In mid-September a Swedish book fan was ordered by Stirling Sheriff Court to leave her favourite author alone, and to go back to Sweden the next day. And no, that wasn’t me.
The author in question is Stirling historian Neil Oliver, who has been bombarded with letters and photos and CDs by this woman over the last year. Her stalking continued when she turned up at a book signing Neil was doing at Waterstones in Glasgow this month, trying to hand him an envelope.
I understand that this must have been upsetting for Neil. I’m wary of people knowing where I live, so for his address* to have become known to her will have made him feel unsafe.
But, the man appears on television regularly. It’s easy to ‘fall’ for a charismatic television presenter at the best of times. As an author he’s a bit of a public figure. At a bookshop signing he is doing a public event.
It’s tricky. I understand her fervour, and I get his fear. I don’t know what the solution is.
But I can sort of see myself in her place. It can be hard not to admire too much.
(*The full name and address of the poor fan has been made public, with the help of the Stirling Observer. This is something that wouldn’t happen in Sweden.)
Btw, I love you all!!!!!!
Had to google him after that!
I probably wouldn’t know him in the street. But I used to hear his voice [quite nice accent] whenever people had the television on. Felt like he was always on.
I suppose at certain angles and with good lighting he has a Snape-ish air. Is it stalking to send mail and turn up at a signing?
You tell me! If anyone has reported me to the police, I’ve not heard. And whereas I feel authors are allowed to write books and remain totally anonymous and private, a part of me agrees with John Barrowman, who feels that as a public figure he has responsibilities; to smile, to sign, to be photographed when out.
The thing about this woman is that I suspect she might have been exstatically happy if he’d only given a little of himself. She was reported as walking with a crutch, which either means she’s harmless, or a bit of a pathetic joke figure. Unless she was going to use it.
It was hardly chivalrous. In fact I think she should have used the crutch.
Having been around a lot of bookstore events, and hearing about even more, it’s an incredibly complicated situation. I have felt sympathy on both sides of this equation many times, including being a bouncer once for a Stephen King event where I actually had to prevent a very nice man from presenting Mr. King with a very weird but harmless totemic object.
Fans can be weird, but actually, so can authors.
Yes, some authors are less normal than you’d want. And don’t get me started on the booksellers.
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