So in Dallas, there was a recurring conversation that went something like this:
“I so want to go to her panel/spotlight/signing, but I don’t want her to think that I’m stalking her!”

It seemed we were always treading this fine line between wanting to interact with our favorite authors or dream editors and not wanting to look like obsessive fans of dubious mental stability.

And it seems, in romance, there is often that fine line between attention and persistence that is swooningly romantic and scary stalking.

In college, I was once at one of those award dinners and found myself seated across from a very cute couple. In the course of conversation, they told the story of how they’d got together. They’d met at a party, and the guy was instantly smitten. The problem was, she left the party before he could get her number. All he knew was her (very common) first name and the name of her hometown. Now, we had this student directory that listed all of the (30,000) undergraduates and included their hometowns in the entry. So this guy spent the rest of the weekend going through it, page by page, to find an entry with her first name and hometown so he could call her up. I found that swooningly romantic, yet not without its shades of stalkerish obsession.

I don’t know that I’ve ever stalked anyone myself – but then there’s that mortifying thing (and this happened in Dallas, too) where a certain person is just there every time you turn around, and you’re convinced it must look like you’re stalking them. And the more you talk to them to convince them it’s just a coincidence, the more idiotic you feel. Once on a backpacking trip in Asia, I kept running into this Swiss guy over and over again in different towns – it was a well-established tourist route, so it wasn’t really surprising. But it must have looked suspicious. I swear, Uber-Hot Swiss Ski Instructor With That Bored French Accent And Matching Disaffected Air Who Could Spend The Off-Season Working As A Ricky Martin Lookalike, I was not – not – stalking you. Vraiment.

So how about you – have you ever purposefully or accidentally stalked someone? What’s the most outrageous thing a guy has done to get your attention, or vice versa? Did it work? Any examples from romance novels?

Edit: It’s all about whether the attentions are welcome, isn’t it? I mean if a guy says to you:

“I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you.”

It could either be the creepiest thing you’ve ever heard, or the sexiest!

If it’s this guy … *thud* … definitely the sexiest.

19 comments to “TMI Tuesday – Stalker Alert”

  1. Jacqueline Barbour
    · July 17th, 2007 at 7:48 am · Link

    Ooh, good TMI topic! I knew you’d come up with one.

    Unfortunately, I can’t think of anything a guy I actually wanted to have anything to do with has ever done to get my attention. I did have an actual stalker in college, and that was pretty creepy and scary, to be honest. He would show up outside the library where I liked to study and at the coffee shop I frequented and just stare at me. He also came to my dorm room once and forced his way in. Thank goodness my roommate was there, so nothing bad went down. I still get shivers thinking about it.

    Fortunately, the school took his behavior seriously and suspended him.

    On the topic of stalking authors, editors, and agents, the Mavens didn’t actually stalk anyone, but we did take advantage of our opportunities. I think we may have some pretty cool guest-bloggers coming up in September if we play our cards right. (No spoilers as to WHOM we might have bagged, though!)

  2. terrio
    · July 17th, 2007 at 9:09 am · Link

    I cannot say I have a real problem with men pursuing me in any way be it stalker or healthy. But there was a guy in college who seemed to think I was somehow meant for him. He was nice but I wasn’t interested and it made class a bit uncomfortable at times.

    I don’t think I’ve ever crossed into stalker mode. Maybe when I was a kid. At about 12 I got this major crush on a neighbor boy I had grown up with. Our neighborhood was a circle and in the summer I would sit in the window listening to Hello by Lionel Richie waiting for him to pass by outside. Yeah, that might be a bit stalkerish.

    I think it’s a device used in books all the time but it usually involves a serial killer of some sort. But it’s great for adding that creepy kind of tension.

  3. Kelly Krysten
    · July 17th, 2007 at 10:21 am · Link

    God, this topic reminds me of me and my girlfriends, when we were little tweens, calling boys from sleepovers and then hanging up. So embarassing, but I’d say that has shades of
    I had a guy about two years ago that me and my friends called my stalker, but he was more overly-interested.
    This topic reminds me,though, that many romance heroes-if not for their inate hotness- would qualify,under the legal definition, as stalkers. Jenny Crusie points this out hillariously in ‘Crazy for You’ when the hero points out that he and the heroine’s stalker weren’t so very different. I hear she got lots of ‘letters’ about that book. But it was great.

  4. CM
    · July 17th, 2007 at 10:51 am · Link

    CM the stalker–let me think. I don’t think I’ve ever really stalked anyone, but I have made some Poor Life Decisions on the basis of Unrequited Crushes. Deciding where to go to school was definitely one of those PLDs. And I imagine that for the guy in question it may have been a little uncomfortable. I did have my own reasons for going–and everything has obviously turned out–but I swear I wasn’t stalking. I just had my decision-making process a little screwed up.

    Now, as for being stalked…. Let’s see, I think Mr. Milan effectively stalked me when we first met. If it weren’t for the fact that he’s inherently shy, and he stalked me from a distance (as it were), I probably would have found it a little creepy.


  5. Maggie Robinson
    · July 17th, 2007 at 11:16 am · Link

    The night before I married my husband, my (drunk)ex-fiance called and told me I was making a huge mistake and I would be sorry. I did have the sense to hang up on him. I must say it was a revelation to me to realize I didn’t have to listen to his BS anymore.

    Then, about fifteen years later, he called me again out of the blue, and he went to an awful lot of trouble finding me.I was (still very) married with four kids, and it wasn’t that he loved me (he’d been married and divorced twice…to the same woman, so I guess she was the one for him), but was obeying some 12 step program where he had to apologize to everyone he’d ever hurt, LOL. I thought I’d made a very lucky escape but let him drone on. He still had some of my family’s antique furniture and sent it back, too.

    I’ve never stalked anybody except for the odd googling, just out of curiosity. I know my college boyfriend is an elementary school principal, for example, and he married an old friend of mine and has 2 sons. That’s not stalking, is it?

  6. elyssany
    · July 17th, 2007 at 12:58 pm · Link

    Oh god, I’m the Queen of Unrequited Crushes. Seriously.

    I remember being “in love” with this one boy for all four years of high school and just happened to be outside his classes when they ended. I would say to my friends oh my god, didn’t you see how he said “hi, let me help you fix your bookpack”—he clearly likes me.

    Obviously, I was wrong.

    Seriously, I’m Penelope Bridgerton without the happy ending.

    I’ve really never been on the other end of stalkerish behavior, thank god. I remember one guy calling me up and saying how beautiful my eyes were—my eyes were the first thing he noticed and not my cleavage (yeah, right)—he loved the blueness of them.

    I shot back with my eyes are hazel which they are.


  7. Lindsey
    · July 17th, 2007 at 2:56 pm · Link

    LOL – fun topic! I have definite stalkerish tendencies – at least when it comes to making use of available information. In my undergrad years, our online student directory (called WIN) included student id photos and other detailed information. WIN-stalking – checking out and showing your suitemates – cute guys from you class was very popular. And I still have access to an alum version (though no pics!), so I know, for example, that the cute guy from my religion class is in law school in KY.

    And when you work for a university and have access to the student records of cute grad students that you meet… well, I won’t say I never looked up a class schedule and then tried to figure out a plausible reason for hanging around outside an engineering classroom!

    But when it comes to stalking fave authors, I’m hoping to legitimize my efforts – won’t Tessa Dare need an entourage? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. lacey kaye
    · July 17th, 2007 at 4:39 pm · Link

    I did have someone creepily into me when I was in high school and it got so bad I had to call the cops on him. About a year ago I met up with his roommate and he said the guy STILL had a thing for me and so my friend wasn’t planning to tell his roommate just so the guy wouldn’t go back into stalker-mode.

    As for ME stalking people! Ha! I’m doing it right now. Semi-discreetly, of course…but rapidly running out of Completely Innocent Reasons to “happen” by his place of employment. Just hurry up and ask me out already, darn it!

  9. beverley
    · July 17th, 2007 at 7:31 pm · Link

    He was drunk (in CA in college) and banging on my dorm door at 1:00 am in the morning, begging me to answer the door. I had just met him. I thought he was cute and nice. I didn’t know he was mentally unbalanced. I laugh now, but I was sitting on my bed with my roommate, trembling in the dark hoping he would think we weren’t home.

  10. Tessa Dare
    · July 17th, 2007 at 8:40 pm · Link

    I’m finally getting the time to respond … it’s been back to the mommy grind today – swimming lessons, playdates, etc.

    Jacqueline – don’t think I’ve forgotten those other topics – I just thought a week or so of buffer might help protect the guilty! Your stalker sounds scary! I’m glad your school took action. Can’t wait to see those guest bloggers appear on the Mavens!

    Terri – “Hello”??? Oh, dear. That really is … um, I’m not sure what.

    Kelly – Thanks for mentioning Crazy for You – that’s a Jenny Crusie I haven’t read, but as I edited my blog to indicate, sometimes there’s very little difference between sexy attention and scary attention!

    CM – It’s really good to know that even you have made some poor life decisions. You seem to have gotten them out of your system, however, Mr. M case in point!

    Maggie – Googling old friends/bfs is NOT stalking, or else I’m sure we’d all qualify as stalkers. Ick, re: your old fiance. I’m so glad you ended up with Mr. R., if only so I can stalk him. Did I say that? No, she said that! (Eek, RITA post-party flashback .. those there at the hotel bar will get it! *wink*)

    Ely – I’m sure your happy ending is right around that corner, with a guy who appreciates your eyes’ incredible hazelness!

    Lindsey – I’m shocked! Shocked! to hear that sensible you have done the old ‘hang around the engineering building’ bit. But, wait – the engineering building? Not the drama building, or the fine arts building, or the physical therapy building? (Are you getting a sense of my favorite haunts here?) And you’re welcome to join the Tessa Dare entourage, but don’t count on it getting you in to any great parties or anything. It might get you lost in downtown Dallas, however, or a ride in a Parvez’s pimped-out limo.

    Lacey – forgive me if I’m missing something here, but … why can’t you ask him out? Go for it! You’re young, you’re cute, you’re talented, you’ve got a good job … if he’s not into you, find out now and then move on to someone with a brain. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Beverley – Was there no campus security? That sounds scary!

  11. Jacqueline Barbour
    · July 18th, 2007 at 8:01 am · Link

    Did I say that? No, she said that! (Eek, RITA post-party flashback .. those there at the hotel bar will get it! *wink*)

    Bwa, I’ve been thinking about her ever since I left Dallas. Too funny…

  12. Pamela
    · July 18th, 2007 at 1:53 pm · Link

    I don’t really have a stalker story but do want to say how much I love that picture. I loved that movie. I would go stand under that waterfall all week if there was the smallest chance Hawkeye (the Daniel Day-Lewis version) would find me and make a promise like that.

    Since the subject is reality and not fantasy. I guess I should end by noting that, apparently, in RL, I wouldn’t want Daniel Day-Lewis. Too obsessive and high maintenance. Proving, yet again, that RL sucks. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Cynthia Falcon
    · July 18th, 2007 at 5:46 pm · Link

    The only stalkerish thing is my crazy ex-boyfriend. I broke up with the guy 4 years ago, and he keeps calling. Matter of fact, he kept calling me in Dallas to harass me. It took my mom calling him and chewing him out, plus a bunch of his friends telling him to leave me alone for him to get the clue.

    As for conference stalkers, I was at the Avon author signing and first hit up Jenna Petersen signing as Jess Michaels. Then I hit her Jenna table. I said, “I’m not stalking you, I swear.” She chuckled and said she liked stalkers.

    As for stalking authors, I’m too shy to do that. If anything, I tend to walk the other way when a famous author comes around ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Alice Audrey
    · July 18th, 2007 at 5:55 pm · Link

    A guy did that student directory thing on me. All he had was my first name and home town. However the student directory was only the start. From there he followed me through six moves.

    He was good looking but I really, really did not want him around. It was all very dicy until he found some other girl to latch onto. I often wonder how she is.

  15. India Carolina
    · July 18th, 2007 at 6:23 pm · Link

    I have had several stalkers (due to being old and having had more time to aquire them). But what was really scary was when my daughter had a stalker. We haven’t heard from him in over a year now so I have relaxed a tiny bit.

    I am an inverse stalker. Say a guy I like lives on a certain street that it is on my way home–I will drive miles out of my way in order NOT to drive down his street. Dumb, I know.

  16. Tessa Dare
    · July 19th, 2007 at 7:04 am · Link

    Pamela – I know you love that movie! But you know, I’m not so sure I would really want that waterfall scene in RL, with all the tragedy that accompanied it. Somehow even DDL would make poor compensation for losing one’s whole family and way of life. And I didn’t know that about RL DDL, either. But that’s the great thing about fiction – the fantasy enhances RL, if that makes sense.

    Cynthia – He was calling you in Dallas?? You should have passed the phone to me and let me set him straight. ๐Ÿ™‚

    AA – Six moves! Okay, now that’s seriously creepy. Six. It’s like a movie or something.

    India – LOL at your reverse stalking. I think that might explain the escalator!

  17. lacey kaye
    · July 19th, 2007 at 7:11 am · Link

    Novel, yes…I like it…

  18. ERiCA
    · July 20th, 2007 at 6:15 am · Link

    It could either be the creepiest thing you’ve ever heard, or the sexiest!

    Agree! Sometimes heroes/heroines in books/movies cross that line for me. Which goes to show how subjective it is.

    I guess it boils down to this: whether attention is romantic or stalkery 100% depends on whether the recipient wants the attention from that person (not the person’s actions themselves).

    Hmm…. hope I’m not writing stalkerish h/h…

  19. lacey kaye
    · July 20th, 2007 at 10:27 am · Link

    Done. Not flawless execution, perhaps, but hey. I’m no pro. Thanks for the vote of confidence ๐Ÿ™‚