The Doom That Came to Mellonville

Creative Works, Fiction

Magician Isaac Plank owned a book of obscene spells and a collection of oddities from around the world. But Isaac is dead now, and his father – respectable accountant Lawrence Plank – has put his estate up for auction.

After a local hoarder buys his spell book, she brings Isaac back from beyond the grave and inadvertently unleashes an army of cursed knickknacks. Now, Lawrence and Isaac must do battle against reanimated taxidermy, flesh-eating shrunken heads, an angry mob, and a vengeful mummy who yearns to rule again.

The Doom That Came to Mellonville is a macabre horror comedy in the vein of Beetlejuice, The ‘Burbs, and Reanimator.

Coming soon from Filthy Loot.

New Story: The Green Man

Creative Works, Fiction, Free to Read

A little story written for World Goth Day 2021, inspired by the Type O Negative song “Green Man” and Peter Steele’s former job at the N.Y.C. Parks Department:

PARKS DEPARTMENT, the man’s uniform read.

He towered like a tree, nest of hair tied back hastily, the long limb descending from his right arm sprouting a clamp to cleanse the earth. With mechanical efficiency it picked up a yellow wrapper, a snow-white issue stained with grease, crumpled plastic. Into the black they went, and the world was clean.

Above his head, branches budded.

The man cursed as he overextended himself to capture a crushed Coke can, throwing out his back. “Reprobates,” he muttered at the absent litterers. His broad shoulders hunched, he raised a hand to massage what had been torn.

“Old man.”

Not old at all, in the scheme of things, but every season his body felt a little more brittle. Maybe it was a sign. How many years had he been working here? Hundreds, it seemed.

In the canopy, robins chirped and a raven squawked to shut them up. There being no humans around, he leaned on his grabber stick and griped to the birds. The job, the union, the management.

Only the weather, cloudless with sun streaming through the branches, didn’t piss him off today.

Oh well.

When the trees were bare and the last of the leaves had been raked and bagged, he’d be laid off for the winter. He’d pocket his last paycheque and wait for the last of the maintenance crews to leave before slipping under the USE AT YOUR OWN RISK sign and descending back into the park. Then, as he did every year, he’d scrape away a layer of snow (seven feet by four, a large man’s grave), lie down, and sink into the dirt.

And his warmth would be leeched away by the roots of the shrivelled grass and skeleton trees, a reminder for them that the cold wouldn’t last. And he would sleep.

Until spring broke and the roots started tickling his toes and pulling at his hair. “Can’t a man get some rest?” he’d snap, his voice like the dead leaves trapped under the snow.

But he’d let the sprouting foliage push him upward, and the newborn branches reach down to pull him to his feet. And like every year, he’d shave the moss from his face, trim his leafy brows, pull on his green uniform, and clock in for work.

It was a living.

(C) Madison McSweeney

Blog #20: Don’t let the door hit you on the way out (or, Best of 2020)

Arts Coverage, Blog, Film and Television

It’s perhaps an understatement that 2020 has not been a great year for anybody.

Thankfully, it’s been a very good year for movies and music (even though performing artists and theatres are struggling to keep their heads above water). Listed below are a number of this past year’s finest films and albums, to keep you occupied until the lockdown ends:

Living Vicariously Through You

Creative Works, Fiction

Appears in: When the World Stopped: A Collection of Infectious Stories (Owl Hollow Press)

Release Date: October 2020

Summary: Sophie’s quarantine takes an odd turn when she develops a telepathic connection with the sketchy guy loitering near her building. A pseudoscientific rom-com about these weird times.

Buy a copy of When the World Stopped from Owl Hollow Press.

Dust in the Jail Cell

Creative Works, Fiction

Appears in: On Time (Transmundane Press)

Release Date: Sept. 27/2020

Summary: A dimension-hopping war arrives at a downtown police station after a trailer on cinder blocks materializes in the middle of traffic. The young woman in the holding cell has a strange story to tell – if she lives long enough.

Buy a copy of On Time from Transmundane Press.

The Year They Cancelled Halloween

Creative Works, Fiction

Appears in: Night Frights Issue #1 (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)

Release Date: Sept. 13/2020

Summary: Concerned about its influence on students, the teachers at Miskatonic Elementary School decide to cancel Halloween. Deprived of their annual tribute, a cabal of monsters and demons plot their nastiest trick yet.

Buy a copy of Night Frights from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing.

Blog #18: Changing Seasons


I celebrate autumn early, so I figured I should do a farewell summer blog before I get my Halloween decorations up.

Since I’m confined to Ottawa for the forseeable future (not that I’m complaining – there are worse cities to be stuck in), I’ve been taking myself on vacation through stories.

My current projects include a cosmic horror story set at the beach, and a wilderness thriller involving a zipline. (I’m also putting the finishing touches on a sword-and-sorcery epic, which is a different type of escapism). Hoping to put the finishing touches on these soon, so I can dive into some spookier stuff for fall.

Has anyone else been living vicariously through fiction?

New Releases

Dust in the Jail Cell”Author Interview and Blog Post [Transmundane Press]

Transmundane Press recently published my guest post discussing the inspiration for my short story “Dust in the Jail Cell,” featured in their upcoming On Time anthology.

I watched a lot of Tales from the Crypt as a kid, and the Cryptkeeper himself intrigued me more than any of the stories he told. Where did he hear all these twisted tales – and who is he telling them to?

I conceived Phillip Oddworth, the villain in “Dust in the Jail Cell,” as a storyteller figure.

Madison McSweeney, “Stories About Stories

You can also read my author interview, in which I go into more detail about my influences and writing process, here.

Article: Top 20 Greatest Canadian Bands [Ottawa Life]

Earlier this summer, I contributed an article to Ottawa Life magazine, running down my top 20 Canadian bands. I set out to make it an eclectic list, with my personal favourites like Rough Trade, Billy Talent, and Voivod alongside more famous acts like Arcade Fire and the Barenaked Ladies.

That said, I dare anyone to dispute my top 3.

Read it here, and let me know if I’ve missed anyone!

Coming Soon

Last night, I received an acceptance for a gory little story about astrology.

And if you enjoyed my Top 20 Canadian Bands list, wait until you see my Top 20 Canadian Singers feature!

Stay tuned…

A Short Dispatch from the Woods

Earlier this week, I went for a (socially-distanced) evening hike with friends. Nice little adventure that ended beneath the full moon.

Also, I am fairly convinced there was some Blair Witch stuff going on in the woods:

New Music Showcase

Kathleen Edwards – “Ashes to Ashes” [Total Freedom]

I deliberated over which new Kathleen Edwards song to include here – her new album is wonderful from top to bottom – but this one was too beautiful and sad not to share.

Honourable mentions: “Options Open,” “Birds on a Feeder,” “Who Rescued Who?”

Bob Moses – “Ordinary Day” [Desire]

Hypnotic beats and yearning vocals dominate Desire, the latest album from ambient EDM duo Bob Moses. I listened to it for the first time today and am really looking forward to giving it a few more spins – I suspect it’ll make a good writing soundtrack.

Reading Recommendations

Gwendolyn Kiste – “An Elegy for Childhood Monsters” [The Dark]

The monster under the bed is a metaphor for intergenerational trauma in this haunting story by Gwendolyn Kiste. Tonally, and in its portrayal of grief, grudges, and buried secrets, it reminded me a little bit of Pumpkinhead.

Cecilia was two years older than me, so I believed her. I didn’t realize then she only chose the stories with the happy endings.

Gwendolyn Kiste, “An Elegy for Childhood Monsters”

Read it in The Dark Magazine.

Kerry C. Byrne – “The Doors That Do Not Open” [THIS]

I really enjoyed the treatment of [SPOILER] imaginary friends in Kerry C. Byrne’s subtly fantastic story about the pros and cons of having a rich internal life. An elegaic, nuanced depiction of how unreal things can both enrich and limit our real lives.

For a while, around thirteen, I tried tailing him when he left. I was certain that if I could follow him to unthere, I’d prove that I was important enough to stay for. But the way he moved through space wasn’t available to me, and halfway down a street he would be gone and I would be standing alone, absent-minded and disoriented.

Kerry C. Byrne, “The Doors That Do Not Open”

Read it at THIS Magazine.

Thanks for reading!

Also, anyone else getting ready for Halloween this week?