Wednesday, 12 September 2012

My Last Word on Sock Puppets

It’s a little over a week since I wrote that blog post about the sock puppet using author who had abused me and others on Amazon while giving himself glowing reviews.  I had expected my little chapter of the story to be buried under the RJ Ellory scandal, but instead it caused quite a ripple.  I spent most of last Monday fielding calls and emails from journalists.  It was incredibly stressful.  If that’s what it feels like to get caught up in a very minor press scandal, I’d hate to be part of a major one.

I really didn’t intend to cause such a fuss.  Because I’d been part of the movement for author ethics, and party to the drafting of the open letter that was published last week, I felt it was disingenuous of me to keep my experience a secret any longer.  While good people like Jeremy Duns and Steve Mosby were putting their own reputations on the line, I couldn’t continue to tiptoe around the issue.  It was time to speak out.

It wasn’t an easy decision.  I didn’t casually point the finger.  It took more than two years to come to the point where I felt I had to tell the truth.  Knowing what I know now, would I do it again?  I’m honestly not sure.

What, if anything, did I learn from all this?

Primarily, I learned that the crime writing community is as supportive and friendly as I’ve always found it to be.  There are some exceptions to this, as became clear over recent weeks, but these rogue authors only emphasise how generally decent most writers are.  I am deeply grateful for all the messages of support I’ve received, both publicly and privately.  It would have been a much harder week without them.

Others, however, have made me angry.  In particular, the blog posts by JA Konrath in which he dismisses the issue of author ethics, saying: “Leaving fake one star reviews isn’t wrong.”  Such a statement beggars belief, and it’s an insult to those of us who stuck our heads above the parapet.  He calls the signatories to the open letter a “mob”, that the swell of support for the letter was a “moral panic”.  Without that so-called “mob”, I wouldn’t have had the nerve to speak out.

Shame on you, Mr Konrath.

RJ Ellory had the decency to admit to his actions, and apologise.  He didn’t equivocate.  He didn’t hide behind denials in the face of overwhelming evidence.  He didn’t pop up in the comment threads of other articles around the Internet, lying about what he’d already said publicly.  Roger is the only named author in this scandal to come out of it with a shred of dignity.  Some might argue that he only confessed and apologised because he’d been caught, and while I understand that point of view, I feel it misses the point.  Roger Ellory was man enough to put his hands up; in contrast, others have shown themselves to be spineless.

Right now, I want to put all this behind me.  I have no interest in feuds; I bear no ill will towards anyone involved.  I’m not going to pursue it any further.  This will be my last comment on the matter unless something remarkable comes to light in the coming days and weeks.

In conclusion, I’ll allow my friend (and excellent writer) Gerard Brennan to sum it all up:


Aoife said...

Very well spoken. I agree on what you said on Ellroy. I admit I also think that he probably could have phrased it better but I won't sit there and complain about those who have not apologized, deny it and/or think that they did nothing wrong and at the same time complain about somebody who has apologized.

I haven't read any of your books, that whole sockpuppet-saga just suddenly broke out on my twitter-timeline and I vaguely recognized your name because I had heard about Ghosts of Belfast and put it under 'Sounds interesting, must check out later' (but then forgot about it again between all the other books I read) and I am really impressed the way you handled all this. It was really reasonable and thoughtful which can't be taken for granted, as he also attacked you.
That is really a great way to react and now your book is much higher on my 'to buy when I have time again'-list.

Dana King said...

The only redeeming quality of Konrath's blog post is the number of commenters who disagree with him.

It's disappointing to see someone such as Konrath take such a disingenuous position.

Gerard Brennan said...

Well said, Stuart!

Other writers guilty of this rotten tactic should follow Ellory's lead. Pity it's unlikely to happen.

And thank you for the kind plug.