Publishing Deal!

Friends! I am proud to announce that Flesh and Fire will be published by Christopher C. Payne and Journalstone Publishing as part of their Double Down series. My piece will be paired with a brand new Pine Deep novella by Jonathan Maberry, and it’s set to come out in Spring/Summer of 2015.

I’m having trouble trying to find the words for how psyched I am. This has been a long road–the first incarnation of Flesh and Fire was written in 2011–and I have a ton of people to whom I’m grateful. While I realize this is what an acknowledgments page is for, some of this can’t wait. My wife Jean has been wonderfully supportive; the short novel has been in progress the entirety of our marriage and she’s always been encouraging. Secondly, Jonathan Maberry is owed a huge thanks for being a friend, mentor and an endless well of inspiration. Knowing him has taught me many facets of the craft and the business, as well as introduced me to some great professionals who have since become friends. Thirdly, Christopher Payne and the folks at Journalstone for believing the manuscript is worth publishing. This promises to be the beginning of a great relationship. Lastly, everyone who has looked at the manuscript and given me valuable feedback and advice: my brother Vincent Mangum, writer Patrick Galloway, crime writer Dennis Tafoya, author/screenwriter Joe Augustyn, and filmmaker Dave Tafoya. If I left anyone out, please remember I wrote this in a fit of excitement and my acknowledgments page will be composed by a more composed me.

Stay tuned for future updates.

Flesh and Fire – The Playlist


How many of my fellow writers can work while listening to music? I can barely focus without it. Even if it’s a song that I know the lyrics to, there’s something about hearing a kickass song while I’m typing away. Over the last six months as I’ve done another draft of Flesh and Fire, I’ve made a playlist of essential listening to be played while working on the manuscript. I usually have a different playlist for every project and I try to choose songs that have themes similar to the piece I’m working on.

For instance, to go with the dark romanticism present throughout Flesh and Fire, I chose songs like “Devil Tree” by Philadelphia-based band The Bailey Hounds, the acoustic version of Marilyn Manson’s “Leave a Scar,” and Glenn Danzig’s gloomy ballad, “Blood and Tears.”

Midway through this draft, my friend Shannon Lafferty released a couple of tunes via her YouTube Channel. Her song, “Till I’m Gone” has a quiet desperation to it that I just love.

No playlist of mine would be complete without David Bowie, so I chose not one, but two of his songs to help immerse myself in the writing process. The Scary Monsters-era classic, Because You’re Young, is filled with youthful vigor and all the uncertainty that comes with it, but the most fitting of the two tracks is the Gothic dirge “Bring Me the Disco King.” It appeared on the soundtrack to Underworld and features Tool’s Maynard James Keenan on backing vocals.

My friend James Manderson has a couple of tunes on the playlist as well. I write to his music, I run to his music, and sometimes I put it on just to relax. He brings a grand cinematic quality to what would otherwise be mere techno music. His song, “Hollow Earth,” puts me in the zone right away, the manuscript’s images of hell become so vivid, the characters’ quests all the more urgent. Check it out:

For my complete Flesh & Fire playlist, go here:

The Making of Goblins, Part 1

I wrote “Goblins” during December of last year when we had a big snow storm. If you live in the Greater Philadelphia Area, I’m sure you know the one I mean. There was over a foot of snow on the ground. The roads were like a bumper car arena on an iced surface. And it was cold. Damn cold. Being a San Diego native, my body does not respond well to such chilly temperatures. No matter how much I layer my clothes or stay indoors, I feel the iciness. I seem to attract it like we’ve got a really fucked up symbiotic-parasitic relationship. It drains the life out of me until the inevitable happens. I’m left with nothing but the winter flu to keep me company.
It’s no surprise that during this time of year, I try to think about other things. One of my favorite hobbies, which is an unfortunately expensive one, is taking road trips down South. My wife and I share such a mutual love for this hobby, that we did it on our honeymoon this past summer. It wasn’t the first time we’d gone and it won’t be the last. This hobby of mine was still fresh in my mind around last winter. We had just driven to New Orleans and back for the previous Halloween. While Bourbon Street itself is hard to remember, the majestic highways, with its Pilot stations, acres of forest, and eighteen-wheelers roaring down the pavement like they themselves were alive, are hard to forget.
I thought about those roads a lot while I was holed up in a heated house, trying to ignore the icy fingers reaching in from outside, hoping to infect me with crippling influenza. I was also thinking about writing a horror story. I had gotten the idea when talking about horrific creatures that don’t always get the attention in the genre. Most horror fans would agree that the “big 3” are vampires, werewolves, and zombies. Demons, ghosts, and serial killers get honorable mentions. However, one only has to examine the rich libraries of folklore to see that there are many, many other creatures out there who would intend to do us harm.
I’ve always been a fan of goblins. They’re ugly, mischievous, and, depending on the story, able to use magic. Unfortunately, outside of Troll 2 (one of the best worst movies ever, up there with Plan 9 and Manos), there hasn’t been a whole lot of goblin activity in the horror genre. Mostly, these creatures are populating the forests of fairy tales or doing battles in a Tolkein-esque tale of sword and sorcery. I thought it would be cool to do a modern horror story, and cast those mean creatures as the antagonists. I was also thinking and reading a lot about cults.
So I had my ideas, and they lived with me during a week where I was snowed in and house-sitting for my soon-to-be uncle-in-law. These ideas remained mere embers in the creative fireplace, until my characters showed up and threw in some kindling. I’m sure most writers have had similar experiences. There is no story until there are good, solid characters. Before that, there are only ideas. The ideas are cool to think about, but are unable to catch fire until there are characters to interact with them.
While I’ve covered where the ideas for “Goblins” came from, pinpointing the characters’ origins is a little bit trickier. What do know is that they came within the first couple of paragraphs, and they brought their agendas with them. I put into practice the theory that a first line is often the deciding factor for the reader to move forward into the story or read something else instead.
And the first line of “Goblins?” Connor vowed silently that when they found Jack, he was going to kill him.
The synopsis? Connor and his sister, Christine, go driving to the town of Yester Castle, TN looking for Christine’s wayward husband, Jack. Instead they find the town completely abandoned and signs of a struggle. Soon, Connor and Christine are in the fight of their life when they uncover that Yester Castle has been overrun by a cult of goblins and their high priest, Christine’s husband, Jack.
“Goblins” will be available on Smashwords October 31. Watch for Part 2 of this “making of” feature early next week.

The Gory Girls- The Soundtrack

As most of you folks know, over the past year I have been working on the novel The Gory Girls, my crime thriller about two female serial killers and the poor, unfortunate men who love them. I am now in the stage of doing final edits on it and will soon be shopping it around. I know not everyone writes to music, but I enjoy doing it quite a bit so I decided to post my playlist of what I was mostly listening to when I was writing The Gory Girls.

The albums that were in constant rotation were The High End of Low by Marilyn Manson, Darkness on the Edge of Town by Bruce Springsteen, Termination Bliss & Night Electric Night by Deathstars, and Danzig’s first three albums. From these and a couple of mixes I was fortunate enough to be given (special thanks to Mandi Potzgo-Wagner and Joseph A. Gervasi), I made a playlist that should serve as your soundtrack when The Gory Girls is yours for reading.

1. Crashing High by The 69 Eyes
2. Leave a Scar by Marilyn Manson
3. Motherzone by Deathstars
4. Chasing Something in the Night by Bruce Springsteen
5. Appetite by Iris
6. Death Dies Hard by Deathstars
7. I’m Going Down by Bruce Springsteen
8. The Beyond by Fabio Frizzi
9. Blood and Tears by Danzig
10. Running to the Edge of the World by Marilyn Manson
11. Blitzkrieg by Deathstars
12. Oogum Boogum by Brenton Wood
13. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath by Black Sabbath

Review of Bryan Smith’s DARKENED

Bryan Smith’s first self-publishing endeavor, DARKENED, reads like a literary equivalent of a heavy metal music video, jam-packed with apocalyptic imagery and a chaotic sensibility. In a subgenre that, as of late, has mostly dealt with the undead, it was refreshing to read this unique take on the end of the world.
When the world is invaded by winged demons and tentacles that reach through black tears in the fabric of reality, the human race is disposed of in relatively short order. The few survivors left behind deal with the new world in different ways. Some reach for others, while some take advantage of the new anarchy. Little do they all know, an even more sinister threat is awaiting them.
Smith keeps the novel moving quickly throughout its entirety. From the first page to the last, I was almost unable to take my eyes away, as the survivors faced down threat after threat. Most interesting is when the characters are faced with threats from other human beings. From the homicidal Mary Lou to the rapist Aaron Harris, the tale is populated with human villains just as nasty, if not nastier, than the demons themselves.
DARKENED is different from some of Smith’s other work, as it is a lot larger in scale, but his unique style remains intact. His gift for eliciting an emotional response from the reader is strong, even as the narrative carries with it a sense of B-movie fun. He does this by crafting characters as real as anyone you know and putting them in horrifying scenarios, just after he has gotten you to care for them.
I highly recommend DARKENED to anyone who enjoys a good romp through the end of the world.