Sarah Palin's Author Neighbor: She's Stalking Me

06/01/2010 AT 08:45 AM EDT

Joe McGinniss, the writer who's being labeled a stalker for moving next door to Sarah Palin's home in Alaska while researching a book about her, says he's not harassing the Palins. Quite the opposite, in fact.

"If I lived here and did something creepy, if I did what Sarah Palin is suggesting, that would be creepy," McGinniss, 67, said Tuesday on NBC's Today show. "I'm not observing them at all. I don't care what they do in the privacy of their own home. I'm here to talk to people who have known them for 40 years in Wasilla."

McGinniss claims he simply got a good deal on the Wasilla rental, which abuts the Palins' property. "The fact is, I would be living in this house if Sarah Palin lived on the moon," he says. "Fifteen hundred bucks a month for a house in Wasilla."

Of course, the Palins aren't on the moon – they're a stone's throw away, and clearly unhappy with the Massachusetts-based author's choice of summer home. Concerned for their privacy, they've built a higher fence between the houses, and the former governor is publicly questioning McGinniss's motives.

"Wonder what kind of material he'll gather while overlooking Piper's bedroom, my little garden, and the family's swimming hole?" Palin, 46, wrote on Facebook.

McGinniss denies he's trying to drum up publicity for the book, claiming he told no one outside his family about where he was living. "Then Sarah hysterically puts up this Facebook page with all sorts of ugly innuendo, which frankly is revolting," he says. "She has created all the publicity."

McGinniss, known mostly as a true-crime writer, has reportedly received death threats. By triggering outrage from right-wing media outlets, Palin "pushed a button and unleashed the hounds of hell," he says. He also compares Palin's tactics to that of Nazi troopers in the 1930s.

Asked how he'd feel if the tables were turned – if the Palins moved in next to him – McGinniss replied: "I would go over and shake hands and give them a plate of cookies and say 'Welcome to the neighborhood.' "

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