So I don’t really keep up with drama, not really my thing, but I’m signed up to the Buzzfeed book newsletter and I somehow fell into the rabbit hole that is Kathleen Hale. In 2014 Hale wrote a Guardian article called ‘Am I being catfished?’ An author confronts her number one online critic where she talks about a goodread reviewer and how she stalked this woman to the point of finding her address and going to her house. Now before I start I want you to understand I have now read No one else can have you, the book that started this or Kathleen Hale Is a Crazy Stalker, the book that brought this to my attention. I’m just writing about the drama.
In the article Hale explained how she became obsessed with checking Goodread, often looked herself up on twitter and even had a google alert set up. But it was Twitter that first alerted her to this reviewer Blythe Harris. Hale’s explains that Harris messaged her on Twitter and from there she went on to look into the reviewer more deeply, claiming she wanted to find out if Harris had actually read the book.
And this is what kicked off the whole thing. Hale’s found the Goodread review:
“Fuck this,” it said. “I think this book is awfully written and offensive; its execution in regards to all aspects is horrible and honestly, nonexistent.”
Blythe went on to warn other readers that my characters were rape apologists and slut-shamers. She accused my book of mocking everything from domestic abuse to PTSD. “I can say with utmost certainty that this is one of the worst books I’ve read this year,” she said, “maybe my life.” …
“Rape is brushed off as if it is nothing,” Blythe explained to one commenter. “PTSD is referred to insensitively; domestic abuse is the punch line of a joke, as is mental illness.”
Hale then goes on to explain how her mother sent her a link to the website stopthegrbullies.com and spoke to the co-founder Athena Parker. Now I intended to keep this post very neutral and just talk about the drama but considering my last page of notes on this topic just reads WHAT THE FUCK!!! I think I’m kind of past that. I think for Hale’s to claim this is bullying is not in any way appropriate. She later goes on to say:
I had a feeling the motivation behind heckling, or trolling, was similar to why most people do anything – why I write, or why I was starting to treat typing my name into search boxes like it was a job. It occurred to me Blythe and I had this much in common: we were obsessed with being heard.
But being heard comes at a cost, it opens you up to criticism. If you don’t agree with criticism you can’t then claim bullying and if you do think like that than you’re doomed to fail.
Following this Hale became obsessed with Harris, saying she saw Harris tweeting about her book often. But from what I can see this was only brought to Hale’s attention after she started actively searching Harris. If someone is ‘bullying’ you just stop looking into them.
Then things get a little out of hand, Hale paid for a background check. From there she hypothesised that Harris was lying about who she was, this is where the title ‘Catfish’ came from. But this isn’t what was happening, Harris had no idea of Hale’s obsession and wasn’t trying to string her along. People often write under a pen name and this doesn’t inherently make them a bad person.
That’s when things get crazy.
After finding her address through a book club Hale traveled to Harris’ home. Other then walking up to the front door nothing happened supposedly but that doesn’t make this any less scary, book reviewer shouldn’t be a job that comes with a warning.
From what I can pick up in the article I really don’t think Hale is very remorseful and the fact she’s done something like this before
The “light stalking” Hale engaged in with regard to the blogger was reportedly not the first time she participated in such behavior. In 2013, the future YA author published an article on Thought Catalog about an incident involving “an early version of Facebook stalking,” which took place when she and her target, another girl, were both 14. That episode ended when, according to Hale’s account, she “poured [an] entire bottle of hydrogen peroxide on [the other girl’s] head.”
Makes this all feel so much worse.
Truthfully I got so angry at this I didn’t get all the way through the Guardian article but I did skip to the ending… big mistake. Hale’s finishing statement reads
I’m told Blythe still blogs and posts on Goodreads; Patricia tells me she still live tweets Gossip Girl. In some ways I’m grateful to Judy, or whoever is posing as Blythe, for making her Twitter and Instagram private, because it has helped me drop that obsessive part of my daily routine. Although, like anyone with a tendency for low-grade insanity, I occasionally grow nostalgic for the thing that makes me nuts.
And I really think this is the worst part of the whole thing. This is victim blaming at its best, like saying a stalker victim should have to move house so the stalker doesn’t have the temptation anymore. NO!
Kathleen Hale is an awful person with very little understanding of how the world truly works.
Check out my last blog post here where I did the book blogger confession tag and maybe consider signing up to my newsletter on the right.