Bookshop denies dumping Helen Dale signing

October 09, 2017

A bookshop denies Helen Dale's claims it cancelled plans to host a book signing amid security fears.

A Brisbane bookshop denies claims by controversial author Helen Dale it cancelled plans to host a book signing event for her amid security concerns.

Dale, using the pen name Helen Demidenko, sparked one of Australia's biggest literary controversies with her debut novel the Hand That Signed the Paper, more than two decades ago.

She is touring book stores this week promoting her second book.

She says she was was stunned when she learned in last month that Dymocks' Brisbane CBD store canned plans to host her promotional event.

"The reason that they gave was because they thought the book would be controversial and they were worried about security," Dale told AAP on Monday.

"I can't blame Dymocks. I think it's important not to blame the bookshops here.

"The people who are at fault are people who think it's super fun and great to turn up at someone else's function and start punching people."

An email trail, seen by AAP, sent in September between Dale and her literary agents suggests the owners of Dymocks Brisbane offered to host a book signing but then changed their mind.

Dale's agent Keith Smith emailed her on September 25 saying he'd been told "the owners will be away when the event takes place & they are concerned about security as they feel there will be controversy surrounding the book, they were very apologetic".

But the store's events organiser Nicole Armanno insists security concerns weren't the issue.

"We looked at it but we couldn't fit it in," Ms Armanno told AAP.

"When I saw it at my end we had a rostering issue. We are jam packed with events. We just don't have the staff."

Dale says she wasn't surprised at Dymocks' decision "considering the amount of crap I've had" since The Hand that Signed the Paper, which focused on Ukrainian peasants who blamed Jews for the deaths of their family under Stalinism and joined Nazi death squads to seek revenge.

The book was a best seller and won the prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award in 1994.

But Dale was accused of anti-Semitism and exposed as a literary hoaxer after it emerged her claims about how she based the book on her own family's Ukrainian heritage were fake.

Her latest novel, Kingdom of the Wicked, is being promoted as an "alternative history" about how history may have played out if Jesus was put on trial by the Romans over an attack in the Jerusalem Temple - but with modern technology thrown in.

Dale says she's prepared for more controversy over her latest novel, which was launched in Sydney on Monday night by her former boss and Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm.

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