Monday, March 12, 2012

Why I decided to publish Plastic Soldiers by WD County

When Spinetingler publisher WD County's story My Name is Priscilla in 2010 I was stunned that we were his first publishing credit. A story this assured can't be a first credit, can it? It was.

When I sent out invitations to submit a story to Snubnose for the Speedloader anthology all of the names were well known ones from the short crime fiction scene. I knew I had to invite County. That's how much of an impression his story made.

There is no way in hell that the power of "My Name is Priscilla" could prepare me for the story that he sent me.

The moment I finished reading "Plastic Soldiers" I knew I was going to publish it. I just had to.

"Plastic Soldiers" is the darkest story I've ever read. It's a story that physically makes you uncomfortable while drawing you in with it's power.

When Speedloader was released it received largely positive reviews and County's story was singled out as one of its best. It's the kind of story that you never forget and becomes a favorite (if that is the right word).

-Absolutely. Fucking. Terrifying. A story about a horrific situation and one kid’s fight for survival, and even though I never want to read it again, it’s one of the best stories I’ve ever read. Stories don’t have to be pretty to be awesome. Sometimes they can be downright brutal.

-I've never read anything so intense in my entire life. I may never again....this is almost a perfect piece of fiction...This is in my top five of all-time, too.

-It's a painful story to read, horrible is more the word. but it is now and will remain in my top five list forever. As will that cover, I couldn't see the damn thing for a long time because my eyes were and are clouded with tears. You cannot read Plastic Soldiers without experiencing every emotion there is in the human lexicon. It is as I said, a story that is horrible in content . . . but it's also a testiment to pure bravery and an indomitable human spirit. It speaks to most everything that is evil in the worst of us and the pure good in the best of us. Plastic Soldiers is so layered with tragedy and triumph that it is impossible to read without being moved to complete desolation and complete joy at the same time. If dogma keeps anyone from reading this work, they will be the poorer for what they've missed.

County manages to pack a novel’s worth of pain and desperation and hope into five of the most compelling pages you will ever read.

That's why I decided to publish "Plastic Soldiers".

The artist for Speedloader was so inspired by the story that he did an alternate cover image based on it.

"Plastic Soldiers" was introduced a big talent to the crime fiction community who are all waiting anxiously to see a WD County novel.

For the first time in my life as a publisher I find myself in the position of thinking that I published the best story of the award regardless of what the various award nominees say. It's a weird place to be in.

Dear Mr County: Should you ever, and I mean ever, decide to go the epublishing route for one of your novels please consider Snubnose Press again.


I just finished reading Zombie Bake-off by Stephen Graham Jones and it is a holy crap, must read book.

Currently reading: The Dewey Decimal System by Nathan Larson, Ishmael Toffee by Roger Smith, Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, submissions for Snubnose

Currently listening: Heartless Bastards:

And I finally put aside unfairly preconceived notions and realized that I like Ray Lamontagne:


Nigel Bird said...

No doubt about it, you did the right thing. You also did a brave thing. I know you'll have felt it was an easy choice, but it is so very vividly dark that there may well have been those shaking their fist and marching on the Whitehouse etc. For me, the reason I'd have published it would also have been that it was my favourite short from last year.
A great writing job and a great editor's job too. And that extra cover was pure class, just like the Speedloader cover.
Thanks for sharing Plastic Soldiers - what a present to the world.

stevemosby said...

Just to agree - stunning piece of fiction, that story.

AJ Hayes said...

Thank God you published Plastic Soldiers. It should on every "best of list" in the country. And that special cover makes me tear up every time I see it. I have never been so desolated and triumphant at the same time. Damn it. If this was paper you'd see a couple of tear drops on the page. Again, thank you for putting "Soldiers" out for us to see. It needs to be seen. Everywhere.

Benjamin Sobieck said...

I read so much short fiction in online 'zines and e-books, it's easy for a few to slip my mind. But to the day I die, I will never forget "Plastic Soldiers." And I'll only have read it one time.

You made the right call.

Benjamin Sobieck said...

I've no evidence other than my hunch, but I'd be willing to bet W.D. County is a pseudonym. Given the subject matter and the fact it's the first County byline, it would make sense.

If it's not, then all the better. This is a name I'll be looking for.