Publishers think teenagers don't want to read about sex, says young adult author Darren Shan

The writer says that while sex is taboo, gory violence is absolutely fine

Horror author Darren Shan has claimed that publishers of books for young adults have a no-sex policy, believing it will turn off teenage readers.

The writer behind Cirque du Freak and the Zom-B series has sold 25 million books worldwide, and is renowned for treating his young readers to gory, violent scenes.

"You can have heads ripped open and sacrifice," he said. "The only time you get in trouble with the publishers is if there's kissing."

He said there was a perception that teenage boys in particular would prefer to read chaste, sexless works: "Sex is a no-go. Apparently boys don't want to read about sex. It's ridiculous.

"We should be more concerned about violence than exposing teenagers to sex. Teenagers making out is perfectly natural, but killing each other…"

In fact, when Darren Shan was first trying to get his books published in the late 90s, he was told that teenage boys wouldn't read regardless of the content.

"I'll never forget a meeting with one publisher where they said we don't publish books for teenage boys; teenage boys don't read," he said.

"Well, publish books they want to read and they will. It's not that they get to a certain age and go, 'I'm not reading any more'."

Shan's specialty is violence, which young readers lap up in their droves.

"One of the books in my previous series [Demonata: Lord Loss] has one of my most shocking openings: a boy finds that his dad's been decapitated, his mum's been ripped to pieces and his sister's been bitten in half and a demon is using her carcass as a hand puppet," he said.

However, the author maintained that the scene was justified in the context of the story, saying: "It's traumatic, but then I explore the consequences. He doesn't just go, 'Oh well, too bad'. You can't be morally ambiguous in the way you can in adult books."

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