Mania follows controversial filmmaker William Ward as he films an adaptation of a supposedly cursed screenplay.
Though he doesn’t believe in curses, he’s happy to have the hype surrounding his newest movie. But as production begins, he soon learns that the curse is all too real and the vengeful ghost haunting the script is only a piece of the puzzle.
At its heart is a shadowy cult, manipulating events behind the scenes. As dark forces gather around him, Ward and his girlfriend Rachel try to find a way to break the curse before it’s too late.
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What was the impetus behind Mania?
I wanted to do the literary equivalent of the films I grew up watching. Stuff like In the Mouth of Madness and Candyman and The Ring. I started with the idea of a cursed object—in this case, a screenplay that kills anyone who tries to film it—and went from there. My main character is a controversial movie director, skeptical of the curse, but willing to accept the aura of the curse as a selling point for his movie. I was fascinated by a creator being consumed by his creation, someone killing himself by making a movie.
What was it about this book, if anything, that you approached differently from the previous titles?
The developmental stage of the book is the longest I’ve ever spent on a project. I got the idea back in 2006, did all the character sketches in 2008, outlined it in 2011, and wrote it in 2014. My planning stage for a project usually happens a lot quicker than that, and I usually only take one to two sittings to map out a story before I write it. This idea came to me before I had really sharpened my skills as a writer, and I think I liked the idea so much I saw fit to work on it a little at a time and wait until I was truly ready to write the book.
How have you found your progression as a writer thus far?
Writing is one of those skills that, in my opinion, you never stop learning. I just recently went to Bizarro Con and took a workshop with Brian Keene on writing visually, which taught me a lot about how to cue the reader to see what I see, or rather what I want them to see. Fascinating stuff, very useful. Most importantly, it wasn’t something I’d thought of before, even if in some cases I was subconsciously doing it. I’m constantly trying to sharpen the tools, to get better. I think if I get too comfortable, my writing will certainly suffer.
Who do you count among your writing influences?
Clive Barker is probably my biggest influence. Him and Italian horror movies from the 70s and 80s. Something about that elegant approach to carnage really stirs me. Recently, I’ve found my inspiration in the work of Samantha Hunt, Kali Wallace, J David Osborne, Shane McKenzie, AE Padilla, Autumn Christian, Laura Lee Bahr, Lee Thompson, and Rios de la Luz.
What do you consider to be the biggest misconception of the horror genre?
Believe it or not, there’s still a large group of people who think horror is nothing but gore. Now, I admit to being a bit of a gorehound myself, but the genre encompasses so much more. As Douglas E. Winter said, horror is less a genre than it is an emotion. I think people tend to forget that. Any piece of fiction can have horror elements without adhering to the strict confines of genre.
Is there any kind of a gear shift when switching genres or story lengths?
My stories always tend to begin with character. Length and genre tend to figure themselves out. Of course, if I’m asked for something specific, like with my story in V WARS: SHOCKWAVES from IDW, there’s more prewriting involved.
What is the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?
The worst piece of advice I ever received was that I should learn how to use Twitter before I even have a book written. Now, social media is important, but I don’t think it should ever get in the way of the writing. Writing comes first. Always.
What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?
I’m shopping two books. One is a novella called Gods of the Deep Web which is a cosmic horror tale based in the ugliest corners of the internet. The other is Blood and Brimstone, a large scale horror novel set partly in a small Pennsylvania town and partly in hell that pre-readers are calling hilariously dark and Tarantino-esque.
Lucas Mangum is an author living in Austin, TX. He enjoys wrestling, cats, wrestling with cats, and drinking craft beer while crafting weird tales.
His debut novel, Flesh and Fire, is out now as part of Journalstone's Double Down series with a new novel by New York Times Bestseller Jonathan Maberry and Rachael Lavin.
Follow him on Twitter @LMangumFiction and talk to him about books, pro-wrestling, and horror movies. Learn more about him at his website.