Sunday 30 October 2011

ANNIE'S STORY by Graham Smith

Let's all give a warm welcome to Graham on his hard-hitting début...  

Annie’s Story


... After an editorial meeting - including the author - 'Annie's Story' was discussed in detail based on initial reactions.  Despite the graphic detail being arguably justified in setting up the unexpected and quite brilliant denouement, it has been agreed by all concerned that the unprecedented step of removing this particular story should be taken.

The comments section will remain open for the purpose of intelligent adult debate...


Crime Editor, Col 


  1. Welcome to TK'n'C, Graham.

    This is an absolutely crackin' début, mate. It grabbed me round the throat from the start and didn't let go until the final revelation about Annie's condition.

    I wondered why she was so up for it!


  2. No - I'm sorry, I didn't like this. I gave up halfway through to begin with - then I decided to read right through to the end to find if there was more to the story than a male fantasy. The only redeeming factor was the final twist.

    I'm sorry, but I think this is a step too far (despite disclaimer warnings) - just my opinion - but obviously I see it from a woman's point of view.

  3. Thank you for giving it a second chance Sue. and for taking the time to post a comment
    It was written to be an example of the biter getting bit.
    I purposefully made it so graphic to emphasise the twist.
    As it's my first attempt I'm very conscious of reviewers opinions as I'm very aware that i'm on a steep learning curve.

  4. Technically, I found the writing well constructed - just didn't like the subject matter, sorry.

  5. That's understandable Sue and thank you for the compliment on my writing.
    No apology is necessary.

  6. Welcome to TKnC, Graham. This is a tough topic to tackle. I would have liked a hint earlier in the story that the narrator wasn't as compliant as she seemed.


  7. First off, cheers to Col for publishing this one even though you know you're going to take flack for it.

    Anyhow, great story Graham. I knew there was a twist coming but wasn't sure what it was. Sometimes the best option is the nuclear option!

  8. Cheers Guys

    @Jim, I wanted to keep the twist as dramatic as possible so I purposely gave no clues.

    @Chris. Thank you.

  9. Story like this is bound to get a bit of static. And when you write in noir some of the stories are going to be hard, hard stuff. The thing about noir is, usually, there are no heroes. Otto Penzler says "Noir is about losers losing." I don't completely agree with him but there is a lot to that statement. For me Noir is about bad, bad people and events. But I differ from Penzler in that I believe there should be a tiny bit of humanity buried in the darkness, maybe a small victory of some sort. The twist here gives this story some of that. Hard for some to read? Yes. But then, that's the form. I think it's a good read that gives the reader pause. Dick and Jane go to bible school it ain't. Excellent story? It definitely is. Needs a grown up audience? Yeah. Keep on writin' 'em Graham. I'll keep on reading.

    I wish people would quit poking at things they cannot appreciate even the ones with great, BIG warning signs on them. I'm glad you read the whole piece Sue. That's more than most do. But really,I'm sorry, but I think this is a step too far (despite disclaimer warnings)? male fantasyC'mon. Your politics are showing.

  10. Well - AJ - just expressing an opinion. I didn't like the subject matter and to be quite honest if it doesn't contravene the submission guidelines then how low do you have to go in order to do just that?

  11. As I said, Sue, I respect that you did read the whole story. But, I also think your complaint is concerning the editorial policy of the site. That is a subject better addressed to the owner or editor of the site in a private forum not at the expense of a new writer. Other than a backhanded slap of a semi-compliment to the writer, the comments you entered were matters of personal taste, as you said, but I found the politics behind them very evident. For example: Do you truly believe that every "male" is a rape fantisist? Define "low". How low did Balzac or Bukowski or deSade go? How low do Chuck Phalinuck and Allan Gunsberg go.
    Another backhanded slap at TKnC that missed by a mile. And a faint scent of burning books in the air.

  12. I'm sorry if I offended you AJ - and I think Graham realises my comments were made from the point of view of the subject matter and in no way reflect negatively on his writing ability (which I have hitherto always found extremely accomplished).

  13. For the record, I thought the story was very well written and constructed, and the ending was one of the best I've read in a long while. So, initially, I was taken in by the quality of the writing.

    However, I do understand some readers feelings on this highly emotive subject.

    Hence, the final decision.


  14. I would just like to thank Col and the other editors at ThrillsKillsnChills for giving me this opportunity.

    Please accept my unreserved apologies if I offended you. It was never my intention to offend anyone, just to give people a story to read.

    I will learn from this and be much more censorious on future projects.

    I would also like to thank those who posted positive comments about the quality of my writing. Some people were kind enough to be nice about the writing after admitting they didn't like the subject.


  15. I'm a fence-sitter, but my bottom's hurting.

    The point I'd like to react to is Graham's final one. My own feeling is that I have to write the stories I want to write. Not everyone will like them and that's cool. It's a tightrope, finding that point of compromise, so please don't lose and edge by trying to please all the people all of the time - there's not one of us can do that.


  16. I'm late to leave a comment BUT I read the story when it was posted. It was explicit in its imagery which is a compliment to your writing ability. In not too long a piece you painted a whole scene perfectly and the ending was a zinger!

    I have to say, and I said it on another story and AJ commented on it, there's a warning on here that the "responsible" reader has to accept before entering the site. It's like an on/off switch on your TV. If you don't like it don't read it.

    Hats off to you, Graham, for a well written, though explicit, piece. I'd personally have left the whole story up. Some will love it and others won't, but let the reader have a choice.

    Some of us hated Man City dicking Man U a week ago, but others loved it! I'm positive of that.......but not HIV positive!

    Well done Graham.

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  18. I've now had the opportunity to read 'Annie's Story' off -site and can see why some debate has arisen. It's not for the faint-hearted, and perhaps the language of the narrator could well have been toned a little so it didn't seem she was enjoying herself so much, but I'm with everyone in that the story was well constructed, well written and that Graham Smith has a real talent that must be encouraged. Luca makes an excellent suggestion in that Graham must have another story showcased here very soon, and I encourage him to submit another story for all our enjoyment.
    Sue's point should be respected, and shouldn't be disparaged either. Everyone has a right to say what they think about each story here - so long as they're constructive as Sue's was - and to be honest, her willingness to share her feelings with Graham has probably helped him grow as an author. We all need feedback, good and constructive, to help our abilities grow. So I think that Sue's comments served purpose, and will make Graham a better well as some others who ponder on this issue for a while. I'm sure that on reflection, Graham will feel the same way.
    In the meantime, I look forward to future stories from both Graham and Sue, both of whom are welcome additions to the site.

    As an addition: the guidelines are clear and for purpose, and though we do accept violence, and sex, it should be in the context of the story, and not purposefully gratuitous. Because of the denouement of Annie's Story it tipped the brutality of the subject matter back into the realms of a redemptive/revenge story here for me, though like some I was squirming a tad as I read it. For the purpose of constructive adult debate, I wonder at what point our readers/authors think the line crosses, or at least begins to blur. Do tell.

  19. P.s as a reminder here are the guidelines:

    Because of the nature of the site violence and profanity (in reason) will be tolerated. However there are things that we do not expect to see or have to read. Unless it's intrinsic to the plot or motivation of the characters do not send us stories containing:

    Gratuitous or deviant sex.
    Overt cruelty to children.
    Racist, religious, phobic or political ranting.

    And please, because we don't advocate the practice:

    No juvenile self-harming stories.
    No juvenile suicide/misery stories.

    (plus some twaddle about hairy-eyebrowed vampires with a heart).

    To help the editors with future decisions:

    1. Did we overstep our own boundaries here? (personally I don't think so).
    2. Should 'Annie's Story' be reinstated? (personally I think it should).


  20. Matt,

    I don't think you overstepped your bounds here and I'd like to see Graham's story reinstated precisely for the reasons you stated.


  21. Make that three.

  22. This story if written in the third person would incur a different reaction. It's all about perspective. That reaction, when taken in juxtaposition to this, would illustrate the underbelly at work here, the desire for censhorship, the pariah talking. No one is suggesting that rape is acceptable or that women fantasise about it. That response is slightly too pat to be taken seriously any more, it was aimed at Rabbit Redux and missed the point, the trope is somewhat tautological. The gang rape of Tra La La in Selby's Last Exit To Brooklyn engendered a fierce debate on content and morality that did little to reflect anything more than the prejudices of the commentators, you can hear them, how low can you stoop, well maybe no lower than the Spanish Inquisition and every religious abuse under the sun. We all carry baggage and we are attached to it, some of us are ideologised by it. We stick labels on it so it may arrive safely home after a journey. Yes writing is a precarious business. You are representing issues many people want to categorise within their preset moral standards. A man was recently sentenced in Britain for knowingly infecting women with AIDS. I think literature is the realm of contention as well as exploration. The readers who expect some sort of middle class judgement should analyse their own motivations more. It is a brave thing to attempt such material, and should be celebrated as such, not ushered to one side with platitudes that couch insincerity.

  23. Well said, Richard.

    I would be for reinstatement, as well.

    However, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I have been in touch with Graham and have offered him the opportunity to present ANNIE'S STORY at A Twist Of Noir.

    I have read ANNIE'S STORY and have no problem with the content or, for that matter, the way it was written (though I agree with Richard that if the story had been written in third person, there would have probably been a different reaction).

    Is it a difficult story to read? Yeah. Does it make your skin crawl? Definitely. Is that a reason to disqualify a story from publication?


    This is what a story should do. Move the audience, in one direction or another. Stir up emotion. Even if that emotion causes controversy.

    To be a writer is to always be in conflict.

    As a writer and an editor in my own right, I understand the pressue that other editors are under. Sometimes stories cannot be published, usually because they aren't quite up to snuff. As editor of A Twist Of Noir, I have never made this decision AFTER publishing the story. Only one story has been taken down from ATON and only because the writer asked me to for personal reasons. Even then, I felt weird about doing so.

    The reason is because I live by two simple rules at ATON: the writer is god, the editor is god.

    It's when those two forces collide that there is trouble.

    The audience can easily find somewhere else to get their fix and should be encouraged to do so, should they find something *shriek* contentious.

  24. Now you’ve all had your say, I’m adding my extra tuppence worth.
    I’ve read Graham’s work before and was excited for him making his debut here at T,K&C so when I saw the story was up I logged on to read it.
    (To all those who have been stressing the point about the disclaimer – yes, I did read it and chose to proceed, so stop insinuating that I should have known what I was in for!)

    My initial comment was directed at the subject matter of Graham’s story. There was no condemnation of his ability as a writer, or of his right to choose that subject/setting – I just personally didn’t like it.

    In the ensuing hubbub that followed the story was removed at the editor’s discretion.
    (Reader please note those last words!)
    I neither sought this action nor did I completely agree with it – removal of an item after original acceptance always draws the accusation of censorship and gives it the cachet of ‘forbidden fruit’ anyway.

    In one comment , I did query whether the boundaries had been crossed, or what exactly that would entail. The guidelines are there on the site, open to interpretation and it is the editor’s right and responsibility to determine at what point that boundary has been infringed, but it would perhaps be helpful to know how far those boundaries would be stretched before the elastic snapped!

    What I find slightly amusing, is to read various people objecting to the ‘censorship’ of an item and getting their knickers in a knot about it!

    I expressed an opinion which clearly differed to that held by others represented here. They seem to think that my opinion is wrong because it differed to theirs. Surely we are all entitled to our own opinion? (or are some of us allowed to hold them but not get them out in public?) Now who’s suggesting censorship…..?

    The bottom line is – this is just one story that one person didn’t particularly like. Deal with it and move on.

  25. Well said, Sue. And you're right in voicing your opinion, as is everyone else. The editorial decision to remove the story was come to in agreement with Mr Smith, who - this being his first published story - did not wish to be known as the writer who caused such a storm over the subject matter, and who did not wish to be known only for writing controversial subject matter. It's great that Annie's story will be showcased at ATON, and I'd also like to say that in conjunction with myself and others Mr Smith has undertaken a rewrite of his tale taken from a different perspective and it will be made available as part of an eBook collection in the near future. So...basically, Sue (and others') dislike of the subject matter proved very valuable to a budding writer, and has helped him grow. Job done. It goes to show how valuable constructive feedback at sites like TKnC really can help authors.

    Thanks to everyone for a great debate.

    But let's leave things at that shall we?

  26. I feel the need to clarify the situation with ANNIE'S STORY running at A Twist Of Noir. I said upthread that I had offered Graham the opportunity to have ANNIE'S STORY placed at ATON. I did not say that it would be running there.

    In talking with Graham the first forty-eight hours after ANNIE'S STORY was published and removed, Graham made it known to me that he would only be interested in having the story run at TKNC, should it be reinstated. Since he sent it to TKNC first, he didn't feel like it would be right to send it elsewhere, including ATON.

    I respect Graham's decision and have not pressed the issue further.

    Graham Smith will appear at ATON at some point in the near future. Unfortunately, it will not be with ANNIE'S STORY.

  27. It is a shame I have been away from my computer for a few days, I would liked to have read Annie's Story before I commented. However, although I don't know how I would feel about it, I am positive I would be against the removal of the story, from what I have read in the comments. It is a pity this should happen after the recent stupid comment about Richard Godwin's excellent story and the furore that generated.
    The beauty (if that is the right word) of this site is the freedom it gives writers and the acceptence of said writers to other's work.
    Thus, I would like to see Graham's piece re-instated, not out of curiosity, but because I think it should be, especially since just one individual complained and has stated she doesn't want it removed.

  28. Hi Grahame,
    Silly me forgot I am hooked into TK'n'C and I get e-mailed with all the stories posted. I never (well hardly ever) delete them. So I read your story.
    I loved the way it was written, melting two words intoone like a regular text user was a gem. As for the story I find it hard to see what there is to complain about. I don't find it excessively gratuitous. I can certainly see Annie's point of view and her final demise was a bit of a shock. After all this girl had 'cojones' (by that I mean of course; courage) and she deserved to get through her ordeal intact.
    Yup and double-yup definitely a gem that should remain on TK'n'C for all to see.
    Good luck with your writing Grahame.

  29. What a frustrating thread, I want to read 'ANNIE'S STORY!'

    I'm guessing: gang rape, siamese twins, HIV?

  30. Folks,

    In the post I mentioned that this story was removed 'based on initial reactions'. All the facts are NOT displayed in the comments section. We're all for 'creative freedom' here at TKnC, as over two and a half years of wide-ranging stories have shown. However, there are other reasons which we are, unfortunately, unable to disclose publicly that greatly influenced our decision. Please respect that.


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