Archive for June, 2010

June 30, 2010

Stalker Stories.

The first entries are in, and they’re fun.

From Ru, a stalking story with a happy ending:

Well, if internet stalking counts, I have a short story for you. I had a crush on one of my friends for the longest time, and as someone who spends way too much time on the internet, I often tend to do searches on my crush through social networking sites and other media. A couple of months ago, I did a search on this particular crush’s name, and it turned out that there was a porn star by the same name, which I found endlessly amusing, so I told him the next day. Only I stupidly started the sentence with, “So I was googling your name last night…” Lots of people heard. I turned beet red. He probably thought I was a total creeper, which I kind of am. But that’s okay, because the two of us are together now.

From R, a story of mallstalking:

I was vacationing in Florida, at the mall with my grandma, when I noticed a dashing young man walking by with two fellows at his
side. We made eye contact, he smiled, and I swooned.I kept glancing back until he disappeared into a store that sold sunglasses. I wasn’t focused on the name of the store, just the boy. I turned to my grandma and told her I would be right back. She smiled and told me she’d meet up with me later. I nodded, not paying attention, and scurried away to the store with sunglasses. Of course,as soon as I entered, he left. He caught my eye and I had another swoon moment as he exited.

For the next hour and a half, I followed this boy, entering every store he was in. He once bumped into me, and apologized. I was so embarassed because what I said in return was “you…it’s…eyes-I mean, it’s okay”. He gave me a funny look, grinned, and left. I followed him into one more store when my grandma found me and took me to lunch. My head was still spinning.

And from “JMTW,” who says, “I’m not a YA, so this one’s for fun, not a prize,” story with a most unhappy ending:

I had a terrible, painful crush on a boy whose locker was next to mine. I’ll call him B. He was shy and I had no idea how to talk to boys and so despite the locker proximity, we hardly spoke. B was a football player and got badly injured one season. Badly enough that they put his leg in traction and kept him in the hospital. The same hospital where I donned a candy striper’s uniform every Sunday and rolled around a little cart selling candy and newspapers. My friend and candy-striping partner, P, had much more experience with boys than I did. She insisted we pay him a visit, pretending we were just doing our job. To do this, we had to take the cart to a floor we weren’t supposed to be on because they had all this special equipment and they didn’t want us bumping into stuff. When we finally found B’s room, P peeked in and reported that he was asleep. We should go do the rest of the floors we were supposed to do and come back. An hour later, we were back on B’s floor. P ran ahead to see if he was awake. He was. She waved me over. “Come on! Before they catch us.” I froze at the threshold of his door. This was nuts. I was wearing a red and white striped jumper. I never knew what to say to him at school, what could I possibly say now?

Just give him the spiel,” P said. “Pretend you don’t even know he’s in there. Just say ‘Hi, would you like anything from the cart today? Candy? Newspapers?’ Then, look surprised and say, ‘Hey. Don’t I know you?’ or something like that.”

It was so easy for girls like P. If it was her crush, she’d go in, plop herself on the bed and start rubbing his feet or something.

Me, I froze. P put her hand on my back and pushed me in. I got as far as the foot of his bed and gave the spiel while staring at the leg that was strung up in the air. “Hiwouldyoulikeanythingfromthecarttodaycandynews-paper?”

Silence. I looked up. He was awake all right and so was his mom, who was standing next to the bed with a—is that? yeah, it is—a bedpan in her hand. From the way she was holding it, and from the smell that only hit me then, it became apparent that I had, shall we say, come at a bad time.

I turned on my heels, returned to the hall and the cart and P, blushing more deeply than I ever knew was possible.

B returned to school three weeks later, on crutches. P volunteered to help him get around. They were a couple by Christmas.

Is that a stalking story? Or a YA novel? Or something to tell my therapist?

Keep them coming!

June 29, 2010

Who Has the Best Stalker Story? Yes, It is a Contest.

To celebrate the upcoming launch of Stalker Girl I will be giving away the one and only hardback copy of the book currently in my possession (pictured below) to the person who submits the best stalking story.

What do I mean by “best stalking story”? Hmm. Good question. First of all, it should be a stalker’s story, not a stalkee’s. It should make us laugh and cringe at the same time. While stories of stalking celebrities are welcome, I’ll admit that I have a slight bias toward stories of everyday infatuation. It should not involve harming an individual.

My Only CopyAs a warm-up, I asked some friends to offer their confessions. Here’s what I got:

“I walked my dog past my crush object’s house, almost a mile away, every night (weather permitting) for more than a year. This would have been my sophomore year of HS or thereabouts, and is without doubt the longest I’ve ever been able to sustain a program of regular exercise.” J

“I distinctly remember my best friend in the 6th grade pointing out a skinny 8th grader playing basketball. For the majority of the year we made up a code name for him, followed closely behind his friends, his classmates, and his little brother so we could find out more about him. Once, we hit the jackpot and found a note he had thrown away…swoon!” L

“1991, Maine: best friend and I would load up the car with coffee and junk food, and drive into the woods in the middle of nowhere at night, looking for a Subaru wagon with a green kayak on the roof and an Earth! First sticker. It was her bio professor’s. We did this about once a week. I have no idea what we were going to say if he ever ran into us on the dirt road leading up to his house.” D

“Albuquerque, 2004. Looking at my co-worker’s break schedule to find out when I should situate myself outside her car. Taking my break 5 minutes earlier than hers and playing it so cool, as I hand her, not flowers or chocolates, but a free carwash coupon. Yeah, I’m THAT kind of nerd. Ah, love.” R

“October 2000 in New York with K. We saw Salman Rushdie with Lakshima walking near Central Park. Pre-9/11 he was still under the biggest threat of any major personality, but I walked at least fifteen blocks, carefully calculating my steps behind him, K complaining about the blisters from her new shoes. I even took pictures. At one point he ducked into an apartment that I suspect wasn’t even his.” T

“Santa Fe, NM, 1997. My best friend sat in our kitchen, lamenting the lack of phone contact she’d had with her latest “hook-up partner.” My mother swiped said best friend out of her chair, dragged us both to the car, and drove us 15 miles out of town to where the “hook-up partner” lived. We spent the night parked in front of his house, waiting for him to arrive home with … what? Another girl? Another boy? A sign on his back saying, ‘I like girls who like to stalk?’” J2

Interesting how many of these stories involve accomplices in the form of best friends. My Stalker Girl, Carly, gets into trouble because she doesn’t tell her best friend, or anyone, about what she’s doing. She knows they’d make her stop. And while she knows she should stop, she can’t.

How to enter: You can email through the contact page (put “contest” in the subject line) or leave a reply below this post. While the email and reply forms ask for a name and email, I promise not to publish your personal information or to share it with anyone else, unless you want to be identified. You may use a pseudonym, go by a single initial or simply call yourself  “anon.” I will assign numbers to the anons. By submitting your story, you are giving me permission to share it (though not your identity).

Who should enter: While I prefer to give the prize book to an actual YA reader, all are welcome and encouraged to submit confessions. If you want to share your story but not compete because you are not a YA, just indicate somewhere that you are not competing for the prize. If you aren’t a YA reader but can pass it along to one, that’s fine, too.

Contest Open Until Friday, July 9th

Disclaimer: I feel obliged to state that I understand that stalking is a crime and that stalking behavior that might seem funny at first can develop into something much more serious. If you are a victim of serious stalking behavior, you’ll find help here.

June 28, 2010

True or False: “There’s a little stalker in all of us.”

I was visiting a Las Vegas high school last spring, just after finishing Stalker Girl. During the Q & A, a student raised her hand and declared that she believed there was “a little stalker in all of us.” I nodded, remembering all the glimmers of recognition I’d seen in the eyes of people I’d told about the book.

But a funny thing happened in that auditorium. “Girls stalk,” one of the boys protested. His buddies nodded. Some of the girls nodded, too. But some of them fought back. Everybody, it seemed, had an example of stalking by the opposite sex.

But my book is called Stalker Girl, and if you google (as I have done—just once!) that phrase, you’ll get over a hundred thousand hits. Stalker Boy, by contrast, gets about thirty-five thousand.

A few months ago I found myself at a table full of male colleagues in the faculty lunchroom. I’d just gotten the Stalker Girl galleys and had a copy with me. In the conversation that followed, I explained that part of what I was trying to do in this novel was show how slippery the slope that led to full-on stalking could be. To illustrate my point, I confidently asked, while raising my own hand, “Who here hasn’t googled and ex?”

All but one sat motionless. Were they holding back, embarrassed? Or was it, as one of them suggested, that they didn’t have that many exes? They were mostly Math guys. One was a priest. The one who raised his hands taught a romance language.

So . . . is stalking a girl thing?

Not according to the National Center for Victims of Crime which reports that 70% to 75% of stalking victims are female and 85 to 90% of stalkers are male.

Why then is the phrase Stalker Girl so much more common than Stalker Boy? Am I contributing to this false perception with the title of my book?

To be continued . . .

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June 26, 2010

Dwight Garner is Trying

Dwight Garner is trying hard to avoid sexism in his review of Jessica Stern’s Denial, A Memoir of Terror. He quotes Joyce Carol Oates to demonstrate that he understands how women writers have had to fight for the right to write about violence. “Men,” Oates wrote, “don’t take women who write about [war, rape and murder] altogether seriously.”

“It is possible,” Garner magnanimously declares, “to take Ms. Stern very seriously indeed . . . and to consider ‘Denial’ a profound human document.” What is not possible for Garner, alas, is to deem Stern’s memoir “a profound literary one.”

What keeps Stern’s writing from being sufficiently literary? For one, “it lacks allusiveness and distance.” Okay. Plus it’s “hot to the touch in ways that are both memorable and disturbing.”

Hmm. Disturbing enough to inspire metaphor, but not literary. (more…)





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