Closing Shop

Trust that I come to this post with enough sadness and disappointment to go around. Unfortunately, Silent Motorist Media is closing up shop. I’m going to give you two versions of this announcement: the short and the long. Feel free to read whichever suits your level of interest. You can ignore the other without guilt.  

The Short

I’ve run up against rocky financial shores and can no longer justify the ever-increasing expense of running a press. SMM came tantalizingly close to showing potential for profit only a few times over the course of its existence, and while it’s been fun, I am in a place where I’m forced to dedicate the entirety of my occupational efforts to more practical concerns. All future projects are canceled. The webstore will remain open until I run out of stock, or until the maintenance bill comes due again. I will try to ensure that SMM maintains some semblance of a web presence, and since the “blog” site ( is relatively cheap, this will probably become, once again, the “main” page. This will exist for nostalgic purposes only. Please do not expect regular posts. 

I will print and distribute Philip Fracassi’s Altar. I refuse to skimp on Kickstarter obligations, no matter how difficult a place I am in personally. Contributors to that Kickstarter have no cause to worry. I also refuse to “bail” SMM out with an additional Kickstarter while there are obligations waiting to be fulfilled from previous campaigns. 

All other projects are canceled. I know many of you were excited about Mysterium Tremendum IV, The Endless Walk, The Box, and our anthology of labyrinths, but they are no longer feasible undertakings. I am deeply sorry for this. I assure you that no one is more disappointed than I. 

We’re also canceling the annual list of “10 Weird Writers to Save Us,” as I simply do not have the time, between pushing Altar to completion and addressing hardships in my personal life, to dedicate the necessary attention to this list. I’m sorry for that as well. 

Patrons have no need to worry. I will close the page out before the next billing cycle.

The Long 

I feel the need, in this next segment, to show you how all this transpired. I need you to know that I don’t come to this decision lightly. Fair warning: abundant personal details follow. 

Throughout my occupational existence, I’ve tried to ignore my profound hearing loss. I worked in the medical field for ten years, and since my hearing loss is progressive, I had more and more trouble communicating. My hearing loss led to countless embarrassments, confusisions, and miscommunications, which I once swallowed and tried to forget, acting as “normal” as possible. I did this instead of accepting that I couldn’t hear. 

Then came COVID. 

When the mask mandates at work came along, I suddenly couldn’t communicate at all without great difficulty and embarrassment. I realized with dismay that I had been relying almost entirely on my ability to read lips. My job largely consisted of route responses and brief interactions that I could breeze through on the assumption that the patient was providing the expected response, but that’s a scary thing in the medical field, isn’t it? Assumptions have no place there, and I was wholly unable to navigate unexpected interactions, which occurred in abundance. 

In a panic, I alerted my supervisors to the issue. They calmly reassured me that they’d find me a more suitable position. I was relieved until the days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. The stress of trying to navigate a world without faces and without the ability to understand speech was eating me alive. 

Finally, I reiterated my request for a new position. They refused, and also declined my request to provide documentation stating that my hearing had left me unable to perform my basic job functions. In desperation, I quit. 

Immediately, I contacted the workforce commission and began trying to transition into data entry, editing, or any computer-based industry utilizing my experience as an editor. Anything that wouldn’t require me to interact constantly with masked customers and coworkers. As nothing materialized, I leaned harder into Silent Motorist Media, initiating a series of projects I hoped would kickstart the press into providing some semblance of a humble living. At the very least, I wanted SMM to bridge the gap while I attempted to transition into a new industry.

Fast forward to Hymns of Abomination. Despite the consistent applications, I hadn’t even landed an interview for a desk or computer job. The workforce commission did little more than send me links to jobs I’d already applied for. Freelance work dried up. And worst, difficulties with Amazon forced Hymns onto a new distribution platform, one far more costly than what the Kickstarter was originally budgeted for. I sank into the last of my stimulus checks, refusing defeat. I fought tooth and nail and finally pushed Hymns through. 

In desperation, I turned back to the medical field. I have two children to provide for, after all. I landed an interview at the only major lab in my area, and was offered the job. I quit the job search, relieved that I’d somehow found a way to survive at the last possible moment. Days before I was due to start, the offer was rescinded. 

Penniless, I finally broke down and decided to apply for disability. The process is supposed to take 5 months, according to SSD. 

And that brings me to the present tense. I can’t survive for five months waiting on the disability application. I will have to somehow find work in a masked world that I can’t navigate, that I couldn’t truly navigate to begin with. I’m starting with entry level positions and hoping without true hope that I can find a manager willing to accommodate my hearing loss. 

How does this relate to SMM? Well, I simply won’t have the time to do this anymore. I throw my everything into these books, and my everything is needed elsewhere for the foreseeable future. And as Hymns has proven, even a successful book can reach deep into personal funds when ruffled by the slightest difficulty. I can’t afford making that gamble again, no matter how much I love the work I do.   

I hate this. It’s hard not to despair. 

I’d like to think that I’ll rise out of the dust to compile an anthology again in the future. But that will have to happen from a place of financial stability. I’ve never quite managed that before, and it seems an even more illusory dream now than ever. 

So thank you to everyone who bought a book, shared a post, followed the site, and sent words of encouragement my way. Much love to you all. I’ll always look back on SMM with pride. 

-Justin A. Burnett

PS. I’m including my personal PayPal below for those of you who want to donate. I’m also linking the SMM vintage SciFi eBay store, which still has stock. Please know that I deeply appreciate your help. I have no plans whatsoever to start a GoFundMe or other crowdfunding campaign.

Hymns of Abomination Available in Paperback

“Hymns of Abomination is a vivid, communal nightmare. A fitting tribute to a contemporary master of the weird.”

Laird Barron, author of Swift to Chase

Cover art by Yves Tourigny 

Finally, after a delayed paperback release, Hymns of Abomination: Secret Songs of Leeds is available in all its glory. This is our fully illustrated, 388 page tribute anthology to the work of Matthew M. Bartlett, and it’s packed with talent. Here is the full TOC:

“Let Us Fly and Feast, Like Winged Slugs: Some notes on Matthew M. Bartlett” by s.j. bagley

“Northampton’s Favorite Son” by Yves Tourigny

“Open Call” by Aksel Dadswell

12 Entries from “Anne Gare’s Rare and Import Video Catalogue” by Jonathan Raab beginning here and appearing throughout

“Dead in September” by Farah Rose Smith

“Suddenly my House Became a Tree of Sores” by Gemma Files

“Puppy Milk” by B.R. Yeager

“A Delicate Spreading” by Scott R. Jones

“Stump-Water” by Christine Morgan

“I Could Tell You So Much” by S.P. Miskowski

“The Beat of Wings” by Betty Rocksteady

“Missives from the House on Crabtree Lane” by Joanna Parypinski

“The House of Lost Sisters” by L.C. von Hessen

“Crawl of the West” by Cody Goodfellow

“There Will Always be Men Like Johnny” by Hailey Piper

“The WXXT Podcast, Episode 23: Leeds Regional High School” by Tom Breen

“On Hunger Hills” by John Linwood Grant

“Station Maintenance” by Pete Rawlik

“Seven Second Delay: in Which Terrible Things Happen to Tender Young Girls” by Jill Hand

“All Your Fathers Dead and Gone” by K.H. Vaughan

“Itemized Human Sacrifices, q4” by Sean M. Thompson and Cheshire Trask

“What Am I?” by S.L. Edwards

“Leaving Leeds” by Brian Evenson

“Father Ezekiel Shineface Sermon Hour” by Jon Padgett

“Uncle Bart’s Map” by John Langan

Welcome to Leeds! Pick up your copy today!

Illustration from Hymns of Abomination

From the back cover: 

Welcome to Hymns of Abomination: Secret Songs of Leeds, an anthology of fiction compiled to celebrate the work of Matthew M. Bartlett.

Bartlett is a beloved voice in contemporary weird fiction known for his richly nightmarish tales of Leeds, a fictionalized version of a village that’s part of Northampton, MA. What began as Livejournal posts circulated among friends in the early 2000’s, Bartlett’s short, macabre, and imaginative yarns found their way into Gateways to Abomination, a collection that swept the small world of weird fiction into giddy delirium. Since then, Bartlett has continued to influence writers and readers alike with his dark, grotesque, and tantalizing tales.

This book is packed with weird fiction and horror writers, both established and new, who have been invited to play in Bartlett’s imaginative sandbox. Featuring all original tales from John Langan, Gemma Files, Brian Evenson, S.P. Miskowski, and many more, Hymns of Abomination burrows deeper into nightmarish Leeds than is safe. This volume is a must for fans of Bartlett and horror fiction in general.

Illustration from Hymns of Abomination

About the Editor

Justin A. Burnett is the author of The Puppet King and Other Atonements, to be published by Trepidatio Publishing in 2022. He’s also the Executive Editor of Silent Motorist Media, a weird fiction publisher responsible for the creation of the anthologies Mannequin: Tales of Wood Made Flesh, which was named best multi-author anthology of 2019 by Rue Morgue magazine, The Nightside Codex, and Hymns of Abomination, a tribute to the work of Matthew M. Bartlett. His quarterly chapbook, Mysterium Tremendum, explores the intersection between horror and the holy. He currently lives in Austin, Texas, with his partner and children.

At the Rim of Daylight by Justin A. Burnett

Yes, I’m releasing a chapbook of my own stories under the Silent Motorist Media banner. Let me explain: as part of SMM’s Patreon goals, we promised patrons an exclusive chapbook once we hit $100 in subscriptions. Well, we’ve hit it, and this is the result of that promise. The paperback edition of At the Rim of Daylight is and will remain a Patreon-exclusive publication. To obtain a physical copy, all you have to do is subscribe to SMM on Patreon at $4 or more. At the Rim of Daylight will remain an ongoing bonus to Patreon subscribers. 

At the Rim of Daylight consists of four full-length stories and one flash fiction piece by me. None of these stories are set to appear in my first full-length collection, The Puppet King and Other Atonements, set to release in 2022 from Journalstone. Three of the pieces are unpublished, and one is from a collection permanently out of print. The chapbook will also feature notes, art, and benefit from all the care and attention of any other SMM publication. 

Cover art for Kindle edition

This chapbook will also be released on Kindle. This will be its only public release, and it will not be accompanied by a physical release on Amazon. This work is dedicated, with love, to SMM’s Patreon supporters, who have unwaveringly supported and encouraged us through every project. THANK YOU, and enjoy.


About the Author


Justin A. Burnett is the author of The Puppet King and Other Atonements, to be published by Trepidatio Publishing in 2022. He’s also the Executive Editor of Silent Motorist Media, a weird fiction publisher responsible for the creation of the anthologies Mannequin: Tales of Wood Made Flesh, which was named best multi-author anthology of 2019 by Rue Morgue magazine, The Nightside Codex, and Hymns of Abomination, a tribute to the work of Matthew M. Bartlett. His quarterly chapbook, Mysterium Tremendum, explores the intersection between horror and the holy. He currently lives in Austin, Texas, with his partner and children.

The Box by Scott J. Couturier (Upcoming Release)

Greetings! It’s been a while since we’ve announced an official update here, but it hasn’t been for a lack of exciting developments. Among the latest is our upcoming publication of Scott J. Couturier’s fiction collection, The Box. This book will contain 16 of Couturier’s distinctive and flavorful weird tales collected from previous anthologies, along with 5 new works. This is a particular delight to announce, since Couturier’s classic-minded weird fiction has long caught our eye. We’re more than confident that readers who have enjoyed our previous publications—Mannequin: Tales of Wood Made Flesh, The Nightside Codex, and two (at the time of writing) issues of Mysterium Tremendum—will find much to admire in these pages.

Presses, reviewers, and authors of horror and weird fiction can request a digital advance review copy of Couturier’s collection by contacting us at

Another announcement is necessitated by details regarding a release timetable previously posted on social media: The Box, originally scheduled for August of this year, is now a 2022 release. This has become necessary because Silent Motorist Media has (quite quickly and almost unexpectedly) relocated to Austin, Texas. While we consider this move fortuitous and most welcome, it has inevitably set us back a bit. We apologize for any inconvenience arising from this, and assure you we will keep you updated as an exact release date becomes available.

There’s so much more to come! Stay in touch by subscribing to our newsletter, or by joining us on Patreon, where you can subscribe to Mysterium Tremendum, gain exclusive early access to stories from Hymns of Abomination: Secret Songs of Leeds, our tribute anthology to Matthew M. Bartlett, and other exciting things designed just for patrons.

Scott J. Couturier is a poet & prose writer of the Weird, grotesque, liminal, & darkly fantastic. His work has appeared in numerous venues, including The Audient Void, Spectral Realms, Eye To The Telescope, The Dark Corner Zine, Space and Time Magazine, & Weirdbook. Currently he works as a copy & content editor for Mission Point Press, living an obscure reverie with his partner/live-in editor & two cats.

Mysterium Tremendum Issue Two Release and a Word on the Series

Our second issue of Mysterium Tremendum has finally arrived! We’re proud to publish the only quarterly we’re aware of (and we’ve looked for others) dealing directly with the intersection of horror and the holy. If you’re uninitiated to the theme, you can find the introduction to Mysterium Tremendum’s first issue below. 

In issue two, we’ve once again collected a stirring selection of tales from new weird fiction and horror authors. Better yet, we’ve revisited again a theme that is dear to SMM: puppets, the inanimate, and the uncanny. This time, you’ll find work from Thomas Mavroudis, Douglas Ford, Madeleine Swann, and S. L. Edwards. 

As always, Mysterium Tremendum is printed, bound, and distributed directly from us. Each issue features illustrations, and is printed on quality cardstock and premium white paper. Issues 1 and 2 are both available at

As always, we appreciate your support. While several releases are scheduled for the latter half of this year, we depend on Mysterium Tremendum to keep things operational in the “low output” periods. If you enjoy SMM, we strongly encourage you to pick up a copy or subscribe to the quarterly on our Patreon page, where you’ll also gain access to early cover reveals, announcements, submission calls, and entire unedited texts from upcoming anthologies. Thank you again, and without further ado, here is the editor’s introduction to the inaugural issue of Mysterium Tremendum: 

Horror and the Holy is the title of a book I stumbled across in the “criticism” section of my favorite used book store (blandly named “Recycled Books and Records”) in Denton, TX. It’s an underappreciated work by Kirk J. Schneider, a practitioner of Existential Therapy (it’s worth emphasizing that he’s not a philosopher, critic, or professor of literature). My encounter with it followed by several years my academic exposure to Noel Carroll’s theories on horror. I must be clear about Carroll here: The relation I have with his major work of horror criticism, The Philosophy of Horror, is antagonistic. I squirmed at his patronizing treatment of the genre as something that needed to apologize for existing, a thing surely impossible to enjoy without elaborate and unlikely justifications. Carroll had to turn horror inside out and strip it of its essence before he could take it seriously—why should we listen to criticism like that?

Unfortunately, much of the academic treatment of horror follows Carroll’s spiritless pragmatism. It’s almost enough to make you forget that The Bacchae and Titus Andronicus happily warm their seats somewhere in the peripherals of the canon without causing a scene. Enough to make you forget that Artaud is a thing.

The point is the “problem of horror” stuck with me through an extended period of rumination, perhaps the deepest rumination I’ve ever dedicated to any single literary subject or theme. This train of thought is now well worn, having followed me down various detours and byways into everything from comparative religion to UFO phenomena. At some point between Schneider and Carroll, I had already felt that the attraction of horror had something to do with holiness. I hadn’t yet discovered the multitude of sources that would confirm this perspective (I was seeking an answer, somewhat insanely, in Lacan at the time), but when I saw Horror and the Holy’s bright yellow spine, the moment was weighted with all the inevitability of fate. Aha, I could’ve said, so we meet at last. 

I’ll save an extended exposition of Schneider’s theories for a future essay. For the purposes of this introduction, it’s enough to point out that the title of his book has become the catch phrase for this publication, the one-line response handy for sideways glances and curious inquiries.

I’ve briefly outlined my “academic” interest in the topic. Allow me to underline it with a deeper, more personal dimension:

My earliest memory of truly religious feeling is set during a late evening church service. I don’t recall the occasion, but there were candles and an atmosphere of exceptional solemnity (it felt like a funeral, but it couldn’t have been). Our pastor, a Southern Baptist on the dying end of the “old school,” was delivering a special sermon on the End of Days: “And the first beast was like a lion,” he said in a voice that seemed to amplify as it washed across the unmoving congregation, “and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” (Revelations 4: 7-8 KJV) Distorting the textual image in my kid brain, I imagined a sea of eyes, glimmering in a red-stained darkness. The eyes shifted as immense and horrible beings writhed beneath the bloody surface. The eternal evocation of “was, is, and is to come” rang fearfully through my imagination, filling me with an immensity I couldn’t begin to comprehend as I wept and begged forgiveness for whatever sins a boy my age could accumulate to justify such visions.

My parents didn’t notice, nor were they particularly affected by the sermon themselves. I, however, was already trained to read the Bible with the utmost conviction of its indisputable truth (that old hill Christianity seems eager to die on). I was also a creative child, despite being imbued with the thoroughly-protestant disbelief in monsters. This interplay of belief and imaginative space left me perfectly ripe for my first encounter with the holy, synonymous, in my case, with horror.

I guess you could say this early experience left me ready to draw these parallels. As it relates to this chapbook, what I want to publish are stories that echo with the sensations I remember vividly from that sermon: an intermingling of awe and horror at the doorstep of the unexplainable. Perhaps this metric is far too subjective. Perhaps it isn’t. We’ll see.

More interesting than my own inclination is the fact that I’m not alone. Soon after reading Schneider’s Horror and the Holy, which persuasively (if a little simply) argues that horror and the holy both operate in terms of extremes—namely, infinite expansion and constriction—I continued to look for writers willing to consider horror fiction sincerely within this obvious yet counterintuitive (thanks in large part to wrong-headed antagonism perpetrated by religion, leading to things like the “Satanic Scare” of the 80’s) context. Victoria Nelson has written two excellent books (The Secret Life of Puppets and Gothicka) that loosely explore this theme and many more; the fiction of H. P. Lovecraft has become a breeding ground for “alternative spiritualities” (see “Calling Cthulhu” in Erik Davis’ Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica, or Scott R. Jones’ When the Stars Are Right: Towards an Authentic R’lyehian Spirituality); horror cinema, as Douglas E. Cowan points out in Sacred Terror: Religion and Horror on the Silver Screen, is awash with conscious references to its own relationship to religion; the work of Jeffrey Kripal and Whitley Strieber posits a sense of religiosity intimately tied to the world of genre fiction, and immensely influential thinkers like Georges Bataille and Antonin Artaud have been alerting us to the transcendental potential of the horrific for half a century. The list goes on, all the way back to Rudolf Otto (yes, for the moment, we’re ignoring the Kantian and Burkean “sublime”), whose description of the experience of “the numinous” in The Idea of the Holy is fraught with horror. And it’s from this book that I’ve lifted the title of this little series. 


Mysterium Tremendum: “awe-inspiring mystery.” Readers of Lovecraft’s Supernatural Horror in Literature will find good weird fiction described in similar terms—a “spiritual horror” is one that transcends the “acceptance of popular standards” (53) and plunges us headlong into the abyss of the unknown. That, in this beautiful time of ours, rife with malcontent and blown wide open to a renaissance of horror fiction, is what every publisher of weird fiction and cosmic horror seeks to publish, even if they don’t view this aesthetic as particularly resonant with the mystery of the holy. It would be redundant to plant our flag on that hill and call it a day.

More than one writer of horror has spied this resonance and consciously sought to emphasize the presence of holiness at the heart of their craft. This is the horror fiction we want. We are happy to feature three such writers in this issue. This publication will have served its purpose if it creates a space that encourages further conscious exploration of this theme. It’s my opinion that the more horror can recognize its own motivations, the more likely it is to move forward. That is always the goal, isn’t it? Forever forward, forever into the unknown.

 Justin A. Burnett