It's hard to believe it's been over 3 years now since Martinus Publishing first came into being, and our first short story anthology, The Temporal Element, hit bookshelves. A lot has happened in that time, and not all of it good.
Today, a shocking news article was brought to my attention, which apparently involves one-time contributing author, Steven Gepp, who has a story called "Extinction" in The Temporal Element. In the news article, it is revealed that one Steven Craig Gepp was convicted of molesting teenage girls in 2014, over a year after I published Extinction. The individual who brought this news story to my attention claimed that my "interview" with Steven Gepp, a full year before he was prosecuted for these crimes, is "inappropriate" and that I should remove said interview.
I will point out that my interview with Steven Gepp has nothing criminal or inappropriate in it, and I would never condone or promote any form of sexual abuse. I will further say that while I am inclined to believe that the news article is factual, I cannot with certainty say that this is the same Steven Gepp who wrote "Extinction" for The Temporal Element. I cannot say with 100% certainty that it is the same individual. Mind you, stranger things have happened.
So, here is where I stand on this whole thing. Firstly, Mr. Gepp sold me the right to use "Extinction" in The Temporal Element in 2012, over a year before this news was released. Furthermore, his fiction has nothing sexual or inappropriate in it, nor does his interview on my blog. As I said, the interview was published over a year prior to Steven Craig Gepp's conviction, and since he sold me his story outright, he is receiving no more remuneration for this story contribution.
I can understand where some people are coming from when they say I should delete his interview and withdraw The Temporal Element from publication. Certain people see that allowing his fiction and his interview to remain published is somehow "promoting" him as an individual, and that he doesn't deserve that publicity. However, I am no fan of censorship, and I also will not be held responsible for a writer's actions when I am not made aware of said actions until years after their work is published.
At this time, I have no intention of pulling "The Temporal Element" from publication, and I furthermore have no intention of deleting my interview with Steven Gepp. I will not punish the many other contributors to The Temporal Element who deserve to have their writing read, and I don't recognize how having a writer interview on my blog is in any way inappropriate.
I am still left with a nagging question as to how many people are going to be on my side with this decision. Personally, I would be disinclined to publish the work of a sex offender, but when you're taking open submissions from people you do not know personally, you're bound to get stories from all kinds. Though almost all Martinus contributors are upstanding citizens, there could be one or two with questionable morality (but that's none of my business). I'm a fiction publisher, not a prosecuting attorney or judge. It's not my job to "punish" Steven Gepp or any other writer.
I can only be expected to know so much, and I can't allow things that happen to contributors in the future to affect my publishing decisions. I apologize to anyone who might be offended, but what is done is done. Steven Gepp's interview and his fictional story were both published, and that's just the way it is.