Oct 20, 2014

Kathleen Hale Is No Hero

Not everyone is going to like your books. Not every fan is going to like every book you write. Tastes differ, and what one person loves, another will hate. I'm perfectly aware of this, and have seen reviews of my books range from 5 stars down to just 2. And always, I keep in mind the golden rule:

Never respond to bad reviews.

There is simply no way you can do it without looking bad. There are so many things that can go wrong responding to bad reviews, even to thank the reviewer, that I could run an entire month of constant blogging just on the different problems that can arise. So don't so it.

Okay, if you've read that, and are still determined to ignore my advice, then please, for the love of everything, do not do what Kathleen Hale did.

If you want a really good analysis of what happened, including a breakdown of what Blythe Harris actually did, and the steps Kathleen Hale felt were an appropriate response, read this article on Dear Author. To sum up, a Goodreads user who liked to post anonymously (as all internet users are perfectly entitled to do), ended up with an author cyberstalking her, running a background check, using false pretenses to obtain personal information, visiting her house, and calling her at work, again using false pretenses when speaking to her.

All because "she hurt my feelings."

Let me be utterly clear on this:

You are not entitled to harass people over hurt feelings. 

I'm not a legal expert, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that Hale violated several laws in the course of her actions.

What does surprise me, what absolutely astounds me, is that the Guardian ran her piece and described it at "An author confronts her number one critic" (emphasis mine). These words paint a picture of a hounded writer, nobly standing up to a bully subjecting her to unfair torment. We like stories like this. We enjoy seeing bullies taken down. But Blythe Harris is not a bully. She's certainly not Hale's "number one critic," since her book has numerous 1-star reviews on Goodreads. She's just a reader who gave an honest opinion of a book she didn't like.

Hale, on the other hand, admits to stalking and brushes off "the biggest breach of decency [she'd] ever pulled" like it was an okay thing to do. There's a scary emotional disconnect in her writing, like she understands, objectively, that she's crossing lines, but it doesn't matter as much as her hurt feelings.

Please be advised that the following links include trigger warnings for sexual assault (not of or by Hale), assault of a teen (by Hale), and animal abuse. But, this is seemingly not the first time Hale has freely admitted to causing physical and emotional harm in such an irreverent, almost justified, manner.

I've seen people post in support of Hale, and it genuinely concerns me. I'm still a pretty new author. I depend on readers, whether they blog, post on Goodreads, review on Amazon, or tell their friends about my books. I depend on honest opinions. I most certainly do not want to see reviewers (or anyone, honestly), have to fear that they'll become the victims of stalking, harassment, or assault just because the author doesn't like what they thought of a book.

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