Glenn Langohr is a man that knows prison. He spent 10 years inside the belly of the beast for drug charges and he was locked down in California’s notorious Pelican Bay Supermax for four of those years. He started writing in prison and now has crafted seven books that cover everything from the War on Drugs to Mexican cartels to prison gangs like the Mexican Mafia, Aryan Brotherhood and Black Gorilla Family. His Prison Killers series, which include four novelas- Race Riot, Drug Debts, Gladiator Prison Supermax and Underdog has become Kindle ebook bestsellers. Check them out. If you want to know about prison from a man who knows, then read these books. Also check out his blog at www.rollcallthebook.blogspot.com and here we have the exclusive Gorilla Convict interview with Glenn Lagohr, owner of Lockdown Publishing.
How much time did you serve and where and for what crime?
I spent a little over 10 years incarcerated for drug crimes over four prison terms. Each sentence increased. In 1996, I was charged with the building blocks of Organized Crime, R.I.C.O, but it fell apart in trial into another drug case. I spent time at Chino, Soledad, Salinas Valley, Centinella, Wasco and Donovan State Prisons.
What type of things were you exposed to in prison?
We sat in a circle and held hands and sang Kumbaya My Lord. Not so much. Gangs and territories rule and go hand in hand. More like racial wars, drug debts, territorial disputes over who can use which showers, which tables, which exercise bars and every other inch of space. With constant tension 24/7 it was just like being on the streets but more like the University version. It becomes a cat and mouse game on how to manufacture weapons and where to hide them. How to bury them on the yard right next to other metal sprinklers so the metal detectors won’t matter. All in all, I was exposed to a broken prison system that never had rehabilitation in mind, that was set up to fail.
What did you learn in prison?
I learned how to play chess well. I learned how to write novels. To get any deeper, I’d have to say I learned how to slow my mind down enough to observe everything necessary and to only react with precision. In prison, perception is reality. But you can’t fake it so action is mandatory. If you are on a high security prison yard where things are so serious that stabbing incidents far outnumber regular fights, than you learn how to be diplomatic when it comes to policies. For instance, you have to learn how to communicate in a way that brings people together rather than scatter them. You have to come up with answers to problems or deal with the repercussions.
What made you decide to start writing?
I wanted to take back control of my life. It felt like I had all of this potent material overwhelming my memory that I had to get out. Writing became my meditation. Writing became my chance for redemption and to take what I’d been through and turn it into a blessing.
How has documenting your prison experience helped you readjust to the outside world?
When you get released from prison you start at a bottom not many people can fathom. Writing has given me a new identity. Being published gives you status.
Roll Call is my first novel and is in print. It’s a deep view into the drug war through my eyes as the main character. I toggle the angle to take in other character’s views also. Here’s the synopsis and a review from New York. Roll Call is a story with a cast of characters that include Mexican drug cartels, southern California street gangs and Hell’s Angels all fighting for their piece of the drug culture. In the middle of it all, B.J. is hell bent for destruction until he realizes his destiny in the nick of time.
Add a good detective squeezed out of the loop by an overzealous narcotic detective; a robust prison union trying to call the shots; a handful of drug criminals trying to find their conscience and you have the perfect recipe for a revolutionary uprising, bound by blood, all leaving the reader wondering, who are the real criminals?
“A harrowing, down-and-dirty depiction–sometimes reminiscent of Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic–of America’s war on drugs, by former dealer and California artist Langohr. Locked up for a decade on drugs charges and immersed in both philosophical tomes and modern pulp thrillers, Langohr penned Roll Call, a light fictionalization of his troubled life. A vivid, clamorous account of the war on drugs.” –Kirkus Discoveries, Nielsen Business Media, 770 Broadway, N.Y Yk Here’s where to purchase it- http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0056C0LW4
The sequel to Roll Call is Upon Release and is available in kindle ebook. The story follows the main character’s release from prison and all the hills he has to climb to survive while all the while holding on to his vision. Many of the characters in Roll Call are involved and this novel answers the questions, who are the real criminals? http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005I678MO
Race Riot is a novella and the first of 4 in the Prison Killer series and is available in kindle ebook. “A raw, breathless descent through the inner circle of the California Penal Hell. Fraught with detail that only someone who’s been there could know.” Phillip Doran, TV Producer and author.
B.J, a drug dealer serving time, takes the reader on a never before seen, inside look at a California maximum security prison. The inner dynamics between prison guards, gang investigators and the Warden are on display along with the political climate between races with a war brewing between the Mexicans and Blacks. A piercing account of the process for gang validation into solitary confinement at Pelican Bay’s SHU through the eyes of inmates struggling to survive gang wars, in prison drug debts, prison politics, rules and regulations, and ultimately power and control, while desperately trying to find a path for redemption along the way. 99 cents with kindle here http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005G5YMTE
Lock Up Diaries is the second in the Prison Killer series and focuses on how drug debts play out between races. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005KLT532
Gladiator is the third in the series and takes in how prison guards can stage wars between inmates and different gangs. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005NKQSM6
Underdog is my favorite of the series because while I was in prison just for being involved in a few riots and other things to survive, the prison administration threatened me with indefinite solitary confinement. It’s my way of adding my voice to the prisoners in solitary. Here’s a review- “Ex-con Langohr can describe the hell of life inside better than any other writer. His vivid passages on just surviving in prison describe a nightmare we’d rather not know about. He compares the plight of abandoned dogs, locked and horribly mistreated in rows of cages in animal shelters, to California prison inmates, locked and abused in the same cages. Not a book for the faint of heart. We who sleep peacefully in our beds at night, unaware of the savagery going on behind prison walls, can only thankfully say: ‘There, but for the grace of God, go I’.” John South American Media http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007D62AP2
Describe the success your ebooks are having and how you got into that?
I got out of prison in 2008 and didn’t even know what a kindle ebook was. It happens to be the new direction of publishing. More books are sold in digital format then print. Its instant satisfaction and impulse buying. My kind of customers. As long as I don’t give them instant dissatisfaction! It’s all web driven. The ability to make changes to see what works is great. You can price a book as low as .99 cents to get new readers and to create buzz.
What other projects are you working on?
I’m writing a piece about my solitary confinement for Solitary Watch. I’m also starting another book.
What is your blog about?
http://www.lockdownpublishing.com is my blog site to post updates on my books and other news.