Cannibalism, Starvation And OJ Simpson – Bizarre Book Club True Crime Special

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Hello my little packets of single use HP Sauce! Welcome to another round of stuff I’ve read.

I love true crime books, the weirder the better. An honorary mention goes to Amelia Dyer and the Baby Farm Murders by Angela Buckley. Although the murder of infants is abhorrent it’s not quite odd enough to make the list. Fascinating book though and meticulously researched. starvation-heights

Starvation Heights by Gregg Olsen. The Victorian era was obsessed with fad diets and peculiar cures, and none were odder or more sinister than Starvation Heights.

Claire and Dora Williamson were two misguided upper class sisters, believing a trip to Linda Burfield Hazzard’s isolated ‘health farm’ in the Pacific Northwest will do them the world of good. It didn’t and that’s an understatement. We follow them from hopeful, rather naive beginnings to madness, starvation and desperation, as they blindly follow Linda’s prescribed diet of a few peas and sips of broth while signing away all their worldly goods.

Written in a novelesque manner (is that a word? It is now), I occasionally wished Gregg would hold back his tendency for poetry and just state the facts. However it’s absorbing, bizarre and deeply sinister, and you can’t help being fearful for the two women.

The Law’s Strangest Cases by Peter Seddon. I love this book so much. OK, the laws-strangest-casesauthor’s sense of humour is occasionally annoying, but only very occasionally – most of the time it works or he keeps it to himself.

The cases are mind boggling (I never thought I’d use that term, yet here we are) stretching from the beginning of law to the late nineties, including the shipmates of cabin boy Richard Parker who was feasted on while adrift at sea. Bizarrely it doesn’t mention the novel of Edgar Allen Poe, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket: a cabin boy named Richard Parker was eaten by his shipmates while adrift at sea – and it was written forty-five years previously. Life of Pi author Yann Martel was no doubt aware of this fact when he named his Bengal tiger Richard Parker.

Other fascinating moments include the gruesome origin of the phrase ‘Sweet Fanny Adams,’ a parrot whose screeches proved a mitigating factor and a man whose solution to annoying visiting relatives was to SET THE HOUSE ON FIRE.

If I Did It by OJ Simpson. OK, I want to make a couple of things clear: I didn’t pay for this book, I downloaded it. I’m sure that will infuriate some people but I didn’t want to give out any money for it, I would have felt dirty. I also couldn’t finish it – if you could throw a kindle book across the room I would have done.

He’s really not a very nice man. The entire thing is a litany of excuses and misdirection – I’m a great guy, I was married to a crazy person, I never called her fat when she had a baby she was the one making my life hell about it, I was understandably angry when she made friends I didn’t approve of and she was embarrassed after calling the cops on me because she realised it was over nothing, on and on and on.

Part of the reason I wanted to read it was morbid curiosity – I was in an abusive relationship for a few months and in order to stop me pressing charges he turned the whole thing on me, something OJ seems very adept at. In fact, even writing about this makes me feel a bit sick, so I think we should stop it there. Don’t buy this book.

The Girl In Alfred Hitchcock’s Shower by Robert Graysmith. Who was the girl wegirl-in-alfred-hitchcocks-shower saw nude in the shower scene? It wasn’t Janet Leigh. What happened to her afterwards? It turns out she was murdered by a man in 1988 bearing an uncanny resemblance to Norman Bates…or was she?

You’d be right to be confused. The answers lie in this book which I mostly found fascinating, and yet I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I skipped sections. Most people’s complaints with this book, by the author of Zodiac, was that it took so long to get to the actual murder. However I love films and read it more as a biography of a fascinating lady who not only secretly starred in Hitchcock’s movie but posed for art, became a playboy bunny and danced as a showgirl. Despite this there are still moments when it takes too long to get to a point, maybe lingers on a particular scene too long. I did like it though and I do recommend it.

The Burglar Caught by a Skeleton and Other Singular Tales From the Victorian Press by Jeremy Clay. This is a fun read. The stories are short and odd, a bit like me. Admittedly not all are crime, but as they’re all from the papers a large amount are.

Example headlines: Wife Driven Mad by Husband Tickling Feet, Liberals Eat Dog, Killed by a Drunken Bear and Bound In His Own Skin.

Come on now, you know you want to read that.

Farewell my little houseplants of an unidentified variety, see you next week!

 

Flash Fiction Competition Plus Interview On Bizzong Podcast

Hello Popples! I know I said I wouldn’t post during my holiday at home but I was so pleased to be interviewed for Bizzong podcast about Weird Fiction, Horror, Bizarro and David Lynch that I thought I’d share it. I think you’ll also be interested in the competition I’m running and mention in the podcast, information is also below.

SUBMISSIONS WANTED: 

I need your weird tiny microfictions (around 500 words, don’t worry too much if it’s a little over). SUBJECT: Evil Rainbows.
Send to: evilpixie.madeleine@gmail.com
Winner gets electronic copy of whichever NBAS 2015 book they’d like.
Deadline Sept 30th.
All stories go on the blog.
Good luck, I believe in you!

BIZZONG PODCAST Episode 34

Now I can resume lurking in the forest

Modern Gothic, Extreme Horror And Haunted Vaginas: Bizarre Book Club

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Today’s pretentious book picture is brought to you by Utopia coffee shop in Southend, Essex. Books, hipster decorations and brilliant drinks oh my!  img_20160806_145807

Good day my lovely packets of weird flavour crisps that you’re not sure if you’ll like at first but turn out to be really good. I’ve read a bunch more weird books so join me on my wild ride. P.S. I’m on rather a lot of painkillers so forgive me if I gibber nonsensically like a drunk aunt on Valium.

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle. ballad-of-black-tomThe thing I enjoyed most about this modern weird fiction tale was the characterization. Black Tom, a man from 1920s Harlem, is completely believable and draws you into his story of finding a strange book for an even stranger old white man.

Set in the Lovecraft universe, it offers a unique perspective in that the author is an African American man. The dedication is to Lovecraft himself and ‘all (the author’s) complicated feelings towards him.’

Sunruined by Anderson Prunty. sunruined This collection of short stories has a gothic Halloween flavour to it, I could almost smell the Autumn leaves. Or perhaps I was just desperate for Autumn to begin.

They may not always be outright horror, in fact some are probably dark fantasy or whatever the kids are reading these days, but they’re always beautiful and very imaginative. Don’t worry, there’s no vampires, but there are screaming trees and predatory women.

While The Black Stars Burn by Lucy Snyder. whiletheblackstarsburnIt’s very shallow but the main reason I bought this book was because of it’s beautiful cover. LOOK AT IT! Then I was pleasantly surprised by the stories.

There are a number of genres here but mainly science fiction and weird, two of my favourite things. The author uses these strange set ups as a backdrop for everyday feelings, such as the woman in mourning who goes on a space voyage. The ending of this one is wonderfully dark, by the way, as are many of them. Read it!

The Teratologist by Edward Lee and Wrath James White. What a pair of sick puppies. I took a picture of my face whilst reading the second page. THE SECOND PAGE!img-20160823-wa0000

Generally I would say this kind of thing isn’t my cup of tea as the grossness is kind of an endurance test, while the aberrant sex gets a little tiresome. However something about it kept me reading. It sounds like I hated it but I really didn’t, I found the story quite fascinating. Two men, a journalist and photographer, are invited to the house of a wealthy man who secretly collects deformed people and religious leaders and feeds them lust enhancing drugs in order to offend God and bring him to Earth.

I think I enjoyed it, but seriously, only read if you have a strong stomach.

The Haunted Vagina by Carlton Mellick III. thehauntedvaginaI expected a very different book to the one I got. I thought I’d be reading a gross, immature comedy with not too much depth, but entertaining. It was entertaining, but it was also a very sweet and heartfelt look at relationships and the odd little things that make us love a person and, often, why relationships don’t last.

It is occasionally a bit gross, such as when the main character oils up to dive inside his girlfriend’s nether regions to explore the strange world within, but sex and love is sometimes gross and messy and we can’t explore these topics without getting a bit dirty.

There we have it! I won’t be posting next week as I’m having a holiday in my house, but you have plenty to be getting on with. Adieu!

Bizarro Erotica: Taken Hard At The Magical Time Travel Sex Resort

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My tiny (10,000 word) surreal, bizarro, weird and any other adjective erotica novelette was released today with New Kink. Sometimes I get the urge to write rude things and, being me, they end up just as odd as the usual stuff.

P.S. My artistic partner in crime and cuddles Bill Purnell did the front cover, he’s a very clever pickle.

Here’s the Amazon link.

New Kink proudly presents…

takenhardnewkinkmadeleineswann

Before you get too excited, let’s give this video a shot. The beloved Sauda Namir reads an excerpt for us in a series called Bizarro Bedtime.

Bizarro Bedtime: S3 E4: Madeleine Swann from Sauda Namir on Vimeo.

With a gorgeous cover from artist Bill Purnell, and a lot of kink packed in a small package, let’s see what she’s about.

“Lillia Gardens is the largest erotic resort in several dimensions. It’s home to colourful flora, weird creatures and time travelling visitors, all ready and willing to get filthy – like Wonderland or Oz but smuttier.

Each story follows a woman from a different era who recieves a mysterious card inviting them to the Gardens, including Sam, a modern Western woman in a failing relationship; Aysun, a member of a Sultan’s harem and Itzel, a Mayan princess. Overseen by their mysterious guide Rex, a rainbow half-man half-bird, they experience all the strange and wonderful things the resort has to offer from vagina seats in the park to a sensory depriving tube.

But it can’t be sunshine and orgasms for everybody, and the Garden needs payment…”

7 Advice Podcasts For Writers Of Weird Fiction And Horror

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I don’t know what I’m doing! Sometimes I think I do but, more often than not, the further into this writing game I get the more I realise I know far less than I thought. However help is at hand in the form of people who know a bit more than I do making words into microphones. Take their hand (don’t kiss it, it’s probably sticky) and follow them down a dark corridor. Or a well-lit one, whichever seems nicer.

Speculate!speculate!

Billing itself as the podcast for writers, readers and fans, Gregory A. Wilson and Bradley P. Beaulieu have been referred to as ‘the best interviewers currently podcasting about genre fiction.’ They’re also joined by Michael R. Underwood and all have a good background in writing weird. As well as in depth interviews they review books and discuss writing techniques and publishing.

Bizzong The Bizarre And Weird Fiction Podcast

If you like silly and daft you’ll feel at home here, but there’s a lot of information too. Frank Edler interviews a different weird writer each episode to discuss their work, life, and zombie Elvis.

The Horror Show With Brian Keenexkeene_horrorshow_podcast-cover.jpg.pagespeed.ic.K9Jc-hqB_E

Brian Keene seems like a nice man. He and his friends discuss horror fiction as a genre, the various news and points of interest facing horror authors and, well, pretty much anything else. It’s like having a nice cup of tea – except when they talk about something unpleasant, then it’s like having an unpleasant but interesting cup of tea.

This Is Horror

This is also an informative podcast! Authors discuss their personal work, outlining stories, getting published, getting self-published and everything it entails – pretty much anything a horror writer needs to know.

The Outer DarkTheOuterDark1

Winner of the ‘This Is Horror’ award 2015, guests are interviewed about their books and writing techniques followed by ‘news from the weird.’ This is any information weird writers may find interesting such as anthologies looking for submissions.

Dead Robots’ Society

Soothing and amusing, they chat with a guest on subjects ranging from beta readers, selling yourself, emotional arcs and mankinis with heels. deadrobotssocietypodcast

The Horror Writer’s Podcast

Zach Bohannon and J. Thorn ‘discuss all things horror’ including an interview with the director of The Invitation, horror news and interesting TV. Bless their cottons.

Ta dah! Fill your ears with facts and interesting titbits and may it help you on your journey. Don’t forget to pack a lunch!

5 Silent Movies By And About Non-White People

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Oh my God…it’s too hot…forgive me for not being my usual witty, raconteur self (what do you mean? Yes I am) but it’s just too hot to think.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the silent film era consisted entirely of Hollywood flappers and prat-falling comedians, but you’re WRONG! Not that I don’t love those films too, but there’s more you may not have seen.

Raja Harishchandra (1913)

This is officially India’s first feature length film. The footage starts with a bit of info about director Dadasaheb Phalke (D.G. Phalke) including scenes of him directing, before launching into the legend of a king, a wise man, and loads of sacrifices.

Within Our Gates (1920)

Oscar Micheaux is considered to be the first African American feature film director. Within Our Gates is a massively important film because it looks at life for the black American in times of lynching and other atrocities, leading you to question how far we have really come, making it the perfect antithesis to D W Griffith’s Birth of a Nation.

A Page of Madness (1926)

This film is beautiful insanity, quite literally. A man goes looking for his wife in an asylum, and…you know, I’m not too sure as there are no intertitles, but it’s really worth watching.

It was made by an artist collective called The Shinkankakuha (or School of New Perceptions). No one else knew of it’s existence until it was found in a warehouse in 1971.

The Goddess (1934)

Wait, you say, 1934?! The Chinese film industry transitioned to sound a lot later than other countries, thus actress Ruan Lingyu, known in Western parts as ‘The Chinese Garbo,’ remained silent for much of her career. Sadly she committed suicide at only 24.

Written and directed by Wu Yonggang, this tale of a prostitute trying to raise her son was his directorial debut.

Barsoum Looks For A Job (1923)

This Egyptian comic short is the epitome of independent film making, as director Mohamed Bayoumi did pretty much everything but star in it. Aside from being a simple story of friends competing for jobs amidst comic misunderstandings, it’s interesting for having a Christian actor play a Muslim and Muslim actor playing a Christian. I think he was making a point there about tolerance.

Creepy Interactive Online Horror Stories

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It’s almost Halloween! OK it’s still technically summer but by golly if you squint really hard and pinch your nose against the delicate scent of flower blossoms it could be autumn.

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With this in mind I went on a hunt for the spookiest, scariest, creepiest online horror stories. Some are more inventive than scary but please be aware there is a chance you may scream very loudly, causing any housemates, friends or partners to come running.

My Father’s Long, Long Legs

This Weird Fiction tale is the reason I delved into the world of interactive stories. It’s cleverly done, subtle and very creepy.

Wear your headphones to get the best from the sound effects. You have to click the words in bold to get to the next part, and there is one section where you’ll need a little patience. You’ll know the bit. And keep going if you’re not sure, it will be abundantly clear when you’ve reached the end. Good luck!

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The story is entertaining though not terrifying, but what makes it even better is the number above. Call the number after finishing the story and you’ll see what I mean (please check for potential charges though, I have poor impulse control and am now waiting to see if I get an abnormal bill).

The Dionaea House

This intriguing tale begins with a series of emails you have to click through. At the end, if you click on the Updates page, you’ll find more ‘information’ and links to other sites corroborating the story. It’s very clever and the story itself is fascinating.

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Joralemon

Similar to Annie96 Is Typing (another good ‘un) this story appears as a chat history needing the click of your button to show the next piece. Not only that but a link to a wikipedia page correlating with the story appears which is a nice touch.

Annie96 may be slightly creepier but this one is still good. I think the thing that tips it for me is the friendship between the two girls.

The Bongcheon-Dong Ghost

If you haven’t seen this one yet you’re in for a treat. Keep scrolling down and make sure you’ve been to the toilet beforehand, that’s all I can say.

If you like scary webcomics try The Split Lip or the Midnight Tea Party anthology serieseseses. Well, what’s the plural of series? Series’? Serieses? I’m tired.

My Dead Girlfriend Keeps Messaging Me On Facebook

Though not interactive, this creepypasta makes good use of facebook chat and pictures. Plus it genuinely gave me the creeping willies so there was no way I wasn’t going to share it.

ALSO…

There’s a few fun interactive spooky stories on youtube including The House, A Knock At The Door and Stillshore CottageEnter if you dare, mwa ha ha!!! Um, that’s about it, until next time…no, really, that’s it, I’m going to make tea now, you’ll have to get off the porch. Bye!

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Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared The Complete Series (So Far)

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I think we can all agree  that it’s far too hot to think. If you’re one of those people who likes the sun then, well, nothing really, just carry on liking the sun and I’ll carry on hiding from it. However I will share with you a web series that I’m continually inspired and fascinated by, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared.

When I saw the first one, many moons ago, I thought to myself, “what the hell is this?” Then I reached the surprise ending and I was in love. I shared the first episode with the other new authors of Eraserhead Press and we all agreed it was really about us and our editor was the writing pad.

However, I think the third is my favourite. If ever I were to utter the words “This is my aesthetic” it would be about that: a veneer of rainbows and cute, while underneath something very unpleasant lurks. Plus it has a catchy song.

So, without further ado, here’s Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared 1-6

Creativity

Time

Love

Computers

Food

Dreams

Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories Anthology – Bizarre Book Club

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Bonjour mon petite panier de fleurs! Ca Va? Bien!

Just a quick pop in to say I just finished this book and loved it, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories from Crystal Lake Publishing. Gutted-final-cover-smaller-1000x500The title is certainly right, the stories are beautiful, though some may not be strictly considered horror. However there’s a horror edge to them whether they’re fantastical or realistic, and who cares about genre with writers like Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Maria Alexander, Stephanie M Wytovich and lots more?

Some were darkly sad, some gothically beautiful and one or two gave me the genuine shivers, particularly Clive Barker’s Coming To Grief. Another very different favourite of mine was the tragically realistic Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Sets You Free) by Lisa Mannetti. Try it, you might like it, as the teenagers in Public Information Films used to say. However this book will probably not lead to hard drug consumption. Or will it? (No).

Read The Voynich Manuscript, One Of The Weirdest Books Ever Written, Free Online

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Good day my little free passes to Disneyworld which only get you onto three of the rides but it’s better than going on none. I’ve had an eventful week which included falling down a flight of stairs whilst sober (sadly true) and breaking one or more of my toes. Voynich_manuscript_bathtub2_example_78r_cropped

You may have heard of The Voynich Manuscript, a text similar to The Codex Seraphinianus in that it is full of strange pictures and gobbledygook.Voynich_baths01 Many, however, say there is a genuine message within the pages and people have been trying to work it out since it’s re-discovery in a second hand book shop by Wilfrid Voynich in 1912. Some even claim to have deciphered portions already, though the findings have not been verified. Others say it’s an elaborate hoax. Either way, it’s been carbon dated to the 1500s.

Here is the manuscript, in full, available free online.