Mar 22 2012 2:30pm

How Far Is Too Far?: Author Carley Moore on Stalking Your Crush

Binoculars image by chase_elliott via FlickrWelcome to author Carley Moore, whose The Stalker Chronicles will be out next week. And who better to talk about the issue of stalking your crush? Carely faces the reality of stalking, and admits that we all really like to find out the dirt on people. Thanks, Carley!

These days the question of “How Far is Too Far?” is particularly tricky.  We are, in fact, encouraged by social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to share the minutae of our lives with thousands of people, many of whom are barely acquaintances. That sharing encourages us, no really, it insists that we become voyeurs—that is, people who enjoy watching others, either engaged in pleasurable activities or in suffering.  How much time have you spent trolling through an ex’s pictures on Facebook?  What are you hoping to find out by following some trainwreck of a celebrity on Twitter? Well, for me, it’s the dirt. We’re all interested in other peoples’ dirt—the secrets that they are willing to share or the ones that leak out in a moment of weakness.  So maybe the real question for this blog post, should be, “How Can We do Anything Else, but Go too Far?

This is the kind of question that Cammie Bliss, the protagonist of my first young adult novel, The Stalker Chronicles, asks herself pretty much every hour of every day.  So in honor of Cammie’s struggle to resist going too far (hey, in honor of all of us secret stalkers, Facebook lurkers, and Twitter creepers), I thought I’d write about some of my favorite fictional characters from movies and books who go too far, but do it with style.

Ramona the Pest by Beverly ClearyRamona the Pest

Beverly Cleary’s spunky heroine was probably my first favorite fictional character.  There are several Ramona books, and each has its charms, but my favorite has always been Ramona the Pest because it feels like we get Ramona at her finest.  She annoys her older sister, Beezus, by dancing and whistling, she pulls her classmate’s blonde, curly hair because it’s just too perfect, and she covets beautiful pair of red rain boots.  More than anything else, Ramona wants to be noticed, and isn’t that something all of us pesky stalkers are secretly hoping for?

Then Again Maybe I Won’t

Tony Miglioni, the adolescent boy in Judy Blume’s classic novel, has a lot of problems.  His mother starts acting like a social climber when the family moves to a swanky Long Island town, his grandmother won’t talk to anyone now that a housekeeper has taken over the family’s cooking, and his new neighbor is just a little too perfect.  But what I found most fascinating about Tony when I read this book in the fourth grade, was that he’s got a “peeping” problem.  He can’t stop spying on his neighbor’s older sister from his window, and he even starts using binoculars.  Blume treats Tony’s obsession like it’s real and entirely human, and I’m grateful for that, but she also really gets at the transgressive nature of stalking—the thrill, the danger, and how hard it can be to stop. 

Say Anything pictureSay Anything

Lloyd Dobler (played by John Cusack) is an underachieving kickboxer who decides to go after the valedictorian of his class, Diane Court (played by Ione Skye).  What can I say about this movie that you can’t get from the picture right over there? Lloyd is persistent, funny, romantic, and kind of a doofus, but it all works.  When he holds up a boombox (it’s shocking to think that music was once played out of something that big!) outside of her house and blasts Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” in an attempt to win Diane over—we know that this is a bold move that could backfire. But we don’t care!  We love Lloyd!  So persistent!  And the trench coat he wears is very “stalker chic.”

Fatal Attraction

Glenn Close is terrifying in this movie!!  You should see it!!  I don’t want to give too much away, but there are knives and blood and a little girl’s poor pet rabbit is murdered!!

Election movie posterElection

Tracy Flick (played by a young Resse Witherspoon) will do anything to become senior class president.  Matthew Broderick plays the teacher who stands in her way.  Witherspoon gets to the core of a kind of success-at-all-costs-stalking with amazing facial expressions and determined walking.  I love it when she freaks out after one of her campaign posters won’t stay up and rips down all of the competition’s posters in a glorious, solitary fit of rage. 

Young Adult

The protagonist, Mavis Gary (played by Charlize Theron) is a young adult novelist who deludes herself into thinking that she can win back her high school boyfriend, Buddy (played by Patrick Wilson) by returning to her hometown of Mercury, Minnesota, and throwing herself at him.  Mavis is mean and she’s definitely an alcoholic, and she doesn’t resemble any young adult writers I know, but I was simultaneously horrified and delighted by the depths of her self-delusion. 

What about you guys?  Who are some of your favorite characters that go too far?

Binoculars image courtesy of chase_elliott via Flickr


Carley Moore’s first young adult novel The Stalker Chronicles comes out on March 27.  She teaches creative writing at New York University. Find out more at:

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1. Mo
Well, not exactly a pithy comment, but holy smokes! I had no idea I had seen Say Anything and today, I learned that I have. lol
Heather Waters
2. HeatherWaters
That sharing encourages us, no really, it insists that we become voyeurs—that is, people who enjoy watching others, either engaged in pleasurable activities or in suffering.
Excellent point. And what are we teaching our children? They can't fathom a time without computers, so this compulsion to share with the world that we've developed is completely normal to them. It's definitely going to be important to teach them how not to go too far. (Not that, er, we adults couldn't probably all use a refresher as well.)

Great post!
Vanessa Ouadi
3. Lafka
Right there with redline here, the 2.0 generation will probably have a very different opinon of what is voyeurism and what is not _ and thus of what is going too far and what is not.
Though, given how eager people are to share the lows and highs of their lives through social networks, and how eager other people are to sneak into these more or less intimate details, I'm not sure it's even possible to go too far with "stalking". As long as you don't commit any criminal offence, that is ;-)

When it comes to fiction though, I don't recall ever "bonding" to a stalking character. That's the kind of personality features that basically creeps me out, whether we're talking real stalking or insistent/obsessive characters.
Glenn Close rocked in Fatal Attraction though, in her creepy-sexy-damn right frightening way!
4. Katy L
If you're going to talk about stalking in kid lit, you can't skip over Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. Harriet is all at once obnoxious, a little creepy, and yet somehow endearing. She goes way over the line, but redeems herself at the end.

In adult fiction, there's a very fine line between the over-protective male and the stalker. I think the difference is in the intent of the character, and how he reacts when told to back off. I can enjoy the over-protective types, up to a point, but when he crosses the line to controlling stalker behavior, forget it.
5. Copper
The first two things that came to mind reading this little article was an agreement with Katy L. that Harriet the Spy should be on the list and the song "Dirty Laundry" by Don Henley. It is funny how there's that fine line between determined and just plain creepy and it is amusing how, if you take a step back and break down the basic elements of certain stories, the overall tone of them can change rather quickly.
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