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October 11, 2010

Interview with JAMES DASHNER, Author of The Maze Runner Trilogy

Interview by Amy Finnegan

You know when you see an actor or actress in a movie, and they’re so good that you wonder where they’ve been all these years? And suddenly, you start seeing his or her name all over the place, and they’re broadcasted as an “overnight” success. Well, the interesting thing is, such actors who turn out to be the real deal rather than mere flashes in the pan, have usually been around a lot longer than we realize. We just haven’t noticed them before because they’ve been “paying their dues,” working as film extras, and eventually supporting characters. Then finally, they get the BIG role, and bam, the world thinks they’ve come out of nowhere!

In publishing, authors are often on a similar career path long before the general public starts buzzing about their books. Take James Dashner, for example, who is now a New York Times Bestselling Author. But eight or so years ago, when I met him, he was just a humble guy who was wide-eyed excited because a regional press had published a couple of novels he’d written during his off hours as an accountant. But his talent as a writer grew, and his books were eventually noticed by a small national publisher. Then these books were so good, that a large national publisher (Random House!) became interested in James.

I’ve gone into all this detail because I have a great respect for authors who put in year after year of hard work, never knowing if it will be worth the effort, and eventually earn their way to the top. These kinds of authors, I’ve found, never seem to take their success for granted. They appreciate every moment of it. Such is the case with James Dashner.

This time last year, his young adult novel, THE MAZE RUNNER was released and went on to be wildly popular among both teens and adults alike. And today, the second book in The Maze Runner Trilogy was released. So to mark the occasion, we’ve asked James to join us for an interview here on Bookshop Talk:

Bookshop Talk: The Maze Runner has been compared to, among other greats, The Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies. Stories with dystopian elements are really hot right now, and you seemed to have boarded that train earlier than most. What inspired you to write The Maze Runner?

James Dashner: The Maze Runner was definitely inspired by Lord of the Flies, as well as Ender's Game. I really love those two books, and I wanted something with a similar feel and tone and theme. Most of the basic plot came to me one night in a furious couple of hours of brainstorming. But then it took almost 4 years before it hit bookstore shelves.

BT: For Book 2 in the series, The Scorch Trials, it appears that you’ve had to create yet another brand new world. Can you give us a sneak peek into the different challenges Thomas and his friends will face, both from the change in setting, and the introduction of new characters?

JD: I really wanted Book 2 to be different from Book 1, even though it's a very direct sequel. In many ways it was easier to write because I had already established the characters and didn't have the confining world of the Maze anymore. I think it's the most fun I've had yet in writing a book.

BT: Can we expect another book from you in the near future?

JD: Yes! Book 3 of The Maze Runner Trilogy (The Death Cure) will be released next fall (2011), and Book 4 of The 13th Reality series should come out next summer sometime.

BT: What are some of your all-time favorite books?

JD: Hmmmmmmm. Superfudge by Judy Blume, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, The Stand by Stephen King, and False Memory by Dean Koontz. How's that for variety?

Thanks, James, for joining us on Bookshop Talk.

Here’s a bit more about THE MAZE RUNNER and THE SCORCH TRIALS: 

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 1)When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 dthe next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important ays a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind. (Amazon Product Description)

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 2)
(For those of you who haven't read Book 1, beware of spoilers) Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to. In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago. Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal. (Amazon Product Description)

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 2) (hardcover)

To learn more about James Dasher, and his other books for Young Adult and Middle Grade readers, go here: James Dashner


Coral said...

Thanks for the great interview. It's fun to learn more about favorite authors. I'm excited to read Scorch Trials!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the interview! I happened on James Dashner's books by chance a while back, and have been a fan ever since. I can't wait for my copy of The Scorch Trials to get here!