As readers, we all have our favorite authors. There are authors whose books we conscientiously read and probably have read everything that they have written. Perhaps we connect with the stories or the characters. Sometimes, the connection goes beyond the pages of the book and turns into an idolization of the author.
So how far do readers go in their adoration of their favorite authors? Well, sometimes, too far. I decided to read on this topic and found a number of incidents/cases where readers turned into stalkers.
The Stalking of Peter James
Author: Peter James
Genre: Murder Mysteries
List of Books:http://www.peterjames.com/books
So how much do we adore our favorite authors? Well Peter James found out the answer to this question in a stalking that went on for almost a decade. The stalker showed up at all his events and sent him numerous emails through the years. It is reported that at one point, James was receiving about 20 emails each day from this ‘fan’. According to the author, some of the emails were simply hero worship, others had sexual overtones with others were eerily possessive.
The author further recounts about an email sent by the stalker concerning her ‘Peter James’ collection. The email had photographs of a montage of newspaper articles, all his book covers and shockingly photographs of the author at different locations. In the same email, the fan attached a photo of a shrine created for Peter James complete with lit candles.
At a book signing event, the reader showed up to meet her idol. When he asked her which name he should use when signing the book, the irate fan screamed, ‘Mine!” However, when she found out that he didn’t know her name, she wrote him a 10,000 words angry email claiming to be his biggest fan and expressing her disappointment at the fact that he didn’t even know her name.
The police were unable to help the author. However, he decided to out her publicly and wrote a novel inspired by her, Not Dead yet. This led to a break in the stalking.
You can read more about the stalking here:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10848780/Peter-James-The-real-life-horrors-behind-my-books.html
James Lasdun and the student who became his stalker
Author: James Lasdun
Some of the stalking incidents that I came across were so scary. One author who had a terrible experience with a stalker was James Lasdun. The stalking started when Lasdun complimented one of his students in a fiction class. Lasdun’s stalker was called Nasreen. They started corresponding and Lasdun even helped forward the student’s manuscript to publishers. However,three years after meeting Nasreen, Lasdun suddenly started receiving a series of emails accusing him of sleeping with his students. Nasreen also accused him of rape and plagiarism.
The student turned stalker went ahead to openly harass Lasdun and send him messages about suitors that she had met online. She took the stalking a step further by contacting and threatening his children, telling them that they would grow up to become Nazis. The stalker did outrageous things in order to get his attention. For instance; she stole his identity and used it to email his employers and friends. Lasdun describes his stalker as bright and calculating. This stalking went on for five years.
He wrote about his experiences in the book, Give me everything you have.
You can read more about the stalking of James Lasdun on this link:http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/feb/16/give-me-everything-stalked-lasdun-review
Stephen King and the murder of John Lennon
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror/ Fiction
All Written Works:http://stephenking.com/library/written.html
Stephen King has been stalked a couple of times. There is a stalker who even went as far as breaking into his home.One incidents is reported here:http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,627076,00.html
The most bizarre stalking was Steve Lightfoot. This man claimed that Stephen King killed John Lennon. Lightfoot claimed to have received this revelation from letters and early books written by Stephen King. The John Lennon conspiracy went on to the point that the stalker even bought a van with the claims written on the side. He drove the van around town trying to influence others about his conspiracy. Apparently, Stephen King wrote all about the assassination in his 1975 book, Salem’s Lot which was before the assassination of Lennon.
If you Google, Stephen King killed John Lennon, then you will come across the websites that perpetuate this conspiracy. Here is a link to the conspiracy theory; http://lennonmurdertruth.com/introduction.asp.
Author: Helen DeWitt
Helen DeWitt also had a terrible experience with a stalker. She had rented a cabin where she hoped to spend time writing her new book. The stalking started with a daily neighborly visit. The visits turned into break-ins when Helen was out of the cabin. One day, he actually broke into her cabin with a gun. DeWitt managed to escape from the cabin and run to her neighbors’ house to seek assistance.
Read about the incident here: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n16/helen-dewitt/diary
Stalkers with special connections
Author: J K Rowlings
JK Rowling has also had encounters with readers who turn into stalkers. One such reader wrote her several emails claiming that they shared a ‘special’ connection’ that occurred during a train ride years before the Harry Potter books. Well, this special connection was severed when the reader was hit by a restraining order and was banned from contacting JK Rowlings.
News Story on the stalking of JK Rowling:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/2135879.stm
Cyber stalking of Patricia Cornwell
Author: Patricia Cornwell
So how far is too far? Patricia Cornwell knows this stalking all too well after being stalked by a writer who actually accused of her of plagiarism. According to her stalker, the author was also anti-Semite.
You can read about the lawsuit filed by Patricia Cornwell here:http://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/may/24/books.crimebooks
Stalkers who hate certain author’s stuff
Author: Janice Galloway
Janice Galloway is an author who has experienced the bad side of readers. Janice narrates of a nasty experience whereby she was insulted by a reader at a book signing event. The less than impressed reader stood in line waiting to meet her for over an hour. However, when he finally met her, he went ahead to tell her just how much he hated her ‘stuff’. And that was not all, he also expressed his hatred for …umh.. her earrings. Yes the angry reader absolutely hated her books and her earrings.
Stalkers who throw ink
Author: Val Mercmid
Val Mercmid also had an ugly encounter with a reader who felt that the author had personally targeted her. The reader had held a grudge for over twenty years believing that something that Val wrote in her book, A Suitable Job for a Woman, was in reference to her. At a book signing event, the angry reader finally met the author and decided to express her utmost frustration by throwing ink at her.
You can read about the arrest and conviction of the assaulter here:http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/jul/10/val-mcdermid-ink-assault
When authors become stalkers
The Stalking of a book blogger
So as I was researching on this article, I came across quite an interesting twist. It was a story about a book blogger, yes one of us, who was allegedly stalked by…wait for it…an author! The blogger gave the author’s book 1 out of 5 stars and gave the book a scathing review on Google-reads. The author was determined to unmask this blogger but she might have gone too far when she started calling the blogger at home and even once showed up at her house. This is the story of the YA writer, Kathleen Hale and the blogger, Blythe Harris. You can read Hale’s account of the incident here; http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/oct/18/am-i-being-catfished-an-author-confronts-her-number-one-online-critic
Stalking is defined as unwanted or obsessive attention by someone or a group of people. It has many negative impacts on the victims such as intimidation, disruption of normal life and is also considered as a mental assault.Some cases of stalking have ended up in fatalities like in the case of Rachel Schaeffer who was killed by a stalker in 1989.There is definitely a clear difference between a devoted fan and a stalker. So lets show our favorite authors some love as we also give them space to live their own lives.