Here is our highly-anticipated list of “10 Writers to Save Us All in 2018.” “Save us from what?” you ask. We’re not entirely sure. What we do know is that an unexpected number of writers and readers alike sent us impassioned demands to recognize writers across the independent and small-press spectrum, and that the Silent Motorist Media Street Team voted for the finalists you’ll find listed below. Without further ado, we’d like to recognize these exceptional writers for their tireless effort to brighten our lives with their incredible work. We thank them, from the bottom of our hearts, for keeping the world of words alive and screaming.
An additional thanks to all the readers and writers who nominated someone. We couldn’t have made this list without your enthusiastic support for the writers you enjoy.
This list is in no particular order. We put one of our favorites at the very bottom just to prove this.
-Justin A. Burnett
Since a strong beginning is always advisable, Jon Padgett, the author of The Secret of Ventriloquism, seems an obvious choice to head this list. While many of us have happily stumbled across The Secret of Ventriloquism at some point in our reading lives and consider Padgett an obvious example of quality fiction, the rabbit hole goes much deeper than we ever expected. From editing magazines to professional narration, Padgett’s diversity certainly calls for recognition.
Jon Padgett is a professional–though lapsed–ventriloquist who lives in New Orleans with his spouse, their daughter, and a rescue dog and cat. He is the Co-Editor-In-Chief of Vastarien, a source of critical study and creative response to the work of Thomas Ligotti. Padgett’s short story collection, The Secret of Ventriloquism, was named the Best Fiction Book of 2016 by Rue Morgue Magazine. He has work out or forthcoming in Weird Fiction Review, PseudoPod, Cadabra Records, Lovecraft eZine, Xnoybis, and the anthologies A Walk on the Weird Side, Wound of Wounds, Phantasm/Chimera, and For Mortal Things Unsung. Cadabra Records recently released two albums narrated by Padgett: The Bungalow House by Thomas Ligotti and 20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism by Padgett himself. His novelette, The Broker of Nightmares, will be published in a signed, illustrated edition by Nightscape Press later this summer. He will also appear in the Ashes & Entropy anthology, also from Nightscape.
Padgett is also the creator and co-administrator of Thomas Ligotti Online, which just celebrated its 20th birthday. He recently narrated Laird Barron’s novella, “Mysterium Tremendum” on PseudoPod. This is only one of multiple stories on Pseudopod he has produced and/or written. There are also quite a few recordings available on YouTube including his own work, work by Thomas Ligotti, and a story by Conrad Aiken. His work is additionally featured on SoundCloud.
Madeleine Swann braids punch-drunk humor with a spritz of strange storytelling to create fun, entertaining stories that aren’t easily forgotten. Check out her interview with us for a glimpse of yet another talent more than deserving of a special honor this year. Check her out! We’re sure you’ll enjoy her work just as much as we do.
Madeleine Swann’s interconnected short story collection, Fortune Box, was released by Eraserhead Press in June 2018. It’s about a mysterious company called Tower Ltd Surprise Packages, who send gifts to random strangers throughout The City. Swann’s second novella, 4 Rooms In A Semi-Detached House, was published by Strangehouse Books, and her first was part of Eraserhead Press’ New Bizarro Author Series in 2015. Swann’s short stories have appeared in various anthologies and podcasts.
Christopher Ropes caused quite a stir among the writers and readers alike who made nominations for this list. Each nomination made on his behalf insistently demanded that Ropes deserves more recognition in the writing world. His name continually surfaces on social media, unanimously attached with a passionate encouragement by those in the know to give Ropes a well-deserved read. We are certain that Christopher Ropes is a force to be reckoned with, and that he will continue to find the weird and wonderful readers he deserves.
Christopher Ropes lives in New Jersey with his partner, their kids, and an assortment of pets. He writes weird fiction and poetry infused with the lived experience of mental illness and occult practice. He believes in the Devil, the Night Primeval as explicated by Richard Gavin, all forms of true Art, the redemptive power of loving someone more than oneself, cats, cockatiels, and that mental illness is survivable and must be alchemically transmuted into artistic creation or wisdom.
His work has appeared in Turn to Ash Volume 3, Nightscript 2, and he has a piece that reviewers seem to truly love in the first volume of Vastarien: A Literary Journal. Dunhams Manor published his quickly sold-out novelette Complicity, and Dynatox Ministries published his poetry collection, The Operating Theater. He’s currently looking for a home for another novelette and contemplating a small short fiction collection. He also occasionally writes book reviews for the journal, Dead Reckonings.
Betty Rocksteady has been on our radar since the release of her debut novella, Arachnophile, in 2015 as part of Eraserhead Press’ New Bizarro Author series. Since then, Rocksteady has grown into a palpable presence in the wild world of bizarro fiction, diversifying into illustration in addition to writing. Yet again, another Rocksteady release looms on the horizon, and it’ll arrive just in time to save us from running out of excellent books to read in 2018.
Betty Rocksteady is an author and illustrator made of 1920s cartoons, cats and phosphorescent muck. Her writing blends surreal nightmares with character-driven conflict. Her short fiction has appeared in Looming Low, Lost Films and Eternal Frankenstein. Arachnophile, her first novella, was released by Eraserhead Press and describes the romantic relationship between a previous arachnophobe and a giant spider. Like Jagged Teeth, from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, is a claustrophobic story about a young woman, saved by what appears to be her dead grandfather. Her new alien novella, The Writhing Skies, is being released this fall from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and includes 20 illustrations.
William Tea created a stir with his haunting story, “I Am Become Death,” in Planet X Publication’s anthology, Test Patterns. Now that he has a novel in the making, we’re gripping the edge of our seats to see where this Pennsylvanian frequent flyer of the anthology world will take us. We’re certain it’ll be one hell of a ride.
When William Tea was a boy, he thought monsters lived in the dark. So when the lights were out, he snarled and spat and twisted his hands into claws, trying to blend in with the things that went bump in the night.
He’s been friends with the monsters ever since.
Today, William Tea lives in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Coal Region. His work has been featured in anthologies published by Muzzleland Press, Wildside Press, Planet X Publications, StrangeHouse Books, and CLASH Books. He is currently working on his first novel, tentatively titled Mother of Sorrows.
Kyle Rader made quite an appearance in 2018 with his novel, KEGGER, from NihlisimRevised. The novel is about metal, and SMM readers know how we feel about our metal. We’re hoping do dive deeper into Rader’s fiction soon on SMM, and we can’t wait to see what he’s up to next!
Kyle Rader doesn’t like to color inside the lines, and thinks the greatest sin a writer can commit is to bore his or her readers. His writing career began at the tender age of nine when he received his first rejection letter from the Nintendo Corporation of America. They didn’t care for his video game idea, but they were kind enough to let him down gently.
2018 has been a rough one for a lot of people. Kyle spends his days listening to Chainsaw Gutsfuck on repeat or randomly screaming the theme song to Frasier at his wife. Rader hopes that his brand-new novel, KEGGER, will bring people some happiness or, at the least, some laughs. If you like heavy metal, transgressive/bizarre comedy, and good, clean, stupid humor, then Rader hopes KEGGER will help you get through 2018.
Rader’s short fiction has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies, including Masks, Between the Cracks, and And Death Shall Have No Dominion: Tales of the Titanic. Rader’s short story, “The Countess and the Bard,” was the recipient of the Readers’ Choice award on Fiction Vortex. Rader’s latest novel, KEGGER, and debut novel, Four Bullets, are available on Amazon.
Rader lives in New England (in the state where they’ve got all the opioids. Seriously, opioids as far as the eye can see) with his wife and dog Scrambles the Death Dealer. He’s currently hard at work at multiple novels of varying genres, including horror, sci-fi, and more bizarre comedy featuring Satan and an undulating tentacle monster named after John Cusack who loves to play board games. If KEGGER is a success, Rader hopes to finally start work on his dream project where Jean-Claude Van Damme and a talking squid save Thanksgiving by learning how to parallel park.
Check out Kyle’s website, follow him on Twitter, and read “Only the Names Have Been Changed,” a bizarre freebie for new cult members! JOIN THE CULT OF KILE!
Readers and writers alike swarmed our inbox to nominate S. L. Edwards, not only for his writing, but for his “tireless work in the scene promoting other writers and sharing opportunities. A rare beacon of light,” as one nominator put it. We love nothing more than passionate writers who go out of their way to lift up their colleagues. The heartfelt eagerness of his nominators inspired us, and we are thrilled to give Edwards the special mention he deserves in 2018.
S. L. Edwards is a Texan currently residing in California. He enjoys dark fiction, dark poetry and even darker beer. With Yves Tourigny, he is the co-creator of the webcomic “Borkchito: Occult Doggo Detective.” His debut short story collection, Whiskey and Other Unusual Ghosts, will be published in 2019 by Gehenna & Hinnom.
Daulton Dickey has been one of our favorite writers since Flesh Made World released last year with Rooster Republic Press (check out our review of the book here), so we jumped at the opportunity provided by multiple nominations to include him on this list. Dickey’s website, Lost in the Funhouse, provided much of the inspiration for Silent Motorist Media, and we believe he is a truly underappreciated talent in the small press world. Check out Lost in the Funhouse and read Flesh Made World; you’ll see what we mean.
Symbolist and surrealist, absurdist and pataphysician, Daulton Dickey specializes in fried eggs. You can find his musings, writing, and art at Lost in the Funhouse.
When he’s not working, Daulton lives with his wife, kids, and pet human-lizard hybrid in a universe he created. He’s the author of Elegiac Machinations, Bastard Virtues, and Flesh Made World. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and find him on Facebook.
Christine’s prose is magnetic whiplash—it’s swift, clever, and precise. Reading her work is an ass whooping you’re thankful for, and one that also deserves special attention in 2018. If you haven’t already, give Christine Morgan a read! She’s certainly one writer to save us from boredom this year.
Christine Morgan grew up in the high deserts of California but headed for water and trees as soon as she was able. A resident of the Pacific Northwest ever since, she now lives in the Portland area amongst the bizarro and weirdo-creatives community.
Her stories span many eras and genres, with a particular focus on combining horror and dark fantasy with ancient or medieval cultures. She’s best known for her Viking-themed tales, a collection of which — The Raven’s Table — came out in 2017 from Word Horde.
As a reader, she’s a regular contributor to The Horror Fiction Review. As an editor, she’s responsible for the Fossil Lake anthologies as well as a few other projects. She also enjoys baking, and modifying Barbie dolls into custom strange creations.
Christine’s most recent projects include the modern thriller Murder Girls, the pioneer blizzard horror novel White Death, and her extra-gooshy Deadite Press debut, Spermjackers from Hell. She’s had short stories in many anthologies and is currently at work on a book called Lakehouse Infernal, with the kind permission of Edward Lee.
Who could pass up a writer like Nicholas Day, especially when he has a new novella, At the End of the Day I Burst into Flames, on the way? We absolutely adored Necrosaurus Rex and Now That We’re Alone, and we can’t wait to see what else this creative and dexterous talent has in store. If any weird writer can save us all from whatever it is that weird writing saves us from, we’re pretty certain it’s Day.
Nicholas Day writes within the horror, science fiction, and crime genres. He studied creative writing at Southern Illinois University and at Seton Hill University. He co-owns Rooster Republic Press with Don Noble. Necrosaurus Rex, a novella, and his collection of short fiction, Now That We’re Alone, are both available through JournalStone and Bizarro Pulp Press.
His latest novella, At the End of the Day I Burst into Flames, is slated for release in December 2018. A second short-story collection was finished in May of 2018, and is currently being shopped around.
His current work-in-progress, Grind Your Bones to Dust, is a horror-western set in the Oregon desert during the 1950s, and features a quartet of man-eating donkeys. The title should be available sometime in 2019.
Don’t forget to check out his website.