Graham Smith made waves in the crime/noir fiction community last month when he wrote ANNIE’S STORY for Thrillers, Killers N Chillers. The story was published and then taken down, due to its content and some outrage at said content. Some outrage may be an overstatement. There were, as far as I know, only two, maybe three people that objected to the story.
As soon as I found out the particulars to the situation, I extended an invitation to Graham to publish his story at ATON.
There are two rules here at ATON that I live by when I publish stories:
The writer is god.
The editor is god.
When these two rules rub each other the wrong way, then there is trouble. Being a writer myself, and I think the numerous writers that I have published here can attest, there is rarely trouble.
Content has only been a problem once in all of the stories that I have published and only then because a writer had written a character that ingested cyanide and somehow lived, going into a semi-comatose state so that she could be snuck into another country, and is revived by the end of the story. Needless to say, this is not what happens when one ingests cyanide and I felt it was only asking for trouble if I published the story. I clearly explained to the writer that this was the reason why I was not publishing it. The writer didn't take it too well but I stand by my decision.
As far as I was concerned, Graham’s story was not the easiest thing to read and it made one’s skin crawl (and not least for the surface content but the subtext, as well). But isn’t that why we read fiction, to be amazed, to be touched, to be moved in one direction or another, to be outraged, to be angered and, yes, to be horrified?
In the end, Graham decided that he did not want to have ANNIE’S STORY republished at ATON, preferring to leave the entire situation and move on.
While it’s not the decision that I would have made, I respect his decision. It’s his story and he has the final say.
The following story, LONELY NIGHTS, I think you will agree, is top-notch and showcases Graham’s talent for keeping you on the edge of your seat. And damn does Graham know how to end a story.
Without further ado...