Jay Asher, the author of the young adult novel “Thirteen Reasons Why,” won’t be speaking in
Oklahoma City, after all.
Officials at the Oklahoma Writers Federation said Asher’s invitation to speak at the group’s May conference was rescinded after the organization learned of allegations of sexual harassment against the author.
“Mr. Asher has denied the accusations, but in the end understood our decision to go in a different direction,” said Jennifer McMurrain, OWF publicity director.
Asher’s book, “Thirteen Reasons Why” is a number one New York Times and international bestseller. Last year, the book was turned into a hit Netflix series. The story is about a teenage girl who commited suicide and a classmate who mysteriously receives tape recordings by the girl that explain her reasons for taking her own life.
Asher, in an interview with BuzzFeed News, said he didn’t think people would believe him. “It’s very scary when you know people are just not going to believe you once you open your mouth,” he said.
Asher had also been expelled from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Lin Oliver, the SCBWI executive director, said Asher violated the organization’s harassment code. The Associated Press reported that Oliver wrote in an email that claims were investigated, and
Asher was no longer a member and will not appear at any future SCBWI events.
However, Tamara Taylor, a spokesperson for Asher, said Asher was never expelled from the SCBWI, but left voluntarily. Asher told BuzzFeed News that he understood the situation the SCBWI was in and that they
had to protect themselves, but he was “harassed by these people” for almost ten years and
“couldn’t take it anymore.”
Deadline.com provided Taylor’s full statement: “In April 2017, Mr. Asher voluntarily agreed he would no longer attend SCBWI conferences. This was in response to hurt feelings of a group of authors with whom he had consensual relationships that ended poorly.”