Long-time readers of PP will know that I went to Vermont in October 2012 with the plan of being offline for two months or so and finishing a book.
Things went badly wrong. The isolation which made the cottage good for writing - it is on a private road in 11 acres of woods with only one house nearby - made it vulnerable. The owner of the house up the road had let a local handyman live rent-free in return for work on the place. X had offered to do some odd jobs for me the previous year, just before publication of Lightning Rods; I knew he had a way of outstaying his welcome, so tried to avoid him on my return.
This didn't work out - he began coming over more and more often, sometimes doing unsolicited favors, sometimes asking for favors or work, sometimes coming just to talk, and within a few weeks was coming over all hours day and night. I explained that I had come to work without interruption but it did no good. Much of the last year has been spent dealing with this escalating pattern of intrusion, in the end blundering for months through the criminal justice system of Vermont. At the end of August X broke into my house in the middle of the night threatening to shoot me - I heard the glass break downstairs and knew at once who it was, and then he came charging upstairs with some kind of weapon with a long narrow barrel.
He explained presently that it was just a BB gun and put it down and spent hours talking and smoking and trying to persuade me not to call the police. My publicist, Tom Roberge, thought the idea of a BB gun as a serious threat was very funny - he and his brother, he said, used to fire BB guns pointblank at each other's bare knees as a joke. It seemed to me that it was a bit different: if someone who is alcoholic, delusional, paranoid, enraged has you trapped in a small enclosed space and wants to do serious damage, he is not going to aim at your knees. X was so profoundly unstable there was no way of knowing what he would do.
X was arrested a few days later and held without bail. I was asked to give a deposition in October. My first VA had retired; the second had the day off; a third turned up as a substitute. A few days later VA2 called to report the plea bargain: the prosecutor thought my deposition had weakened her case, showing "absence of fear," so she had slashed the sentence originally asked for.
X was in jail but it was toxic being in the place where these things had happened (dealing with X was less traumatic than dealing with the legal system of Vermont). A friend found me an apartment in Tarboro, North Carolina; I went down there at the beginning of November. My mother had surgery a few weeks later so I came to DC to see her through it.
There did not seem to be much point in writing about this on PP, and in any case I was not sure of the legal constraints while the case was in progress - though as it turns out, perhaps it would have helped to write. The Victim Advocate Unit seems to see its role as withholding information from victims until it is too late to act on it; perhaps someone out in etherworld would have known what I could and should do. In any case, I have been talking to an editor about writing something about it all, and perhaps something will come of it (so perhaps I should not go into the whole long sorry saga now).