This post is part of ‘WORLDS WITHIN WORLDS’, a series of writings about Prunella (Ella) Smith, author, editor & reviewer, and the many worlds she inhabits: her physical reality; her online world where disgruntled author Dita stalks; the worlds of the books she edits; her dream world, and the world beneath the veil of her ordinary reality.
Click here for the previous offerings in reverse order, or here for links to them in order.
Worlds Within Worlds: Dita’s evil emails?'(Or some such title)
I check the time, lean back in my office chair, raise my arms above my head and arch my back in a luxurious stretch. It’s time for a break. Kelee’s story isn’t a difficult one to edit. The author has done most of it herself, but it still takes an intense focus. When there’s no line editing to do, I do a copy edit, and that’s not so open to interpretation. Grammar either works or it doesn’t, and every sentence has to end with a full stop, right? I can’t keep that level of concentration up indefinitely.
Besides the sun is shining and the pond is full. My anticipation is so strong that I already feel the water caressing my skin. But I should check my emails first. I’m hoping the author with the big editing job has decided to pay my bills for the next month.
I click on the browser icon and stand while it’s loading. A few plies (ballet-style knee bends) keep my legs alive, and Merlin takes the opportunity to amble up and ask for a game by forcefully bunting—for American readers: this word means a cross between a butt and a nudge. It does not refer to a string of flags—my leg. Maybe, I’ll tie him up outside while I have a swim. My purebred Burmese can’t run wild up here. There’s too many snakes, foxes and paralysing tics, so I have a leash and a little harness for him.
The computer screen is like a window into another world—more than one, in fact; it’s a window into countless worlds. Every webpage is someone’s world, and every article is someone’s story. Even the Gmail inbox appearing on the screen is a kind of a world. It’s like a landing pad out of, or an entrance way into the worlds of the senders.
My heart skips a beat, and that annoys the crap out of me. It’s an email for God’s sake, not a loaded gun! Or maybe it is. Dita’s name—in bold—has just blown my morning. That and the subject line: Notification of Legal Action. What world exactly does this man live in?
His first email after I published the review of his terrible [Pulitzer-award-winning] book did give me some indication.
You’re a typical American know-it-all ignoramus. You don’t understand a single thing about the book or its purpose, and you wrote an IDIOT review. America is great as a country but the quality of culture is ZERO. You think you are educated and knowledgeable, but your review shows that you don’t know a damn thing about writing, history or the human psyche. Your opinions are based on either pro-Communist politics or fascist propaganda and hate. You’re an enemy reviewer, and your review is patently FALSE!
My book was edited by a professional—I even paid for it—so there’s nothing offending in my sentence structure. It wasn’t supposed to be poetry, just a story, and it’s an excellent one. I have other reviews on Amazon that completely contradict your opinions.
My book is Pulitzer material so, even if the ‘ sentence structure’ is imperfect, which I doubt very much, it’s still head and shoulders above the trash fiction other people tend to write.
I’m going to expose you on Facebook. I am tired of trash like you promoting their idiot
I have never been called a fascist before, or since, and I find it hard to see how my rather innocuous—or so I thought—review could warrant such a response. I’d rounded his two and a half stars up to three, as well. Honestly, what is wrong with three stars! Does he really expect everyone to give his book five stars? Yep. He actually does. A little research that I undertook revealed that he bullied any reviewer who gave him less than five stars until they removed their review. The poor people got so fed up with him that they gave in.
Now here’s his latest attempt at intimidation.
I skim the email and recommend that you do too. The intention is pretty clear without having to slog through the details. I only publish the whole thing unedited to show you exactly how tedious it is, and how insane this author is.
Go for it Dita. This is your big moment …
The review you posted contains material misstatements of fact about my novel. It is not primarily a dialogue, as you ascertain, it is a monologue, therefore all your comments about dialogue in association with my book is completely untrue. Please remove the inaccuracies in your comment immediately, or I will take appropriate legal action here in California which will require you to appear personally or through counsel of record.
Please be advised that under California law the following is true:
“Defamation constitutes an injury to reputation; the injury may occur by means of libel or slander. (Civ. Code, § 44.) In general . . . a written communication that is false, that is not protected by any privilege, and that exposes a person to contempt or ridicule or certain other reputational injuries, constitutes libel. (Civ. Code, § 45; Rest.2d Torts, § 568, subd. (1).) . . .
“One of the elements of the tort of defamation is “publication.” In general, each time the defamatory statement is communicated to a third person who understands its defamatory meaning as applied to the plaintiff, the statement is said to have been “published,” although a written dissemination, as suggested by the common meaning of that term, is not required. Each publication ordinarily gives rise to a new cause of action for defamation. (See Khawar v. Globe Internat., Inc. (1998) 19 Cal.4th 254, 268 [79 Cal. Rptr. 2d 178, 965 P.2d 696]; Lundquist v. Reusser (1994) 7 Cal.4th 1193, 1203 [31 Cal. Rptr. 2d 776, 875 P.2d 1279]; Smith v. Maldonado (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 637, 645 [85 Cal. Rptr. 2d 397]; Kanarek v. Bugliosi (1980) 108 Cal. App. 3d 327, 332–333 [166 Cal. Rptr. 526]; Rest.2d Torts, § 577 & coms. b & c, pp. 201–202; id., § 578; 5 Witkin, Summary of Cal. Law (9th ed. 1988) Torts, §§ 476–478, pp. 560–562; 1 Smolla, Law of Defamation (2d ed. 1997) § 4:77–4:78, pp. 4-124 to 4-126; § 4:87, p. 4-136.3.)
“The rule that each publication of a defamatory statement gives rise to a new cause of action for defamation applies when the original defamer repeats or recirculates his or her original remarks to a new audience. (See Kanarek v. Bugliosi, supra, 108 Cal. App. 3d at p. 332; Rest.2d Torts, § 577A, subd. (1), com. a, p. 208; 5 Witkin, Summary of Cal. Law, supra, Torts, § 478, p. 562.) That rule also applies when a person who heard, read, or saw the original defamatory remark repeats the remark to others (subject to qualifications not relevant here). (See Khawar v. Globe Internat., Inc., supra, 19 Cal.4th at p. 268; Frommoethelydo v. Fire Ins. Exchange (1986) 42 Cal.3d 208. Shively v. Bozanich (2003) 31 Cal. 4th 1230, 1242-1243.
While your personal opinion about the book is protected speech and you are free to dislike the novel, factual inaccuracies about my novel that portray the work to others in a false light are not protected speech. You have made statements in a public forum that are demonstrably false and that injure my reputation and that of my book. Please remove the false statements immediately. If your attorney would like to speak with me, I have previously sent you my professional contact information
Did you read it all? I hope you didn’t waste your time. This author is even crazier than I thought. I mean, how much time did it take him to find all that stuff? Does he really believe it will scare me? That it will make me run, quaking, to my computer desperate to take the review down before I end up in a Californian jail charged with confusing a monologue for a dialogue.
I giggle at the absurdity of it. Despite all the legal jargon, I’m pretty sure such a claim would get laughed out of any court in the Western world. Can you imagine a court debating whether or not my comments about a dialogue are defamatory because the dialogue is actually a monologue? Nah. Even if there was actually anything defamatory in me getting it wrong, I can’t quite see it. I figure freedom of speech would win out.
And pretty much everyone other than the author can see that the review, as all mine are, is very polite. If you can see anything defamatory in it, then you’re wearing the same strange glasses as Dita, and his vision is badly impaired by anger, insecurity and disappointment. I do truly feel for you Dita, but your book still stinks. Be grateful I didn’t actually use those words.
Wait a minute! All is not lost for Dita and his friends. There might just be one court somewhere (in California?) willing to set a precedence so that no author will ever have to put up with a bad review ever again. [Insert sarcasm sign here.]
NB: This is fiction. There is no author called Dita. Nevertheless, neither I nor Tahlia wrote the originals of either of the above emails. If you’re looking for an example of author bullying, you’ve found it.
That’s it for today folks. Any comments?
Make sure you don’t miss the next installment in the World Within Worlds series; click on the ‘World Within Worlds’ link next to ‘Follow these topics’ below.