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James Dashner, author of the bestselling young adult Maze Runner books, has issued an apology in which he says that he “will seek counselling and guidance” after he was accused of sexual harassment. He has also been dropped by his US publisher, Penguin Random House.
The anonymous allegations were made online on Sunday, in the comments section of a piece about sexual harassment in the children’s books world, published by the US trade magazine School Library Journal. Several accused Dashner of sexual harassment; one comment alleged that the “harassment/abuse from James Dashner was not a one-time unwanted touch or a joke I took the wrong way. It entailed months of manipulation, grooming and gaslighting”.
Dashner initially made no response to the allegations, but after his agent Michael Bourret at Dystel, Goderich and Bourret said he “couldn’t in good conscience continue working with James” on Tuesday, the author issued a statement on Twitter on Thursday afternoon.
After “re-examining my actions and searching my soul”, Dashner wrote, he had “taken these past few days for introspection, to see if I’ve been part of the problem”. He concluded: “I think that I have.”
“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 so deeply sorry,” he wrote. “I am taking any and all criticisms and accusations very seriously, and I will seek counselling and guidance to address them.”
Dashner said that “some of the things said about me have been shocking and my initial instinct was to be defensive … But I also have thought about how numerous women now have come forward as part of a vital movement to lead a discussion about sexual harassment and discrimination in the publishing industry. And I have talked with friends deeply immersed in the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement. I believe all victims must be heard, and I’m committed to listening to them.”
Shortly after he posted the statement on Twitter, his publisher Penguin Random House told the New York Times that it would not publish any more of his books. As well as the bestselling dystopian Maze Runner series, Dashner is also working on his first novel for adults, The Waking, which had been lined up to be published by one of Random House’s imprints.
The Maze Runner author was not the only author named by the anonymous accusers: Thirteen Reasons Why author Jay Asher was also accused, and was subsequently dropped by his literary agency which said: “We have counselled Jay to take a step back from the industry and he’s doing so. He is no longer working with the agency”.
A spokesperson for Asher denied that there had been any allegations of sexual harassment made against the author and said that the accusations related to the “hurt feelings of a group of authors with whom he had consensual relationships that ended poorly. These women were not subordinates of Mr Asher; they were his peers and they each entered into romantic relationships with him voluntarily, with some initially pursuing him. Mr Asher was married at the time of these relationships, as were many of the women. He is deeply sorry for the pain these consensual decisions caused his family, and others.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Maze Runner author James Dashner dropped by US publisher amid harassment claims | Books