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

The Big Book of Little Deaths

2021’s been one hell of a year for us. We’re looking at the release of a limited hardback edition of Philip Fracassi’s Altar illustrated by François Vaillancourt in May; Hymns of Abomination: Secret Songs of Leeds, our tribute anthology to the work of Matthew M. Bartlett, is scheduled for publication in July, and debut collections by Rohit Sawant (The Endless Walk) and Scott J. Couturier (The Box) are set to follow closely behind (in August and September, respectively). In addition, our quarterly release of Mysterium Tremendum, a chapbook designed to explore the intersection of horror and the holy, is dropping on schedule (order issue 1 and 2 here). 

But this isn’t all. We’ve taken on another, very worthy project for this spring. We’re happy to announce that The Big Book of Little Deaths: An Erotic Horror Anthology Benifitting Sex Workers, edited by William Tea, will be added to the Silent Motorist Media catalogue. This enormous anthology of over 40 stories and poems is exactly what it sounds like: a charity anthology designed to support Sex Worker Giving Circle (which, by the way, is in no way affiliated with Silent Motorist Media or this anthology). None of the parties involved–the principal editor, Silent Motorist Media, the authors, nor the artist–are receiving a paycheck for this project. We’re dedicating all proceeds from The Big Book of Little Deaths to an industry increasingly maligned and oppressed under the current political climate. 

Look for an official TOC announcement soon! This anthology features a little bit of everything: cosmic horror, bizarro fiction, dark fantasy, weird fiction, you name it. We’ll keep you updated as the details unfold. Thanks to William Tea for allowing us to host this project, and the contributors who have graciously donated their work to support this worthy cause. We’re honored to be a part of this endeavor.  

-Justin A. Burnett 


Hymns of Abomination Cover Reveal

At long last, we’re thrilled to show you Yves Tourigny’s cover to Hymns of Abomination: Secret Songs of Leeds, our tribute anthology to Matthew M. Bartlett scheduled to release in July of this year. 

For those who don’t know, 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 of Abomination, a collection that swept the small world of weird fiction into giddy delirium. Nathan Ballingrud aptly describes the experience of discovering Gateways in his introduction to Creeping Waves, Bartlett’s second anthology: “What I encountered was a writer in full flourish, in complete command of his art. I encountered a savage dream which moved with the lethal confidence of a great white shark. Bartlett was no dilettante; here was someone channeling a vision. The book seemed to vibrate.” There aren’t many readers in the know who would argue otherwise.

Over the years, Bartlett’s work has wound its way ever more tightly into the heart of the community, influencing a wide berth of current authors (many of whom have agreed to appear in this anthology) and surely more to come. His achievements include an entry (for his short story “Rangel”) in Year’s Best Weird Fiction vol. 3 edited by Simon Strantzas alongside weird fiction superstars like Robert Aickman, Ramsey Campbell, and Kristi Demeester. He’s even contributed to Cadabra Records’ eerie blend of spoken word and haunting soundscapes with releases like Mr. White Noise, Call Me Corey, and Ginny Greenteeth (the latter read by Laurence Harvey). The point is that Bartlett isn’t going anywhere, and that’s good news for weird fiction and horror readers. As Scott Nicolay has said, “Matthew Bartlett is one of those authors whose emergence redefines the genre. Barker, Ligotti, Barron, Llewellyn… Bartlett.” That’s quite some praise. It also happens to be the widely-held consensus regarding Bartlett’s work.

“Bartlett writes like a man in the grip of a vision,” Orrin Grey wrote. If his writing’s a vision, it’s contagious–every year lures more readers into Leed’s shadows for thrills more terrible than can easily be described. And with this tribute we joyously descend further into his nightmare. What better way to celebrate Bartlett’s legacy than to don his vision like a suit? Only we must be cautious–the suit isn’t empty.

Excited about this release? Then let us encourage you to join our Patreon: cover reveals, early, unedited versions of Hymns submissions, and more are available to patrons. We deeply appreciate your support!

Ten Weird Writers to Save Us in 2020

It’s that time again, and we’ve never needed saving like we have in 2020. Thankfully, these authors provided us with some exceptional work. It may not solve all the world’s problems, but we firmly believe that burdens grow a little lighter with the weight of a good weird book in hand.

The writers listed below were nominated by readers and voted on by a group of writers and editors intimately familiar with the landscape of new weird, dark, and bizarre fiction.

As always, this list is intended to celebrate these dedicated writers. In the world of books, celebration is empty if it doesn’t end in support from readers. If it takes one thing to keep small presses and independent authors alive, it’s you. All we ask is that you do what you love: read. Follow the links, pick up a book, and dive into the strange and unsettling worlds of the writers listed below. Each new reader is encouragement to these writers to keep writing. And that’s what we want more than anything. We want these weird and wonderful writers to keep writing.

A heartfelt thanks goes out to those who supported a writer with a nomination, vote, or word of kindness. Above all, we thank the writers listed below for their tireless work.

The order of appearance below is random and does not indicate any preference 

See our previous lists: 2018  2019  

The List

One trend we noted in this year’s nominations was a demand for V. Castro. Violet is a Mexican American writer (formerly a fellow Texan) fighting to increase representation of her culture in genre fiction from her new home base in London. She took the fiction world by storm in 2020, delighting readers with the release of the novels Hairspray and Switchblades, Sed de Sangre, in addition to an impressive batch of eight short stories. These include appearances in Worst Laid Plans, the first anthology out of Grindhouse Press, and Lockdown: Stories of Crime, Terror and Hope During a Pandemic from Polis Books.

As a great granddaughter of Mexican migrant workers, Violet often explores the theme of farm work and the role brown women play in society. All her main characters are Chicana or Latinx. In addition to Hairspray and Sed de Sangre, Violet’s releases include Maria the Wanted, 2018’s wild and unique vampire story. This winter Violet and Burial Day Books will release Latinx Screams, an anthology of horror and weird fiction from the Latinx community. Also forthcoming is Goddess of Filthto be released in March of 2021, and The Queen of the Cicadas  set to drop in June of 2021. Violet is the co-founder with Sonora Taylor of This is a website dedicated to amplifying female voices in dark fiction. You find out more about her books at

Twitter: @vlatinalondon 

Instagram: @vlatinalondon

Scott R Jones is another writer who managed to thrive in 2020, releasing two stunning books: Stonefish, an apocalyptic-cyber-cryptid-novel (yes, it’s as strange as it sounds) and his celebrated short fiction collection, Shout Kill Revel Repeat. You may know him as the editor of RESONATOR: New Lovecraftian Tales From Beyond, Cthulhusattva: Tales of the Black Gnosis, A Breath from the Sky: Unusual Stories of Possession and Chthonic: Weird Tales of Inner Earth, all from Martian Migraine Press. If you’re still unfamiliar with his fiction, we strongly encourage you to remedy that! Ramsey Campbell himself has called Jones “a genuine master of horror.

Scott is an editor and naturalized sorcerer living in Victoria, BC, Canada with his wife and two frighteningly intelligent spawn. His fiction and poetry have been published in Innsmouth Magazine, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Pseudopod, Lackington’sand others, as well as a few anthologies and podcasts. We also implore you to check out his “self-help book for the weird fiction crowd”, When The Stars Are Right: Towards An Authentic R’lyehian Spiritualitywhich continues to enlighten/upset/derange hardcore Lovecraftians. He has yet to issue a public apology. Jones was once kicked out of England for some very good reasons. You can visit his website at

Facebook: ScottRJones.writer

Twitter: @PimpMyShoggoth

Fiona Maeve Geist has been stirring up some serious admiration from readers for quite some time now. Her work has appeared in varied venues including CLASH Media, Vastarien, Ashes and Entropy, Lovecraftian Proceedings, Lamplight, and The New Flesh: A Literary Tribute to David Cronenberg. Geist remains one of those authors we are always excited to see on a TOC. Check out her work; it doesn’t take long to become enamored with her vicious, thoughtful brand of horror.

Geist resides in WXXT country with her cat. She has written fiction and nonfiction which has appeared in varied venues She is primarily known for being a relentless editor and occasional writer of pen and paper roleplaying games. Her role as developer and writer for the ENnie Award winning Mothership: Sci-Fi Horror RPG is particularly notable. In a previous life she was an academic. She is currently predominately working as a purchaser for Exalted Funeral and editing RPGs but will hopefully write fiction again soon.

Readers have been clamoring to induct Brendan Vidito into the “Ten Weird Writers” hall of fame since last year, and it’s telling that the demand hasn’t flagged a bit. Vidito is the author of the Wonderland Award-winning collection, Nightmares in Ecstasy (Clash Books, 2018), featuring thirteen harrowing tales of body horror that delightfully blur the line between eroticism and terror, desire and death. His work has appeared in several anthologies and magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Splatterpunk Zine, Tragedy Queens: Stories Inspired by Lana Del Rey and Sylvia Plath, and Pluto in Furs.

Vidito is also known for co-editing the Splatterpunk Award-nominated anthology, The New Flesh: A Literary Tribute to David Cronenberg (Weirdpunk Books, 2019) with Sam Richard. He lives in Sudbury, Ontario, and is hard at work on his next project, The Inoculated, a novella coming out in 2021 from Clash Books. You can visit him at, or follow him on social media.

Zin E. Rocklyn is another author who amassed a surge of more-than-deserved nominations, and it’s easy to see why. Their story “Summer Skin” in the Bram Stoker-nominated anthology Sycorax’s Daughters received an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year, Volume Ten. We say this with sincere conviction: go read their work if you haven’t yet.

Zin is a contributor to the Bram Stoker-nominated and This is Horror Award-winning Nox Pareidolia from Nightscape Press, in addition to the anthologies Kaiju Rising II: Reign of MonstersBrigands: A Blackguards Anthology, and Forever Vacancy. Their work has also appeared in the Weird Luck Tales No. 7 zine. Zin contributed the nonfiction essay “My Genre Makes a Monster of Me” to Uncanny Magazine’s Hugo Award-winning Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction. Their short story “The Night Sun” and flash fiction “teatime” were published on Their debut novella will be published by in Fall 2021. Zin is a 2017 VONA and 2018 Viable Paradise graduate as well as a 2021 Clarion West candidate.

Twitter: @intelligentwat

Gordon B. White’s 2020 collection, As Summer’s Mask Slips and Other Disruptions (from Trepidatio Publishing) has caused quite a stir this year. He’s been called “one of the major new voices of speculative fiction” by Gwendolyn Kiste, and we suspect more than a few of his contemporaries are inclined to agree. His story “Birds of Passage” appeared in Ellen Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Twelve. Recommendations don’t come much stronger than that.

Gordon’s lived in North Carolina, New York, and the Pacific Northwest.  A graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop, Gordon’s stories have appeared in dozens of venues, including the Bram Stoker Award winning anthology Borderlands 6.  He regularly contributes reviews and interviews to outlets including Nightmare, Lightspeed, and The Outer Dark podcast. You can find him online at

Twitter:  @GordonBWhite

Sara Tantlinger is the celebrated author of the Bram Stoker Award-winning The Devil’s Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes, and the Stoker-nominated novella To Be Devoured. The sheer volume of nominations made her inclusion in this list nearly inevitable. Readers unhesitatingly advocated her as a “vital voice in horror and weird fiction” (quoted from a nomination), a claim that we’re proud to second. We implore you to familiarize yourself with an author who is clearly destined to loom ever more prominently in the world of weird writers.

Her other works include Love For Slaughter, The Devil’s City written with Matt Corley, and Cradleland of Parasites. In addition, Tantlinger is known for editing the anthology Not All Monsters. Along with being a mentor for the HWA Mentorship Program, she is also a co-organizer for the HWA Pittsburgh Chapter. She embraces all things macabre and can be found lurking in graveyards or on social media and at

Twitter: @SaraTantlinger

Instagram: @inkychaotics

There’s something particularly exciting about a writer who generates a dedicated readership from anthology appearances alone. Such is the case with LC von Hessen. Readers and editors alike implored us to celebrate von Hessen’s work in Nox PareidoliaNightscript 6Pickman’s GalleryOculus Sinister, and Machinations & Mesmerism: Tales Inspired by ETA Hoffmann, along with a few self-published releases including two chapbooks and four issues of sex-and-death zine Mass Culture. We’re more than happy to comply. They also have stories forthcoming in VastarienWould But Time Await: An Anthology of New England Folk Horror, and The Bleeding Rainbow: A Spectrum of Weird Fiction. Their literary influences are as diverse as old-school Gothic and weird fiction, ’80s and ’90s body horror, Decadent and Symbolist purple prose, and absurdist and “transgressive” literature.

Von Hessen grew up quite unhappily in the Midwestern suburbs. They later had the misfortune of graduating into a major recession with minimal prior job experience and a Bachelor of Fine Arts. In addition to writing fiction, von Hessen has also been an interdisciplinary artist, noise musician/performer (as Madame Deficit and a guest member of Smell & Quim), occasional actor (most notably playing a psych ward inmate dancing the Cha Cha Slide on Orange is the New Black), film critic, and Morbid Anatomy Museum docent. They share an apartment in Brooklyn full of books and curios with a talkative orange cat named Monty. All of their fiction currently in print is available here. They can also be found on various social media platforms.

Hailey Piper’s nominations were liberally peppered with descriptions like “amazing,” “fascinating,” and “terrifying”—you know, all the right stuff. She is the author of 2020’s Benny Rose, the Cannibal King from Unnerving Books, and 2018’s The Possession of Natalie Glasgow. We can’t help noting that Gwendolyn Kiste says to “keep an eye on Hailey’s work; she is seriously going places.” We absolutely will, and in that spirit, we urge you to join us in preordering her upcoming cosmic horror novella, The Worm and His Kings, which releases from Off Limits Press on November 15, 2020. We have to admit, we’re happily anticipating this one!

Hailey is a member of the Horror Writers Association, and her short fiction appears in Daily Science FictionFlash Fiction OnlineThe ArcanistYear’s Best Hardcore Horror, Volume 5, and elsewhere. She lives with her wife in Maryland, where they spend weekends raising the dead. Find her at Her first short story collection, Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy, releases from The Seventh Terrace in spring 2021.

Twitter: @HaileyPiperSays

2020’s A Season of Loathsome Miracles is Max D. Stanton’s debut collection and it already has readers in a frenzy. You know as well as we do that this is a feat generally reserved for the greats of the genre. Speaking of the greats, Jon Padgett calls it “a marvel from every literary angle.” We can certainly affirm that it’s more than worthy of any horror fan’s attention.

Max is a librarian, academic, and Dungeons & Dragons nerd who lives in West Philadelphia with his wonderful girlfriend and their two savage, unruly hounds. Max embarked on writing after an encounter with the Devil. His work has appeared in publications including VastarienCorporate CthulhuWe Shall Be Monsters, and the The New Flesh: A Literary Tribute to David Cronenberg. He has a forthcoming story in Nightmares in Yellow: A Tribute to Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.

Facebook: /max.stanton.3576

Twitter: @max d stanton