Gishwhes hunt turns into harassment when authors refuse to participate


burning kingdoms lauren destefanoGishwhes, the largest international scavenger hunt in the world, became less about fun and more about harassment after a poorly thought-out scavenger request. The hunt requested participants gather an 140-word story about Misha Collins, the Queen of England and an Elopus written by a sci-fi author. When various authors refused to participate a variety of reasons, they became harassed by Gishwhes competitors.

Lauren deStefano came under particularly heavy attack after refusing. Her Tumblr inbox became so full of hate messages that she had to turn the Anonymous ask feature off.

“This entire experience is stressful, and ugly, and not something I signed up for,” said Stefano in response to one of the hate messages. She elaborated her response in a message to an apologetic fan. “I’m annoyed that Misha put me, and countless others, in this position. […] Some may be willing to participate, but some won’t, and I’m not going to let people berate and threaten me for falling into the latter category. He should have reached out and gotten a list of authors/actors/celebs/whatever who would be willing to participate and worked from there. […] Getting participants to consent, people. It’s important.”

deStefano later elaborated her opinions in a Facebook post.

Others found themselves forced to refuse requests, knowing the kind of hate response it could get. Neil Gaiman, John Scalzi, Wil Wheaton, N.K. Jemisin among other adult and young adult sci-fi authors posted on their social media accounts that they could not participate.

Numerous authors  did participate in the story request. Maureen Johnson read her story to those who requested it at the end of fan convention LeakyCon, and Mindee Arnett posted her story on Tumblr.

Beth Revis posted a story on Tumblr and, still bogged down with demands for stories, announced that she would “delete all [future]requests unanswered” as she is in the middle of editing her new book The Body Electric.

Gishwhes, which raises money for the charity Random Acts, runs for another three days and is spearheaded by Supernatural actor Misha Collins. A full list of Gishwes scavenger hunt items was posted by Tumblr user almaasi. For more, visit the Gishwhes website.


Join our YA newsletter:

No spam guarantee.


About Author

Nicole Brinkley

Nicole is the editor of YA Interrobang. She has short hair and loves dragons. The rest changes without notice. Follow her on Twitter at @nebrinkley or Tumblr at nebrinkley. Like her work? Leave her a tip.


  1. GISHWHES really isn’t a charity event. They don’t even pretend to say they’re going to raise money for charity. Seems like that’s something Misha Collins fans have perpetuated and like to spread around (with their hatemongering) to get their way. They might donate some of the leftover proceeds (after a rather extravagant prize) to Random Acts, Misha Collins’ charity. But GISHWHES is a pure for profit endeavor from all appearances.

  2. To be fair, there are several GISHWHES participants who ask politely and, if refused, let it go. It’s entirely against the rules to harass or badger people and Misha isn’t against it. Overall, the entire event is a fun, engaging way to get active in your community, help others, make new friends, and be silly. Some take it to extremes, but it’s not indicative of the entire event, participants, Random Acts, or Misha. Shame that some have to ruin things for everyone else, but bless Misha for hosting this event.

    @Judith – there is no hatemongering. A few people may take it to extremes, but the majority of fans I’ve met and interacted with are kind people. And charity isn’t always about money – I spent yesterday at a retirement home visiting with people as part of a challenge. Tomorrow I’m tackling work at an animal shelter.

  3. Pingback: Backlash continues against deStefano for refusing GISHWHES | YA Interrobang

  4. The gishwes could have been better planned. Yes, Misha Collins had good intentions. He’s a good person. But that doesn’t excuse how insulting and thoughtless some of the gishwes requests have been. Just because you don’t see hatemongering or harassment doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. It isn’t a case of a few people harassing authors. Many authors have mentioned on social media they received harassing messages from gishwes participants.