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Posts tagged “madeleine swann

Bizarro Con 2017: THE VLOGGENING

Bizarro Con is almost a whole year away, and many of us still have great memories of the 2017 bizarro fiction convention. Bizarro Con is the most magical time and place on earth. Not Bizarro Con is a yearlong slog of boredom and normalcy. Luckily, Madeleine Swann created a lovely video log of her experience at last year’s Bizarro Con. I’m posting it here in the dead of winter to help us get through the next ten months until the magic time returns.

And a round of applause for Ms. Swann, also. You can check out more of her weird videos over on her YouTube channel.


Bizarro Vlogs!

Here comes some of that ultra-modern video web logging! Madeleine Swann and Christoph Paul are hard at work providing content that moves and talks on your screen. First is Ms. Swann, who catalogs some of her favorite weird books…

and Christoph with some writing advice…


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?

4rooms

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: 2015 New Bizarro Authors, Pt. 1

For this week and the next two Flash Fiction Friday will exhibit excerpts of The New Bizarro Author Series for 2015.


Rainbows Suck by Madeleine Swann (Buy It Now!)

The doors exploded open, neon pinks, purples and blues bursting onto the streets and the skin of those waiting. The others cheered, but Tilli remained quietly determined. A rainbow glided into the doorway.

“Friends, neighbours, welcome to Sensus Invictus. Step in and feel your boundaries shatter…” he stepped aside and everyone scurried in, taking seats on either side of a clean, white runway. Tilli elbowed her way to the front of the left side, if she could just remain in view of the rainbows swirling about the ceiling and walls, occasionally disappearing backstage…

A vortex appeared at the end of the runway, swirling furiously. The audience gasped in shocked delight. “Ladies and gentlemen,” boomed a voice neither male nor female, “welcome to the first ever Live Art Extravaganza!” The people cheered and so did Tilli, the excitement spreading like an infectious disease. The first Art, a man with a golden quiff stretching almost to the ceiling, stepped out from behind the screens. The onlookers oohed as he strode to the end of the runway, narrowly missing the vortex which waited hungrily for him. His hair shot out and grabbed a woman’s handbag and she squealed in mock protest. His mane rolled it about for a few seconds before spitting it back into her arms, now covered in attractive sequins. He stomped back to a loud applause.

A girl now appeared, her dark skin almost like velour. In fact, when Tilli squinted, she saw it was velour. It seemed at first as if her coat jiggled as she walked, but Tilli it was writhing independently. A few faces peered out and stretched the fabric before sinking away into dark blue nothingness, whereupon more faces took their place. “Oh darling,” said a woman to a man sitting next to her, “that’s the coat of souls I read about in Tittles. Isn’t it divine?”

“Simply divine,” was the response. Tilli glanced about, sweat prickling her temples. Time was moving on, why hadn’t they noticed her? Maybe she could approach them at the end…

Another Art stepped onto the runway, making his way to the vortex and summoning The Dark One before turning to head back. The next Art appeared from behind the screen. The first, on shoes taller than a young man, wobbled and the crowd uniformly breathed in. The second Art began stomping towards him so as not to lose time, but the first was falling slowly, gracefully, into maw of the whirlpool. All eyes were on him, nobody saw the second Art desperately twirling and cartwheeling to get their attention. The first was sucked down into oblivion and, before anybody had a chance to scream, the second exploded in a shower of glitter and rainbows which stained the white runway. Both men and women screamed as loudly as they could and several fur covered watchers fell dramatically to the floor, though of course one eye flickered to their companions to make sure they were watching.


Towers by Karl Fischer (Buy It Now!)

We were Towers and we shattered the sky.

We were three hundred meters tall, anchored to the bedrock on mammoth monopile roots. We were carbide skeletons on which steel and lead and graphene plastic matrices were layered to form oblique, unbreakable skin. But most of all, we were the Gods of Fire and War and Thermonuclear Destruction. When we unleashed Atomic Hounds upon the night’s void, every kingdom shuddered and every mortal knew why we were built.

We were Towers.

But we had one weakness: those that lived inside us.

They thought I couldn’t feel them walking in the corridors of my marrow and the ventricles of my heart. The human germs crawling and feeding and fucking—sometimes fixing and reloading—but always, always scratching. They caused me to look inward. They did nothing but distract me from the fight.

I was human once, and I remember that it was miserable. Prejudice, anxiety, want—the hallmarks of my short existence. I lived without certainty. But there was certainty in steel. There was certainty in the exhaust of a newly launched missile and the white, celestial explosion that its terminus brought. There was certainty in Quatra.

The time I spent being human was good for only one purpose—to meet Quatra, the singular cog that would mesh with my own.

Alone, we were overwhelmed by the lizard gestalt of our brains. Brought together, we made of ourselves a functional mechanism. We had a use for all our meltwater emotions. Death, however, reminded us that love did not exist in its stygian paradise. Death could walk, and it arose from the ocean to make war upon the last human cities. In those dying days of civilization, the Towers were built to defend what remained.

So long ago.

Requisition called for people to operate the Towers and we volunteered. Shed the flesh, fight for a thousand years, and in return, be admitted unto the Afterlife. What was a millennium compared to an eternity with Quatra? To be without separation, without sorrow or fear, I would pay any price.

I counted down the days.

A thousand years gone.

But these humans. These viral dwellers. I could feel them inside me, as they were in every Tower, and the sensation repelled certainty. What were they doing to me? I fought with everything I had. What more could they want?

It was my rest period of Day 365,241, my last day of service. I dreamt that Quatra and I were parasites in our own skin, and we were ravenous. We cannibalized muscles of polymer and concrete and went deep into the organ meat of our power plants. We were vermin crawling in cavernous spaces that were wet with blood, yet smelled of dust. Our real bodies, the spires, were dead. The planet was a necropolis and our enemies loomed overhead, breathing hellfire and pulsing clouds of devastation. We could do nothing but weep at the basework of our titanic hearts. We couldn’t even hold each other because we didn’t know how.

Then I woke up screaming.


Elephant Vice by Chris Meekings

The captain’s office was small. A desk fan buzzed in one corner, with ticker-tape streaming in its breeze. The morning sun crashed through the window in an orange torrent and struck the poster of the kitten hanging from a branch. “Hang In There, Baby”. The captain slammed the door closed behind Detective Vincent Van Gogh.

“Sit down,” he commanded.


Captain Horrald Smalling was a short, squat man, covered in thick brown hair and the labels of beer bottles he’d drunk in the past week. His jacket was off the peg, off his shoulders and slung unheroically over the back of his walrus leather chair. The sleeves of his shirt, which depicted nudes from around the world, were rolled up. Two dark sweat patches had formed under his arms, even though it was only nine in the morning.

“Captain,” questioned Van Gogh, “didn’t you used to have two ears?”

The Captain, self consciously lifted a hand to the side of his face. Where his left ear should have been was a bare patch of skin, no scar, no blood, no hole, just barren skin.

“You’re right, Van Gogh. I woke this morning to find that gone. And worse, there were signs of a break in. Some bastard forced his way into my apartment and stole my ear.”

“That’s….that’s weird,” said Van Gogh, lamely.

“Enough about that, I got a case for you, Van Gogh,” he spat from around the blunt stogie in the corner of his mouth, “a big one. Mayor’s son was found turned into a sofa this morning.”

Van Gogh ran his fingers through his hair and down to his beard. His ear had been right, it was trouble.

“Another **** head?” he questioned.

“Yeah, some new drug cartel has moved in, ****’s been hitting the streets. So, you’re up, Van Gogh. Investigate. Find the bastards that are dealing it, and bring ’em in,” snarled the captain.

Van Gogh scoffed. “Captain, no one has a greater opinion of my abilities than I do, but even I don’t think I can take on a whole cartel.”

The captain’s eyes sparkled with mischief.

“Well, that’s lucky. ‘Cause you won’t be doing it alone. You’ll be doing it with a partner. Ganesha! Get in here!” he bellowed.

The door opened and Detective Ganesha came in, in a cloud of musk and flies. Dressed in an Armani cream suit, Ganesha stood seven feet tall from his dapper white brogues to the top of his massive elephant head. His trunk curled around the door handle and swung it shut behind him. He held, in one of his four hands, a pen knife, which he flicked open and closed as if it were a nervous habit.

“Namaste, detective,” said Ganesha, putting two of his hands together and giving a slight incline of his huge head. “I am most looking forward to working with you.”

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” said Vincent Van Gogh, eyeing the Hindu deity up and down. Deep and dark, like an abyssal trench, Van Gogh felt the ground beneath him slip away. “Captain, no. You know me. I work alone. I do not work with people, let alone elephants.”

A frown crept across Ganesha’s face.


Flash Fiction Friday: The Marzipan King is a Dick (Extract)

by Madeleine Swann

I can hear Simon breathing behind me. His black body is as comforting as it always is and his shadow joins the others in the dark early morning room, a contrast to my pale flesh and long blonde hair. His warmth reaches me from his side of the bed. I decide to stay awake otherwise I’ll be groggy when I get up. I blink.

When I open my eyes again I see I’ve not managed this simple task. In the distance is a marzipan kingdom with a marzipan castle, and the sugary ground stretches out as far as the eye can see in white, baby pink and soft blue. A flesh and blood terrier yaps at my feet and I know he’s mine, even though I don’t own a dog in real life. I lean down to pet him and he licks my face. When I straighten up he’s standing in front of me, the Marzipan King.

“Yum, sweetmeats, thanks!” he says as he picks up the dog, swallowing it in one mouthful. I feel annoyed as I’d started to get attached to him.

“That’s fine,” I say, hoping he notices the sarcasm in my voice.

“Want to come to my magic kingdom?” he says with a leer and a wink. I realise he’s kind of a dick.

“Not really,” I say.

“Oh.” He looks disappointed and folds his arms. “Well, I thought you were ugly anyway.”

I want to hit him but I’m too shocked to move. “I think I’d like to wake up now,” I say eventually.

“Fine, whatevs,” he says dismissively. As I feel myself fading his Marzipan hand shoots out. “Poob,” he says in a high pitched voice as he grabs my breast and squeezes. I simply stand there and let him as this isn’t the kind of thing that’s supposed to happen. When I open my eyes I’m back in bed. I’m relieved and turn to Simon, snuggling into him. I’m a bit troubled when I smell sugar in his hair.

——

Madeleine Swann’s first book The Filing Cabinet of Doom is available now from Burning Bulb Publishing. The Marzipan King is Dick is an extract of this book.


Flash Fiction Friday: Above the Bloodline of the Wayward Flower

by Madeleine Swann

A mother wheeled a very large pushchair through the entrance of Pod Pals Cor. They passed the factory floor where rows of green plants were watered or inspected with checklists. Some were having ripe pods removed – cut at just the right point above the sleeping inmate.

They arrived at the doctor’s office, knocking before heading inside. Though he looked worryingly young he had an air of knowledge about him. “Ah,” he said, “It’s a progress check on Albert here, is it not?”

“Yes, doctor,” said the new mother, taking a seat beside her ward.

“Now,” the doctor addressed the gentleman in the pushchair, “how do you feel we’re getting on?”

“Well,” Albert removed his pipe, “I must say this process is damned irritating.” The doctor held up his hand.

“I absolutely agree, if there was a way to bypass it we would. Now, have you managed to take any first steps at all?”

Albert adjusted the zip on his jump suit and thought for a moment. “I did manage to pull myself onto the sofa after crawling for a moment or two.”

“Very good,” the doctor sat back in his chair, appraising the six foot man bundled in blankets. He proceeded to check ears, throat and nose while Albert not so patiently let him.

“J-just one thing,” said the woman in a mousy voice, raising a hand slightly. “Well, it’s sometimes hard to get him to eat and he complains non-stop.” Albert sighed in irritation.

“I know rusks and milk aren’t ideal,” said the doctor gently, “but your system just can’t take solid food yet.”

“Well it’s damned humiliating.” Albert sulked in silence while the doctor continued his checks. “Tell me doctor, when can I start applying for managerial positions?”

The doctor pursed his lips, unwilling to say his next words. “I really wouldn’t apply for anything above a clerk until you’ve been toilet trained, Albert.” He placed an understanding hand on the pod man’s slumped shoulders. “Just a few more weeks and you’ll be raring to go.”

Albert nodded in defeat, meekly allowing the doctor to finish his checks before his mother/partner wheeled him back out the door, past the plants and onto the streets.

——-
Madeleine Swann has had articles published by magazines including Bizarre and The Dark Side.

She also has surreal comedy and horror in American Nightmare, Polluto magazine, LegumeMan Books, Black Petal magazine, The Strange Edge and Bizarro Central. She also has erotica published on the Forbidden Fiction website, The Darker Edge of Desire anthology and the ‘Big Book of Bizarro’. She blogs here: http://madeleineswann.wordpress.com/


Flash Fiction Friday: The Butterfly Gay Club in My Hedge

by Madeleine Swann

My neighbour and I were clearing out my garden for the bonfire when he fell out of the hedge. Through the smoke I saw Dan from next door and a multi-coloured, sparkling butterfly man.

“Oh, bollocks,” said the intruder, fluttering his wings, “wrong place, sorry.” With that, he launched himself into the foliage growing against the back fence. Dan and I peered into the branches and were quite surprised to see a thousand or more iridescent butterfly men cavorting to house music.

“There’s a gay club in my hedge,” I said simply.

“There is,” said Dan, picking up the shears. “The whole thing will have to come down.”

“Wait, maybe we should just leave it for now?”

Dan shrugged but I could tell he wasn’t happy.

The next day I was making homemade lollies when there was a knock at the door. It was Dan and he looked strange and pale like he hadn’t slept. He held up a box of stuff. “I brought Hedge-B-Gone,” he said, his left eye twitching slightly.

“Just leave it.”

“No!” he shrieked, “they’ll destroy the flowers, they’re known for that, and they eat dogs.”

I shrugged. “I don’t have a dog.”

That night I was about to go to bed when something in the garden drew me to the window. There was Dan, struggling with the grace of an epileptic elephant, clambering over my goddamn fence. “Dan,” I yelled, “sod off you freak!”

I heard a dramatic “Noooooo!” while the dark figure outside shook his fist at the starry sky. Maybe it was time to back off from Dan, he was a bit weird. I went to sleep and dreamed of glitter and prancing pachyderms.

No one heard from Dan after that. Every friend and relative was called and all searches led nowhere. I didn’t tell anyone that on the morning he’d gone missing I looked in my hedge; there was a new figure amongst the other butterfly men, furnished with fake wings and garnished with diamanté. He smiled and laughed, prancing and twirling amongst the branches. I went back inside and had a lolly.

—–

Madeleine Swann has had several articles published by various magazines including Bizarre and The Dark Side, ranging in subject from church restorations to toe wrestling championships.

She writes from her home in deepest, darkest Essex and has surreal comedy and horror in Polluto magazine, LegumeMan Books, Black Petal magazine and The Strange Edge. She also has erotica published on the Forbidden Fiction website, The Darker Edge of Desire anthology and the Big Book of Bizarro.