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The Writer Writes--Fans who Stalk

Writing is a solitary profession.  We need that solitude to create.  It does not mean we writers are not social creatures.  Every human has some need for contact with those outside their created world, a place where they can keep both feet firmly on the ground.

We meet our fans because we need our fans.  We sell them books, and we hope they will enjoy that book enough to want to read more.  Sometimes, a fan becomes a friend.

But sometimes, a fan crosses lines.

Years ago, I had such a fan.  Met them at a con where I had gone to support a friend of mine who is an author who was the GoH at the convention.  Turns out this fan was following her everywhere, including up to her room as if expecting to be invited in.  Said fan came over, glaring at me when they saw me with my friend, but as soon as my friend introduced me as a published author, the fan changed.  Suddenly, instead of a raging behemoth who thought I was stealing their "friend," said fan became a gushy sloppy puppy dog begging for my attention.

I work in public service.  As a rule I am a very private person, but my training is in working with people, making people happy, serving people's information needs, etc.  So I put on my Public Service face and was nice.

That turned out to be a mistake.  Said Fan (let us call them SFan) started out innocently poking around in my public newsgroup, and from there, things escalated.  SFan followed me from convention to convention, sometimes so close, I would have felt their sweat.  I could not move around a convention without running into them.  SFan got panicky when I tried to escape their unwanted attentions.  SFan told everyone they were my Best Friend when others tried to step in and put a lid on that activity.

I became very unhappy.  I stopped going to conventions.  That didn't seem to stop SFan.  Instead, SFan showed up at the Southern Festival of Books where I was a speaker and actually snuck up behind me and grabbed me over the eyes.  SFan showed up at other bigger conventions and started leaping out of corners to grab me.  SFan didn't seem to understand they were crossing borders even when they were told to stop.

The final blow came when SFan actually came to my place of employment, in spite of not living close enough to make it look like a "casual visit."

In the end, I sent a "Cease and Desist" letter and started letting convention security folk know what a problem SFan was.  In turn, SFan began a campaign to smear my name, interrupted my reading at a con by yelling, and then told people I was paranoid and all they were looking for was a "mentor" to help them get their writing career off the ground.  I, meanwhile, told people what had been going on, and suddenly, there were a lot of people assisting me.  SFan got their comeuppance when they tried to convince someone who had witnessed some of the events that it was all my fault.

SFan wandered off after that, looking for new territory.  For a time, I warned people I knew about SFan's behavior, but after a time, it seemed pointless when I learned a lot of people knew about SFan and considered them a nuisance.  Now and again, word of SFan would surface, and then it got quiet...

And I got on with my career, got over my tendency to look over my shoulder.  I have a lot of good fans who behave like perfect ladies and gentlemen.

But now I hear that SFan has resurfaced in a different city, and a writer I know is being stalked pretty much the same way I was stalked.  The writer was told to talk to me.  I gave what advice I could.  My own efforts always seemed in vain, but I realize they did eventually work.  I had even talked to the police, and while I was told they could do nothing because SFan lived elsewhere, they did encourage me to get a gun and learn to use it and get licensed to carry it.  I encouraged SFan's newest target to do the same, and to blog about what was going on--to make as many people as possible aware of the problem.  You need as many people at your back as you can get there in order to stop this person.

Because SFan is a problem.  Several of us who have dealt with SFan are wondering why this miscreant is allowed to continue to come to conventions instead of being black balled.  But apparently SFan turns on those puppy tears and people who are not aware of SFan's true nature are deceived.

We are not one, but three people in our lives.  We are the person our friends know.  We are the person our family knows.  And we are the person only WE know, and that is often where the darker side of human nature can lie.

SFan apparently does not know that person inside.  Or believes that the person who makes others uncomfortable simply does not exist.  They believe they are innocent of any wrong doing, and continue to escalate in their Bad Fan Behavior.

Which is sad.

But then, I always said that SFan was clueless when it came to social skills.

And thankfully, I have a lot of other fans who are not clueless to make up for the near damage SFan did to me and my career.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 6th, 2013 05:47 pm (UTC)
I am sorry to hear that. I've seen this a little in fandom, but ran into this big time when a movie was being shot near me.

In terms of conventions, many are instituting broader behavior codes, most of which deal with types of harassment. It seems to me that SFan IS a harasser and would be bounced from cons for that reason, IF these incidents are reported to the concom.

Edited at 2013-08-06 05:48 pm (UTC)
Aug. 6th, 2013 06:08 pm (UTC)
And that is the point I hope to get across. One *has* to speak out if one is being harrassed. A lot of people don't. I wish I had said something sooner when I was the victim, but when it is early in your career, and you are trying to make a good impression, you don't know how far you can go in speaking out.

Personally, if the situation came up today, there would be no problem. I would either start yelling for security, or I would simply deal with the matter and *then* have security come pick up the pieces. But then, I was not sure. I didn't want other fans to think ill of me just because I was annoyed with one idiot.
Aug. 6th, 2013 07:45 pm (UTC)
Someone who you wind up talking about the police about would have been considered a good candidate for removal (or even pre-emptive banning) by many cons even before the recent push for explicit written policies.

Aug. 7th, 2013 03:44 am (UTC)
Best wishes to you and the current focus of this sick person. Damn.
Patt Demetri
Aug. 8th, 2013 06:03 am (UTC)


I can understand how a relationship can mistaken for a personal one. Favorite and fairly famous writers are well known by their fans they sometimes know what toilet paper the writer prefers. That does not make them a friend it makes them a fan. Very rarely a fan does become a friend but as a fan there are bounderies that can't be crossed. Its ok to go to cons to hear your favorites speak or go to large parties or to talk at a public table. It is not ok to show up at their room at their meals and to follow them around. It would be really frightening to have a fan show up at a writers home. In some ways there is a connection but it becomes an obsession when boundries are crossed. Most fans can contain themselves but the temptation to see where they live or work requires an invitation.

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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