(NOT a lie quest. This all happened)
Silver Shamrock Publishing was an indie horror press that was founded in 2019, came to some success, and then announced its closure on April 2nd of 2022 (sorta) after an absolutely disastrous public relations nightmare regarding the announcement of them publishing a pretty racist sounding book.
How To Vanish off the Internet in a Puff of Smoke (and Waste Zeph's Time)
At first, I didn't think this warranted its own node like The Night Shade Books thing, as this isn't so much a rabbit hole as it is a slight indent in the ground a rabbit digs up when it's wanting to lie down in the cooler dirt. This situation came to my attention via a Facebook post, and I originally wanted to dig into them because of the PR fallout and their astounding response. However, the more I dug into it, the more something stuck out to me:
It's hard to find information about Silver Shamrock Publishing.
This is partly because they were a small indie horror press, and partly because after the events of the past couple days, they've managed to erase almost all of their online presence from the internet and have closed up shop. Usually in these situations, the would-be Houdinis take their online presence apart piecemeal over the course of days (if not weeks, or even months), but Silver Shamrock has done the internet equivalent of torching the entire premises and running. Their site is locked down, their social media accounts have been deleted. It looks like someone tried to get the WebArchive to try and save the twitter account, but it was deleted just in time to miss it; you can see that the page was saved to the archive, but what it got is the "account gone, nothing here" page. As of right now, their Instagram is still up, but I don't know how long that will last.
Another interesting thing I noticed was that, if you weren't already in the know, it was weirdly difficult to find out who actually owned the company; the archive of their website doesn't list names of staff, only authors/artists, and the contact page is a form for guests to fill out, as opposed to any kind of actual information. Now, I could buy that making sense, as I suppose the people involved wouldn't want to have random hopeful authors contacting their personal emails or what not, but normally these kinds of sites include an "about" page with some kind of info on the founding or vision. I will err on the side of leniency and assume that if such a page existed, it was not saved on the archive.
The only clue I had was a PR statement from man named Kenneth W. Cain, who is the one who announced the closure of the publisher, wherein he made references to a "Ken M." A quick search through the author page of the site archive revealed that the only Ken M. there was a Kenneth McKinley, and a quick Google search of him led to his Goodreads page, where his description confirms him to be the owner of Silver Shamrock. I then verified this by checking the Michigan corporations registration search (as his Goodreads bio says he lives in Michigan) and confirmed that, yes, the owner of Silver Shamrock is a man named Ken who is, confusingly, not the Kenneth W. Cain who has been doing damage control, but Kenneth McKinley, who has not yet addressed the closing of his company.
. . . Then I read a little further down the original Facebook post where I first read about the situation and saw the OP mention that Ken McKinley owned the joint, rendering the time I spent meticulously honing my google-fu wasted.
So What Did They Do?
On April 1st of 2022, Silver Shamrock Publishing announced a new book, "The White Plague Chronicles".
Their announcement read:
From legendary author, Gene O'Neill, comes the dark adventure opus of 2022, THE WHITE PLAGUE CHRONICLES!
Time is running out. An unknown terrorist organization has their hands on a previously unidentified virus that is far deadlier than Ebola, and even more sinister, as this horrific disease is genetically targeted to kill only the members of the Caucasian race. Two retired Black Ops specialists named Ryan O’Toole and Joey Hotsko are thrust into the unfortunate position of being humanity’s last hope. These aging combat vets have been recruited into a secret international organization known only as “The Association;” their mission, to do whatever it takes to stop the virus from being released.
Together, they must travel from the backwater rivers and jungles of Borneo to the scorching desert outback of Tasmania, to the politically and religiously charged hotbed on the streets and back alleys of Israel. But will they succeed in stopping the madmen responsible for this atrocity before it is too late? Sadly, the answer will be no.
The plague will be released, and the effects of the deadly virus will be even worse than feared, mutating and evolving into a worse case scenario that will change the world as we know it, forever. Economies will fail, governments will fall, countries will crumble, billions of innocent men, women, and children will die, and a new world order will rise in what will ultimately become known as…The Collapse.
Prepare yourself for a journey into the heart of darkness…and far beyond.
Pre-Order your copy today!
People hoped this was some kind of April Fool's prank. It was not.
So. Depending on your familiarity with science, history, literature, or modern white supremacy movements, different things about this description may jump out at you.
Some people noticed the bad science in the description. The Human Genome Project more or less demolished the idea that races of humans have any kind of unique genetic markers only for them, and there is no genetic marker for race for a virus to attack.
Some people might question the mechanics of such a virus. How would the virus affect multiracial people? What about historical colonization and how Europeans fucked their way across the globe? Something like 90% of the population of Mexico has Spanish blood, are they getting wiped out too?
Some might notice the language being used. Things like how stopping the virus is "humanity's last hope" because-- what? Everybody else on the planet doesn't count? The populations of India and China alone account for A little under 40% of the entire global human population.
Some people might notice that the blurb here appears to give away the ending by telling us that O'Toole and Hotsko fail and the virus does get out.
And then some unfortunates may recognize the dog whistles, and now I have to talk about white genocide.
So, for those of you who are blissfully unaware of white supremacy conspiracy theories, there is a thing called "The White Replacement Theory" neonazis like to push that says those incorrigible nonwhite people are trying to destroy whitey, usually by intermarrying and having biracial babies that corrupt the pure Caucasian blood, but also by legalizing abortion in order to abort white babies, and by convincing white men and women to be homosexual so they don't breed, or (if the neonazi you're talking to is too lazy to think of anything subtle) just straight up killing white people. The idea is based off of actual Nazi and eugenics propaganda and saw growth in the 1990s, and again in recent time due to the rise of the Alt Right political ideologies, Qanon, and general western fascism.
The Response (and Lack thereof)
The audience response to this announcement, as you may guess, was almost entirely negative. While the audience reactions under the official Shamrock Facebook and Twitter have been wiped away with the accounts, the reactions on Instagram were not positive. As you can see, several reviewers boycott reviewing it, and on Twitter several authors ask to have their submissions removed and say they will not be doing business with Shamrock in the future. According to discussions in Twitter and Facebook regarding the fiasco, one reason the business may have been forced to close simply because so many of its contributors pulled out.
Notably, a tweet went viral pointing out that the synopsis looked pretty racist, and Ken McKinley apparently asked the author of the book, Gene O'Neill, to send people to argue on twitter that both Shamrock and Gene weren't racist.
Kenneth McKinley did not respond, nor are there any archives of Shamrock itself responding. Instead, that Kenneth W. Cain fellow I mentioned earlier has been doing the press. On April 2nd he announced:
I’m sorry I’ve been quiet for so long about this matter. I’ve been working hard behind the scenes, talking to Ken M., artists, authors, reviewers, readers, just about everyone. I haven’t slept much at all because of that, so I apologize for any typos ahead of time, but I was doing my best to do what was right by everyone involved. Here is the end result of that effort. As of now, Silver Shamrock Publishing is no more. All rights revert to the authors. Their books will be taken down at their request (staying up only long enough for them to buy extra copies if they’d like. I can be a middle person contact for that, if anyone is interested. Let me know. Please do not hold anything against the authors, especially for things that are/were out of their control. And please buy these copies as 100% of the profit goes to them). Their royalties will be paid out in full, and all Silver Shamrock books will be taken down accordingly. Please contact me with any questions you may have, but understand I need sleep and may not get back to you right away. I appreciate your patience as I worked on this. Now, it’s time to get some rest.
And. . . that's it.
Usually in these kinds of situations, the businesses do one of two things. They either put out an apology announcement with varying degrees of sincerity, or they continue on business as usual, pretending that nothing has happened and hoping that people will forget about it (which, to be fair, happens a lot). But Shamrock took a third option and decided to shut down entirely.
There's no actual announcement from Silver Shamrock or Ken M. himself, no apology to the displaced authors who suddenly find themselves in the wind, no response at all. Silver Shamrock closed its doors with no fanfare whatsoever and left an editor to do the talking. What's particularly staggering about this is that nobody was even asking them to close. This wasn't a woke mob demanding they shutter the doors; the situation may have been salvageable had they tried even the least bit of tact and decorum.
In Conclusion: Something's Fishy
This entire situation is bizarre. Silver Shamrock announced a book they had to have known would cause a stir, and they announced it April 1st. Clearly they were planning on gathering some kind of attention.
As a side note: this is not the first time Gene O'Neill has delved into race-based fiction. His 2009 novel, Lost Tribe (originally titled White Tribe when it started as a short story) is about the discovery of a secret tribe of Caucasian Native Americans. Once again, for those of you who are unaware of weird white supremacy conspiracies, the whole "white people were in [Insert Location here] first!" is another idea held by some fringe groups.
To cap everything off, I did find one more thing that might raise some eyebrows. According to the state of Michigan, the business became "In existence, but not good standing" on March first of 2022, a full month before the White plague thing. I am not from Michigan and don't know the legalese there, but some basic searching tells me LLCs are required to pay a small yearly fee, as well as include a statement about who's running the joint, which should be filed by the middle of February. Though is it entirely possible there may be other reasons for the business to have fallen out of good standing, the fact that the "not in good standing" label was attached March 1st means that Ken M. not filing the statement or paying the fee fits the timeline.
In any case, regardless of why the business fell out of good standing, the fact that it fell out of good standing at all tells that something was going on with Silver Shamrock before any of this White Plague stuff went down, and I am wondering if that had any part in their rapid departure.
My personal crackpot theory is that Shamrock/McKinley had something going on with the company that would need him to close, and that he's using the White Plague fiasco as an excuse to close shop and cut himself loose. I've seen it posited that O'Neill may be a-okay with all of this because all attention is good attention, and that even if his book isn't picked up by another publisher, he can probably expect to ride the wave via crowdfunding, as there is a not-insignificant number of people who would gladly support someone who was "wrongly canceled by the woke mob."