time in the backyard acting out stories that I later wrote down. Sometimes I was joined by friends. Even though I was never the toughest kid, we almost always played the way I wanted to play because I had the ideas. I was lucky in that way. I think it reinforced my desire to pursue writing because it taught me pretty early on that my stories could hold people’s interest.
I later moved to Bucks County, Pennsylvania (yeah, where SIGNS was filmed) where it was cold all the time, except for when it was humid, so I stayed inside and nurtured my love of pro-wrestling, horror movies and reading.
Now I live in Texas. Apparently, I enjoy giving myself culture shock every twelve to fifteen years or so. Maybe I’ll move to Italy when I’m forty-five.
GR: Any cool or weird jobs in your history?
LM: Oh, tons. My first job was dressing up in that awful-smelling rat costume at Chuck E. Cheese and dancing for children’s birthday parties. I also worked at Hollywood Video and Borders Books, managed a warehouse, worked for a small bank, and wrote marketing materials for a corset company.
Now I take 9-1-1 calls on the night shift. You’d think it’d provide a lot of fodder for my stories, but really, most of the calls I get are just because of drunk people acting like fools, which I’d rather have at the end of the day. I’m actually quite squeamish when it comes to real life horror.
GR: We met back in 2014 at World Horror Convention in Portland, Oregon. It seems like another life! How was the experience for you and was your upcoming release the piece you were pitching that weekend?
LM: I enjoyed the hell out of World Horror Convention. Little too expensive for me to make the trip every year, but I definitely try, because I do think it’s worth it. You’ll make the right connections, and even if you don’t have a manuscript right away, those connections will be there when you do. I had already signed the contract for FLESH AND FIRE by the time World Horror in Portland rolled around, but I had a few other things I wanted to pitch. Plus I wanted to get facetime with all the wonderful authors and editors I’d already interacted with so much on social media. I did my first panel there, on romance and the erotic in horror.
GR: The release of Flesh and Fire is here. I’m super psyched to read it! Where did you get the idea? How long was the journey from idea to release? And what’s it about?
LM: Thanks, man.
FLESH AND FIRE is about a man in the midst of a midlife crisis who has to help his long lost lover escape hell.
The idea came to me after I finished the sixth draft of a novel that no one will ever see. I do my best work when I pull pieces from my own life and there were big things going on with me at the time. I was about to get married, which was great. I was in a job that kept the heat on, but didn’t give me a sense of purpose, which was not so great. So I was thinking a lot about life decisions and where I would be in the future and how people end up where they end up. On top of that, I listened to my band’s CD for the first time in years, which brought a lot of other things to the surface. The band fell apart after the guitarist’s suicide, so a lot of memories, a lot of different emotions.
With all that swirling around in my head, I wrote a very rough first draft in three weeks. As with most of my first drafts it was more like a detailed outline than an actual novel or novella. I sat on it for a while. Wrote some short stories. Tried to learn more about the craft. Tried to live my life (it’s important for us creatives to do that as much as possible).
I returned to the manuscript about a year later and did a second draft and a third. Fast-forward to about November of 2013 and I had something I felt comfortable enough submitting. I did some proofreading for the Journalstone anthology OUT OF TUNE, which Jonathan Maberry edited, and we got talking about my manuscript. He liked the sound of it and passed it along to Chris at Journalstone who reviewed it over the holidays and offered me a contract in January of 2014.
Because of the book’s length, Chris felt like it’d be a good fit for their Double Down series, instead of as a standalone title. Between more edits and waiting for Jonathan’s schedule to open up, the whole thing took about two years.
GR: The fact that it’s on the flipside of a Jonathan Maberry title has got to be blowing your mind. A young author in our business couldn’t ask for more. What was your reaction when you got that bit of news?
LM: Jonathan is a hell of a writer and a great guy to boot. I owe a lot to him, because he saw something in me pretty early on. I remember once he messaged me out of the blue just to tell me he thinks I’m going to make a big splash in the publishing world. Now, I don’t know about that, but still, to have a guy like him say that about me and then later want to do a book with me is really humbling. I guess the most important thing to take from the whole experience is that if I’m ever in his position, I should do whatever I can to pay it forward, because this whole writing life can be hard and starting out you really need all the help you can get.
He co-wrote his tale with Rachael Lavin, a great up-and-coming writer and professional cosplayer. The story is a direct sequel to his DEAD OF NIGHT series, but also features the warrior woman from his ROT AND RUIN series and Joe Ledger.
GR: Before I let you go, any scary stories you can share that have actually happened to or around you?
LM: My ex-girlfriend and I were once pursued by an asshole wielding nunchaku. I once had a bad trip where I felt like I was drowning for six hours. I almost actually drowned in a pool when I was a toddler and my memory of the experience is all too clear.
I don’t’ know. My definition of scary has changed so much. Maybe because I’ve been desensitized or whatever, but more than that I think it’s because as you grow up you learn that “yes, that shadow on the wall really is just the tree outside and not some demon hand reaching through your window.” Nowadays, my bouts of depression scare me. Passing depression onto my son scares me. Taking a 9-1-1 call and having someone I love being on the other end of it scares me. Dying broke and sick scares me.
I think as an adult with real world fears, I kind of miss the demon hands.
GR: Best of luck with the new release!
LM: Thanks, Glenn!
Find Lucas on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lucas.magnum
And click here to grab a copy of DARK AS NIGHT/FLESH AND FIRE