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Madeleine Swann & 4 Rooms in a Semi-Detached House

by Lee Widener

Madeleine Swann entered the Bizarro realm with her debut novella “Rainbows Suck,” released through Eraserhead Press’ New Bizarro Author Series in 2015.  Now her second novella “4 Rooms in a Semi-Detached House” is available from Strangehouse Books. I asked Maddy some questions and she answered them!

LEE:  Tell us about your new book.maddy

MADELEINE:  My new novella is about a girl, Aisha, who lives on a street where each room of each house leads to landscapes in an alternate dimension/the past/whichever you prefer. The front rooms lead to a cinema during the Depression, the bedrooms to a Parisian Salon, kitchens to a Georgian banquet hall in space and studies to a psychedelic book shop. Disturbing things take over the rooms and Aisha thinks a secret of hers might be the cause.

LEE:  I know you have a particular interest in avant-garde cinema and also the psychedelic experience. From the trailer for this book it seems these interests play a large part in the story. Is this true, and if so, what other interests of yours show up in this book?

MADELEINE: Avant-garde films and books are a huge inspiration to me. Also I love Pre-Code films, vintage cinemas and vaudeville so I set an area in the early thirties. I also enjoy writers and artists of the twenties, in New York and the expats in Paris mainly, so they’re in the bedroom. The Georgian period is an era I find fascinating, partly because of the lawlessness but also because they were getting to grips with science and life post-religion (mostly). Plus I love all the frills, they were so flouncy. Finally there’s a psychedelic book shop because I felt like I joined the hippie movement in spirit from the age of about 16. Not so much now but I was really into it.

LEE: Can you tell us something about how this book came to be? What was the spark that got you thinking about what came to be this book?

MADELEINE: I genuinely think it just came to me while I was watching Regular Show. It’s taken a lot of work from three editors to get it to a place where I’m really happy with it, but the idea itself just sort of popped in my head. I wanted to write a story involving different periods of history and something involving a street, and there it was!

LEE: I find your talk about using three editors fascinating. I have a piece I’m working on that I’ve sent to two editors and I still don’t know what to do with it. What was it like working with multiple editors? Did you pick and chose which feedback seemed more apt, or did you do a rewrite, felt like it still wasn’t right, so you sent it to another, or what?

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MADELEINE: Well, it’s a bit complicated. First off I sent it as a novelette to an anthology but nothing came of that. Then I asked Garrett (Cook) if he’d edit it, I got his notes back and worked on them. Then I asked the publisher if he’d consider releasing it as a novella, he said yes and ended up giving me notes too. I worked on those and then was told Rooster Republic didn’t have room that year but StrangeHouse did, and then they edited it too. I didn’t use every single note but I did most of them.

LEE: Let’s talk about Bizarro Fiction. Do you consider yourself primarily a Bizarro writer, or do you work in other genres as well?

MADELEINE: I think of myself more as a weird writer, but I suppose that fits under the blanket of bizarro. I just like exploring weird, dark things and wherever that takes me is fine.

LEE: What would make a good soundtrack while reading this book?

MADELEINE: Well, if I told you that Miley Cyrus’ Dead Petz was the actual soundtrack to my writing, it would probably put you off. I think anything jaunty and odd, like Mike and Rich or Tobacco.

LEE: You do a lot of outreach to your readers: blog posts, Twitter, youtube videos, personal appearances at festivals and such. What works best for you, and which do you most enjoy?

MADELEINE: I genuinely enjoy all of it. Probably Twitter and blogging the most because I blog about things I enjoy more than myself, and I like sharing the weird arty things I find. I’m very nervous about meeting and talking to people but I’ll certainly be working on that this year! I’m trying to get more used to it by reading my favourite stories to camera and talking on YouTube and it’s getting easier.

LEE: What’s up next for the Evil Pixie?

MADELEINE: Well, I’ve got a few short stories coming out at some point this year, and I’ve just finished a new novella/connected short story thing which is inspired by a section of The Red Tower by Thomas Ligotti, though it’s very different in tone. Also I’m reading from 4 Rooms at the Brighton Fringe Festival, The Big Green Book Shop with Laura Lee Bahr and others and I’ll be at Bizarrocon. See you there!

Trailer for 4 Rooms in a Semi-Detached House:

You can find out more about Maddy and her work, complete with links to buy her books at her website:

MadeleineSwann.com

Read her weekly column at CLASH Media:

Memoirs of a Professional Weirdo

Read her blog here:

Madeleine Swann Blog

Follow her on Twitter: @MadeleineSwann

Subscribe to her Youtube channel:

Madeleine Swann on Youtube


Lee Widener is the author of “David Bowie is Trying to Kill Me!” and “Rock N Roll Head Case” published in October 2015 by Eraserhead Press. His collection “Under the Shanghai Tunnel & Other Weird Tales” will be published in 2017.

Flash Fiction Friday: Seeking Approval at the End of the World

by: John Wayne Comunale
Kyle shut the window, closed the drapes, and made his decision. The ratings had been shit for years, despite it being the longest running show in history. He was the President of Television, and tough decisions like this were his responsibility. He was going to have to cancel Outside.

Kyle crossed to a large switch on the wall and slammed it down from its current setting of ‘Live’ to its new setting of ‘Canceled.’ The sound of the show’s death decayed into silence as he strolled over to the coatrack by his office door and removed a black, hooded robe that slipped easily over his presidential three-piece suit.

Stitched in crimson on the left side of the robe was a twenty-one-point star with an eagle-winged spider at the center of it. Now that he’d canceled Outside, which was the final thing his brothers needed done to fulfill the ‘prophecy,’ he would be off probation and made a full-fledged member. No longer would he be called nerd-linger, douche-sack, cock-lick, or any of the many names they called him by. Now he would be known as Kyle.

He pressed a button on the wall that opened a door to a dark room where the only light came from a much larger version of the star symbol glowing red up from the floor. The intensity of the light rose sharply as a robot rocking horse with the head of Abraham Lincoln slid from the darkness to the center of the room.

“Did you do it douche-sack?” screamed Abe.

“I told you I’d do it, didn’t I? And it’s Kyle now…right?”

“Don’t bullshit us, nerd-linger!” yelled another robed individual stepping into the light. It was Dave, the shape-shifting alien who’d been every President of the United States since he came down, chopped Lincoln’s head off, and grafted it onto a robot rocking horse.

“I really did it, guys,” said Kyle again, smiling wide. “Now the prophecy can be fulfilled, or whatever.”

“He’s telling the truth,” came another voice from the shadows. A man stepped into the light and lowered his hood to reveal a scaly, reptilian head.

“Thank you Mr. Hubbard,” said Kyle. “See, I told you guys. So, am I off probation or what?”

“Fiiiiine,” groaned Lincoln. “If LRH says you did it, I guess that’s good enough for me. Enter the star.”

“Really?”

“Shut up and enter the goddamn star,” yelled Dave.

He stepped into the star and it glowed brightly as Lincoln rocked off, leaving Kyle in the center alone. He felt the heat in his feet first, but it quickly crawled up the length of his body, causing the hair on his arms to go limp and start to singe.

“Uh, hey, guys,” he said nervously through cracking lips. “Do you think we could turn the star down a little? It’s a little hot and…”

Dave stepped to the edge of the star, raised his hands, and began chanting. Lincoln and Hubbard joined him, and as the chanting became louder, the heat became more intense. Tiny flames danced along the edges of the star, and Kyle gasped trying to high-step his way out of the flames, but his hooded brethren would not let him leave the circle.

“Hey, what gives, guys? This is really starting to hurt!”

“Burning alive is supposed to hurt, dingus,” said Dave, laughing.

“What?” The flames crept quickly up Kyle’s robe. “You guys said that canceling Outside was the last thing you needed to fulfill the prophecy, and I did it!”

“Yeah, well, we lied,” said Lincoln.

“The actual last thing we need to do is sacrifice your nerdy, annoying ass,” called Dave through the rising flames.

The flames jumped to the ceiling for a moment before being sucked back down into the star, and Kyle was gone.

“We did it!” cried Dave.

“Wait,” said L. Ron Hubbard, raising his scaly hand to silence the group. “Something’s not right.”

He walked to the window and pulled the curtains aside, revealing nothing but blackness. A second later, there was a flicker and some static before Outside appeared through the window right before their eyes.

“What the hell?” shouted Lincoln.

“That little shitty nerd lied to us!” yelled Dave.

“No, I’m afraid not, gentlemen,” said Hubbard. “Kyle did indeed cancel Outside just as he said.”

“Then what’s all that out there?”

“Reruns,” said Hubbard flatly. “I’m afraid Outside has been put into syndication.”

________

John Wayne Comunale lives in the land of purple drank known as Houston, Texas. He is a writer for the comedic collective, MicroSatan, and contributes creative non-fiction for the theatrical art group, BooTown. When he’s not doing that, he tours with the punk rock disaster: johnwayneisdead. He is the author of The Porn Star Retirement Plan, Charge Land, and Aunt Poster as well as writer/illustrator of the comic-zine: The Afterlife Adventures of johnwayneisdead. John Wayne is an American actor who died in 1979.

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Submit your bizarro flash fiction to FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com.

Out Now: Beyond the Great, Bloody, Bruised, and Silent Veil of This World

Available on Amazon: the latest from Jordan Krall!

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Find yourself on a starship as it lumbers across the desert. Find yourself on a train looking out at the stars, the earth a blue marble in the infinite black abyss behind you. Find yourself overdosing on narcotics in a bathtub at home. The Red Planet. Pharmaceuticals. The Demiurge. Assassins. Suicide bombers. Underground railroads between worlds. What mysteries link them? Pull back the veil and see.

In Beyond the Great, Bloody, Bruised and Silent Veil of this World author Jordan Krall creates a wholly unique experience; all at once revelatory, hypnotic, and hallucinatory. All literal, all parable, all a twisted drug-trip. So read on and know this; it’s all true, and it’s all in your head.

Out Now: Apologies to the Cat’s Meat Man

Bizarro artist Alan M. Clarke has released another book in his Jack the Ripper Victim series. It’s available at Amazon.

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This novel is part of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series. Each novel in the series is a stand-alone story.

Annie Chapman led a hard, lower class life in filthy 19th century London. Late in life, circumstances and and her choices led her to earn her crust by solicitation. After a bruising brawl with another woman over money and a man, she lost her lodgings and found herself sleeping rough. That dangerous turn of events delivered her into the hands of London’s most notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper.

Contrasting her last week alive with the experiences of her earlier life, the author helps readers understand how she might have made the decisions that put her in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Flash Fiction Friday: Porcqupyne

by: Raf De Bie

Last week, I asked Cynthia to marry me. Today, the mailman hands me her reply: an empty piece of paper and a plastic bag stuffed with vowels, consonants, and punctuation marks. The mailman pats me on the back. “Sorry fella, they must have fallen off. It happens sometimes.” I drop to my knees, hands in the bag, then in my hair. How am I supposed to make sense of this? As the mailman walks away I find a Y, an E, and an S. I press them against each other and make kissy noises.

In the town’s Scrabble club, I get surrounded like I’m a blank tile. I don’t even have to ask the members to help me out; they just yank the bag out of my hands. Soon they present me a letter that doesn’t excel content-wise, but the word value is off the charts. Cynthia feels like I don’t bake her enough flapjacks. She calls me a porcqupyne. The plastic bag has only five characters left. “You’re welcome,” the Scrabble club members say as they retreat into a corner of the room, where they light up cigars and unfold a game board.

I find a bar where I tell a drunk clown about my love issues. After about an hour, he asks me where Cynthia lives. I tell him, “Way too far.” He says, “Way too far for what? For true love?” He orders another round of rum and cokes, and when the bartender replies that I should buy the clown a round for once instead of complaining about this Cynthia girl all the time, the clown headbutts him. Then he puts his hand on my shoulder, looks me deep in the eyes, and says, “That man has never been in love before. I will help you.” An hour later I’m riding a mini-tricycle on a dirt road, my eyes on the enormous moon on the horizon. I try to see myself in the shadows of the dark craters, on one knee in front of Cynthia as I offer her a ring. Cynthia holds her hands in front of her face and shouts, “I do! I do! I DO I DO I DO!”

I. En route, people throw me sausages and booze, and I ride ride ride two miles an hour, weeks on end. I take the boat, a train, get lost in three different states, and find my way each time again. I take a turn, work myself through the gravel on the long driveway, am unable to stop, and with a bang, I come to a standstill against Cynthia’s front door. I drop to the doorstep unconscious. As I wake up, I’m sitting in a police car right next to the clown, who is very calmly explaining to two officers it’s about time the bartender gets a taste of true love, so this all could have been avoided and it was all a dream.

II. En route, people throw me sausages and booze, and I ride ride ride two miles an hour, months on end. I take the boat, a train, get lost in three different states, and find my way each time again. I take a turn, work myself through the gravel on the long driveway, am unable to stop, and with a bang, I come to a standstill against Cynthia’s front door. I drop to the doorstep unconscious. As I wake up, Cynthia is standing right in front of me, an Elvis suit tightly hugging her slim waist, azure sunglasses on her perky nose, and pink lipstick on her bubblegum-blowing lips.

==> I choose for the dream.

=> For the confrontation.

> For II.

“Yes or no?” I ask.
“No. I already told you in the letter. My manager wrote down twelve pages just because we felt so sorry for you.”
“But I want to marry you.”
“Look, I’m a singer. A pop star. And you? What do you do? What are you?”
“A dreamer, a dreamer!” I shout, “That’s good too.”
“Not good enough.”
Cynthia slams the door shut.
I’m all alone again.

I ride to the coastline, where I rent a glassblower. He blows a gigantic bottle for me. I sit down in the bottle and have the entire Scrabble club push me into the sea. They hand me a quincunx (26 points) as a present for the voyage. Soon I’m drifting through the surf into the salty ocean.

The island where I wash ashore is inhabited by porcqupynes. They eat the few characters that are still in my pockets and soon learn how to speak. I bake them flapjacks. I have discussion panels with them, and soon I forget Cynthia. After a couple of months, I organize a dating show, matching two porcqupynes every full moon. New couples get to spend a night inside my glass bottle. During those nights, I take long walks along the beach, where I think about things that I will have forgotten about the next day. I am almost happy.

________

Raf De Bie lives and writes in Belgium. He graduated from the Antwerp Writers’ Academy in 2015 and is a former editor of the literary magazine Kluger Hans. His most recent publication in English, before this one, was in the European bizarro anthology This Is Not An AnthologyYou can find him on Twitter.

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Submit your bizarro flash fiction to FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com.

Book Trailer: Bacon Fried Bastard

Author and interior decorator David W. Barbee compiled some toys and his own inner turmoil to create a trailer for his latest book, Bacon Fried Bastard. Enjoy!

Out Now: Spider Bunny

Carlton Mellick III, the godfather of bizarro fiction, is back with a tribute to the unintentionally terrifying children’s commercials of the ‘70s and ‘80s.

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Only Petey remembers the Fruit Fun cereal commercials of the 1980s. He remembers how warped and disturbing they were. He remembers the lumpy-shaped cartoon children sitting around a breakfast table, eating puffy pink cereal brought to them by the distortedly animated mascot, Berry Bunny. The characters were creepier than the Sesame Street Humpty Dumpty, freakier than Mr. Noseybonk from the old BBC show Jigsaw. They used to give him nightmares as a child. Nightmares where Berry Bunny would reach out of the television and grab him, pulling him into her cereal bowl to be eaten by the demented cartoon children.

When Petey brings up Fruit Fun to his friends, none of them have any idea what he’s talking about. They’ve never heard of the cereal or seen the commercials before. And they’re not the only ones. Nobody has ever heard of it. There’s not even any information about Fruit Fun on google or wikipedia. At first, Petey thinks he’s going crazy. He wonders if all of those commercials were real or just false memories. But then he starts seeing them again. Berry Bunny appears on his television, promoting Fruit Fun cereal in her squeaky unsettling voice. And the next thing Petey knows, he and his friends are sucked into the cereal commercial and forced to survive in a surreal world populated by cartoon characters made flesh.

From the cult author of Cuddly Holocaust, Cannibals of Candyland, and I Knocked Up Satan’s Daughter, comes an absurd horror tale that pulls you in and never lets go.

Get it at Amazon