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Less Than Pulp, Issue 4
“…for nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose…” -Mary Shelley
Hi. I’m Lucas Mangum and this is the fourth issue of Less Than Pulp, a newsletter for fans of my work. You can check out previous issues right here.
This weekend, Jean was kind enough to give me a Dad-cation. I got out of the house and stayed in a nearby hotel. I wrote a Foreword to the upcoming DIGITAL DARKNESS omnibus—it’s not your everyday writer’s foreword. It plays directly into the book’s narrative, so I think you’ll dig it.
I also worked on SNOW ANGELS, my upcoming book from D & T Publishing. To pace the story better, I’m adding a few new scenes and more clarity to the ending. While it’s been challenging writing a snowbound horror tale while sweating my ass off in the Texas heat, it’s also been fun. The book feels like the sort of pulp novel or horror comic I would’ve drooled over as a teenager or twentysomething. I think a lot of people will like it.
When I wasn’t writing, I tried doing things I don’t normally do. I watched part of the Stanley Cup Playoff game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Rangers. If my brother reads this, he’ll think Hell has frozen over.
I also watched televised news for the first time in well over a decade. The less said about that the better, but it did get me thinking about how every single bit of media we consume has its own narrative, and those narratives are designed to appeal to certain emotions and guttural instincts.
Take genre fiction for example.
In a mystery, the awful thing has already happened. The author’s job is to reveal who did it, how they did it, and most importantly, why they did it. It specifically appeals to our curiosity, the part of us that feels deep satisfaction upon completing a puzzle.
In a thriller, there’s a looming threat of the awful thing. The author’s job is to show how the threat is foiled. It appeals to the same urges that compel us to skydive, to take hairpin turns at a few miles over the speed limit, to have sex in a public place. You don’t want the parachute to malfunction, you don’t want to lose control of the car, and you don’t want to get caught with your pants down, but the possibility of these things happening gets your blood up in the best ways possible.
In horror, the awful thing happens. There may be a build to it, or there may be a depiction of its fallout, but more than anything else, the author’s job is to show it. The awful thing can be a gory set piece, sure, but it can also be a confrontation with one’s inner darkness or a glimpse at humanity’s insignificance in the face of the cosmos. It appeals to the part of us that turns to look at a roadside accident and the same urges that drive us to study true crime.
A master of dark fiction, the true literary alchemist, can find a way to synthesize all three in the same work. Karin Slaughter’s PRETTY GIRLS does this incredibly well. She writes domestic thrillers, sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s got a well-worn copy of J.F. Gonzalez’s SURVIVOR on her bookshelf.
On this week’s episode of MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN PODCAST, Jeff and I discuss the underseen horror anthology HELLBLOCK 13. It stars Gunnar Hansen (best known as Leatherface in the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE) and B-movie legend Debbie Rochon. You can listen to the episode here or by clicking the video below.
I’m way behind on my reading this week, but I’m enjoying PTERONADON CAYNON by Tim Meyer. You can grab it here.
That’s it for now. Until next time, you can check out my books on Amazon, or you can shoot me an email if you want to buy signed copies.