According to the New York Times, Jay Asher, author of the book and now hugely successful albeit controversial Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), as he claims there was little or no investigation into allegagtions made against him during the #MeToo movement, which resulted SCBWI annoucing that Asher “had violated the professional organization’s anti-harassment policy. “Asher is seeking a jury trial and unspecified financial damages” from the the Society.
The allegations made against Asher date back to April 2017, when executive director of SCBWI, Lin Oliver, was contacted by seven women who claimed that “Asher had used the group’s conferences to prey on women sexually, then threatened them to intimidate them into silence, making them ‘feel unsafe to attend SCBWI events.'”
Asher has stated that the women were colleagues of his, and that while he had conducted extramarital affairs with them, these were consensual, apart from his relationship with one woman, who, he claims, coerced him into sex and proceeded to engage in harassing him relentlessly over. the subsequent decade.
The New York Times notes that the lawsuit asserts that Oliver “made false and defamatory statements about him that torpedoed his career, and caused financial harm and intentional emotional distress,” and goes on to list the effects that SCBWI’s actions have had on Asher and his career, saying his “literary agency dropped him, speaking engagements and book signings evaporated, and some bookstores removed his novels from their shelves.”
Asher also claims that Oliver ignored contrary evidence due to personal grievances relating to Asher’s success and that one woman had even admitted her accusations to be false.
So it may be that ‘all’s well that ends well,’ but some of these books nearly didn’t! The secret alternate endings of these five popular novels are different from the endings that made it to our bookshelves. (That’s ‘different’ as a synonym for completely bizarre.) Some endings changed the tone of the story in ways the author decided against. Some endings changed other important things, like whether or not anyone would buy the book.
1. The Fault in Our Stars
It’s hard to imagine John Green changing one thing about his devastating hit The Fault in our Stars(besides the title, which would work just as well as Buckets of Our Tears). Actually, Augustus’ death was almost the second most tragic thing about the novel. In a twist that Green himself describes as “epically terrible,” the novel initially ended with Hazel Grace and author Van Houten attempting to murder a drug dealerin order to honor Augustus’ life… knowing that they will likely die (just relatable teenager things). This ending supposedly lasted only forty pages, which begs the question—what? It gets worse. Green also considered using the ending of the novel to explore the Trolley Problem—which, to sum it up, asks whether it’s more morally heinous to let a trolley crush five people or to personally divert the train to crush only one person. His editor admitted later that she “[couldn’t] tell whether or not it [was] a joke.” It wasn’t.
2. The Dream Thieves
Maggie Stiefvater‘s Raven Cycle series stands as one of the most positively critically reviewed YA series of all time. Its second book, The Dream Thieves, is particularly rife with the dark (best friends replaced with subservient clones) and the delightful (every possible use of ‘Dick’ as a nickname for Richard). In one earlier draft, troubled protagonist Ronan enters into amagical drag racewith distinctly-more-troubled antagonist Kavinsky—which, contextually, is not as strange as it sounds. The two subsequently have their magic race up the side of a mountain, and in a reckless but astoundingly unsurprising move, Kavinsky drives his car off the edge of a cliff. Stiefvater herself summarizes the whole plot as: “Fireball! Death!” This is also an excellent description of the novel’s actual ending. However, this earlier draft lacks the redemptive elements and positive LGBT representation of the rewrite—especially since the rewrite is also full of cars and danger.
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
One of the most chilling lines in the Harry Potter universe reads: neither can live while the other survives. It would then logically follow that… to use J.K.’s own words… neither can live while the other survives. So it doesn’t exactly add up that J.K. Rowling almost concluded her series with Voldemort AND Harry surviving. In one strange version of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ending, the spirits of Voldemort’s dead parents appear during their showdown to comfort Harry and turn Voldemort into a child. When Voldy tries to zap Harry with his final curse, it rebounds, freezing him as a living statue. If you’re wondering how the rebounded spell doesn’t kill him, you can keep on wondering—there is no real explanation. Fortunately, we have the original standoff between Harry and Voldemort, as well as all the powerful scenes and lines that come with it.
4. Thirteen Reasons Why
Especially after its TV debut, Thirteen Reasons Whyis almost universally recognizable as a story of the tragic suicide of a high school student and the following series of upsetting confessional tapes detailing fellow students’ contributions to her death. But what if Hannah didn’t die? According to author Jay Asher, that’s exactly what almost happened. As the near-suicide of a close relative inspired Asher’s work, he considered that Hannah might also live. In the end, he decided against it. He felt that Hannah’s survival meant fewer consequences for the students who tormented her, as well as lower stakes surrounding the issue. Asher explained: “it felt false for this particular story and for the seriousness of the issue. If someone goes through with a suicide, there are no second chances for anyone involved.”
We all recognize George Orwell‘s 1984 as the classic behind the phrase “Big Brother is watching.” Fewer people know that this grim tale once had an alternate ending—one that made the ending tonally more optimistic (not an easy feat, given how depressing this story gets). Free-thinking Winston undergoes torture in order to destroy any part of him that might rebel against the novel’s totalitarian government. But just before the end, he has a brief nervous break and thinks to himself: 2 + 2 = 5. This signifies the extent to which Winston, wholly indoctrinated, now accepts Big Brother’s lies. However, Orwell’s first edition tells a different story. There, the sentence ends with 2 +2 = (without the number 5), implying that Winston manages to hold onto some sense of self and that resistance is real. One letter subtly but unmistakably changes the meaning of the entire novel… and makes it a whole lot sadder.
Featured Image Via The-toast.com. All In-Text Images Via Amazon.com
As the #MeToo movement gained momentum, YA author Anne Ursu wondered why the stories of harassment within the publishing industry, about which she had been hearing for years, were not resurfacing. She told Bustle, “one day I realized, ‘Well, I guess it has to be me.'” So she created an anonymous survey in order find out the extent to which sexual harassment has affected those working in the children and YA publishing industry. Soon after, in the comments underneath an article on the extreme prevalence of the problem, names began to be named—big names, such as Thirteen Reasons Why author Jay Asher, and author of The Maze Runner, James Dashner. Many of the commenters identified themselves (while remaining anonymous) as contributors to Ursu’s survey, but this time, they were not withholding the names of their alleged harassers.
Anne Ursu | Image Via YouTube
Jay Asher has recently been expelled from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators over the allegations, but he has denied them and is said to be seeking legal counsel. He has stated that he voluntarily left the Society and has said, “It’s very scary when you know people are just not going to believe you once you open your mouth. I feel very conflicted about it just because of what’s going on in the culture and who’s supposed to be believed and who’s not.”
An author wrote, “An editor who was considering my work commented very thoroughly on my body type as a possible personal advantage of working with me.” For her now, “it makes submissions feel like a minefield.” For an author/illustrator, it was at a book party with a famous illustrator; “I introduce myself to him,” she writes, “and he makes a crack about my breasts.” After enough incidents like these she’s “completely stopped socializing in this business because each time it becomes another abuse story.”
Asked by Bustle if she believes publishers and organizations cutting ties with Dashner and Asher is the correct response, Ursu said, “I do think if you harass and abuse women, you don’t get to write for kids and teens. This is a privilege and an honor.”
The 2018 Golden Globe nominations have been revealed, and congratulations goes out to Katherine Langford, who has received a nomination for Best Television Actress in a Drama for her role as Hannah Baker in the Netflix adaptation of Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why. The list of names congratulating the actress is long and established, including costars and Selena Gomez, who produced the show as a “passion project.”
Following the news, the nomination has become slightly controversial for a number of reasons. Critics and fans were surprised to see the actress and show nominated due to the nature of the show itself, which both discusses suicide and showed Langford act out a graphic suicide scene. Other critics wonder why Langford was nominated over a variety of other actresses in incredible roles, including Mandy Moore (This Is Us) and Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder). Despite the controversy, the young Australian actress took a risk tackling such sensitive issues on screen, bringing light to a controversial topic that should not be swept under the rug. Whether or not her acting was up to par to win a Golden Globe is up to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to decide.
Langford was nominated alongside The Crown‘s Claire Foy, Outlander‘s Caitriona Balfe, The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Elisabeth Moss, and The Deuce‘s Maggie Gyllenhaal.