Friday, September 09, 2011

The Very Worst Fan Mail...

Okay. How many authors you know get hate mail from terrorists? Just one.

Got an email about three months or more back from someone who used to like my writing. He represents (or used to represent) a Puerto Rican group called Los Macheteros (that is, Those Who Handle Machetes - a sort of rustic terror, I suppose). The FBI considers this group to be a terrorist organization, some Puerto Ricans consider them freedom fighters, but, to be clear, they have killed for their cause, they've set bombs, shot people down, violently destroyed government property.

I mentioned them in my fourth PRECINCT PUERTO RICO novel. In fact, much of the novel is taken up with the inhabitants of Angustias scared out of their minds that LOS MACHETEROS might launch an attack on the children of Angustias. Someone has kidnapped a child in a neighboring town and killed her. LOS MACHETEROS supposedly claim the act as theirs, children in Angustias go missing, tensions rise, etc.

Now it is true that in their history, LOS MACHETEROS have never been accused of kidnapping or harming children. On the other hand, they've left bombs in public places so not harming children is by the grace of God, not due to the scruples of LOS MACHETEROS. Anywho...

So I get this email from a lawyer accusing me of libel. Essentially maliciously hurting their reputation in print. Now, clear works of fiction are often exempt from charges of libel, though I suspect not always.

I was also told I was "beneath contempt." Not really news to those who know me, but it stings a little when it comes from a lawyer... I was told I was pretty much a traitor to the people of Puerto Rico (an island and a people I dearly love).

I responded. Maybe not a good idea. I pointed out how difficult it is to damage the reputation of an organization the FBI considers to be a terrorist organization. Not to mention the very few people who will have read my book. I offered the lawyer a copy of my latest PRECINCT PUERTO RICO novel. Free. I await a reply, but it has been some months now...


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