Blog #24: Dispatches from Fringewood

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Somehow half a year went by and I didn’t manage to blog. So let us proceed without delay.

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In this issue:

  • Fringewood + short story + poetry announcements
  • New Doom That Came To Mellonville merch
  • Book reviews: You’ve Lost a Lot of Blood, What Moves the Dead, Below, Moonfellow
  • My fave photos from Vancouver

Now Available: Fringewood

Raccoon skull by Shameless Envy

My debut poetry collection Fringewood is now available from Alien Buddha Press.

22 gothic, folk horror, and paranormal-inspired poems set in a strange little town that may or may not exist. Equal parts monster madness and meditations on melancholy.

You can pick up a copy here. Get a sneak peak here.


Coming Soon:

Warriors of the Wild Sky

After fleeing her abusive husband just in time to avoid the apocalypse sweeping through her town, a hitchhiker is picked up by a mysterious driver. His name is Driver, and he might be exactly what she needs to start a new life. He also might be Nicolas Cage. He’s definitely not human.

A tribute to Wild At Heart by way of Mandy. Read it in His Soul’s Still Dancing: A Nicolas Cage Inspired Anthology from Ex-Parrot Press.


Paris

As if her parents’ agonizing divorce wasn’t enough, teenaged Hailey also has to deal with The Ghoul: the eyeliner-wearing, accident-prone independent wrestler who may be her new stepfather. A summer on the wrestling circuit at least provides an escape, until a hometown show puts her face-to-face with her feelings.

Read it in From Parts Unknown: A Professional Wrestling Anthology from Daily Drunk.


Into the Great Wide Open

When a toddler vanishes in the dead of night, his teenage father is suspected of murder. As it turns out, Joe knows exactly where his son is. He also knows that no one on earth will be able to bring him back.

Read this cosmic mystery in Nightmare Sky: Stories of Astronomical Horror from Death Knell Press.


Ghostwritten

Enter the Heimlich Academy Screenplay Challenge they said. A horror movie will sell, they said. Who exactly is saying these things, and why does this script appear to be writing itself?

Explore the mind of a tortured writer in It Was All A Dream: An Anthology of Bad Horror Tropes Done Right from Hungry Shadow Press.


Cannibal Mutant Maneating Spider

A poem about giant spiders and bureaucratic paperwork, appearing in the Horror Writers’ Association Poetry Showcase Vol. IX.


New Merch: Doom Squirrel Shirt

Designed by Ira Rat

If you ever wanted The Doom That Came To Mellonville‘s iconic squirrel on a shirt, your dreams are about to come true.

Buy one here! And if you need some extra copies of the book to hand to people who ask what’s on your shirt, you can pick them up at Filthy Loot or on Amazon.


What I’ve Been Reading:

Eric Larocca – You’ve Lost a Lot of Blood

After scoring a breakout hit with last year’s Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke, Eric Larocca returns with another addictive epistolary novella. This one purports to be a collection of writings and recordings by an artistically-inclined serial killer, including a full novella-within-the-novella (also titled You’ve Lost a Lot of Blood) published by the fiend.

Because Larocca narrators are more eloquent than mere mortals, the featured poems, journal entries, and metafiction are compelling on their own, the murderous author’s flair for melodrama allowing Larocca to luxuriate in deliciously disturbing imagery. It’s a novel you admire the craft of, even as you’re carried away by the story. You’ve Lost A Lot of Blood is also, in a way, a mystery, one you don’t realize you’re reading until everything comes together. 

Buy a copy here.


T. Kingfisher – What Moves The Dead (Tor Nightfire)

T. Kingfisher’s reimaging of “The Fall of the House of Usher” begins much like the original: a soldier arrives at the decaying Usher estate in the hopes of assisting a troubled friend and his ill sister, to find that both of them have declined beyond salvation.

But where Poe’s story is enigmatic, a gothic Rorschach Test that lends itself to countless interpretations, What Moves the Dead recalls the rationalism of antiquarian horror, with a cast of level-headed veterans and a mycologist set on identifying the cause of the disturbance. The resulting tale is equal parts grotesque and funny, witty without undercutting the terror.

Buy a copy here.


Laurel Hightower – Below (Ghoulish)

I hate moths and shuddered every time our hero’s hand brushed a furry limb in the dark. But this tale of a horror writer trapped in a cave a giant moth is more than just a monster mash.

Laurel Hightower knows what makes cryptids creepy – the subtle hints of conspiracy, the suggestion that there’s more to their existence than just a quirk of evolution. Her Mothman is an enigmatic and sinister being, and the book is filled with unsolved mysteries and sick surprises that will leave you off-kilter.

Buy a copy here.


Danger Slater – Moonfellows (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)

Danger Slater has an impressive ability to wring genuine emotion from nonsensical situations. This bizarro tale of three scientists, a military man, and a gravedigger abandoned on the moon in the early 1900s is as elegiac as it is absurd, with Slater effectively conveying the loneliness and vast scale of the moon (contrasted with the ramshackle spaceship that got them there). It made me laugh and also hit all of my sad-bones.

Buy a copy here.


Until next time…

In the next edition I’ll be reviewing four books I loved but haven’t found the words for yet: Joe Koch’s Convulsive, Madeleine Swann’s Sharp Edge of the Rainbow, Rebecca Rowland’s Shagging the Boss, and Gretchen Felker-Martin’s Manhunt.

In the meantime, please enjoy this gallery from my recent trip to Vancouver:

The Outsiders in the Hawthorne Tomb [short story]

Creative Works, Fiction, Free to Read

Since it’s World Goth Day, I wanted to share this macabre story of foul play, family curses, and graveyard disturbances, originally published in American Gothic Short Stories:

Adrian Hawthorne died, and was subsequently buried, the way he spent the last months of his life – hidden away, a wealthy family’s secret shame.

Madison’s Top 13 Books of 2021

Arts Coverage, Blog, Books

I actually only read thirteen or so 2021 releases, so this isn’t the most selective best-of. But all these books were great and you should totally read them.

Some observations: westerns had a moment this year, as did slashers. Body horror is awesome as always, and we saw lots of postmodern and surreal fiction. All good things, as far as I’m concerned.

Check out my list below:

Blog #23: Slasher Summer – a send-off

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Well, October certainly came on fast.

I spent a big chunk of the summer working in northwestern Ontario. It’s a beautiful part of the country, with vast forests and countless lakes and inlets dotted with campgrounds and lodges. (I was reminded of a certain type of eighties movie we all love). I saw lots of wildlife, including a moose on the highway, a bald eagle perched on top of our office, and a black bear fifteen feet from me on the downtown sidewalk.

Oh, and did I mention that our office was haunted? So yeah, I had a blast.

MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW by Stephen Graham Jones [book review]

Books, Commentary

 

Stephen Graham Jones’ novel My Heart is a Chainsaw is a bloody feast
for horror fans.

The book is essentially Jones’ version of Scream, a mystery slasher about
people who know they’re in one. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to
watch all the movies it celebrates, then re-read just so you can catch all the
references. Not only is every chapter named after a different slasher, they’re
also bookended by chatty essays about the genre.

These are ostensibly written by Jade, a horror-obsessed high school senior who
is the first to suspect a serial killer may be loose in her small town of
Proofrock.

Jade is a fantastic character: a disgruntled goth who moves through life
with empathy despite never catching a break herself. (Early on, she’s rescued
from a watery suicide attempt only to be sentenced to community service for
“misusing the town canoe.”) It’s no wonder she doesn’t object when bodies start
piling up. At least when you’re living in a horror movie, the rules are clear.

This girl lives and breathes slashers, and she knows all the rules. She even
identifies Proofrock’s perfect final girl – the lovely Letha Mondragon – and
sets out to convince her that she’s the town’s only hope. Jade’s the latest in
a string of Jones protagonists who jump to outlandish conclusions and then
recklessly act on them – but unlike Sawyer in Night of the Mannequins
and the unfortunate men of The Only Good Indians, Jade turns out to be
right. About most things, anyway.

Jones serves up red herrings by the jarful, with no character (living or
dead) above suspicion. Proofrock’s history includes not only a mass murder at a
campground (classic!), but also a mysterious fire, a puritan pastor whose entire
congregation drowned, and an undead witch. Not to mention a cabal of
multi-millionaires building mansions along the lake, several with dark secrets
of their own.

The solution to the mystery is outlandish and chaotic, yet totally
consistent with Jones’ brand of meta nightmare logic. (Truth be told, it’ll
probably take a re-read to make sense of everything).

Along the way, Jade’s forced to reckon with personal traumas that make movie
murders seem tame by comparison. Jones handles her backstory respectfully, with
a matter-of-factness that avoids the usual exploitative cliches; Jade’s
experiences shape her personality, but they’re never used cheaply as motivations
or sources of “inner strength.”

The book ends on a note of dangerous beauty and subtle revelation – hope
without false closure.