So, yesterday I published a post all about how I had a hard time biting my tongue and leaving alone the review of a rather excellent book that was (IMHO) unfairly criticized by another reader. Today, I discovered the story of Kathleen Hale…trad-pubbed writer who went nuts after a bad review. I’m so tempted to remove my previous post, but I won’t for the following reason:
I never said it was right to respond to a negative review. In fact, I chastised myself for even wanting to. Readers can be jerks, yes, but we are entitled to our opinions. No one – not author or reader – should attack us for it. They sure as hell shouldn’t stalk us for it. If I write a review of The Long Walk citing “too much sex,” or “too many female characters,” that makes me an idiot. It doesn’t give Stephen King the right to track down my address and show up at my door.
There are reasons I don’t FB or Tweet or visit any social network site aside from Goodreads. I want a little distance from the psychos out there. I want to be able to talk about books, and authors, and characters without fear. Standard concerns involve indie authors, assumed to be running wild, ready to attack any reader for less than 5 stars, but Ms. Hale is not in indie. She’s a traditionally published author someone should have hired a keeper for.
Sound harsh? This woman STALKED a reader both online and IN PERSON. She showed up at the front door of her house!Any sympathy I had for this writer (and I DID sympathize with her, at first) was completely gone the moment I read that. I stopped caring about the reader’s questionable behavior. The only thing that mattered was the image I can’t get out of my head of every author I’ve ever given a negative review to peeking in through my windows.
Liars will lie, and bullies will bully. It isn’t fair, and it sucks. I won’t argue that wrongs were committed on both sides. They were. But only one of these people took an ugly fight from the internet to the streets…and that’s what Ms. Hale will be remembered for.