Romantic Times CEO: “It Probably Is Me,” Unless “Someone Hacks Into My Computer”

By Neal Comment

kathryn-falk.jpgFirst of all, let me tell you what happened when I tried to get in touch with Romantic Times CEO Kathryn Falk after my initial report on the anti-negativity rant she may have written in response to a blogger’s bad review of a porno an erotic novel. So I call Romantic Times and ask to speak to Falk; they tell me she doesn’t work out of the Brooklyn office and give me her AOL address, where I send a query. As I’m waiting to hear back, Susan Edwards, the media relations director for Ellora’s Cave, the publisher of the slammed-upon novel, contacts me (“I understand you’re trying to reach Kathryn Falk”) and lets me know that The Secret Explained, Falk’s upcoming book from Jasmine-Jade, a new offshoot of Ellora’s, is not a novel, as some sources have reported, but a nonfiction book that “explains the roots of the ideas presented in The Secret and how to apply them to your life.” That’s good to clarify, but I write Edwards back and say what I really want to know about is whether Falk wrote that letter, and does she have any info on that?

Meanwhile, trust the women at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books to advance the story. One of them has a phone conversation with Falk and asks point blank if she wrote the letter. Falk’s response?

“I’m so not into that, and someone hacks into my computer from here. Some of the words were definitely from my lectures, but I don’t ever do blogs. I’m not in the industry. I know people are upset but I don’t go on the blogs… Carol said it sounded like me, and it probably is me, but I’m retired… Carol says it my words about positivity and positive energy, but not the rest. There’s nothing I can do about it, but I’m not set up to go online… Someone took my words but that isn’t me… It was my voice, and my stuff that was said. I’d say it. I’m sure that what I said was pretty positive. I usually am.”

So let’s get this straight: She’s not set up to go online—setting aside the fact that her company gave me an AOL address where I could reach her—but someone hacked into her computer? (Which is to say, she can’t even keep her own computer safe at her own ranch when she has guests over?) She’s the CEO of a magazine about romance publishing that sponsors romance reader conventions, with two co-authored romance writing guides to her credit and a Secret-chaser on the way, but she’s not in the industry? Just about everything in the letter was something she’d say, except she didn’t say it? Somebody allegedly hacked her computer to impersonate her in an essentially professional context, and the best response she can muster is “there’s nothing I can do about it”? After reading that post, I’m still not 100% sure what really happened, but no wonder one commenter at Smart Bitches reacts with a succint “My kids lie better than that.”

Saturday I heard back from Edwards. “I can not confirm for you that Kathryn wrote that blog commentary, though I have no reason to doubt that she did,” she writes. In response to my speculative questions about how Falk might have found out about the review, if she was the one who wrote the letter, Edwards continued, “I also don’t know if our staffers brought the blog to her attention, though, again, I have no reason to doubt that they did, nor do I see any grand conspiracy in it if that is the case. These people have been working together for years, and they were all working the [Romantic Times] convention when the furor erupted.” Edwards adds that she’s “a little surprised by the proportions this thing has taken on,” and wonders if the furor arose not so much from the original review as from the subsequent Ellora’s Cave-bashing in the comments, where fans and authors (some anonymous) debate whether or not the erotic romance house has let editorial standards slip down to porn levels. I’d actually skipped over that chunk of the comments section the first time around, heading straight to Falk’s letter, but revisiting the page, her theory is certainly plausible…