• Illegally Iranian

    18 August 2021

    I was approached recently by a very polite podcaster in Iran, called Hamidreza Nikoofar, asking me to come on their podcast to talk about my books, which have been hugely popular there, dating back to the release of Cirque Du Freak many years ago. I was pleased to be asked, but had to decline, because, as I said in my reply, almost all of my books have been illegally released in Iran, without my permission, and I have never never paid anything for them. Only the first two Zom-B books were ever legally released there, with payments made to me by their publisher, but even with that series, the publisher has continued on past book 2, without paying me for books 3 onwards. (My agent is trying to get them to make good on the promise they made to pay me for the subsequent books in the series, so I'm hoping that situation can be resolved one day, but so far, no joy.)


    So, although I know I have lots and lots of fans in Iran, I cannot do anything to publicise my books there, as I would only be making more money for thieves who have stolen my work and profited from it for the last 20 years -- liars who have told the public that they have tried to do a deal with me (in some cases they've even pretended to have agreed terms with me), but who in reality have never responded to any of my requests to them to agree to sign a deal with me and pay me for my work. I don't blame the fans for any of that, but the fact remains that the Darren Shan publishers in Iran -- of my vampire books, and demon books, and any others that have been released there (except, as I said, for the first two Zom-B books) -- are liars and thieves, and I will never do anything to help line their pockets. I don't blame the Iranian fans for any of that, and I would never discourage them to buy the illegal publications -- I love that my work is reaching readers in Iran, and I think it's important for our cultures to be interacting in this kind of way -- but I won't do anything that would help the publishers sell even more of their pirated copies of my books.


    I don't think it's any great secret that Iranian publishers have illegally published loads of books, not just mine. There's not really anything we in other countries can do about it, so they just shrug and lie and carry on. I tried many time through my agents to get Iranian publishers to agree terms, partly of course to get paid, but also so that we could control the quality of the books, give the covers the OK, make sure they were carefully translated, etc. But apart from Vida (the company who agreed terms for the first two Zom-B books), the publishers have ignored our approaches and continued to publish my work illegally and make a lot of money from them, every last dinar of which they have kept for themselves.


    It's a shame, because my books have been released in loads of countries around the world, and I love celebrating the different releases on my site and telling my fans all about them, and interacting with the fans in those countries -- I've even visited lots of them on tour over the years. But apart from the first two Zom-B books, I haven't been able to do that with the Iranian editions, and it's meant I haven't been able to respond to fans as personally as I have in other countries -- for example, I'm not able to contribute to podcasts like this one, or be interviewed by Iranian journalists or bloggers. That hasn't soured me on Iran in general -- I've seen lots of Iranian films over the years (I've watched almost everything that Abbas Kiarostami directed), and hope to visit the country one day, as it's a place I'd love to explore. It's only Iranian publishers who make me grind my teeth in anger!! :-)


    Hamidreza was stunned to learn the truth about how I have been treated by the Iranian publishers, and spread the word on Twitter -- lots of fans replied to also express their outrage, and to apologise to me, though as I assured them, they had nothing to apologise for -- as I've already said, I bear my Iranian fans no ill feelings at all. The story was picked up and reported on the PS Arena site, and you can read that article here (copy and paste the text into Google Translate for a pretty accurate translation): https://psarena.ir/darren-shan-complained-about-iranian-publisher/


    I was very touched by Hamidreza's efforts to bring this to light in Iran. I doubt it will have any kind of impact on the publishers -- they have made an awful lot of money out of my books over the last twenty years, and I doubt they're going to suddenly feel remorse and look to agrre terms and make back payments to me -- but it's good that these things are brought to the attention of readers, so that they can call out the publishers and shame them publicly. And who knows, maybe one day the situation will be resolved, and I'll be able to embrace my Iranian fans just as I've embraced fans from dozens of other countries around the world, and proudly acknowledge my Iranian books in public and promote them.


    Iranian cover for Zom-B City (book 3 of the series). Payment... pending??? :-)

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