Wednesday Writer – Novy Interviews Jack Mangan

Yes, I skipped last week, and yes today is Thursday.  I blacked out yesterday for the SOPA protest.

Today, I interview Jack Mangan.  I’ve known Jack for several years.  We live in the same town, we have sat on panels together at the local con, and once we even managed to be in the same table of contents.

For somebody unfamiliar with the fiction of Jack Mangan, how would you describe your work, and which story do you think are the best introduction to your work?

I’m considered kind of a dark writer – – and that’s fair – – but I think there’s also some sunlight amidst my gloom. I strive more for Neuromancer’s edge than Naked Lunch’s despair, in terms of tone. My most popular stuff has combined elements of bleakness and fun. As for genres, I’ve published Cyberpunk, Steampunk, horror, satire, flash, poetry, slipstream, classic sci-fi, urban fantasy, high fantasy, espionage, literary – – you name it. I’m primarily a speculative fiction writer, but not exclusively.

Readers should check out the following three stories. Please.

-“Twelve Bar Blues”, available in Michelle M. Welch’s _Theme and Variations_ anthology at

-“Fractura”, which has appeared in Jack Mangan’s Deadpan #103 and can also be found in Dragon Moon’s print anthology: _Podthology: The Pod Complex_.

-“Sixteen Pieces at a Time”, featured on the web as the 3rd place winner for SFReader’s 2005 fiction contest, as well as in a wonderful audio drama from Wander Radio, available on iTunes.

You were one of the trailblazers in podcasting. How did the Deadpan get started and what has that experience been like?

Thank you. Long answer: The Deadpan podcast started in March 2006 when Mike Mennenga and Evo Terra invited me to create a show of my own for their new Farpoint Media venture. I’d already been a regular contributor and cast member on a few of their flagship Dragon Page podcasts (Wingin’ It! and occasionally Slice of Sci-Fi), so I felt pretty comfortable with the mic and the editing software (Audacity represent!). Most. . . no. . . all of Deadpan’s initial audience came over from the Dragon Page shows. I always felt strongly about doing fun, meaningful stuff that included the listeners as peers and co-creators, and I incorporated that philosophy into the podcast skits and elements. Fortunately, people connected with the things I/we were doing, and the show developed an incredibly strong and devoted following. Within a few episodes, Deadpanites transformed my WordPress comments page into a chat room conversation and the connections solidified into a community. These guys and girls have seen me through a number of life’s pitfalls, and have become some of my best friends IRL as well as online – – thanks in no small part to the Deadpan Meetup events we’ve periodically held in Phoenix since 2009. Overall, Deadpan has been about people with overlapping interests sharing laughter and connections, and I’m proud to have my name attached to it.

You also were an early adapter of audio fiction, broadcasting your short novel Spherical Tomi.  Tell us about that decision and what led you down that path?

We were in the final ramp-up phase to Spherical Tomi‘s publication when I first heard about Scott Sigler, Tee Morris, Mark Jeffrey, and Paul Story releasing their novels in podcast form. There was never any doubt in my mind that I had to do this. My timing coincided well with the launch of (a site dedicated solely to podcast fiction), and so Spherical Tomi immediately had a home. I’m grateful for the overwhelmingly positive and passionate feedback it received.

Because we live in the same town, I have been able to see your writing evolve over the past several years into something darker than Spherical Tomi, with grittier detail and significantly more emotional investment for the reader.  Can you attribute this to any influence and was this an intentional move in that direction?

This makes it sound like I’m posting my fiction around town on telephone poles and I-17 Billboards (I’m not above such tactics, by the way). . .

I appreciate the observation. I strive to affect the reader with compelling details, relatable truths and insights, and emotional resonance. I think my involvement with smart, professional peers, along with my semi-new appreciation for mid-20th century authors like John Steinbeck and Raymond Chandler have all contributed a lot to my development as a writer. These two practices have heightened my awareness and appreciation for poetic prose and sincere, human characterization. I’m not claiming to have achieved mastery – – far from it – – but I’m tryin’, Ringo. I’m tryin’ real hard.

Oh yeah, I think great movies are still a strong influence as well.

Do you have plans for a sequel to Spherical Tomi?

*The Dreaded Question*. . . Yes. No timetable at the moment, but yes. I deeply regret letting down the people who enjoyed the first one and wanted more. I hope that at least some of them will come back when Tomi returns.

What are the projects you have coming up in 2012 that get you the most excited?

I received a number of different loose teas for Christmas; I’m looking forward to brewing perfect pots of tea – – especially the Oolong.  We also have a few fun Deadpan projects in the queue. I kinda hate it when writers drop public hints about their “seekrit projects”, but you’ve left me with little choice, dammit. I’ve already begun foundation work on a very ambitious writing project, which will involve a great deal of effort, time, determination, schmoozing, research, and crossed fingers on my part. I don’t feel ready yet to announce any details, but I hope we can follow up at year’s end and say, “Wow, this has been amazing!”

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