November 12, 2015
British writer travels to Scotland to assault a teen reviewer with bottle of wine
by Julia Fleischaker
Today in things-you-shouldn’t-have-to-tell-an-author: If you get a bad review, the best course of action is to take out a bottle of wine, open the bottle of wine, drink the bottle of wine. The best response to a negative review is, under no circumstances, to travel 500 miles to find the writer of said review, and hit her over the head with a bottle of wine. Don’t do that.
This week, the U.K.’s Daily Mail and Daily Mirror have been reporting the story of Richard Brittain, an aspiring author with a history of threatening behavior. Brittain has just appeared in court for an assault that occurred in September 2014, when he used Twitter to track down Paige Rolland and assault her with a wine bottle while she was working at a grocery store in Glenrothes, Scotland. Daily Mail‘s Ashlie McAnally and Euan McLelland reported on the court hearing:
The court heard that the aspiring writer uploaded part of a published book of his called The World Rose onto a website called Wattpad, where people can read and critique literature written by others.
Miss Rolland read the excerpt of Brittian’s book and left comments about it.
Procurator fiscal depute Harry Findlay said: ‘The complainer had read some of that material and gave feedback of what she thought to be the merits or otherwise of the book. The feedback was negative.’
Regarding the attack, Mr Findlay said: ‘He went to the alcohol aisle and picked up a bottle of wine. He then went to the aisle where the complainer was working. He approached her from behind, she was kneeling down collecting cereal from the bottom shelf of the aisle.’
Rolland was understandably shaken by the experience. In an interview with the Daily Mirror‘s Jane Hamilton, Rolland described the attack:
‘Before I went into shock for the first time, a colleague pressed towels to my head and someone covered me with a heavy jacket to try and stop it from happening.’
‘I heard one customer say to my colleague that someone had come from behind me, hit me with a wine bottle and walked away.’
She added: ‘I couldn’t believe it. The attack has left me nervous and fearful. I find it difficult to meet new people and am nervous in big crowds.’
The incident wasn’t without precedent. Brittain had previously threatened other Wattpad reviewers, and even wrote his book about a woman he had previously stalked. As Gawker reports, Brittain has even blogged about being a stalker:
According to the DailyMail, this isn’t even the first time Brittain has been accused of stalking a woman online. The perfect princess of his novel, Ella Tundra, was apparently based on a woman he targeted, a creepy courtship he described in a blog post called ‘The Benevolent Stalker.’
‘Eventually, she contacted the police,’ he wrote. ‘I was called by a policewoman and told that I had to stop contacting her.’
Of course he stopped, right?
‘On Valentine’s Day 2014, I sent her another card, with an elaborate drawing of a wild scene. In it, she became the character Ella Tundra, and that is how The World Rose began.’
(The blog post has since been updated, with Brittain himself calling his behavior “deeply disturbing,” and claiming to be in therapy.)
After the attack, Rolland was taken to the hospital and treated for a head injury. Brittain pleaded guilty to the attack, and his motion for bail was denied.
Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.