Maze Runner author James Dashner dropped by UK publishers

Maze Runner author James Dashner dropped by UK publishers

Maze Runner author James Dashner has been dropped by two UK publishers, Chicken House and Sweet Cherry Publishing, following allegations of sexual harassment. The publishers' stance follows that of Penguin Random House in the US, who confirmed it was dropping the author yesterday, after Dashner's agent left him earlier in the week.

Dashner, known also for his series The 13th Reality and The Mortality Doctrine, issued an apology on social media on Thursday (15th February) admitting he was "part of the problem" that had led to anti-sexual harassment movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp. He said he was "deeply sorry" and that he said he would be seeking counseling and guidance.

"I've taken the past few days for introspection, to see if I've been part of the problem. I think that I have," he said on Twitter. "I didn't honour or fully understand boundaries and power dynamics. I can sincerely say that I have never intentionally hurt another person. But to those affected, I am deeply sorry. I am taking any and all criticisms and accusations very seriously, and I will seek counseling and guidance to address them."

Dashner was accused of sexual harassment by several people speaking anonymously in the comments thread of a US website, the School Library Journal, on Sunday (11th February). 

A spokesperson for Chicken House told The Bookseller on Friday (16th February): "Chicken House Books will not be publishing any future books by James Dashner."

Sweet Cherry Publishing said furthermore it had made the decision to withdraw its support and "cease promotion" of The 13th Reality book series it publishes. The press confirmed it had cancelled all publicity plans and would not be reprinting the titles or taking on any of Dashner’s other works.

Abdul Thadha, managing director of the Leicester-based children's publisher, said: "We cannot support an author who has been part of harassment issues in the book industry. It would not be morally right or fair to those who have come forward."

Earlier in the week, Dashner's agent Michael Bourret at Dystel, Goderich and Bourret released a statement saying he "couldn’t in good conscience continue working with James". And by Thursday (15th February), shortly after Dashner's own statement, his US publisher, Penguin Random House, issued a statement saying it "would not be publishing any future books by James Dashner".

In the same School Library Journal thread allegations of sexual harassment were made against Thirteen Reasons Why author Jay Asher and illustrator David Diaz. Asher lost representation from his literary agency, Andrea Brown, following the revelations, and his membership at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, although Asher's lawyers maintain he "voluntarily agreed he would no longer attend SCBWI conferences" and was not expelled.

Dashner has sold 797,130 books for £4.94m in the UK, according to Nielsen BookScan. The Maze Runner film tie-in, his bestseller, has sold 178,576 copies to date.