Blog #24: Dispatches from Fringewood

Blog

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

Read more: Blog #24: Dispatches from Fringewood

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:

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