Two years ago she had a famous spat with the critic and academic, John Sutherland, who had written a very dismissive article about book bloggers. Hill responded with a diatribe against literary critics:
'How dare ... these 'literary mandarins' feel they are above us and by implication, above book buyers and readers? The fact is that the tide has turned and the people have power now. One day, their editors will wake up to the fact and give over their space to curling, or dominoes.'
One literary editor felt sufficiently moved by these comments to send Susan Hill this letter:
Dear Susan Hill,
After reading your Blog about Book Review pages, I would like you to know that no book either published or written by you will in future be reviewed on our Literary Pages.
In the light of your expressed views, I am sure you will neither be surprised or distressed.
Susan Hill responded by commenting that: 'the idea that those of us who blog about books and reading might somehow be degrading literary taste is a patronizing and ridiculous one. We are writing about books we love. Why on earth should we not do that in a blog, as anywhere else, and improve literary taste, whatever ‘literary taste’ means ?'
I was therefore slightly suprised to read Ms Hill make the following comment, in response to an excellent article by Robert McCrum in Sunday's Observer:
There is no substitute for a good literary editor and good books pages. They are not only about selling books they are part of a civilised culture. They are on the whole by people who have studied their trade/profession, whose opinion is of value because they have a trained mind. Book Blogs are by amateurs, self-appointed, unedited. They occupy miles of cyber space with endless rehashes of plots and valueless personal opinion. They don`t sell books and they are not worth reading for their own sakes.
What has prompted this complete volte-face? Is it an imposter having a little joke? On the other hand, perhaps this is a different Susan Hill. I've checked on Google and there are a lot of them about:
Suspect No.1 is also a writer. This Susan Hill lives in Montana and the author of Closer Than Your Skin: Unwrapping the Mystery of Intimacy with God, which is published by Random House USA.
I've read her author biog and I think she's too full of Christian charity to have written the above quote.
Suspect No.2 is a prominent American golfer and also an author, having co-written a book called Going for Green. The second Susan Hill also spearheads a campaign called Golfers Against Cancer. Although she looks as if she could be a little fierce at times, she doesn't come across as someone who has the killer instinct of an embittered hack.
Suspect No.3 lives in Detroit and was 1st runner-up in the 2003 Miss Congeniality competition and also got to first place in the state final of Miss Hooters Michigan-2005 (I must confess that this contest had passed me by, but it evidently has some kudos).
She does not do nudes. That's saved me a few minutes on Google and and also ruled out the possibility of my wife discovering the search terms susan hill...naked on my home page.
There is no mention of books in her 'resume' so I think that we can safely eliminate her.
I can't find out any information about Suspect No.4, except that she is Canadian. That alone incriminates her in my view, given Canada's status as a great literary nation. It is quite plausible that this is the guilty Susan Hill. And she wears glasses.
Our final suspect is an Irish acupuncturist who also practices 'moxibustion' (answers on a postcard please) and something that sounds deeply unpleasant: 'bleeding therapy'. I can't see this Susan Hill bothering to post a comment on Robert McCrum's article either. When you can stick needles in real people, who needs cyberspace?
So in conclusion, I'm none the wiser. I think that we can safely rule out the real Susan Hill, but I would love to know who thinks that book blogs 'aren't worth reading' and, more to the point, why they used someone else's name. It's a mystery.