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Alessandra Kelley
01-09-2016, 06:14 PM
http://www.jeremy-duns.com/blog/theauthorwhocyberstalkedme

Well, this is disturbing.

British spy novelist Jeremy Duns has posted that he has been harassed by British thriller novelist Stephen Leather, ever since Duns questioned the ethics of Leather using sockpuppet accounts to promote his books (Duns quotes Leather on a panel at the 2012 Harrogate crime festival: "You build up this whole network of characters who talk about your books and sometimes have conversations with yourself.").

Leather appears to have a history of dishonest behavior, including setting up fake Twitter accounts in the name of other authors who have criticized him (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/05/nick-cohen-cheating-authors-journalists).

Duns has documented numerous harassing websites making terrible charges about him which show a pattern of registration consistent with Leather's public sites and with sites linked to Leather which harass other authors.

I don't know how much credence to give the charges, but they sure look like ugly and petty behavior.

Maryn
01-09-2016, 07:34 PM
There's no bottom to the pit of ethical, honest behavior online, is there?

Samsonet
01-09-2016, 07:42 PM
Huh?? It's been four years!!

jjdebenedictis
01-09-2016, 07:50 PM
Wow, Stephen Leather is a complete, flaming...

Yeah, that'll put me afoul of the RYFW rule. Let's just say I heartily disapprove of Stephen Leather's insecure, petty, stalkerish harassment of better men than he gives any appearance of being.

Sammie
01-10-2016, 05:55 AM
Wow... Just wow...

Perks
01-10-2016, 07:29 AM
What a freak. I followed Stephen Leather on Twitter. Unfollowed him and followed Jeremy Duns instead. Ugh. I hate shit like this. We all want to be successful, but at what price?

Justin K
01-10-2016, 11:20 AM
The scariest thing, if all this is true, (not previously familiar with the author) is that while I read the blog article detailing everything, I somehow pictured one of those 22 year old kids that get all crazy online when people don't like their self published fiction, or fanfiction. But instead, this man is 59 and seems to clearly know how to use the internet... How could he not know that all this would come back to ruin his legacy, given how successful he seems to be. It's almost as if it's not important to him anymore, or never was, and now his joy is being a menace to those other authors. I think there's a trend in this industry where emotions run so high that they consume people, essentially turning them into fanatical online terrorists.

Old Hack
01-10-2016, 12:41 PM
I was Twitter-friends with Jeremy Duns and Steve Mosby (who have all been the focus of Leather's various attentions over the years) when Leather made his notorious comment about sockpuppeting, all those years ago. I've watched him attack them, through his own accounts and the sockpuppet accounts he set up, ever since. I have seen Duns and Mosby call him out repeatedly, I've watched them step in to defend other writers he was taking a pop at. And that's something they don't mention often. They have done a lot of good.

I don't know why Leather thinks that his behaviour is a useful or fun thing. And I don't know how Duns and Mosby have had the stamina to keep going as they have. They have my admiration.

ETA: Carole Blake, super-agent, friend, and all-round good egg, has just said this on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/carole.blake.50/posts/682258868543456):


This is an extraordinary story of ongoing, petty revenge by a devious best-selling author, against two writers whose reputations he is trying to destroy. I was in the audience for that 2012 Harrogate festival panel & heard him admit boosting his own books with fake reviews & fake social media accounts. A long piece, but worth reading. How does he ever have time to write his books? He even had a pop at me on Twitter when I took part in conversations with Steve Mosby & Jeremy Duns. An astonishing story.

mccardey
01-10-2016, 12:46 PM
I don't know why Leather thinks that his behaviour is a useful or fun thing.

Exactly. Although, when I'm 59, I'm going to adopt an entire drawer of sockpuppets. An entire drawer!

jjdebenedictis
01-10-2016, 07:56 PM
Apparently success is no cure for insecurity. Or spitefulness.

I would hope if I became a Big Deal Author, I'd magically become super-secure and relaxed too, kind of like The Dude except with yachts and a swimming pool of money.

The truth is you're the same person when you get to a destination as you were when you left; I'd be the same as I am now, except with deadlines. Therefore Stephen Leather has probably always been this awful person, and so he'll never grow out of it, because he didn't back when he was twelve.

brainstorm77
01-10-2016, 11:32 PM
Another author to add to the list that I refuse to read.

usuallycountingbats
01-11-2016, 12:15 AM
Wow. Thanks for posting this. I will now stop recommending his books to people. What is wrong with people?! Just, why? What's the point?

jjdebenedictis
01-11-2016, 12:30 AM
Wow. Thanks for posting this. I will now stop recommending his books to people. What is wrong with people?! Eh, loan them his books, or specify they need to get the books from a second-hand store because the author is stalker. There are ethical ways to boycott an author without depriving yourself of novels you enjoy. :)

usuallycountingbats
01-11-2016, 12:38 AM
Eh, loan them his books, or specify they need to get the books from a second-hand store because the author is stalker. There are ethical ways to boycott an author without depriving yourself of novels you enjoy. :)

Oh, he'll go on my 'only from the second hand store' list, but I have his books on kindle, so I can't loan them and so tend to recommend him to friends who like things like Jack Reacher. I guess I'll have to build up a collection from charity bookshops to lend to people.

Weirdmage
01-11-2016, 06:56 AM
My experience matches that of Old Hack. I was also friends with Steve Mosby when this started. Everything Duns and Mosby says matches observable fact.
Since this happened the first time I've had the urge to remove Leather's books from bookstores and burn them everytime I've seen them- (I would never do that though. I don't ever destroy books.)
To me the only moral and ethical way to deal with authors who behave like this is to not waste time on them. That means not reading the, and I will also discourage others from doing so. There's so many books out there I want to read that I see absolutely no point in wasting reading time on authors who behave in ways I find despicable. Removing some authors from being read just means the TBR Mountain gets a tiny bit smaller.

Old Hack
01-12-2016, 01:04 PM
The story has made The Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/stephen-leather-accused-of-running-online-sockpuppet-smear-campaign-against-fellow-thriller-writers-a6806696.html).

From the article:


Hachette will be holding talks with its authors in an effort to resolve the dispute. In statement, the publisher said: “We propose to do everything we can to put an end to this very unpleasant matter immediately. We whole-heartedly condemn harassment and intimidation of any kind.”

Laurasaurus
01-12-2016, 02:40 PM
Interesting.
Out of curiosity, has a (successful) author ever been dropped by their publisher for bad behaviour?
I feel like it must have happened at some point.

Old Hack
01-12-2016, 05:28 PM
I know it has happened. I know of agents who have dropped tiresome clients too. But they had to be very tiresome indeed to get to that point, and I know it wasn't done lightly.

tiakall
01-12-2016, 06:07 PM
There are ethical ways to boycott an author without depriving yourself of novels you enjoy. :)

But there's already so many amazing authors out there, are you really missing out if you drop one that behaves badly? My TBR list is already a mile long >_>;;

Jamesaritchie
01-12-2016, 06:11 PM
Interesting.
Out of curiosity, has a (successful) author ever been dropped by their publisher for bad behaviour?
I feel like it must have happened at some point.

It depends on how successful the writer is, and how bad his behavior is. Publishing is a business, and publishers have released books by convicted murderers, so it takes a lot to make a publisher drop a successful writer. It takes even more for that write to be unable to find another publisher. Money has a very loud voice.

Laurasaurus
01-12-2016, 07:50 PM
I guess if it gets to a point where the writer's making the publisher look bad by association, they may be pushed to act.


and publishers have released books by convicted murderers
Ha, good point.

jjdebenedictis
01-13-2016, 01:58 AM
I guess if it gets to a point where the writer's making the publisher look bad by association, they may be pushed to act.Or if the author's behaviour is threatening sales, which is much more likely to happen when the general public starts hearing about the bad behaviour in The Independent.

SomethingOrOther
01-13-2016, 06:29 AM
I hadn't heard of Stephen Leather before at all. As they say, bad publicity is . . . whatever it is they say, exactly. Anyway, since I've heard of him now, my chances of buying one of his books have increased from 0% to 0%.

Old Hack
01-13-2016, 11:28 AM
Or if the author's behaviour is threatening sales, which is much more likely to happen when the general public starts hearing about the bad behaviour in The Independent.

And in The Guardian. (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jan/12/stephen-leather-cyberbullying-steve-mosby-jeremy-duns)

And in The Times. (http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/books/article4663919.ece)

Helix
01-13-2016, 11:50 AM
Hachette are unimpressed (http://www.thebookseller.com/news/hachette-responds-to-cyber-bullying-accusations-319945).


A spokesperson for Hachette told The Bookseller the company had spoken to Leather and was going to "do everything we can to find a way to resolve this."

"We are aware of the allegations against Stephen Leather...We whole-heartedly condemn harassment and intimidation of any kind and we propose to do everything we can to put an end to this very unpleasant matter immediately," the spokesperson said.

andiwrite
01-15-2016, 10:12 AM
Wow. It gets crazier and crazier. I have to agree with Old Hack's agent friend who asked how he even has time to write his books. And if he's admitting in public, seemingly without any shame, that he makes fake accounts and reviews to boost his books, what sort of shady things is he doing in secret? :Shrug:

Filigree
01-16-2016, 07:40 AM
He admitted this a couple of years ago. In public.

To be very blunt, Hachette has known about this for a long time.