Novelist under fire after admitting to 'stalking' critic

Novelist Kathleen Hale under fire after admitting in a Guardian article to 'stalking' critic Blythe Harris

A novelist set off a firestorm over the weekend after admitting in an article to "stalking" a blogger who gave her book a negative review on the website Goodreads.

Kathleen Hale, author of the young adult novel "No One Else Can Have You," described confronting a blogger who writes under the name Blythe Harris in an essay for the Guardian.

Harris had written a negative review of Hale's book on Goodreads and then took to Twitter, where she shadowed Hale, mocking her tweets. Hale discovered that other authors had also been targeted by Harris online, but were afraid to speak about it on the record, according to Hale's Guardian essay.

In the article, Hale describes researching the blogger, and after being given her address by a book club, driving to the woman's house before deciding not to knock on her door. Later, Hale said, she called the woman at her workplace. She said though the woman who answered the phone claimed not to be Harris, she believes that it's the same person.

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FOR THE RECORD

Oct. 20, 5 p.m.: An earlier version of this post described Hale "confronting" the woman at her home. Hale said she went to the woman's door but did not speak to anyone there.

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"Over the course of an admittedly privileged life," Hale wrote in the Guardian essay, "I consider my visit to [the blogger's house] as a sort of personal rock bottom. In the weeks that followed, I felt certain the conclusion to the Blythe Harris mystery was simply 'Kathleen Hale is crazy' -- and to be fair, that is one deduction."

Authors and bloggers reacted to the essay with fascination and horror. At the website Bibliodaze, a book reviewer who writes under the name Ceilidh called Hale's essay "not only a hatchet job full of factual inaccuracies, [but] a straight up bragging fest about stalking someone who had the gall to give you a negative review."

Miles Klee, writing at the Daily Dot, found fault with Hale and Harris: "So: two people significantly invested in their online reputations and, with a common history of allowing the Internet to fuel their worst instincts, became entangled in a petty dispute that took on more sinister dimensions."

Reactions on Twitter were mixed. Hale retweeted writer Frank Rich, who called her essay "riveting." (In a January 2014 interview, Hale said that she's engaged to Rich's son, Simon, also an author.)

Others weren't so complimentary. Connor Goldsmith, a literary agent in New York, tweeted: "All I can say is if bad social media response freaks Kathleen Hale out so much (hi Kathleen!) this is gonna be a bad day for her."

Hale's second novel, "Nothing Bad Is Going to Happen," is scheduled to be released next year.

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