Please join us in welcoming Madeleine Swann to Ladies of Horror Fiction! Team member Tracy was excited to ask Madeleine some great questions and we think you will dig the answers!
Madeleine Swann’s novella, The Vine That Ate The Starlet, was published by Filthy Loot. Her collection, Fortune Box (Eraserhead Press), was nominated for a Wonderland Award. Her short stories have appeared in various anthologies and podcasts including Splatterpunk Award nominated The New Flesh: A David Cronenberg Tribute.
LOHF: Please tell the readers a bit about your most recent release, the novella The Vine that Ate the Starlet. Most enjoyable part of writing? Favorite characters?
Madeleine Swann: New York in the 1920s has been overrun by man eating plants called Vines, and gossip columnist Dolly Preston finds a young actress dead in their clutches. Something tells her there’s more to the story and she’s embroiled in a mystery of doomed starlets, cults and an overzealous immigration bureau.
I love the 1920s and watch silent films a lot, so it was great to put all the research I’ve done over the years to use. I used the characters in a short story quite a while ago, which is on my youtube channel, and definitely want to revisit them again at a later date.
LOHF: Did you find that releasing a new book during the current pandemic presented unique challenges? Was there anything about the release you did differently and enjoyed?
MS: Myself and the other British Bizarros (a loose group of UK based weird writers) were going to do readings in bookshops, read/perform at Edgelit convention, stay in Whitby for a writer’s retreat and all these other plans but, of course, the pandemic happened and everything changed.
It was certainly a quieter release than initially imagined, but I’m really proud of the book and everyone who’s read it seems to like it, so I can’t really ask for more.
LOHF: You previously released a collection, Fortune Box, how was the experience different writing a novella versus short stories?
MS: Working on an outline is absolutely necessary for me to keep the story in some kind of shape, that’s certainly different. I could never be a 100 per cent ‘pantser,’ the idea terrifies me! Also I think I found the fact that I’d already written about the characters useful, it sharpened them in my head. It might be an idea to write a paragraph or two about characters in future, for me anyway.
LOHF: Readers often reach out to short stories to “try out” a new author. Where are some other places we can find your shorter fiction?
MS: The New Flesh: A David Cronenberg Tribute was nominated for a splatterpunk award which I was very excited about. However, if you’d like to try a free one first, here’s Fingerprints on the Blind Tour on Tales of What: https://play.acast.com/s/talesofwhat/s1.4fingerprintsontheblindtour
Suckle His Poison on The Wicked Library: https://thewickedlibrary.com/809/
Three stories on this episode of The Wicked Library: https://thewickedlibrary.com/705/
The C Word on The Other Stories: http://www.theotherstories.org/episodes/episode-86-the-c-word-by-madeleine-swann/
And All She Needs on Gallery of Curiosities: https://gallerycurious.com/2019/11/05/86-all-she-needs-by-madeleine-swann/
LOHF: Speaking of short stories, tell us a bit about what it’s like to publish something surrounded by the work of others, versus your own stand alone collection.
MS: I love seeing my stories alongside people who are really, brilliantly talented, but I am very proud of Fortune Box. The whole thing is my weird and silly brain from start to finish and it’s great.
LOHF: Your stories seem to be an eclectic mix of bizarro and horror. Do you have a particular favorite, or even an intersection of genres, that you prefer to work with? Or is there perhaps a genre you haven’t played with and would love to?
MS: I tend to view my work as weird in general. I’m not sure ‘weird in general’ is going to catch on as a genre title but I try not to worry about whether something is bizarro, horror or just weird, and tell the story how I think it should be told. Although I often find myself published by bizarro presses, I’m not hugely worried about what bizarro is.
LOHF: Here at Ladies of Horror Fiction, we want to know what women/non-binary femme authors have inspired you throughout the years?
MS: Dorothy Parker and Leonora Carrington are probably my two main influences, along with Elsa Von Freytag-Loringhoven. They lived how they wanted and made a lot of noise doing it.
LOHF: To mix it up a little, what have been some of your favorite books or movies that you have read/watched this year? Publication date does not matter.
MS: I just finished Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and loved it. It’s got everything, all the gothic tropes, without being cliche at all, and it’s full of vintage fashion. Apparently it’s going to be a series and I can’t wait. I also really enjoyed A Spectral Hue by Laurence Gidney – art, magical paintings and weird stuff, all the right ingredients! And finally – do I even need to say this? – if you haven’t seen Community or Better call Saul do it, do it now.
LOHF: Let’s tackle advice – tell us the best advice you’ve received regarding the world of writing, publishing, and public relations?
MS: Honestly the only advice I could give is to be wary of most advice and always be polite to those you come into contact with. We’re all in this together and everything is so much easier when we’re being nice to each other.
LOHF: What’s up next for Madeleine Swann? Do you have any upcoming works?
MS: I’ve got some short stories coming out, including the Twisted Anatomy anthology, and I’ll be starting a new novella before Christmas. My husband and I also tell each other stories (and make each other laugh) on our podcast Bildie’s Bizarro Bedtime Exciting!
You can find Madeleine Swann at the following links: