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[Featured Discussion] - Reviewer Stalking and Kathleen Hale

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Featured Discussion:

     So I am sure all of you have heard of this already, the bit where some Author is so angry at a poor book review (no matter what rank or rating, frankly it doesn't matter) that they seek the person out, a la Kathleen Hale style. I want to take my time to throw my hat in the ring and at least voice my opinion. First off I am sad to see what happened to Blythe, it shouldn't have happened and I have heard and read a lot of varying different sides to the story and I don't know which way to go, nor do I know the full details. I am looking for someone to inform me better, and actually just talk about the issue in general.

     Catfishing? Really?
     "Although, like anyone with a tendency for low-grade insanity, I occasionally grow nostalgic for the thing that makes me nuts."  --- Kathleen Hale (in her article)

     I wanted to start there, frankly I believe that both are in check for this. Like I said, I don't know the full details so take what I am about to say with some salt. I am basing my view on this with some overall view of various sources. I have read some of Kathleen Hale's article and some other sources (I will link to), and that's where I'm going.

     What I want to start with is Blythe, I want to round out some overall groundworks for this and what I'm assuming to be true or mostly true:
     1. Blythe is a pseudonym, and may not be an author.
     2. Blythe left a negative review of Hale's book.
     3. Blyth (maybe) left various other negative social interactions on Hale's twitter, facebook, etc. sites.

     Now Kathleen Hale's assumptions:
     1. Admits to finding Blythe's real name and address
     2. Wrote a public article on The Guardian about the incident.
     3. Made numerous attempts and successes talking to "Blythe."

     There are probably more, and I will add to this list as time goes on.

      First I want to address the assumption that Blythe left various negatives responses to Kathleen Hales activities on Facebook, Twitter, etc. I don't know how true this section is, and is the weakest assumption I have on the whole debate. If it is true, it addresses and explains a small (VERY SMALL) portion of Kathleen Hale's interaction. Because frankly it makes Blythe the first initiator and the first bully/stalker in the whole debacle. Now upon going back and rereading some of this, I don't think this holds much if any validity. I keep it as a possibility (I don't know if it's true or not) until someone can verify and prove it (without a shadow of a doubt).

     The rest on the other hand paints Blythe as a blogger that may be a bit more aggressive reviewer and frankly a down to earth person. Now I'm not supporting Blythe so lets get that out there, I don't know him and I haven't read or seen any of his reviews (not that I don't like or dislike him, just never met him). Does that mean she (be honest, Blythe is a female, its everywhere) expected to get a visit or all the calls from Hale? Absolutely Not! I have left some bad reviews in my time, does that mean I am going to get a call from James Patterson and he's going to try to discuss why the book was good to me? No, but I would enjoy that call and gladly accept it. However, him showing up at my doorstep would be a bit creepy, having not warned me or told me in advance.

     So Kathleen Hale, she admits a lot in her article. I have to say the quote from above describes her wonderfully. I want to say one thing and get it out in the open. If Blythe had stalked her online (my weakest assumption), I think it would be okay to say that her reaction and crossing that line is rather absurd, but on a lesser scale. She would be doing it for a purpose not simply because she got a simple negative review.

     However throw that assumption out the window, and the whole debacle hits the fan. Frankly either way there is a certain tact of professionalism that any author should hold, and she crossed that line. I mean she could've call the police or get a restraining order (something) once she knew the real name. There was no point for the background check, no need to go to Blythe's house, and what was she trying to accomplish by going? It makes zero sense and frankly yeah she needs some sort of punishment or something. I mean read her article it's just that deplorable and worth a laugh at her mentality. When you have a dream that a lot of other people wish and dream for, act and respect those who are looking up to you; do not do show this much disregard.

     I want to say one thing though, and probably the one biggest thing I'll probably get flamed for. The book/goodreads community is very passionate and has pretty much raved and lit her page up. She isn't well, and frankly needs help, that's a given. However reviewing the book a one or lower, simply for her action is deplorable and defeats the purpose of Goodreads or Leafmarks. I am going to read the book, not because I am supporting her, but because I am interested in the book; although those that did review it, haven't had much to say about it. However, I may not leave a rating and ignore the whole review process, because she really isn't worth the sort of time.

    What I am torn about though is my own views on the process. I look at Goodreads and Leafmarks as an avenue to express my opinions and reviews of books aside my own blog. However not doing a review kind of goes against that idea, even if I don't want to support the author. The solution may put a big bold type at the time, about the incident and how I don't condone her or her action (like Neil Gaiman said). I don't want to insult the process or the sites. If they want to remove her, that's their decision and I can't make that decision. I will honor it, and I will do my own thing from that point.

     Moral of the story: Authors should hold some professionalism and respect the privacy and opinions of every and all reviews (even if they are a bully or not), regardless of the reviews they leave you. They did buy your book afterall. Reviewers respect the authors as well, they did write the story that you read, and while some books are better than others, they did spend a lot of time and effort on the book. Bloggers and Reviewers as well, be careful what you do, lest you become the bully yourself. Ignoring the person can be just enough and keeps you out of the crosshairs. Giving false reviews doesn't help the system or the site you are on, in fact I think it harms the site more than it does the author (bias and illegitimate reviews). I am not asking you to change or do anything, do what you feel is right. This is just my view and opinion. 
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