On the importance of pseudonymous activity
We here at Dear Author have always supported anonymity and pseudonymity. We have allowed people to use pennames and alias in the comments even when it meant they would be hurling insults at us, even when they engaged in sock puppetry (by changing their alias but posting from the same IP address). We do this because we believe in providing a safe place to express your opinion. We don’t always carry out this philosophy perfectly. We’ve made mistakes (and will continue to do so because we’re human and imperfect).
Most of the reviewers at DA use a pseudonym as do many authors in the romance community. Some people use their full legal name and some do not. There are many reasons for using a pseudonym and most of them are valid and as Justice John Paul Stevens noted, it’s a protected right.
On Saturday, author Kathleen Hale was given a platform on the Guardian, one of the most venerable book outlets in the English speaking world. Using that platform, she chronicles a months long stalking campaign to a Goodreads reviewer who Hale charactered as her number one critic.
I’m not sure why Hale assigns the moniker of #1 critic to this particular Goodreads reviewer because Hale’s book is the subject 170 one star ratings on Goodreads.
Hale became strangely fixated on the GR reviewer and proceeds to spend months (yes months) infiltrating the GR reviewer’s online life until she is one day able to obtain the reviewer’s address. From there, Hale took her stalking offline.
“Why would a reviewer EVER use a fake name?” implored the author currently stalking the hell out of one. “I can’t think of one reason.”
— Bree Bridges (@mostlybree) October 18, 2014
This is the course of events. On January 31, 2014, Goodreads reviewer begins chronicling her reading of Hale’s book through the use of status updates. This is a behavior that Goodreads promotes and places the status updates box on the front page. It is literally the second thing on the sidebar and one of the first things on the mobile app.
Here’s what Hale alleges the blogger did:
- She had tweeted me saying she had some ideas for my next book. It should be noted that this was (if it happened) in response to Hale’s request ON TWITTER for IDEAS FROM READERS! In an attempt to connect with readers, I’d been asking Twitter for ideas – “The weirdest thing you can think of!” – promising to try to incorporate them in the sequel.
- The “review” (it was never a review but a collection of status updates which, as identified above is a GR approved and promoted activity) “warn[ed] other readers that my characters were rape apologists and slut-shamers. She accused my book of mocking everything from domestic abuse to PTSD. This is accurate. The status updates (as well as other reviews) were disturbed that the characters in the book fake being in a abusive domestic relationship in order to gain information about someone else).
- The “review” noted that there was rape and Hale contends there is no rape in the book. In the original status update (and these cannot be edited. I know bc I’ve had awful typos in status updates and hate that I can’t edit them), the reviewer noted that there was statutory rape. Hale doesn’t acknowledge this but instead uses it as part basis for her later actions.
- Hale then is directed to Stop the GR Bullies where she finds a page on the GR Reviewer. According to fake person Athena Parker who co founded Stop the GR Bullies, the GR Reviewer attacked a fourteen year old. Stop the GR Bullies is a well known hate site that uses out of context screenshots to construct stories out of whole cloth. They have targeted people like Courtney Milan as well as many other individuals I respect.
- The GR Reviewer has a ripple effect. In the following weeks, [the GR reviewer’s] vitriol continued to create a ripple effect: every time someone admitted to having liked my book on Goodreads, they included a caveat that referenced her review. The ones who truly loathed it tweeted reviews at me. At this point, the GR reviewer status updates have become “vitriol” and Hale starts blaming everything on the GR reviewer. I did a quick click through and did not see any references to the GR reviewer’s updates. But let’s be fair, even if this did happen how was it the GR reviewer’s fault. Referencing another blogger’s take and acknowledging problematic themes is not uncommon and certainly not “bullying” behavior.
- The GR Reviewer began tweeting ridicule. There isn’t any evidence of this and “that same day” refers to no date at all. In other words, Hale makes up a date. Her previous paragraph was “In the following weeks…” so who knows what date Hale is referring to. It’s convenient not to have a date. That way we can’t verify Hale’s claims. “That same day, [the GR Reviewer] began tweeting in tandem with me, ridiculing everything I said.”
- Watching the GR Reviewer tweet about her manuscript, Hale subtweets and is subsequently bombarded with unhappy responses.One afternoon, good-naturedly drunk on bourbon and after watching [GR reviewer] tweet about her in-progress manuscript, I sub-tweeted that, while weird, derivative reviews could be irritating, it was a relief to remember that all bloggers were also aspiring authors. My notifications feed exploded. Bloggers who’d been nice to me were hurt. Those who hated me now had an excuse to write long posts about what a bitch I was, making it clear that:1) Reviews are for readers, not authors. 2) When authors engage with reviewers, it’s abusive behaviour. 3) Mean-spirited or even inaccurate reviews are fair game so long as they focus on the book. “Sorry,” I pleaded on Twitter. “Didn’t mean all bloggers, just the ones who talk shit then tweet about their in-progress manuscripts. I actually saw this one happen on Twitter and Hale’s memory is occluded here, either intentional or not. She actually subtweeted about a three star review.
- The review she subtweeted is here. “The characters using these words were unlikable and supposed to be that way, but I still think the author could have made them plenty unlikable without using language that pisses off a large portion of the population.”
And the screenshot which Hale deleted is here:
To summarize, the extent of the GR Reviewer’s actions includes:
- Making status updates about a book.
- Possibly getting into a fight with a previous author or reviewer.
- Possibly subtweeting Hale.
- Tweeting about her own work in progress.
You might assume by the response of Hale to the blogger’s actions and the nearly 5000 words devoted to this response that the blogger was engaged in really terrible behavior. Certainly commenters and twitter denizens believed the blogger was “deranged” and “no angel” and “vicious” I read the Guardian piece carefully, probably five times, to ascertain exactly what it was that the blogger/reviewer had done and arrived at the above four actions. Let’s take a look at Hale’s actions.
- She obtains the blogger’s address under false pretenses from a book club. Over the next few months, my book came out, I got distracted by life and managed to stay off Goodreads. Then a book club wanted an interview, and suggested I pick a blogger to do it.“[GR Reviewer],” I wrote back. I knew tons of nice bloggers, but I still longed to engage with [GR Reviewer] directly. The book club explained that it was common for authors to do “giveaways” in conjunction with the interview, and asked if I could sign some books. I agreed, and they forwarded me [GR Reviewer]’s address.
- She pays for a background check to determine the blogger’s name and employer. According to the telephone directory and recent census reports, nobody named [GR Reviewer’s name] lived there. The address belonged to someone I’ll call [ ] who, according to an internet background check ($19), was 46 – not 27, as [GR Reviewer] was – and worked as [job] of a company that authorises [stuff].
- She rents a car and drives to the GR Reviewer’s house using the address she obtains under false pretenses. “Well, there’s only one way to find out,” Sarah said, sending me a car rental link. “Go talk to her.”…I opened a new tab to book a car.
- Because her feelings got hurt. “How did you know that she hurt my feelings?”
- She goes to the blogger’s house. Examines the property and the contents of the owner’s vehicle, looks at the dogs, compares the information with all the information the blogger has innocently shared online such as vacations and her pets. Before I could change my mind, I walked briskly down the street toward the Mazda parked in [GR Reviewer’s] driveway. A hooded sweatshirt with glittery pink lips across the chest lay on the passenger seat; in the back was a large folder full of what looked like insurance claims. I heard tyres on gravel and spun round to see a police van. For a second I thought I was going to be arrested, but it was passing by – just a drive through a quiet neighbourhood where the only thing suspicious was me. I strolled to the front door. A dog barked and I thought of [her] Instagram Pomeranian. Was it the same one? The doorbell had been torn off, and up close the garden was overgrown. I started to feel hot and claustrophobic. The stupid happiness book grew sweaty in my hands. I couldn’t decide whether to knock. The curtains were drawn, but I could see a figure silhouetted in one window, looking at me. The barking stopped. I dropped the book on the step and walked away
- Calls the blogger’s work under false pretenses. Instead of returning to [her] house, which still felt like the biggest breach of decency I’d ever pulled, I decided to call her at work. Sarah and I rehearsed the conversation. “What do I even say?” I kept asking. “Just pretend to be a factchecker,” she said. “So now I’m catfishing her.” I called the number, expecting to get sent to an operator. But a human answered and when I asked for [her], she put me through. I spat out the line about needing to factcheck a piece. She seemed uncertain but agreed to answer some questions. “Is this how to spell your name?” I asked, and spelled it.
- Confirms that this is the address of the blogger with a publisher. An hour after I got off the phone to [her], [she] deleted her Twitter and set her Instagram to private. A contact at a publishing house confirmed that they’d been sending books to [GR Reviewer’s] address all year, and as recently as two weeks ago.
- Publishes the sick account on Guardian and receives accolades.
My hope is that Guardian will wake up and realize that the publication of this stalking account should be deleted. That it and whomever applauds this piece understands it is enabling completely out of bounds (and likely criminal) behavior. Sarah from Smart Bitches writes:
I don’t understand why the Guardian chose to publish that essay. I don’t understand the thought process of the editor who gave it the green light and effectively condoned the stalking and harassment of a reviewer. The fact that the Guardian published it is as disturbing and abhorrent as Hale’s actions – to say nothing of the degree to which she and the editors at the Guardian both seem to lack understanding of how inappropriate those actions were. The fear and horror and wariness that Hale’s and the Guardian’s decisions have created in many people is absolutely real and justified.
There is no question that some authors think Goodreads should be shut down and wish that there were only “professional” reviewers left to review books and that readers should be allowed to only say good things about all products. And there’s no question that this type of action by Hale will lead to some reviewers/bloggers deciding that the hobby of blogging is simply too rife with complications to continue. Possibly that is the outcome that some want.
I’m horrified that anyone thinks that what Hale did was okay. If this was for publicity, it’s even more sickening. I know that by publishing this, I’m raising the signal for Hale but it was in the Guardian so the signal is pretty damn big right now. There are very few instances wherein Hale’s behavior is justified and nothing in the twisted, one sided account by Hale articulates even one of those few instances.
The following is a storify account compiled by BookThingo of various reactions.
View the story “What happens when The Guardian lets an author gloat about stalking a blogger” on Storify
Absolutely insane! I suspect that, technically, most of what the author did wouldn’t be classed as illegal, but it’s worrying. I would hope that the book club in question follows up. I can see why they gave out the information that they did, but they ought to be reviewing this. I don’t suppose they expected an author to turn out to be a stalker but I think they need to stop giving out personal information.
The crazy thing is… I kinda understand why she did it. The essay is well-written and that’s her strength.
But… her paying a background check seems a little over the top and unhinged just for one bad review that backfired. Maybe she wants people to feel bad for her. I certainly sympathized ( and I’m not an author!)
It’s like I know her reaction is nuts but maybe I would feel the same way if I was in her shoes. I don’t condone it though.
My mind was blown by the fact that she had was given a platform to describe her…disturbing behavior.
Then someone linked this article she previously wrote on similar topic
…and I was freaked out even more.
This is unsettling.
Defense of her actions is unsettling.
You don’t even have to be a blogger and this would make you think twice about writing a bad review.
I watched this unfold on Twitter today and was horrified. Horrified by the author’s behavior, horrified that The Guardian gave her a platform to continue her harassment of the reviewer/blogger and horrified that there could be ANY individuals that felt Ms. Hale’s behavior could be justified under ANY circumstance.
After reading about Ms. Hale’s previous statements about stalking a young teen and pouring hydrogen peroxide over her head because she felt that her family had been wronged by this individual when she; herself, was only 14 I can only conclude that may have deeply rooted issues. Which makes The Guardian’s decision to give her this platform without attempting to verify the circumstances and without input from Ms. Hale’s stalking victim frankly irresponsible and rather inexplicable.
Of course, I knew when Ms. Hale reached the point in her narrative where she reached out and received advice and encouragement from STGRB I knew the story was about to go downhill. Why anyone, The Guardian let alone, would find them a credible source is beyond me. As for her various on-line defenders today I can only marvel that they thought any review, no matter how scathing, warranted an author tracking down a blogger and showing up on their doorstep. That is flat out scary.
I bet that the Guardian decided to publish the “article” because they knew it would make the internet explode. They knew it would get thousands of views, tons of commentary and exposure. It was smart of them.
But this author’s actions… they really creep me out.
There is no excuse for Hale’s behaviour. None.
And as for the Guardian, I don’t think I have the words to properly express the depth of my dismay that they published this drivel.
For those who think there is anything remotely sympathetic in Hale’s story, I’d say that if Stop The Goodreds Bullies thinks you’re going too far, you’ve reached the outer edge of the solar system of bad behaviour.
I suppose that when bloggers won’t touch her books with a sixty foot pole in future, it will be the [GR reviewer’s] fault because Hale taking responsibility for her own egregious and career limiting moves is as beyond her as NOT STALKING PEOPLE, FFS.
That woman needs serious help–because despite the pseudo “self-deprecating” tone of the piece, it’s clear she continues to believe that her fixation with this reviewer is justified.
I’m amazed, in the worst possible way, that The Guardian thought this was worth publishing without any sort of disclaimer–at the very least some fact checking about STGRB.
Yesterday I was shocked that Guardian published her piece – not anymore :(. Hey lots and lots of attention to them, negative or positive, who cares right? Everybody else already expressed my horror :(..
Oh god , I did not see the article linked in the comments. She stalked people previously already? And wrote about it? And I should believe a word she says about what blogger allegedly did in order for her to justify her behavior? Even more emphatically than yesterday’ – no, just no.
I had actually seen that article pop up on my FB feed from the Guardian and read it before I had read any commentary on it. I didn’t even make it through the article because I was disturbed by what the author was describing she did. Of course, I have some background because I’ve heard of authors harassing reviewers and STGRB is already on my radar, but many of the comments on FB obviously came from people without context. They were “See, that’s what anonymity on the internet can do.” Unfortunately I bet a lot of casual readers will come to that conclusion because it’s from a respected news source, which legitimizes Hale’s opinion.
I gotta say, I review casually for a romance blog and post lots of reviews on GR and Amazon, and this kind of harassment DOES have an effect on me. It makes me think twice about posting reviews of books I didn’t like. I’m small potatoes, but really, so was this GR reviewer. It’s not like she was reviewing for some major blog or something, just her personal GR account. So if you can’t even say what you think of a book, what’s the point?
I haven’t published a book but I have done other major writing projects that took months and months of sweat and tears, and putting it out there made me feel vulnerable. I get that. But I couldn’t control the reaction of others to my work. In fact, I did get criticism that was, in my mind, completely unfair, but I still don’t get to control it. It sucks, but that’s the way of the world. But worrying that posting my personal opinions about a book online will lead the author to harass or even stalk me online or IRL? That is fucking terrifying, even worse than feeling like people were being unfair about my work.
OK, I’ve actually been thinking more about my comment, and I wanted to add something I didn’t acknowledge in my previous post when I compared my writing to authors who publish books. My writing was done as part of my professional development activity and as such was indirectly tied to my job, but there was no direct correlation between my compensation and my writing. I know that makes it different for authors, when lots of bad reviews can actually have a negative impact on their livelihood. I know that’s probably a stressful situation, and I do feel bad for that. But I still maintain that it’s your job as an author to write the best book you can, and it’s the job of readers to form their own opinions about that book. One can’t control the other, though admittedly there is some influencing going on both ways.
I was really shocked that they framed the bloggers activity as catfishing. I thought catfishing was when people string individuals along for their own emotional or monetary gain by creating a fake persona. Under the Guardians definition so many of us readers could be accused of catfishing because we have reviewed a book using a username.
I really hope the reviewer seeks out a restraining order because this shit is beyond creepy and stalkerish.
@Junne: “Crazy” is right. The way someone feels and the way someone acts on those feelings are two different things.
I am not a mental health professional, but observations of the human race for 66 years have given me a little bit of insight, and it’s been my experience that most people we would consider “normal” do not become stalkers because someone else says something negative about something they’ve done.
Ms. Hale’s reaction to one person’s negative opinion of her book are not what I’d consider to be normal reactions. Goodreads warned her about responding because Goodreads knows (even on some superficial level, I suppose) that flame wars erupt because some people simply don’t have the emotional maturity to deal with criticism.
Ms. Hale appears to lack any kind of emotional maturity at all. And if you think you’d react the same way in a similar situation, if you think you’d track down someone who said something negative about you . . . .
I write and review under my own name. I don’t hesitate to write negative reviews. I’ve been attacked online for it; my books have been attacked for it, poor defenseless little things. I’m on the STGRB hit list. Enough is enough. There is no excuse for Ms. Hale’s actions. None at all. N-O-N-E.
Okay, I am sorry. You run a background check? You go to that person’s house? You look in their car? You try to look in their windows?
You have crossed the line. Why in the world would an author EVER need to do that?
And even scarier that some who read that article will believe the blogger deserved it. The victim blaming is shameful.
After I read this piece, I went to look at my most negative reviews on Amazon. Was I hurt enough to start drinking? No. Was I so frustrated that someone didn’t get my genius that I was going to start looking at everything else they’d written or reviewed? No. Did I feel like my identity as a creative entity had been destroyed and the only thing that would make me feel like a real person again was to try and ruin the people who said I wasn’t that good so that no one would ever take them seriously again if they dared to speak out? No.
Why? Because I’m not a narcissistic sociopath.
I hope Harper Teen drops her.
I still cannot believe people are encouraging her and telling her she did the right thing.
But had she been a man, would she have the same support?
I like this part Jane wrote: “If this was for publicity, it’s even more sickening.” I think it was for publicity. She referenced the MTV show Catfish in the headline & talked with the show’s crew for a quote. Her book is YA. That show is YA.
I think it is interesting that she is vehemently claiming on twitter that Harper Teen didn’t give her the address. I’m not sure I believe her. Harper marketing invites reviewers to participate in blog tours, book clubs and whatnot. People claiming to know Blythe assert that Hale lied to Harper to get the address. I’m really concerned about that. I don’t review books on GR anymore because I was harassed for posting reviews of ARCs before the publication date. STGRB are on my radar; I’d rather just stay away. I still post reviews other places, and I am loathe to update my address with Harper at this point. I’m happy with the digital ARCs. That way no one can harass me at my job or show up on my doorstep.
@Emily: Harper Teen’s involvement is really disconcerting. HarperTeen cultivates teen reviewers. They send books to my house now after I’ve had my daughter review a couple of books. I had publishers send books to John when he was reviewing for DA as a teen. It’s easy to see that the GR Reviewer next time is a kid, not an adult. I’ve never even considered that a publisher would hand over my address or that I would be imperiled by sharing my mailing address with a publisher.
This idea of a “book club” sharing an email address for a giveaway also sounds wrong to me, but I wanted, for the sake of the article to view the facts most favorably to Hale. It was just by mere luck that I was on Twitter and happened to see her have the meltdown over the three star review that she now wrongly attributes to the GR Reviewer.
Jane, thank you for highlighting and providing a concise summary.
I keep seeing terms like ‘fascinating’, ‘gripping’ or ‘interesting’ describing Ms Hale’s actions on her stalking adventures to harass a blogger that she deemed bullying. Stalking is not interesting or fascinating its horrifying and scary and the fact, Hale was in a position of power and influence not only she managed to get the personal address of the blogger, she actually paid for a background check and got her publisher to confirm the address. And I hated that people were actually condoning or even supporting this yesterday on twitter and on comments at the Guardian. It was like blaming a rape victim for wearing a sexy clothing and this was pretty sickening.
I wonder if this tweet might shed some more light on how she got the reviewer’s information: https://twitter.com/halekathleen/status/466051887070855168
As shocked as I was about the article and her attitude that her actions were justified. I was more appauled by the amount of comments on that article that agreed she was in the right. What!? Just what?
Yeah, I agree.
One (admitted) nut job you can expect. To know there are legions behind her is scary.
Jane, I completely agree that Harper Teen’s involvement is egregious. But when I scrolled through Hale’s twitter feed, she said the following (keep in mind that there is no way to prove the validity of her claims):
1) @HarperTeen did not give me any blogger contact information and was not involved with this article.
2) you asked repeatedly: I NEVER requested blogger contact info from @HarperTeen & they DID NOT confirm contact details. I got it elsewhere.
Sooo…she just completely refuted what she claimed in the article. I honestly have no clue if her publisher is involved or not. Basically, her word is not to be trusted.
What I don’t understand is why Harper Teen hasn’t made a comment yet. They must be aware of the fiasco. Surely it’s in their best interests to condemn Hale and her actions.
A [not sure what adjective to use at this point] thing happened in my house this morning. After reading this, I told my husband about this woman’s essay and subsequent controversy, totally expecting shared outrage. And then . . . was mightily disappointed. We tend to agree on most issues.
His “devil’s avocado” arguments (yes that’s what he calls opposing views) were 1) no harm was actually done and no threats were made, 2) under anonymity, bloggers often write agregious things they never would if their real names were used, and 3) contents can extremely hateful. He cited Jamie Kennedy’s documentary, Heckler, and Gamer Gate, and trollers in general.
After I got over the fact that one of my favorite minds had an opinion I had just found truly terrible, I felt a little doubt, because, well, I esteem my husband. Then I went back to thinking he was totally wrong.
1) Harm was done. I would be terrified if I found out this woman was so obsessed with me that she’d go to such lengths to find me, and had actually gone to my home, and had the power to make trouble for me at my job, which allows me shelter, food and lots of other things I find pretty important. Let it be known that my husband is a big dude, and was raised in a manner to not be afraid of anyone physically. I usually find him to be empathetic, but he probably has a hard time imagining how different the experience might be for a woman. He is a tough guy. I am not a tough woman, at least not physically. There are plenty of awesome tough women out there, but this blogger might not be one of them. Beyond the fear of physical harm, having such an invasion of privacy and attempt at intimidation to stop her from doing something that I assume she feels passionately about must be emotionally harmful. Not to mention this personal attack take place so publicly.
2) Yes, bloggers can hide behind anonymity to say whatever they want. But, they’re expressing their true thoughts and feelings. How many excellent thoughts would we miss if people were scared physically to express those thoughts, or would lose their livelihood if they did? If a reviewer or blogger is not to your liking, you have the option of not reading.
3) Yes, the hate out there is terrible. You’ve got a point. But it’s out there, in people’s hearts. It’s depressing, but maybe we should take note of these vitriolic thoughts instead of embracing ignorance. Reminds me a bit of Conferates in the Attic. When someone says something agregious in a public forum, someone can respond in the opposite manner. Like we’ve seen on twitter recently with regard to Gamer Gate. Attention has been drawn to what these ladies go through, which is definitely a positive. I had no idea. As a matter of fact, my husband was outraged just the other night as he read some of these posts and comments.
And just one more thing…. Whether you disclose your true name or not, this all goes back to opening the door to voices that have previously been silenced, which is always a good thing. For example, the stats on male to female mainstream book reviewers and male to female authors reviewed is a sad thing, as is the neglect mainstream reviewers practice with respect to authors of color. This site, headed by a woman using a pseudonym, not only is a great place to read about women authors, but also gives attention to non-wasp authors. This wasp here would never be exposed to many of these great authors if she relied on traditional book review institutions.
(Jane’s Note: edited to add paragraph marks for easier reading.)
https://twitter.com/yaReads/status/523737509696520192 even more along that line, seems we know what her (unwitting) source was.
Thank you for this. I was actually sympathizing with Hale and feeling like Harris was horrible–because I was believing it through her eyes–that she was harassed, hounded. Seeing the screen shot makes clear that this was no harassment.
I don’t like seeing vicious reviews–and some folks seem to get off on being ripping and mocking often–but I’d rather have freedom of review that leads to genuine lower scores than fake glowing ones paid by the dozen. I just wish that reviewers would sometimes stop and think that this is a person’s work and have a bit more courtesy and think if they’d want someone to speak about their work as they are speaking of someone else’s. I really would. But I’m big on free speech, and negative free speech is part of that.
So, thank you. I definitely sympathized too much with Hale and it let me put a more dark spin on Harris’ reported actions, in my own mind enlarging the awfulness of the tweets and review. It’s good to have it laid out like this. I did have a twtch when I saw she talked to STGRB, as I had already heard about their abuse and doxxing.
I hope Hale calms down and talks to a therapist. No one should be showing up at a person’s home like that. (Even when I was sympathizing with her I though that was WHACK and creepy.) As one of the mantras in a writing group to which I belong goes: Don’t respond to negative reviews. Just don’t. So within the group, there’s venting. Out there: silence. Let reviewers review and let it go. Hale needs to learn that.
Again, thanks for this great post.
@Mir: Hale is a very compelling writer. Who’s going to read 5000 words of a shitty writer? No one. She’s very good at spinning her tale, conflating events, and disguising actions. In the essay she goes from describing this litany of events that the blogger/reviewer supposedly visited upon her and then writes another 500 words on heckling. The nearness of the heckling paragraph to the actions of the blogger creates this image of the blogger actually heckling the author when, of course, it didn’t happen.
And Hale is a deleter, meaning instead of standing by her tweets, she deletes them so it makes her look even more victimized and like many of the “details” she describes are vague such as “that day” so there’s nothing verifiable. There are more screenshots of her arguing with people over this three star review that she now inaccurately attributes to the original GR Reviewer.
I didn’t see any tweets of the GR Reviewer bating Hale, but it’s easy to read that into the essay because Hale does such a good job of being victimized.
Hale has a history of obsessive behavior, which she explicitly states in this article (warning for an explicit accounting of rape, remember to take care of yourselves!):
To quote: “My ritualistic obsessions are no longer limited to animals (currently, they include Diane Sawyer, The Slender Man Stabbings, and eating bacon every day for lunch). I never look for things to grab me. They just do, and once they do, the obsessions usually continue until I’m so sick of them—or of myself for enacting them—that suddenly, and with a sense of great relief, I’m repulsed.
On other occasions, it’s as if I can’t stop.”
If her fixation with Blythe was a ritualistic obsession, well, I could see that. It fits.
Others have also mentioned this other piece (another warning for rape-related content/references) that also includes obsessive behavior and, in my view, more stalking. If this is a pattern for her, from a PR standpoint her publisher needs to go on lockdown status and make sure she doesn’t engage in harmful behaviors on social media–like, dang, she’s probably already burned too many bridges to count. Still amazed Harper Teen hasn’t commented, even just to double down on denying involvement? Maybe they’re putting out fires behind the scenes. Who knows.
I wish her the best, truly, and I have loads of sympathy for her after reading both articles. It doesn’t excuse her behavior or the spinning she did in the Guardian piece, but it gives insight. It may not be a personal attack on one reviewer so much as a compulsion that got well out of hand.
Wow. I clicked on to YA Reads’s twitter wall and one of her last tweets said this: “Uhm. Excuse me while I look into exactly what went on and find out who to contact about this huge misuse of mine and Blythe’s trust….”
If this is accurate, then YA Reads hosted 2014 Debut Authors Bash Blogger Sign Ups (where I presume a debut author got matched up a blogger). Since (according to your link), Hale “requested Blythe” as her blogger, YA Reads gave Hale Blythe’s address so Hale could mail the book. That’s a huge breach of trust. :(
Not only are Hale’s actions very scary, but the reactions by some other authors are baffling. Some seem to only be reading the piece as if it were just a writing exercise. They are more ‘fascinated’ by what she is writing than horrified by the real-life actions she’s reporting.
Others seem to be doubling down on trying to find ways to blame the victim. First by buying wholeheartedly into the idea that she somehow Catfished Hale (so obviously they don’t even know what catfishing is) then by consistently dismissing Blythe as ‘troll’. The constant refrain of calling her a troll strikes me as a text-book dehumanizing tactic so that Hale’s actions can be comfortably viewed as something that is justified.
This is so horrible to me. What is wrong with some people?
There are a few authors whose worked that I’d always liked has caused me to rethink them here.
Based on Hale’s own accounts of this incident and the previous one with the 14 yo girl, Hale sounds deeply, deeply disturbed. Her actions are not normal. Instead of attagirls, her supporters should be encouraging her to get the medical attention she clearly needs. And to stop drinking.
As for Harper and Guardian? WTF?? No excuse whatsoever for their actions. They need an intervention, too.
I read this while @ the NJRW conference and I couldn’t believe the piece on the Guardian. The author is…wow. what she did horrifies me.
Jeez, this behaviour is seriously disgusting and creepy. Writing for Harlequin, I learnt to develop a thick skin very quickly – there are reviewers who HATE my books. Would I start stalking them for it? Absolutely not. I wouldn’t engage with them at all – it’s their opinion and they are entitled to them, just as I am entitled to the opinions of the books I read.
I am absolutely stunned how many people are taking Harris’s creation of an online identity personally.
Is it possible that Hale made up the story about going to the reviewer’s house? That the Guardian article is another piece of fiction?
Point 1 – while anything could be fiction, too many would have to be participating for this not to be factual. Without revealing parties involved, some reactions indicate truth.
Point 2 – HarperTeen may not have given her the address, but who is the publishing contact that confirmed the address, indicating they had used it two weeks ago? It may be a weekend, but Harper needs to address this. I am not comfortable with how they may use my personal information.
Has The Guardian responded to this yet? I would think they should be held accountable also for their actions in promoting stalking and inappropriate behavior by publishing the essay.
I am appalled by the out pouring of support Hale has received because of her article. An article that chronicles and excuses her descent into criminal activity because a reviewer gave her a bad review. We don’t see the reviewer’s side of the story. We see no proof that the reviewer or her friends ever harassed Hale. Yet almost everyone is confident that the reviewer must have brought this on herself. Why? Because no one wants to believe that Hale has issues? Because anyone who uses a fake name must be up to no good? Because there is no way Hale would lie or fabricate certain information to make her actions less disgusting? I know plenty of authors who use pen names and no one is accusing them of being nefarious. 0_o It’s a disgusting dialogue of victim blaming and self pity. The shocker is this isn’t new behavior for Hale. She has engaged in this sort of behavior before.
As the victim of harassment and stalking (through my online business) I know exactly how Harris feels. My stalker made it a block from my house, CALLING me from the corner store to let me know he was coming to “straighten me out.” I had called the police every time contact was made, I called his IP server and reported him, stored his emails, kept a stalking diary, ect…and was pretty much told the only way to stop him was to catch him in the act (physically). I even tried to get a restraining order. So basically I had to let him come to my house in order to get the police to do something. I can’t even verbalize how frightened I was. I lost weight. I couldn’t sleep. I had to close my store for awhile because the stress was literally killing me.
The reason for this man’s harassment of me? I refused to lower the price of an item he wanted to buy.
That was it. I wouldn’t give him what he wanted so I became his enemy and had to be destroyed. I was told by fellow sellers that maybe I should just sell him the item so he would go away…as if all this was my fault.
And that is what happened here. Hale didn’t like what Harris said in her review/status updates and decided that Harris was the enemy that must be destroyed. So now we have a reviewer who may or may not ever review again and is being victimized all over again by the public and an author who is being hailed as a champion of the “bullied and opposed.”
Ain’t life grand? *sarcasm*
What gets me the most is the lack of regret. She doesn’t seem to grasp what she did what bats**t and crossed all lines of common sense and decency. I have seen other essays by this author where she engages in despicable behavior while playing the victim card. I write under a pen name because two years ago an old high school acquaintance began stalking me. Authors, bloggers, etc deserve the right to privacy with regards to their personal lives, end of story.
Not an expert by any means. It sounds to me like Hale has a narcissistic personality disorder. Her obsessive behavior which she admits to, combined with her a lack of impulse control and lack of empathy (in my opinion) illustrates this (again, my opinion). I seriously doubt Hale will take any responsibilty for her behavior and thus any fallout, narcissists generally don’t.
I question how much of her account is factual. I’ve read several tweets questioning the veracity of her claims against the blogger, i.e. no proof of the “bullying”. It makes me question the rest of it. I wonder if any part of the story is factual. Not for PR for her books, but attention to herself, as “I am victim”. I think this is what makes the article “fasinating”. I do not condone Hale’s behavior(at all), but rather, it’s hard to look away, in a “WTF” kind of response.
I’ve gotten slammed by reviewers. I’ve responded when I shouldn’t have. I’ve had personal jabs taken at me in reviews, and have had to sit on my hands not to respond with remarks of my own. I don’t care what people say about my books (or at least I try not to care), but I wish they’d leave me out of it. I don’t agree with taking pot shots and I never will. So, okay, maybe this reviewer wasn’t her best self, but wow… Hale went way, way too far. And then to write about it? Even after those professionals closest to her kept telling her to leave it alone? I can’t wrap my mind around it. All of that energy could have gone into another book, or something much more positive. What did this solve? It’s so disturbing. As an author, I’m embarrassed and feel like I should apologize.
I found the Guardian article early Saturday morning, was so astounded and horrified that I Tweeted just after 10:00 am (UK time) – “This is SO wrong in SO many ways! Don’t get angry, just turn off the internet, please.”
I KNEW the furore it would create, and was duly not disappointed (only a few Tweets through the day came to me b/c I don’t follow that many people), but I wasn’t aware of the scope until I read this (very well thought out) article – so thank you for this.
Yes: I was jaw-dropped astonished that the Guardian would publish something like this. Yes: I was horrifically astounded to read the actions of the author. And yes: I knew there was absolutely NOTHING I could do about it! So, apart from my one and only Tweet, I refused to comment further (although I did ‘favourite’ some other people’s Tweets.)
I do review on GoodReads (and Amazon when requested to), but these reviews are purely personal, relevant to the book, and are never critical of the author. I probably overcompensate when I don’t like a book by referring to my OWN likes/dislikes or moods – and THIS is the main criteria I hold to: it is MY opinion, no-one else’s. I don’t blog (some ppl have asked ‘why not?’) – but THIS event is why I don’t slate anything!
My major concern is something some of your posters have picked up on: how can a reviewer do his/her job when an ‘upset’ author can resort to something like this? This is the thin edge of the wedge; reviewers will be AFRAID to give an honest review to avoid similar repercussions (whether in virtual or real life); book reviews will die; recommendations between friends will die; promotions by blog-hops will die; and an international community of book-lovers will die.
I became VERY careful on GoodReads a couple of years ago when the STGRB group gained momentum; and limited my reviews on Amazon for similar reasons. I use GR for my own personal benefit and memory, though it is becoming more likely that I’ll either stop completely, or just put my thoughts in a Word document on my laptop for NO-ONE ELSE to see.
Freedom of Speech obviously has its limitations, but in so trivial a matter as a (poor) book review, it is totally wasted.
Oh, and by the way, this is the real me: on GR, on FB, Twitter, and wherever I post a comment :)
I don’t like it when reviewers tweet (or email) links to their negative reviews to authors. I don’t know why they do it. Maybe it’s because publicists tell them that they need the link? I don’t really know. If someone does this, can you explain your rationale? It’s something I’d like to have a deeper understanding of.
Edited to add: The GR Reviewer in question did not do this. The status updates were something found by the author. And even if the reviewer/GR blogger does this, it wouldn’t justify Hale’s behavior.
It’s all too easy to believe that GR reviewers (or Amazon reviewers, for that matter) are the bad guys in this. They haven’t exactly had the best track record in the past for behaving well towards authors who respond to bad reviews (for the record, *never* a good idea on the author’s part).
However, all I had to do was read Hale’s opening paragraphs documenting her emotional state and reactions to the publication of her first novel and I immediately knew this wasn’t going to go well. I’m baffled as to why the Guardian gave her a platform.
@Barb Ferrer: “It’s all too easy to believe that GR reviewers (or Amazon reviewers, for that matter) are the bad guys in this.”
How so? In what ways have the activities by GR Reviewers (membership in the millions and so to refer to them as a single entity is strange but whatever) turned them into “bad guys”.
A long, very long time ago, I would alert authors when I a) I had gotten the book through them, and b) I wrote a not-glowing review, telling them that the review would be up and it would not be a rave, period.
This was in early to mid-2008, during the first few months of my regular reviewing gig at Karen Knows Best. I was suddenly getting a lot of books from authors, both published and ARCs, and feeling very much out of my depth.
My rationale, which I soon realized was misguided and doing a lot more harm than good, was that by warning them, the authors would not be ambushed by the review. My (incorrect) assumption was that most authors searched for their names and reviews constantly, and that they would always come across my review and be hurt by it.
It was naive in a way I cannot explain eight years later, but that was why I did it. Once I realized most authors work really hard at not seeing negative reviews at all, I stopped, though I still feel shitty that I did it at all, and hope those authors I emailed at the time have forgiven my stupidity.
I don’t review often even though I read a lot (I’d rather spend my time reading than writing reviews). I had very little personal information on my Twitter or GR account already but I immediately removed my photo from Twitter and GR after reading the article. I’ve even considered removing the couple low star reviews I wrote. I don’t know that I will leave any more low star reviews after reading this article.
A book blogger cannot break your career with a bad review, nor can they make it with a good one. My books have been trashed a lot, and praised a lot, and really? In the long scheme of things, the reviews are only opinions. I detest GR with a passion, to be honest, so I just don’t go there. I have a page there that we update, but it’s that simple. I’ve been personally trashed there before–not my books but me–and I did not engage or encourage my readers to engage. I’d rather not bring attention to someone I consider a troll.
Hale overstepped the line in so many ways. Stalking? Terrifying for the person being stalked. Been there. Stalking? Also illegal in many places. From the account, I believe she needs mental health, counseling, and a good restraining order. The reviewer sounds a little wonky to me too, but Hale is the one who went out there and dug out her info and showed up at her door. Just. Wrong. Incredibly wrong.
The best response to reviews? Nothing. Just let it be, either way. On Twitter, I seldom RT reviews sent to me via an @reply. For one thing, most I’m not going to go read, and I’m not about to RT a bad review. Two, I’ve had bad reviews sent to me this way and my response is, WTF? Why? These are for the readers, not for me, why do you want to tick me off? But the most action I take is to vent to a friend.
I don’t know, at least in talk to them, one author who thinks what Hale did is acceptable. But like another blog post on this said–book bloggers can’t be sure. It’s not that most of us are going to turn on them, not at all. But if there’s one or two authors sitting on that fine line…then sadly…they do well to worry about the possibility.
The easy interaction of the net is becoming an issue in so many ways, on BOTH sides. Fans sometimes getting delusional about their relationships with their fave authors/celebs, authors/celebs going off the deep end like Hale. It’s wonderful to be able to say hello…but I question how much longer it can go on when things like this happen.
I hope I’m making sense…pre-caffeine here (and that is NOT a good state for me to be in). Leave it to say, I’m surprised the reviewer didn’t slap Hale with a restraining order. All she has to do is point to that post for evidence.
Gah… I don’t know, at least in talk to them, one author who thinks what Hale did is acceptable should be: I don’t know, at least in talking to them, one (meaning any) author who thinks what Hale did is acceptable.
How? Why? Because Hale, who is clearly not rational or truthful, says so?
This is what is killing me. Why is anyone giving any credence to the word of a person who is capable of rationalizing stalking? Why are we willing to give Hale the benefit of believing her motivations and therefore granting her actions even a modicum of justification?
DR wondered why the Guardian published this. I don’t. It’s a damn good article, and the reaction to it — evidenced by this discussion thread — shows why it was needed.
This is not a defense of Hale. She’s crazy as an outhouse rat, and needs a stiff restraining order instead of a drink. But we’re learning here just how crazy a person can be, how people react to her acts (sometimes because they’re men and they don’t understand how threatened a woman can feel about a stalker, sometimes because we haven’t read the counterarguments, such as those presented here (and her account of attacking a schoolmate at 14). Some of us read only her story, and couldn’t imagine that she was the crazy one.
So all in all, a provocative story that, judging by the response, needed to be addressed. We needed to discuss this, and hopefully learn from it.
I’d never heard of the author, but I do buy the Guardian and I’m surprised and disappointed that they would allow themselves to be used as a medium for the author to continue to harass the reviewer.
@Bill Peschel: Do you honestly think the Guardian published this piece of crap, without disclaimers, without fact checking (misuse of catfish, using STGRB as source, for crying out loud!), without blanking out the reviewers screen name, because “it’s something the public needs to discuss”?
Thank you for your wise commentary of this sorry and I don’t mind saying frightening situation. Like Sarah indicated in her article at SBTB (I left a similar comment there) the numbers of individuals that have praised and condoned the irrational behavior described by that woman in the Guardian article is beyond sad. The horrible comments that follow that post and the discussion in online forums supporting a shameless invasion of a person’s privacy and security is breathtaking.
It’s ridiculous comments such as this: https://twitter.com/damiengwalter/status/523813741130182656 that are beyond the pale.
Staying clear of online controversy/drama in the book blogging / reviewing world is a policy that I’ve personally tried to adopt of late. I’ve learned name calling and insults with regard to book reviews can come from readers and authors alike, it’s not acceptable but it’s best to shrug it off, not engage, eat a cupcake or whatever. I have to say a physical threat to one’s safety and security isn’t something that myself and many of my online acquaintances have previously given much thought to. However, when sharing thoughts online about books we read or providing commentary regarding the publishing world in general risks someone unknown and uninvited physically invading one’s home and work life &/or being sued then careful consideration of your online presence is required.
So for my part, I’m abandoning Goodreads as a platform to post reviews and thoughts about books and moving to a different and seemingly more civilized and quieter site.
I’ll keep posting reviews at the current blog where I contribute as it is strictly for books we recommend if readers are interested.
I’m no longer accepting review books from authors I don’t know. I’ll continue accepting referrals from publicists linked with publishers who I know and trust and from rational authors I’ve dealt with in the past. To the best of my ability, I’m going to privatize any information I write online & take any other measures I see fit to safeguard the safety and security of myself and my family.
Some may think these measures are silly and reactionary, but to be honest I don’t give a rat’s ass. I like to think about the books I’ve read and have historically enjoyed sharing thoughts with others but I no longer care if anyone one sees what I have to say. When there is the possibility of being targeted by an individual who has no sense of decency or respect for others then it’s best to be safe rather then sorry.
Thank you for a providing a forum where we can discuss this issue.
I’ve self-published for over 20 years, worked as an editor for other publishers for about 10 years, and had articles published in a fair number of magazines. Yes, a few people who post reviews in online venues clearly, truly, never read the book. Yes, there are people who try to hurt an author’s sales. More than one person has tried to keep me from presenting politely worded and allowable opinions on controversial subjects (the right to copyright protection being a major one) on e-groups by threatening never to buy my books. So what? People like that aren’t really my readers/buyers anyway. It’s a waste of time and useless emotion to get torqued about their threats. I just use my delete key. Hale seems to be a self-dramatizing, publicity-seeking person who has let herself go way over the edge of allowable and in my mind, even legal behavior. And yes, it’s frightening to see other authors agree with her. A review is not supposed to be the publisher’s marketing copy.
While I don’t often read The Guardian’s book section unless linked to it, as in the case of Hale’s essay, I have followed a good deal of their coverage of the Snowden files, NSA, spying, and privacy in the internet age. At one point, this coverage led to their decision to physically destroy their own computer hardware to protect sources rather than handing it over to UK government agents. Based on the staunch stance they have consistently taken in issues that concern the right to privacy and the exposure of abuse of public trust by people and institutions, I am inclined to think that, rather than espousing this author’s cause, they actually knowingly allowed her the metaphorical rope to hang herself.
This shit is messed up. I read about it after a friend told me at the NJRW event and was disgusted. She stalked somebody. Period. That’s NOT okay.
Crap. I’m on the road and thought my comment from earlier was lost when the signal went bad. Sorry for the double!
Linda, of course I think her actions are appalling.
What I was trying to say is that she makes a very compelling case, and that it kinda drew me her way.
But when I stopped reading and then thought of that day when a restaurant owner sent me a mail following a review I made about her food and invited me to go back and taste again because it was her mama’s recipe and everyone said it’s wonderful, I felt chilled to the bone and respectfully declined.
Because I didn’t want to face her and explain to her face that I found the food awful because well…I’m entitled to my anonimity. Also, it’s subjective. Maybe someone else thinks her greasy, bland cupcakes are good.
So what I’m trying to say is that I understand her feeling that way, but she shouldn’t have acted upon it.
That’s definitely stalking.
I don’t know if you all are aware of this, but there is a lot of nepotism at play right now as far as how Hale got a voice at the Guardian. Her fiance is a longtime writer for them, and is the son of a very well-known columnist AND a HarperCollins exec.
Turns out Hale is the girlfriend of Simon Rich, writer for SNL and son of journalist Frank Rich and (former?) Harper Collins executive editor Gail WInston.
So there’s no question who has the power in this author/reviewer relationship.
Let me first say that I don’t blame you — not one little bit! And then say that to me that’s one of the most infuriating and saddening thing about this incident– that thanks to Kathleen Hale and The Guardian, honest critical reviews are being driven away from the public spaces we all share. This is something that concerns everyone in this community– how our community itself is being shredded by actions like Hale’s. In the long run, that’s bad for readers, bad for authors, bad for the online community, bad for the books and bad for the genres we read.
@Tashenka: Not former. She seems to edit mostly nonfiction. But between Rich and Winston the Rich sons are extremely well connected and powerful in themselves at this point. If you want to get a sense of who has Kathleen Hale’s back, here are a couple of pieces (fairly recent and not so recent):
And here’s The Guardian’s August 2014 wet, sloppy kiss of a profile of Simon Rich and his latest book:
ETA: This Gawker column by Tom Scocca on the amount of press Nathaniel Rich has received, especially in the NYT without any disclosure, is also well worth reading:
Sunita, thanks. So does anybody think that Harper teen would drop her any time soon? Somehow I really really doubt that now. And I will have to read a really persuasive argument now convincing me that ” Guardian” gave her a platform for any other reason than her family connections. That’s my opinion. OY.
If I felt bad for the blogger before, I feel ten times worse now. Not only unhinged author, but unhinged author with powerful family connections is after her. Ugh.
@Sunita: I didn’t think my opinion of Hale could sink any lower. But amazingly, it can. That really makes me sick.
I’d love to think The Grauniad was being cunning, but the article seems to give the reviewer’s age, job description, county of residence, the car she drives, the number and approximate age of her children, the breed of her dogs and where she went on holiday that one time.
If they’ve changed those details, than perhaps they are letting the author orchestrate her own downfall – but if they didn’t, I think there’s enough there to identify the reviewer to others who live in her community. And if so, I think that – however fascinating the piece, however much insight we get into a stalker’s self-justifications – The Guardian are in actual fact giving the stalker a platform to continue harrassing this person.
(This is me being cynical: I didn’t read the article as Hale chronicling a past obsession, I rather felt she was pursuing a current one.)
I heard tyres on gravel and spun round to see a police van. For a second I thought I was going to be arrested, but it was passing by – just a drive through a quiet neighbourhood where the only thing suspicious was me. I strolled to the front door.
– THIS creeped me out big time. I hope she is aware of US trespassing and gun laws next time she ventures out snooping around. =D
Thank you all for posting this story,
@Marianne McA: Absolutely. She knows that the reviewer’s social media is still set to private – because she keeps checking. She knows that the reviewer hasn’t replied to any of her messages – and still wants her to. She isn’t over this AT ALL. She’s just waiting to make her next move.
@Jane: I don’t like it when reviewers tweet (or email) links to their negative reviews to authors. I don’t know why they do it.
Although probably not in all cases, or most cases, sometimes reviewers @reply an author’s Twitter handle within the tweet to make it easier for followers to find the handle of the author being reviewed. It’s not always meant as “sending” the tweet to the author. I rarely do it even with positive reviews because I feel like they’ll seek out reviews if they want to, and Twitter users are pretty savvy at finding authors all on their own, but I can understand why others do it. I’d far rather they include the Twitter handle of the publisher, since those are the people most likely to want to pull quotes etc.
My general rule of thumb is that ANY author who says ANYTHING positive about STGRB is either not fully informed or not someone I want to review or have any interaction whatsoever with. That site has gone after me because they thought I was somehow the same person as someone on Amazon (I’m not, and they’re unhinged).
There is no defense for this type of behavior. None. And the Guardian should be ashamed that they allowed her a platform from which to spew this garbage from.
Let me second that. It’s exactly how I feel. It’s awful to see readers/bloggers become afraid for their safety and therefore (logically) refuse to review the books of authors they don’t know.
I’ve read all of this and all I really want to know is this – Do publishers have privacy policies? And do those policies extend to bloggers and reviewers they give ARCs to?
I don’t review, but if I did, I think I’d be asking my publishing contacts re their privacy policies. Arghh.
The Guardian article read like a bad car accident you pass on the freeway. It’s horrid, you know you shouldn’t look, and yet you just can’t stop yourself. There were times when I thought the whole thing a farce. Surely someone couldn’t write that and feel their actions were justified. The fact that the author has been accused of stalking behavior in the past makes the Guardian look even worse for providing her with a soap box. I live on both sides of the review debacle– author and reviewer. I have learned to live by Elsa’s song in Frozen… Let It Go. And I guarantee that I am a happier person because of it.
Thanks for this breakdown of facts and assertions, Jane. What really astounded me about the reactions to the article is how willing people were to believe that the blogger was at fault, absent of any evidence outside the author’s account, and how quickly this was generalised to trolling behaviour and ‘Goodreads bullies’. I was also surprised to be told something along the lines of ‘I’m sorry that people feel threatened by the article, but the author was not stalking. She merely visited someone and called her a couple of times.’ when Hale herself clearly labels her actions as stalking, and the person she talks to clearly sounded upset by their interactions.
Generally I find it pretty prudent to stay out of these types of discussions, but there’s something about this conversation that’s bothering me.
First, let me say that I’m not saying what Hale did is right. I’m not defending her. I’ll go so far to say blatantly, without reservation, that her actions, mindset and overall behavior is very, very wrong.
I’m also entirely aware that the accusations Hale made against the reviewer could be completely inaccurate. But I feel very icky about equating the things that Hale claims the reviewer did online with simply having a pseudonym.
I completely respect the right of authors and bloggers, and your grandmother and your aunt and your dog to use a pseudonym online. I don’t care if someone calls themselves Rachel, or Rebecca, or Susy or BannanaBerryPrincess, but I don’t like thinking that we as a reading and writing community accept that our interactions with each other can be entirely false and we’re okay with that. How could I trust a reviewer’s opinion of a book if they’re calling themselves a teacher and it turns out they are an accountant? If being a teacher, spreading the love of reading to students makes them more sympathetic, or likeable, maybe saying they like the book that’s currently popular to like also helps them connect. But it’s also false, and in my opinion that’s not having a pseudonym, that’s lying.
I didn’t feel any better about it when Rowling was revealed to be Galbraith, who’d used the bio: “After several years with the Royal Military Police, Robert Galbraith was attached to the SIB (Special Investigative Branch), the plain-clothes branch of the RMP. He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry. The idea for Cormoran Strike grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who returned to the civilian world. ‘Robert Galbraith’ is a pseudonym.”
It seemed to be that the persona of Galbraith was created to strongly correlate to what she was writing about, giving enhanced credibility. Couldn’t it also be said that the persona of a teacher would give one’s reviews the appearance of more technical merit?
With that said, I feel a whole lot worse about an author stalking and verbally accosting a reviewer than I do about the thought of people lying online. But just as I don’t feel that it’s fair for people to justify what Hale did under the light of not being comfortable with the thought of what the reviewer may or may not have done, I don’t think it’s a good idea to justify lying and creating an entirely fake life and persona online, just because we believe that what Hale did was absolutely wrong.
Using a pseudonym is perfectly acceptable. Being disingenuous in our interactions with others is not. Neither is stalking.
I’m at a loss for words here. The fact that the Guardian considered this “essay” a representable piece for these issues is even more disturbing than Hale’s publication.
@Kelly Walker: So what? Congratulations on having an opinion about how people live their online lives. What does it have to do with the issue of stalking someone, though?
The title of this essay is “On the importance of pseudonymous activity,” so I sort of felt that my opinion that the alleged behavior of the reviewer is different than standard pseudonymous activity was valid.
@Kelly Walker: In fact, we know nothing for sure about the blogger’s real life. For all we know, she could have been a teacher at one point. In any case, I think your comment overestimates how much importance a blogger’s readership places on their purported credentials. I don’t value my librarian’s opinion on books any more or less because she’s a librarian — I value them because I trust her to tell me when she thinks the book is enjoyable or not, and I have a good idea of whether or not or tastes align based on our previous and ongoing discussions about books.
I do appreciate that writing can be intensely personal, but there’s this underlying assumption that writers are so much more fragile than other people who regularly receive criticism for their work that is so bizarre to me. I post pseudonymous reviews and comments on Bollywood films and Korean dramas on other websites, and sometimes tweet about those things. If an Indian director or a South Korean actor showed up at my house to argue with me about my opinions, we would all agree this was unreasonable behavior. Or if a professional athlete were to track down the address and name of a twitter user or radio show caller who criticized them, and looked in their car and house, and called them at work, it would reflect poorly on the money-making athlete (and their team, league, agent), not the fan.
My other takeaways from Hale’s piece: 1) I promise to never be the friend who sends you a rental car link when you are overtaken by the crazy; and 2) when Nev Shulman tells you that he wouldn’t do something, you have gone too far.
This is why I’m very slowly and very carefully backing out of this world. It’s too fraught with angst and retribution. I want to write, but not in this climate. So I’m going to find a nice oasis of calm somewhere and produce books that I hope only sane people that don’t want to stalk me will enjoy.
Wow. Hale’s ties to the Rich family and, through them, to powerful publishing entities takes this to a whole other level. Having your stalker be so well-connected and insulated from consequences just makes it that much more appalling for the blogger.
But a word of caution for Nathaniel Rich: This is not a person you want to have a bad breakup with.
Having mulled this over all day, I’ve been drawn to the IPSO website and specifically to their Editors’ Code of Practice. It’s available here: https://www.ipso.co.uk/IPSO/cop.html (and it seems it might not be available to people with IP addresses outside the UK) but the gist is:
– Editors are responsible for all content, even that of non-journalist contributors
– The content should be accurate and not intrude on privacy.
Specifically it has this to say about harassment:
i) Journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit.
iii) Editors must ensure these principles are observed by those working for them and take care not to use non-compliant material from other sources.
Now, it’s pretty clear whoever approved this article has not adhered to that at all. It’s inaccurate (as DA has evidenced) and is gives a detailed account of harassment as if it was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Sadly, the only person who can submit a complaint to IPSO is Blythe Harris herself, and the last thing I want to do is search out her contact details and demand she do so.
However, given that IPSO was founded on the back of the Leveson Inquiry which was all about journalistic intrusions on privacy, this really is the sort of thing The Guardian should be getting a smack for.
This whole situation is incredibly disturbing to me. There appear to be a couple of discussions happening: negative reviews and stalking. The stalking is inexcusable. I would think that simple common sense and human decency would denote stalking is bad. There is no reason to hunt someone down. Not only that, but the whole thing is now chronicled in an odd essay published for mass consumption. Weird. How did any person reading the essay think that it would be appropriate? Yikes. Ms. Hale’s crazy essay only reinforces the value of the pseudonym.
The other discussion – which I’ve seen as a sort of defense of the stalking (oh, boy, gotta love attempted justification) – is the “evil” of negative reviews. Some people seem to think that no one should ever leave a negative review (really?). In fact, I’ve begun (and quickly ended) discussions on the issue of “appropriate” reviews. A review should contain the reader’s thoughts on the product/service being reviewed. Will those thoughts always contain sunshine, roses, and unicorns? I hope not. I actively avoid any books that have only good or only bad ratings. Different strokes for different folks and all that jazz. Negative reviews have actually persuaded me to make a purchase. On Goodreads, I follow several people because we tend to have opposite tastes. If I don’t like a book, I have every right to note those thoughts, feelings, and opinions; the same is true if I truly enjoyed a book.
In summation, Ms. Hale is completely off the rails. Her behavior is abhorrent and deserving of some sort of legal consequence. Consider me giving massive side-eye to anyone purporting to support Ms. Hale and/or glorify her actions. I truly hope that people take this as a lesson in what not to do.
On a related note, why can’t users make our accounts/reviews on GR private? That has always bothered me, but this incident truly shows that any of us could be a target if someone disagrees with our review. I really only post reviews to share my reading with my GR friends…Should I now be afraid, for example, of posting a DNF review because the author can also view it? I do use a pseudonym on the account, but am still not comfortable with the implications of this going forward.
Hale has extensive connections in the publishing world which allowed her to get away with this, and will likely protect her from any real consequences. Her (future) mother-in-law is an executive editor at Harper Collins, and her future father in law (Frank Rich) and husband-to-be Simon rich have both written for Guardian-related publications.
@Krista: I totally agree. Every social media platform from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram has the ability to set your profile private. Amazon even offers that for your own personal Kindle notes, if I remember correctly. Allowing private profiles could really, really cut down on some of these reader / author contretemps.
If you think this really was for publicity, why would Hale make herself look like a nut case? If I were her, I would have done the same thing trying to find out who Blythe is. I had someone troll me and call my father at work trying to get me into trouble telling him what I was doing on the Internet. I was posting on a real name and my situation wasn’t. She had access to everything about me when I posted on my real name and abused my networking purposes. I couldn’t find anything about her. I really despise people who use pen names to harass and bully people, especially having gone through that myself multiple times.
I really wanted to find out who that troll was who thought she could call my father like that when she does the same thing harassing people but she left no trace of her. I applaud Hale for letting Blythe know it’s not okay to make rude comments and think no consequences can happen.
@thelostxin.com: What specifically do you feel was inappropriate about what the GR Reviewer did that warranted the stalking?
I am confused.
The writer is the one who did the stalking of the blogger.
Yet its the bloggers fault because she wrote a review of a book? That is not being mean, that is called being a reviewer.
Er, making rude comments on the internet merits stalking? The reviewer did not contact Hale at work or contact her family.
Everything you just described happening to you is what Hale did to the reviewer. Having gone through the same experience as the reviewer, I’m confused as to why you would take Hale’s side.
So has Hale claimed that Harper Teen didn’t give her the contact info, or Harper Collins, more generally? That was among my first questions after reading this: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/fashion/nathaniel-and-simon-the-brothers-rich.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
So, posting negative reviews on a book reviewing website, bad. Stalking the crap out of someone, showing up at their home, calling their work, paying for a background check for gods sake (how is that legal?!), making note of their children, and then disseminating that information in a multinational publication to further your harassment…that’s ok because they might have written some “mean” about a BOOK?!
This whole situation is crazy sauce, and I think perfectly summed up by another commentators analogy: if a professional athlete, say a football player, tracked down a pseudonymous twitter user who had said something negative about them and then showed up at their house, their workplace, would that be ok? Because, I mean, those comments would have actually been about the player, even, not some product they produced. Would you be cool with that football player showing up at your house? Or would you feel threatened, stalked, terrorized?
@Janine: So maybe we need to broaden the furnishing of information question to Harper Collins more generally? (also, excuse me while I cry, once again, over the acquisition of Harlequin by HC).
I’ve said it several times in several ways, but I’ll say it again: There is NOTHING the reviewer could have done that warrants stalking. I really hope we can agree that the veracity of Hale’s narrative is immaterial to the appropriateness of her behavior.
As an author I always have plenty to say and write. For the first time since becoming an author, after reading the article and sharing it I was honestly too speechless to write a well thought out opinion. The only thing I could come up with is that Ms. Hale is deranged to think he actions were justified. I find it terrifying that this was published because it’s a how to article for stalking. I’m afraid this has opened the door for it to happen again and the results may have a more tragic outcome for an author or blogger.
Hope the Good Reads commenter gets first the police involved and then a lawyer. Stalking is a crime in many states and that crazy needs to be prosecuted and sued
I do not understand why some people are so surprised at the Grauniad for publishing this. Yes, their publication of the Wikileaks cable, and their refusal to back down from that publication, was admirable. But it’s a for-profit newspaper and will publish whatever it thinks will attract clicks and eyeballs. And frankly, Frank Rich is an asshole and I kind of expect his kids would be too. Journalism is just as nepotistic as law or banking or oil or Hollywood.
I’m as appalled and disgusted at Hale’s actions as everyone else. I did get kind of of a chuckle as I recalled the open letter Ann Rice and some other entitled authors published a while back – not the one about how awful Amazon is to Hachette, but the one about how awful pseudonyms are and how reviewers shouldn’t review under them because why would anyone want to publish their opinions anonymously?
I do feel some sympathy for Hale that I might not feel for someone who did this and who wasn’t as obviously fragile as Hale is. She knows she’s not well, but she doesn’t seem to realize how seriously not well she is. She’s a rape survivor, and her family experienced another, separate, terrible trauma. She needs help, and in her rarified, privileged world she’s unlikely to get it, because she’s pretty and talented and engaged to the scion of a prominent family of a particularly privileged, insular society and so her illness will be mistaken for eccentricity and no one will understand why her kids are so fucked up because she obviously loves them so much and God help Little Rich should he decide at some point to leave her.
It was definitely not HarperTeen who furnished her address, but there’s no telling who confirmed they were still sending her ARCs. That was probably them, if I had to take a guess.
@Robin/Janet: I agree that we should broaden it, yes.
This is disturbing. I used to review and am very glad I don’t any more.
My comments aren’t really up for debate. I thought I’d share my experience in knowing I understand Hale and why she did what she did. Blythe is the one who stole her friend’s pictures, lied about vacations, tweeted like she was someone else, used someone else’s home address, and a long list of other things. I’m going through something right now where someone or individuals are stalking me right now as we speak who are anonymous. Some individuals are down voting my comments at every page I post at and I know it’s not different posters from different sites. It’s the same posters who follow me around the Web. You know that intuition you have about something sometimes? It’s like that feeling you just know it’s those people without needing to know for sure.
My posts keep getting deleted at the Amazon forum and it’s very frustrating, especially when they’re not breaking any guidelines. I liked posting there until people abused the report system. I want to investigate who those anonymous serial reporters are, but once again I can’t because I don’t have the resources to figure it out how to even begin to find out who has been falsely reporting me. I’m pretty sure it’s against the law to remove someone’s post every time they post within seconds, it’s basically someone is severely closely looking at my comments over there to report it every time I post…a true form of stalking and I know it’s not the Amazon bots going crazy removing everything.
@thelostxin.com: I’m sorry for what you are experiencing.
You appear to believe Hale’s allegations lock, stock and smoking barrel. The only “evidence” that the GR reviewer has done anything other than post a negative review of Hale’s book, is contained *solely* in Hale’s allegations.
Using a pseudonym online isn’t illegal and it doesn’t automatically make the person untrustworthy or fraudulent. We don’t know that the GR reviewer “stole” photos – we only have Hale’s word for that. I’m not prepared to take Hale’s word for anything.
Pseudonyms are commonly used online. I use one myself. I use the same pseudonym in all the blogging/book/romancelandia places and I believe I have developed, over time, a reputation and that reputation belongs to me in my pseudonymous form. The GR reviewer who is the subject of Hale’s diatribe also uses a pseudonym which is common across social media in her bookosphere persona. That, in itself is completely unremarkable and very very common.
I use a photo actually of me as my avatar, but for a long time I did not. One of my Goodreads friends uses a photo of Grace Kelly as her avatar – she is not stealing Grace Kelly’s identity. It’s an *avatar*. Do we know for sure that the GR reviewer did not have her friend’s permission to use the photo? Do we even know for sure that is not the GR reviewer’s own photo? No, we don’t.
The GR Reviewer didn’t use “someone else’s” home address. On Hale’s own account of events, the GR reviewer used her own address to receive review books sent to her under her pseudonym. *I* do that. DA Jane does that. Loads of bloggers do that. It’s not illegal or nefarious. There’s no identity theft. I tweet under my pseudonym – that’s not the same as tweeting like I’m someone else.
There is no actual evidence that the GR reviewer appropriated someone else’s holiday pictures or experience (but even if she did – big deal – who does that harm?). – Jane has demonstrated above that the Twitter debacle regarding “all bloggers being aspiring authors” was regarding someone else altogether and about a 3 star review, not the [legitimate] 1 star review the GR reviewer posted – so I wouldn’t put it past her [Hale] at all to misrepresent conversations she was involved in or mistake various accounts belonging to different people with one person or vice versa.
With respect, it sounds like you are going through something personally difficult but elevating the weird ramblings of Hale to the status of “truth” is giving her a lot more credit than she deserves.
“thelostxin” is taking this to heart because she just received a negative review on her own book (I use that word loosely) and she is equating that negative review with harassment and bullying across all her blogging platforms. In her blog she repeatedly states that people who read her work or blog and don’t like them are stalkers, bullies, etc, and that’s why she uses a false name. She clearly understands the concepts of pseudonyms–just thinks that reviewers shouldn’t use them, because anyone who doesn’t like a book is clearly a bully.
I should also point out that “thelostxin.com” is also known as JP Troph, who is well known on forums, including Amazon KDP Support, for engaging in extreme behavior. She currently has three different accounts on Amazon forums, which she created after her original account was banned for abusive behavior. She calls people stalkers if they respond to more than one of her comments or remember her childish behavior. (I’m sure she’ll call me a stalker now, even though she condones ‘research’ on people.) She mass reports the comments of people she doesn’t like. She claims anyone who doesn’t like her writing is a horrible bully. She has admitted to mass-reporting people’s posts using multiple accounts (against Amazon’s TOS, mind you) because she believes someone must be doing this to her. This, she says, isn’t revenge–but “returning the favor.”
According to her logic, it’s not stalking for an author find out the personal information of a reviewer through dishonest means, drive to their home, look through their windows, contact their place of employment under false pretenses, and ritualistically follow their every month. But it IS stalking for anyone to read her posts and dislike her:
“I swear these haters keep stalking my review posting histories as well as Amazon voting histories. Why do people obsessively hate like that? It’s so unhealthy. They think they’re making me look foolish but it’s really the other way around. I hope they do know it’s against the law to stalk someone, but because I don’t have the energy to deal with it, they continue to stalk me. If I was a celebrity with tons of money I would TOTALLY investigate them and sue them for harassment and stalking charges. I’d take screen shots of my posts disappearing a second later every time I post something: clear evidence that someone is stalking me it’s not something wrong with the admin bots.”
@Stanley Yelnats: Admittedly some of this author’s behavior looks hinky, but commenting multiple times to discredit them gives the impression that you’ve followed them here, which is a little… weird. They seem perfectly capable of digging their own grave, tbh.
I just want to add that when I read the article, I felt it had a novel (story telling) type feel rather than an informative or factual feel, so now I am thinking it was published for publicity sake in hopes to attract attention. It would be unreasonable to presume IMO, that the publishers were not aware of the possible negative publicity this would bring, but decided that any publicity is good enough and therefore went with it.
Questionable wit: Next up is a book on “How to effectively stalk reviewers and scare people from posting negative reviews.” =D – then offer up some ARC and test the hypothesis on those who dare say they did not like the book.
– M (hope you all don’t mind some humor)
@Jane: Most GR profiles are connected to Twitter and Facebook, so when you post a review or a status, if you clicked the Twitter-FB option, your review automatically gets posted on Twitter and FB. Hale, from what I understand set up Google alerts for herself. But most authors discover negative reviews because of this feature especially if the author and blogger follow each other, which is mostly the case with established bloggers.
Long before Goodreads, there was the Oprah Book Club. Kathleen Hale is one of James Frey’s Full Fathom Five authors. Didn’t he make it to the top with outrageous lies?
Have been shocked at the number of authors on Facebook who are sympathetic to this author stalker! A one star review is not a horrible assault on an author’s entire career, for heaven’s sake. It’s one opinion.
It just looks so obvious the author here needs mental health evaluation and treatment for behavior outside the norm…hopefully she has loved ones who can get her to seek help. She doesn’t need to be encouraged to carry on!
@Lege: TLDR: The article you linked isn’t so much unsettling as an unfortunate. I don’t think it prefaces this original article’s account. AIM ‘stalking’ was common and akin to looking up ex’s on Facebook. However, based on this article, Ms. Hale should seek counseling. Stalking is terrifying.
I read the article that unsettled you, and while it’s unfortunate I don’t see it on the same scale (or in the same arena) as this original article. In the olden days of AIM (when I was a young teen, too) “stalking” was what you did- to people you had a crush on, to people you didn’t like, whatever. Not ‘following them to their house’ stalking, but adding them to the AIM list and seeing if/when they popped on, and reading their statuses. It was akin to getting third-fourth-fifthhand gossip, only without having to huddle by a locker. I still, somewhat affectionately, call it ‘stalking’ when I have to research something on the Internet.
The difference, is that the young-author (if the article is a truth) was understandably confused and upset by what happened to her mother. They were being sort of, reverse bullied. Dumping peroxide on the girl was a bad move, but more opportunistic. It wasn’t like she really had plotted to assault her, anymore than a kid plots to break someone’s kneecaps when they lose their temper and kick some other kid in the shin.
This, original article though. This IS stalking. It’s scary, completely scary, especially because it really is so easy to ‘stalk’ people on the Internet. I would recommend some counseling for this woman. People are going to hate her books, it’s just the way it is. I have no idea who she is; I’ve never read her, and probably won’t, but those who do deserve to be able to tell others, honestly, how they feel about a book. Feeling hurt about it is natural. Stalking someone to argue with them in person, is so, completely, not. :(
Thank you for breaking this craziness down and doing the digital legwork for the rest of us. Interesting and appreciated.
Hi, Kathryn! You wrote: “…I don’t see it on the same scale.” You are completely right- this is the reason I experienced it differently.
The reason I found other article unsettling isn’t so much what she did as a teenager- it’s the fact that she gets this fixation on one person that consumes her entirely- as a teenager and as a grown up. This thing, this piece of her personality hasn’t been changed. She even ended it with:
“I googled her after finishing this piece. ”
I am certain I would think same as you- that she was just confused and hurt teenager, but the fact is I DID read it after guardian article and I couldn’t think of them as separate pieces. I saw pattern: From checking and finding everything about girl/blogger to conversations she has with her mother about it or wanting to engage person who hurt her and seek answer.
There is this part in guardian article where she comes to blogger house, police car runs by and she is scared for a moment that they came for her. First time I read it, that was telling to me that she was aware on some level that what she’s doing isn’t ok, even if her post-article behavior suggests she doesn’t comprehend that what she did is in fact criminal act and it’s not in any way justified.
“Privileged” piece unsettled me because it opened a possibility that maybe she indeed has no idea that what she did was wrong, but she was scared of police because she had an experience with them already and knows that they will tell her to back off.
@Kathryn – “Dumping peroxide on the girl was a bad move, but more opportunistic. It wasn’t like she really had plotted to assault her, anymore than a kid plots to break someone’s kneecaps when they lose their temper and kick some other kid in the shin.”
But if you do something in the intent to cause damage or harm – that IS a problem. And most people don’t carry a bottle of peroxide around with them – so I have to wonder about that story. There are a LOT of moments in Hale’s writing where most people should pause and think “um, that’s not the usual response here.” Because she’s not presenting a fictional scenario.
When authors chime in “oh yes, we have the right to track these reviewers down” – I wonder if they’ve tried rereading Hale’s essay and reverse the positions. If you’re an author, you can use empathy, right? So if, for instance, Hale is the reviewer that shows up at an author’s house – after getting the author’s address from a publicist, renting a car, calling the work/friends/etc. – does this then read like a story where the reviewer is standing up to a bullying author?! My answer, no, this is still stalking. And completely normal to read as a threat.
Online there’s a LOT of written crap spewed out, but threats of violence are a different level. You don’t know that stalking is going to be violent – but this is also the same culture we live in that says “well, why didn’t you notice the signs and protect yourself?!” (Which is BS, truly.) So this is NOT behavior to brush off. A bad book review doesn’t equal a free pass to stalk. Neither does creepy author behavior – and if you look around at people who’ve been dealing with creepy stalking behavior from authors? They don’t tend to do this. They start trying to work on privacy measures (which isn’t easy once your address is out there), they start documenting, they talk to police and lawyers. They do NOT show up on someone’s doorstep because that is not something normal people do – you do not instigate.
I think my old friends in the social science dept. would find this a really useful media example on how people can relate to a story if presented in first person, especially if you have your own biases. And if you’re getting the main version as “reviewers are mean/awful/deserve this” – even with all the hints from the author herself that she knows she’s over-reacting yet does this anyway? – you are not really seeing both sides. One side is clearly indicating that she’s a narrator with a problem, and possibly unreliable.
(Discloser: I think she’s a lot more than “possibly” unreliable, but you can probably tell that from my post.)
I’m a little confused on some points. I keep hearing from various Hale supporters that Harris created her pseudonym in order to harasses Hale. How is that possible? Harris started her accts in 2012. Hale wrote her book in 2014. Is Harris not only fictional but precognitive?
Why does Hale not address the fact she took advice from a site whose members use pseudonyms in order to do the same thing Hale is accusing Harris of doing?
Where is all the damning evidence that Hale alludes to? I haven’t seen one single shred of evidence that Hale has accused Harris of doing. In fact, I haven’t seen any proof Harris even used a pseudonym. Everything we have heard has been from only from Hale’s POV.
And last but not least, did anyone besides me think Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction while reading Hale’s article?
“Well, what am I supposed to do? You won’t answer my calls, you change your number. I mean, I’m not gonna be ignored, Dan!”
Tori, I am not confused :). As we saw from Jane’s article Hale reported *at least* one accident incorrectly because Jane witnessed that she actually subtweeted about three star review and not what she claimed she did. Even based only on that – at least one part of her article is a lie. Why would I believe *anything* of what she said about the reviewer? Unless somebody else unrelated to her confirms any of her accusations, I am not buying.
@Tori: Thank you! (it wasn’t just you)
This is terrifying. As an occasional reviewer, I can’t fathom someone reaching this level of crazy just because I don’t like their book.
That author is crazy. You just have to read, in her own writing, the story of how she stalked and attacked a teenage girl to see it. The reviewer is lucky to be alive and well. I really can’t believe that Hale has never had legal action taken against her.
@K.L This is EXACTLY how I read this article. Hale failed to reel me into her “poor me” scenario where a mean reviewer just wouldn’t leave her alone and she HAD to confront this person. No no no. If you hate my book and “track me down to confront me”, I’m going to call it stalking. If I have a pen name and you “out” my real name, I’m going to call it doxxing. If you come to my house and drop some passive aggressive “message” to me, I’m calling the police.
I write erotic romance under a pen name. Someone with the same disorder as Katherine Hale can easily decide (as rapists often do justifying their violence) that the fact I write it means I welcome someone at my home.
Reading her other entries, I can’t help but realize that she has garnered tons of attention and the Guardian has gained tons of hits and maybe that was the intent. Hell, I knew this was going to go downhill BEFORE I got the the STGRB part. She quoted the Goodreads warning, talked to a friend who said DO NOT ENGAGE…..and stalked the reviewer anyway.
I’m so sick of this kind of crap, including all the gamer stuff flying around. I’ve gotten to the point on almost every single site I visit that I say to myself “DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS”.
I wish someone would sue the fuck out of her.
She did get reported to the police when she was a teenager. Now, as an adult, she’s a young blond hyperarticulate talented neurotic emotionally unbalanced narcissist with a way with words and a fiancee from one of the literary establishment’s most prominent families. Ergo, she’s not crazy – she’s quirky. She’s not dangerous – she’s fascinating. She’s not ill – she’s compelling. She’s brave enough to expose all her insecurities, even when it casts her in the harshest and most unforgiving light, and by doing that, by exposing herself to ridicule and derision–and by doing it so compellingly and, yes, even movingly–she invites us to yadayadayada I’m just imagining the NYT Magazine’s take on it if they ever did a piece on the controversy which, of course, they would not.
As I said on Twitter, she reminds me of Elizabeth Wurtzel who, now past 40, has lost the “blond” part of the job description — and so we now get Kathleen Hale.
For the record – Wurtzel never wrote about stalking a reviewer. It’s just something I can imagine her doing.
@Kinsey: Ugh, your comment is so true, it’s killing me. Mostly because pouring peroxide over someone else’s head should never be characterized as “quirky.”
Oh snap – I read the original article yesterday and it literally does give me a a sense of hesitancy about the book blogging/reviewing hobby. There are some people out there that just can’t handle criticism of any kind. It’s an all around crazy situation. Thanks for the counter article!
Maybe I’m the minority here, but when I was little, and somebody said something mean that got under my skin….I learned to shrug it off.
I didn’t stalk them. I didn’t bully them. I didn’t deliberately make them feel unsafe and unwelcome, just so I could feel in complete control.
I thought this was what we’re supposed to model, as adult behavior, as the desired response. Hell, I’ve seen rude people get ignored out of existence before! But to indulge in petty, illegal, bullying behaviors simply because you don’t like what someone said? If they want Goodreads to only be for professional book critics, I want all authors to be screened for human decency before publication.
This is just…crazy. I don’t understand it. Why would an author do that? Can’t she accept a bad review? It happens. Not everyone thinks the same. It would be terrifying if that was so!
To those who defend Blythe, I’m very curious what you have to say about this. Someone pointed out on the article that Hale only researched Blythe which is a really good point. Hale never researched her other reviewers. What have you say to that?
If Hale really cannot tolerate criticism why was only one of her reviewers researched not all? It’s because Blythe is known to be the person who trashes people’s books at Good Reads on a pen name.
@Wren: It’s not a bad review. Blythe is known at Good Reads to form a band of minions to trash people’s books purposely. Also, Blythe helped her give suggestions to the book and Blythe is going to trash the suggestions she gave? Does that make sense? It’s not as simple as not being able to accept a bad review.
@thelostxin.com: I have to say that Hale is unhinged.
It’s interesting to me that you don’t get that.
No, it’s about an author STALKING a reviewer/blogger. STALKING! End of story.
@Beth W: Oh I want to stitch that for a sampler now!
It is supremely dangerous to be in this climate as a reviewer. I’ve even read threads on Goodreads railing against those who choose to DNF books and give them less that 3 stars. I personally do both despite the ire this apparently incites. It is tragic how far the self-proclaimed semi-psychotic Hale took it. The worst I’ve experienced as a reviewer is accidentally going to an author’s page. She had written a diatribe the day after my review came out. And it was very much directed toward what I’d said. You can rest assured I did not address it and I’ve not communicated with her since.
The fear, of course, comes to bear whenever I post a low review, wondering if someone will read my book and bash it in retaliation. It is sad that we live daily with that fear in an age where information spreads fast, your name can be blacklisted, and your career ruined in nanoseconds.
Thanks for your post clarifying the chain of events. As someone who can usually see both sides, Hale’s side is pretty much mud-like in clarity.
@thelostxin.com: Good to know that if only stalk and harass one person at a time, it’s justified and defensible.
I’m disgusted by the author’s actions and even more disgusted by readers of this saga defending it. I even saw a person on twitter commending her actions as “investigative journalism.”
I am semi-active member on goodreads. I have no always liked every single book I have read and when I can’t think of ways to say why I did not like a book in a polite way, I simply give it a rating with no review and move on. Is everyone in the world going to be like that? No. There will always be people who will vocally and quite aggressively and rudely tell you what they think of you and as an author your writing be it positive or negative. Yes of course they could learn to be nice and IF (I’m not saying it’s true) Blythe was deterring others from giving Hale’s book a chance, then that of course is wrong. But spending the time and energy to watch, follow, terrorize and STALK Blythe IS NOT and NEVER WILL BE justifiable or ok. Because ultimately what she did was terrorize. She ripped away her right to privacy and the feeling of being safe and violated Blythe with her actions (and it WAS a violation, especially when she decided to go through Blythe’s un-opened car without being given permission in front of Blythe’s house no less).
It’s a protected right under the law to be allowed privacy as well as freedom of speech (honestly, even prisoners in a jail are granted these rights and allowed to exercise them). Just as Hale is allowed to publish a book about subject matters of her choosing in a way she sees fit, so is Blythe allowed to comment on it on a way she sees fit. I’m not saying that IF Blythe was bullying Hale or saying hurtful, negative things it was right either.
So the moral of my rant is Hale needs to have thicker skin and a better support system to help her deal with criticisms, which like it or not is a fact of life and that Blythe could’ve handled her dislike of her book a little better IF it’s true that she was actively discouraging others from reading it.
This whole situation is creepy and so messed up. I’ve become weary of every posting on goodreads again and actually feel like deleting my account. I feel slimy having read theguardian article. And honestly for the people saying it was ok- how far is too far? If you’re saying well it’s ok to blur the line a little bit here and a little bit there, nothing then will stop you from pushing it farther and farther until it’s obliterated and you’ve gone way too far and something serious happens.
I’m also wondering why no charges were filed against Hale (part of me keeps thinking, if Blythe had done this to Hale, a restraining order and criminal charges would’ve been pressed before the blink of an eye- double standards here). And her justification of “yeah I stalked her, but what can you do we are both nuts?!” just doesn’t wash. At the very least she should apologize to Blythe for this huge violation.
“It’s because Blythe is known to be the person who trashes people’s books at Good Reads on a pen name.”
“Blythe is known at Good Reads to form a band of minions to trash people’s books purposely.”
You have admitted elsewhere that you don’t even use Goodreads that much, if at all. How, then, do you know she is “known at Good Reads” to do anything? Where is your proof? A link? A screencap? Anything?
Blythe has reviewed only 31 books with 1 star–meaning only 6% of her reviews are 1 star. Yet here you are accusing her of having no other purpose than trashing people’s books “purposely.” As if a negative review is not a valid review–which they are.
I’m curious as to your opinion on the fact–the FACT–that Kathleen Hale lied to YA Reads, a book club website, in order to obtain Blythe Harris’s name and home address. YA Reads has confirmed that Hale abused their trust. Where is your outrage about this blatant (and potentially illegal) action?
I do appreciate people’s understanding why I side with Hale. After having been harassed time and again by anonymous people, I don’t appreciate people abusing the privilege of using pen names for harassment. I want to post on my real name. I want to write books under my real name, but because people become crazy obsessive over the Internet I can’t. My name is a brand name in music stuff in my town and I would have loved to continue my brand name with my books as well.
Instead, I have to write under my real Chinese name to try to give some sort of credit to myself.
I don’t care how trashed a review. How fake.. you do NOT show up at someones house. Stalking is illegal. After reading this http://www.vice.com/read/i-hunted-feral-hogs-in-florida-as-a-favor-to-the-world-851 I sure as heck hope the blogger has a restraining order.
There is crazy, then batshit, should be locked up crazy.
I almost wonder if this is some sort of publicity stunt.
@thelostxin.com: ” I want to write books under my real name, but because people become crazy obsessive over the Internet I can’t. ”
So your defense of Hale boils down to:
People (reviewers?) becoming “crazy obsessive” online, justifies your use of a pseudonym in Real Life.
Author becoming “crazy obsessive” IN REAL LIFE is justified by the use of a pseudonym online.
That is one logic train that has run completely off the tracks.
@thelostxin.com: I’m sorry…what?
You side with Kale means that you think stalking people is kosher.
If you think stalking is kosher, what’s your problem with people harassing you?
Or is it only okay when you/Hale/authorX harass reviewers? Then it’s fine and dandy?
You cannot have it both ways.
@thelostxin.com: Oh, and I thought that your pseudonym was because “Another author has the same real name as her so she had to change her name to not confuse people with being another writer” (from your bio on your Amazon page.) Did this happen BEFORE or AFTER all those anonymous meanies attacked you?
I was in the comments on the Guardian piece – I post everywhere with some variant of Jewell, my surname.
Saying that I found Hale’s behaviour was over-the-top, to put it mildly, got me accused of being a sock-puppet for Blythe Harris. Despite the fact that a brief click on my name would’ve pulled up a posting history going back years on various unrelated topics.
A lot of people commenting simply had no idea about even the existence of reviewing/blogging communities and simply took everything Hale said at face value. Whereas for anyone who reads/follows the debates within those communities, much that Hale said had the exact same stamp as the many other stories of authors objecting to poor reviews.
What some of these authors, I am sure genuinely, see as trolling or bullying, frequently isn’t, and they need to realise that. (I moderate comments on a sports blog. I know trolling.)
It’s also striking how often these controversies happen when a reviewer objects to things such as attitudes to women or racism in a book.
On a personal note, I’m also disturbed by the fact that I didn’t think too much of how creepy and threatening her behavior was when I read the Guardian article a few days ago, even though I’ve been getting riled up over the GamerGate online death/rape threats and doxxing. Is it because she presents as female? because I hope to be an author some day? Don’t know, but it’s still unsettling. Showing up at someone’s house is far more practically threatening than spouting off at them on Twitter!
Thanks for writing this up and helping thoughtless people like me to give it (and our own perceptions) a second look.
I’ve received a 1 star review, in fact I have received 5. It didn’t ruin my life. It didn’t even ruin my day. I love my book as much as the next author, but when you send your little darling out in the real world, you have to be prepared to take a few hits. Not everyone is going to think your book seethe special little snowflake it is. And that’s okay. Not all books are for all people.
I would advise Hale to 1. Seek therapy. 2. See if there is any merit in what the reviewer is saying. I love LOVE me some 5 star reviews, they are easily my favorite it’s the critical reviews that I learn and grow from. If someone has taken the time to review my book and does it in a thoughtful manner, it’s my duty to respect that and see if I can grow from it. If it’s snark and just mean – ignore it. I trust readers enough to read a review that is openly hostile and judge it on it’s own merit. 3. If you can’t learn from it – walk away.
Also like most writers, I don’t get reviewed by the big name reviewers, so I feel that I owe book bloggers a lot and I’m grateful for the time they give my book.
What Hales did was shameful.
Here’s my alternate approach to getting a lousy review for a book you wrote:
1. Pour glass of wine.
2. Drink glass of wine while moaning about the dreadful injustice of it all to long-suffering friend.
3. Remember that it’s one reviewer’s opinion, and getting reviews (good and bad) is part of the job.
4. Get on with rest of day.
See – four easy steps and no stalking required.
And now to be slightly less facetious – I read the guardian piece when it first came out, and I read the whole thing mentally screaming at the author to just drop it and walk away. Reading through some of the #HaleNo stuff on twitter today, I hate that this risks ending up in a big authors vs reviewers thing. Nobody becomes either an author or a book reviewer/blogger without starting out from a love of reading and books. I just wish we could be talking about that, rather than talking about this.
I wonder how many sales Ms Hale has lost due to her insanity?
Guardian, you ought to be ashamed to give this fruitcake a platform. Shame, shame, shame!
“I wonder how many sales Ms Hale has lost due to her insanity?”
I’m, sadly, sure she ended up gaining some. :(
Thanks for this writeup. I was feeling super uncomfortable after reading that article and this article really helped me work out why so I could stop feeling so cringey about the whole thing.
@Jewell “It’s also striking how often these controversies happen when a reviewer objects to things such as attitudes to women or racism in a book.”
You know what? I’ve noticed that, too, Victoria Foyt being one example. People tend to get even more defensive in cases like that. And there’s usually some merit to the accusation.
I’ve also rarely seen someone in that position argue “what I wrote is not racist/sexist/rape apologist” in a way that didn’t make them look worse. Level headed writers I’ve seen might acknowledge why someone might see that, profess that wasn’t the intent and try to take it as a valid critique to keep in mind in future writing.
Hale not only didn’t address the critique in any way, but just jumped straight to her super relatable and zany tale about embarking on this stalking adventure… which was simply in the hopes of becoming unlikely friends with this reviewer to understand why she was so insane as to see things that were sooo not there at all.
Even her supposed self-deprecation was more humblebragging about how adorably quirky and delightfully single minded she sees herself to be! Ugh. There is nothing so loud and annoying as someone who refuses to acknowledge they have flaws/are wrong/need work.
I’ve come to this really late and wanted to find a forum where the conversation was still happening, so I Googled and Dear Author came up: I’m absolutely a first-time poster before anyone else notes it!
What Kelly Walker wrote upthread several days ago, measuring out a bit of fault to the blogger, is where I stand. I know it’s the unpopular stance but I think the reason more people don’t focus on it is because ‘Blythe Harris’ likely being a fake identity replete with a fake age, marital/family status, profession and appearance makes some folks uncomfortable and drives more than a few to say, ‘so what?’ from a defensive posture. For me there’s a difference in using a pseudonym, as I obviously am, and crafting an entire alternative identity: the first is prudent, and the second can serve as a repository for fantasy, some of it healthy, some not. No, I cannot prove who Harris is, and no, I’m not taking Hale’s POV as gospel — we just don’t know. But if there’s truth to it, it is remarkably pathetic to me to lower your age by 2 decades and use the photo of another woman (a pretty, young woman) from FB as a part of your book-reviewer shield. It’s creating a falsehood so that people will be more attracted to you and take your take on books more positively – it’s not irrelevant, or ‘so what?’ to the endeavor of being a book reviewer who gets ARC’s, it’s deliberate manipulation. It’s not presenting yourself under an obvious false name like ‘Dancing Queen 1982’ or ‘Midnight Cheese,’ or ‘Hermione Granger 321,’ it’s a totally different act psychologically, and it alarms me that that element of this is blithely (ha) skipped over. I write this as someone who has hit 40, has never had a book published, and think Hale needs serious therapy *and* to have a come-to-Jesus talk about how lucky she’s been to have powerful people like Frank Rich in her corner.
TL; DR. I still think there are probably enough bits of strangeness for the accusations of mental illness to be spread between both Hale and ‘Harris,’ and that a lot of the absolutely vituperative response towards Hale (not outlining what she did, but going well beyond that and screaming, falsely, about laws being broken) are because some people see a little ‘Harris’ in their own online lives, and need to fix that tout de suite.
@Midnight Cheese: How does whether the reviewer did or did not “invent” a “fake” identity (and please provide evidence for this that doesn’t come from Hale’s account), make her complicit in Hale’s stalking her?
Seriously, this intimation that Hale’s behavior might be less reprehensible because Blythe Harris might be an online persona… isn’t that victim blaming?
1. I’m not taking Hale’s word on anything, least of all Blythe’s offline identity. She’s already been shown to be an unreliable witness, as outlined in this article.
2. There are any number of reasons for a person – especially a woman – to try and conceal her identity online. She could be hiding – from ex-partners, family, people she doesn’t want to be able to find her. Her employer could take a hard stance on the use of social media and especially real names being out there (so that any online behaviour cannot be linked to their company and their reputation). Mine does! And it’s just being internet savvy to not provide enough information for strangers to be able to track you down in real life. In case, y’know, they try and do that. Like Hale did.
3. Hale didn’t know that Harris was using a pseudonym (or had changed details about her personal life, if indeed she had) until she started stalking her. Saying that Hale was somehow justified in stalking her because Harris wasn’t being truthful about who she was is a circular argument.
And no, the response towards Hale isn’t because we’re all secret ‘catfishes’. It’s because a woman got stalked by a pissed-off author, and many people in the reviewing community have already had online brushes with writers of Hale’s ilk. Now people are wondering who it will be next, and how far it will go. But we already know the answer to that, because another blogger was already physically attacked in her place of work this week: http://groupthink.jezebel.com/richard-brittain-violently-assaults-book-reviewer-1649170122. If the response to Hale’s piece is that she was somehow justified in what she did, then what are the chances the world will blame our words if someone does take it further?
The more I read about this, the more I am horrified, disgusted and left feeling sick. How anyone can justify Hale’s behaviour is beyond me. Without knowing the context behind the fabricated lies that Hale created, she’s spun a web of deceit and conned people into sympathizing with her plight.
If anyone from the Guardian was in their right mind, they wouldn’t have let this article publish. I only hope now that someone else from the paper – someone who agrees that what Hale has done is wrong – can go above and beyond and share the real story. Alas, after hearing all about Hale’s connections, I doubt that we ever will.
What puzzled me from the get go, however, was the book club mention. At first, I was sympathetic towards Hale. Not knowing who Blythe was, having little understanding of her review without seeing it, I thought Blythe acted rather childishly. Though knowing that STGRB is essentially a group of bullies themselves, alarm bells should have gone off then.
No, it was the book club. What book club asks a blogger to do an interview for them? This all seemed so strange. A generic book club, one that Hale shed no light on, wants to an interview but asks her to choose a blogger not connected in anyway to the book club to hold the interview? What? Huh? When I think book club, I think about my group on a Sunday evening surrounded by bottles of wine chatting more about Benedict Cumberbatch rather than Memoirs of a Geisha. A book club that does a giveaway? What sort of book club is this?
Regardless, I kept reading, and that wariness that cropped up turned into full on disgust at hearing what Hale did. I wonder if she can be prosecuted for this. There’s clearly enough evidence against her – against her story, right down to the “book club” lie as well. I really hope that Blythe’s story comes to light and people not involved in the book community who won’t get all the real facts will be told.
@AztecLady – I think you should dial it down a notch or ten. Of course I can’t ‘provide evidence’ that is not in Hale’s account – I think I was fairly transparent that I’m not an insider to this situation, but I can still as a total civilian find the mocking up of additional life details, besides a username, to be bizarre. If that offends you, so be it. Frankly, if Hale’s behavior were truly stalking, then ‘Harris’ now has ample grounds for at least a TRO, right? But under NY state law (presumably the right jurisdiction given the references to Oyster Bay), Hale didn’t do anything illegal. It’s a little off IMO to consistently use a term with a legal definition when it hasn’t been met, and raises stakes to foment capital-D drama when it’s unnecessary.
@Michelle – thanks for the link to the other situation, it’s not one I was familiar with. I think the rush to call Hale’s admittedly messed-up behavior ‘stalking,’ which has real parameters and definitions, is simply not correct for the reason I outlined above: she didn’t. She’s a creep and needs to think of her boundaries. I do think it’s whack to invent a full-on online persona, and to claim it rational because the reviewer ‘could’ be hiding out from exes or whatever but that’s me. I am not inclined to think that 100% of Hale’s account is made up out of whole cloth; if you do, cool, but it’s a mileage-may-vary situation. I see those possibly not-true details as part of a fantasy life on the part of the reviewer (IF that’s the case, of course) and that’s just off, to me.
^^^ I hope that Richard Brittain goes to jail for a long, long time after reading @Michelle’s link.
@Midnight Cheese: Thank you for your suggestion, but…no.
I wonder how would many of the people insisting that we–those of us who consider Hale actions threatening and alarming–are “creating drama,” would react if a stranger did to them what Hale confesses to doing to Blythe.
Or if the narrator was some scary-looking (for values of whatever each person considers “scary-looking”) dude with a menacing scowl, instead of a thin, blonde, pampered little NY twenty/thirty something with powerful media connections.
It’s hard to know how to reply since I’m not 100% in agreement with you, azteclady. Hale seems like she’s in desperate need for therapy and I wrote that above in my first response. But I don’t think it the case that she ‘stalked’ Harris can be made, while acknowledging that Hale acted like a creep. I think that that matters. I also am fundamentally put off if indeed a reviewer invents a new life, age, appearance, etc., to present to be a ‘sexier’ reviewer. I also wrote ‘if’ and don’t pretend to know precisely what ‘Blythe’ did and didn’t do, but will be honest that I don’t see Hale making that up out of thin air. I mean, it seems a little contrary to the principles of any real community to enter it not with a pseudonym and just PM’ing/emailing people as you get to know them, but rather with a made-up life. But, to each her own, I guess.
It’s hard to reply with the apparent desired certainty to a total hypothetical (‘scary-looking dude’), but it’s obviously not something anyone with a differing point of view could answer that scenario to your satisfaction anyway, right?
@Gracie: What Hale called the “book club” was in reality a blogger who has now shared her side of the story.
@Midnight Cheese: “I mean, it seems a little contrary to the principles of any real community to enter it not with a pseudonym and just PM’ing/emailing people as you get to know them, but rather with a made-up life.”
I guess I don’t have much of a “community spirit” then. I routinely flat-out lie about my name, my age, my profession, my income, even my gender on all those sites that require me to disgorge all those nifty personal details in order to register an account. I don’t do it to create a “fantasy life” (although if someone wants to, what on earth is wrong with that?) — I do it because those sites require this information NOT to “create a community”, but rather to scrape data to sell, to advertisers and other market researchers.
Indeed, now we’re beginning to find out that some of these sites (hello, OKCupid and Facebook, to name just two) are using this information to run “experiments” on their users without their permission!
So yeah, I’m pretty darn paranoid on the internet. Not completely — once I get in a community I trust (to varying degrees), I’ll share pertinent information in my comments — it isn’t any secret on DA or most of the sites I visit that I’m a librarian, for example. It wouldn’t surprise me if the blogger shared similar information with those individuals with whom she regularly interacted, if it was relevant (and it usually isn’t) and never changed her “official” info — assuming that it WAS not true, and we only have Hale’s very dubious word for that — because why on earth should she?
I once participated in a very sociable site for over five years before bringing up my gender identity and sexual orientation; it simply wasn’t relevant to most of the conversations, and people had made (wrong) assumptions that I never bothered to correct. (Actually, it was kind of eye-opening to me). So I guess by your flip diagnosis, I’m a liar and a weirdo displaying a mental illness as well.
@Midnight Cheese: Here’s why the reviewer’s identity or lack thereof doesn’t matter. Hale began her stalking before she had an inkling that the reviewer may have been using a different identity. She didn’t, according to her unreliable account that has been demonstrably proven inaccurate in at least two key places and possibly more, believe she was being “catfished” (again used inappropriately as if the GR reviewer was the one pursuing a relationship when in fact it was Hale prompting contact every turn) until after she’d gone to the house.
So she stalked the GR reviewer’s social media accounts, lied to obtain an address, bought a background report, and it wasn’t until she had checked recent census reports – which are what at the library? I don’t believe those are digitally available or I could be wrong and I didn’t know that information was publicly available to any person who wanted to check them out – that there was doubt in Hale’s mind about the identity of the GR Reviewer. This isn’t a whodunit solved by Hale’s clever skills. This is a stalking.
Here’s your NY Penal code:
Code Section Penal 240.26, .31; 120.45 to .60 Stalking Defined as Stalking in the 4th degree: intentionally and with no legitimate purpose engages in conduct that s/he knows or should reasonably know: will cause reasonable fear of material harm to victim or member of victim’s immediate family or causes material harm to mental or emotional health of victim or member of victim’s immediate family or causes a reasonable fear that victim’s employment or business is threatened; 3rd degree: Same as 4th degree when: 3 or more victims involved or victim has reasonable fear of physical harm or serious bodily injury; 2nd degree: same as 3rd degree when a weapon is involved in commission or 2nd conviction within 5 yrs. or if victim is 14 or under and actor is 21 or older; 1st degree: same as 3rd or 2nd degree with intentional or reckless physical harm to victim. – See more at: http://statelaws.findlaw.com/new-york-law/new-york-stalking-laws.html#sthash.V6h5O9F9.dpuf
Teddy and Alison May – my thoughts exactly and Alison, I’m not being facetious at all – wine and bitching to friends really is how I deal with reviews I feel are unfair. I’ve gotten negative reviews that make a lot of sense to me because they pointed out weaknesses I hadn’t noticed in my books (or maybe I suspected were there and was dismayed to receive confirmation); and then I’ve gotten negative reviews where I was certain the reviewer either didn’t actually read the book or was extremely deficient in reading comprehension. In neither case did I, or would I, respond to the reviewer or even refer to it outside of a private chat group. A review is not an invitation to interaction between reviewer and author.
And so I drink wine and bitch to the girlfriends. (I’m very good at both.)
@Jane – I read the same section of the statute, and I don’t construe it in the manner you do even for a 4th-degree claim; FWIW, I have practiced in the state and assume the same of you (first day on your site).
@hapax: I guess you’re right: I haven’t ever pretended to be a doctor even on the internet, so my diagnosis is a little flip, or glib, if you will.
” I haven’t ever pretended to be a doctor even on the internet”
So don’t say shit like this, please
“Hale seems like she’s in desperate need for therapy”
And everyone else slinging terms like ‘insanity’, ‘fruitcake’, ‘needs therapy’ stuff around, please knock it off. Mentally ill people are not the bad guys here, but you’re hurting them. It’s also lazy and unnecessary.
@Ann Somerville – what a completely ridiculous overreaction on your part to my statement.
@Midnight Cheese: There are lots of people who read DA (and many other sites) but don’t comment. There are lots of people with diagnosed mental illness who don’t do the kinds of things Hale has done. It’s the conflation of mental illness with what at least some of us consider to be dangerous, threatening activities that is problematic.
None of us have access to Hale’s medical information. Issuing proclamations about her state of mind is the essence of data-free speculation. Which is fine if no one gets hurt, but people *do* get hurt when they see these types of comments thrown around.
You have clearly thought about these issues. Please also think about the language you’re using and the ramifications thereof. That’s really all I and others are asking.
@Midnight Cheese: first, it’s not a ridiculous overstatement. You yourself acknowledged that it is flip and glib and if it’s hurtful to some what’s the point of continuing? Because you want to be perceived as flip, glib, callous and uncowed?
As to the stalking, let’s see the elements:
intentionally and with no legitimate purpose engages in conduct that s/he knows or should reasonably know
will cause reasonable fear of material harm to victim
or causes material harm to mental or emotional health of victim
or causes a reasonable fear that victim’s employment or business is threatened
Yup. all three of those sub elements seem to be satisfied here.
@Ann Somerville: This is a serious question, because I’m struggling with how to phrase this.
No, I cannot diagnose KH. I can say that I find her actions irrational, and that the first term that popped to my mind when reading her account was, “batshit crazy.” I don’t use that term to refer to actual mental illness, but I see how it can be seen that way.
What expression, in your opinion, would be not (or at least, less) offensive yet convey the same amount of “what the fuck?” that “batshit crazy” has for many of us, for quite a long time?
And by “quite a long time” I’m referring to comment threads over at Karen Knows Best and SmartBitches from as early as 2007 in which the term was used, as I said above, to mean, irrationality and that “what the fuck?”
@Midnight Cheese: Changing personal details for your online persona is part of protecting yourself from people like Hale. We have no idea if Harris did or did not use someone else’s photo with or without their permission. All we know is what Hale implied in her article, and given that Hale implied other things that other people have now demonstrated to be very much NOT like Hale implied, I choose not to believe Hale’s implications and I think I have good reasons for doing so. If anyone has any evidence to show that there was wrongdoing or unethical behaviour on Harris’s part, then I’m more than happy to reconsider my stance.
@azteclady: FWIW, I had a discussion with a friend (who has a mental illness AND does not stalk people – just like most people with a mental illness. I know you know that Aztec Lady but apparently some recent commenters do not.) She said to me that words such as:
are harmless words which can be used in offensive ways so I guess that’s a judgement call.
Other words which are okay – according to my friend, who is not the Speaker for Everyone with Mental Illness of course :)
There is also a case to be made for using Hale’s own self-descriptors, for example, “obsessive”.
@Midnight Cheese: I’m assuming you haven’t read the comment thread on the other post which relates to this topic “Poisoning the Well.”
Kris, a commenter, in that thread, most eloquently (and bravely) said this:
Link to original comment: https://dearauthor.com/features/letters-of-opinion/poisoning-the-well/#comment-782588
I think that warrants us all using more careful language and demonstrates that yes, people are hurt by casual references further stigmatising mental illness.
“what a completely ridiculous overreaction on your part to my statement.”
No, it’s not. I have a good friend who is suffering *directly* as a result of the words used in comments on this post and elsewhere.
To write that post, I was going to give quotes from at least four posts where I’d seen this crap. But after combing through this one, I had over a dozen, which I think makes my point. But feel free to look over the other discussions for more. There are far too many to use.
“What expression, in your opinion, would be not (or at least, less) offensive yet convey the same amount of “what the fuck?” that “batshit crazy” has for many of us, for quite a long time?”
Try not using words like ‘Batshit crazy’? Describe the actions, condemn them as wrong, explain why they are dangerous. I don’t know. I’m mentally ill (and have been mocked by people you’re cosy with for that) but I sometimes use these words without thinking. The point is to think before you speak.
Mind you, Karen’s favourite insult is ‘fucktard’ which is ableist as all hell, so I am surprised you are, at this late date, worried about offence, Azteclady.
I followed up on this piece linked from the Facebook status of an acquaintance. I am a Goodreads member. I found this article quite difficult to understand. What are the important issues? What are the stakes? Could you please consider writing a summary in a few hundred words that focus on the main points, skip the details and summarize with your point of view, clearly stated? Thank you.
@Suzanne Stroh: I can’t tell if this is a spam post or not. It sounds like a spam post…
@Ann Somerville: Some people can grow up, Ann.
@Kaetrin: Henceforth, I’ll make every effort to use “batshit irrationality” instead. Frankly, I think KH left “odd” behind eons ago.
“Some people can grow up, Ann”
Cool. Welcome to adulthood, Azteclady!
I don’t think speculation about Hale’s mental and emotional state is unwarranted, nor do I think it’s insulting to others with mental or emotional issues who haven’t done the things she’s done. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to suggest that she might be unstable and in need of medical help. That’s not to excuse her actions–she’s clearly not incapacitated or unable to tell right from wrong — that’s clear from the article. But if you read her Thought Catalog pieces after reading the Guardian piece it’s impossible not to draw the conclusion of emotional/mental instability.
She experienced two deeply traumatic events – her own rape, and her mother’s charge of sexual molestation. What she did, as a 14 year old, to the other 14 year old who made the charge against her mother, is deeply disturbing. BUT — would we be more sympathetic to the 14 year old Hale had she not grown up to stalk a reviewer? Of course we would.
No, it doesn’t excuse her stalking of Harris. It certainly doesn’t excuse the people who’ve defended and even applauded her. But to acknowledge her illness, and to hope she gets help, isn’t to minimize or excuse what she did.
Some asshole on Twitter yesterday was encouraging everyone to 1 star Hale’s book to “push her over the edge.” I don’t think that’s helpful. Or decent or excusable.
@Kinsey: Why is it warranted? What good can come of speculating about the motivations of someone about whom we have only partial, unreliable information? I understand why it’s cathartic. I don’t understand how it is, in any material way, helpful.
Why is it reasonable to suggest anything to someone whom we don’t know and who has shown no interest in our opinions? Would you go up to someone on the street, or in a restaurant, or in some other public place, and give them advice based on overhearing their conversation in that public place?
It’s entirely possible not to draw conclusions. No one is forced to draw conclusions and share those conclusions to the world at large.
It is one thing to have opinions about a person’s actions. It is another thing entirely to infer knowledge and understanding of the person’s motivations based on those actions.
@Jane: I send the author’s links to my reviews, negative or positive, for multiple reasons.
1. They are ARC books and as such I need to review no matter how I felt about the book.
2. My reviews, if negative, are not bashing, just stating the problems I felt were in the book. Author’s should not give their books out if they are unable to take harsh criticism.]
3. I feel it is unfair of me to NOT send a link, even if I didn’t like it. It still shows I spend the time reading and reviewing their book.
@Karissa: Thanks for explaining that. I understand a little better. I don’t know if I agree with the practice but we all come from different POVs. Thanks.
“I don’t think speculation about Hale’s mental and emotional state is unwarranted, nor do I think it’s insulting to others with mental or emotional issues who haven’t done the things she’s done.”
And you don’t think you should listen to people *with* mental or emotional issues who say you are insulting and hurting them?
“She experienced two deeply traumatic events – her own rape, and her mother’s charge of sexual molestation. ”
And by implying this is somehow a reason for her behaviour isn’t at all insulting to rape victims or people who’ve been accused of sexual molestation – or people who have accused those molesting them?
“But to acknowledge her illness, and to hope she gets help, isn’t to minimize or excuse what she did. ”
Hale has not, as far as anyone has posted, been diagnosed with anything. You doing so is offensive and ignorant. Hale has done disturbing things. It does not mean she is ill. It doesn’t give anyone a license to armchair psychoanalyse, and in doing so, blame mental illness for wrong behaviour.
Honestly, did you not read what Kris wrote, quoted just a couple of comments before yours?
Please, just stop doing this. Really, you have to stop doing this.
@Ann Somerville: oh please.
Thanks for doing the work to clarify the actions and timelines of this. I read Hale’s piece and came away confused as to whether the initial behavior (of the reviewer) had been bullying or not. The think about bullying and stalking is that it can be made up of individual actions that, on their own, are not menacing but taken as a whole they become so. In the original article it all seemed a bit muddled and you did the work here of clarifying it for me.
I wondered when I was reading the piece why, oh why, the Guardian chose to publish the real details that the author uncovered in her sleuthing. It seemed to be inviting additional retaliation against the blogger. That can’t be responsible journalism.
@Kinsey, agreed. Also ran into this yesterday.
Alex Hurst has a great breakdown, with screenshots, etc. here
I’m reading over all of these replies and had a q – on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (the thread is up but closed) a poster named Amanda wrote that she’d run across a screenshot of an original and different BH review of Hale’s novel that was more objectively vitriolic. Hale didn’t reference that in the Guardian. Has anyone seen that?
I’m coming at this purely from an author’s standpoint, and I couldn’t even finish reading Hale’s account. Maybe I’m naive, but the whole thing felt contrived to me. I guess I could see an unbalanced person going to those extremes, but why in God’s name would she admit it to the world? Publicity is the the only reason I can grasp onto. I’m very happy to see that the book in question still doesn’t top any charts because MAN would I be pissed if she was rewarded for a stunt like this.
On a separate note, in response to your question about reviewers sending authors links to bad reviews, as an author, if I had direct contact with the reviewer in soliciting the review, I wouldn’t be offended or think it was strange if the reviewer then sent me a link to a less-than-stellar review. If I’d had no prior contact with the reviewer, I might think it was a little odd for her/him to send me a link.
On yet another note, I really liked what Smart Bitches said about a book being out of the author’s control once it’s published. Up until that point we’ve had our chance to poke at it, but once it’s out there we need to step back and let the public do with it what they will. It’s nice when people are nice, but readers don’t owe that to writers.
It’s kind of funny I’ve been reading a few different blogs about this issue and for some reason i had assumed Hale was a multi published author someone who’s been around for a while and should know better but no i just realised this is her first book.
Me thinks she is in the wrong industry if one review makes her this insane.