Yesterday, I posted the review for Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell. In the comments, I was informed of some recent controversy surrounding one of the authors.
Santino Hasell is being accused of catfishing, lying and manipulation. At first, I didn’t think it would be too big a deal because there would have been a bigger splash if that were the case. I can’t count the amount of times authors have been falsely accused for one reason or the other (remember Sherrilyn Kenyon’s accusations against Cassandra Clare?). But the more I looked into things, the more it started to seem that there may be truth to the allegations.
We all know better than to believe all we read on social media (especially Twitter) but you can usually find some grain of truth in all things. Santino Hassell has, it seems, been pretending to be a bisexual single father for the sake of selling books, which are all MM romances. In truth, it’s being said that the author is actually female, a married female, who is using her husband as the face of Santino Hassell.
The author has also allegedly lied about having cancer and requested donations for medical bills. And if that isn’t despicable enough, multiple members of the LGBTQ community have come forward saying that the author contacted them, encouraging them to share their own stories and experiences, and then used the interactions to write books, going so far as to use names, personalities and direct lines from the chats that were shared. And at first, this was hard to believe. How could someone do something like that?! It’s hard to digest, you know?
But, what ultimately convinced me that there is a problem, is the actions that were taken by publishing houses. Riptide Publishing released a statement in which they stated that they have terminated their contract with the author and are even reimbursing those who have bought previous released Santino Hassell books. Dreamspinner Press is also no longer selling Hassell’s books.
Furthermore, Megan Erickson, who has co-written books with the author, release a statement, apologizing to the people who were hurt by Hassell and expressing how horrified she was to find out the truth. All this combined with the victims who have come forward and the fact that the author has already lied about her identity and abused people online… it’s not something you can ignore. I don’t know how much of the information is factual, only that enough of it is.
I replied to the comment on the Strong Signal review by saying that I would not be removing the review, and that stands. All reviews will remain on the blog and there will be no changes made to them. But I will link each to this post and there will be no more reviews posted of Santino’s Hassell’s books, at least not until the matter is resolved.
If you want to know more, you can read articles by Book Binge, Salt Miners’ tumblr post and on Brin’s Book Blog. I hope this clears things up for anyone who was confused or offended by my promotion of the author.
I was told by a few readers to rethink my stance on whether or not the reviews I previously posted should stay on the blog. After consideration, I’ve decided to remove them, as many others websites have. But the posts are still there. If you visit any of the reviews, you will see the general info (genre, pages, series, etc.) and the rating but, instead of the review, there will only be a short paragraph explaining why the review was removed and a link to this post.
I’m sorry, but I couldn’t remove the posts entirely. It felt dishonest to me, as if I was pretending that I’d never read the books. I did read them and I really enjoyed them. But then I found out that the person who wrote them is not… very nice, to say the least, and it sucked. That’s the whole story and I’m sticking with it.