The world is a scary place. In the last week, I’ve read two accounts of bat-shit crazy authors going after reviewers. In both cases, privacy was violated by writers who physically pursued their readers. Because I’ve had the misfortune to receive hate mail, threats (both physical and legal), and four separate visitors directed here from “Jen Warren … Address,” searches, I have to take these things kind of seriously – which is why I’ve made some changes to The Veritable Fount.
The For Reference category, for example, no longer exists in any form. If I ever rejected your book, the evidence is gone. I don’t like backing down from a fight, but every time someone excuses the actions of psychos by citing the terrible behavior of readers, I feel a little more uneasy about what I’ve tried to do here.
Let me explain…
With these events, there has been much discussion, and I’m seeing a lot of comments like, “That author was way out of line. That review would piss anyone off, but the author shouldn’t have stabbed them.” So, if readers weren’t such assholes, then authors wouldn’t be propelled into violence? That’s what that comment says to me.
Many of the people sending this message out would deny it, when accused. They aren’t saying it was okay. They’re just noting that it was that super mean review that made the author hire a PI to track them down. They’re just giving us the back story. That’s all.
Look, there is no excuse for this behavior. No one deserves to be stalked and harassed. No “history” between any two people justifies violence. Unfortunately, I don’t see a lot of solutions toward preventing it The internet is a very public place. I learned over the weekend just how easy it is to physically locate someone, and my honesty on this blog – my opinions and suggestions – make me a target.
I’m not comfortable with that, given the current climate of victim-blaming. I doubt many others are, either. A great number of reviewers write reviews for their friends, because they enjoy it, because they want to share discussions on books they love, and a great review can begin a great conversation.
For the authors out there publicly reacting to the events of the last week, I’d like to offer you a suggestion: don’t even mention the victim’s review. Just as a woman’s outfit does not justify rape, a reader’s words do not justify stalking. Your audience – your customers, fans, readers – are watching. We want to protect ourselves from similar attacks. If you sympathize with a criminal, or even vaguely insinuate that a victim “started it,” you will forever go on our DO NOT READ lists.