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Interview with...

James Dashner

El Templo #43 (diciembre 2014)
Por Lucía Gayo
1.942 lecturas

Although your bibliography has already reached sixteen novels, we would like to start this interview asking about your early years as a writer. Was it something you always wanted to become? How did your first opportunities to get published arise?

I definitely wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid. Even at the age of seven or eight, I wrote short stories, many of them awful! But I loved doing it. When it came time to attend college, that dream to become an author still lived inside of me, but my practical side knew it was really tough to make a good living that way. So I studied accounting of all things, and worked in that field for a few years. But during those years I worked hard at my writing, getting published by a tiny publisher, then a medium-sized publisher, then my big break with The Maze Runner.

You were introduced to us in Spain thanks to The Maze Runner trilogy. Did you ever dare to imagine it would become such a successful saga? What do you think were the key points that to make it a success?

I definitely hoped, dream, imagined, whatever you want to call it. But did I really and truly believe it would ever get this big? Absolutely not. It still seems crazy to me, even the fact that a Spanish magazine wants to interview me. I can honestly say that I’ll never take this for granted, however. I try to enjoy it each and every day, remembering what it was like to be an accountant! As for why it’s successful, I think it’s a story that was just in the right place at the right time, and I feel very fortunate. 

If you were in the Glade, which character would portrait your behaviour there better? Would you dare to become a runner?

Are you kidding?I’m way too much of a scaredy-cat to be a runner. I’m pretty sure I’d end up being one of the Sloppers, cleaning up after everyone else. 

In your website you mention that The Maze Runner was influenced by Ender's Game and Lord of the Flies. Which aspects of these books do you think are the most interesting? What other books have left a mark in you?

I just always loved the concepts in those books of people being taken from their normal lives and put into a completely different, terrifying setting. It provides plenty of room for adventure and mystery, but also it’s a great canvas to study the human spirit and create compelling characters. In the end, that’s what truly makes a story memorable. 

 

Last September it was announced that The Kill Order, The Maze Runner's prequel, was getting its own sequel, The Fever Code. Your readers are ecstatic to learn that you haven't exhausted The Maze Runner's universe yet. Why did you decide to continue with this new series? 

Prequels were something I’d planned from the very beginning, because so much of the original trilogy hints at these cool or scary things that happened before we enter the Maze. I told my publisher I’d want to write them someday, if the series was successful enough. And sure enough, here we are! I think my readers are going to eat up The Fever Code, mainly because they’ll see all the characters they’ve grown to love. Also, since it’s a prequel, they can’t die!

We can only imagine that having your book made into a movie has its perks and its disadvantages. As author of the novel, what is the best part of the experience of adapting a book to the big screen?

I’ve been very fortunate, because this movie experience has been nothing but positive for me. I have friends who didn’t quite have such luck. I’ve always loved movies more than anything, and to see my book come to life, in such high quality and matching my vision so perfectly, has definitely been the highlight of my career. I think the best part has been the cast and crew. They are just such wonderful, spectacular people.

Have you had the chance to participate on the script of the movie? We couldn't help but notice that some details had been eliminated, like Thomas and Theresa's telepathy. Could you tell us why it wasn't included?

I’m not one of the writers, but for each film I’m serving as a consultant, reading drafts of the script and providing feedback. Because of my love for movies, I understand deeply what a different medium it is for storytelling than a novel. Things just have to change, and I’m really happy with the changes that were made. They did an excellent job of taking the experience of The Maze Runner and transforming that into a cinematic version. The telepathy was a hard, but necessary decision. It works great in a book, but when you try that onscreen, it just comes across as hokey or cheesy. We didn’t want to risk that taking away from the story. Wes Ball, the director, came up with other ways to show they had some kind of special connection.

Thanks to its success at the box office, we will be able to enjoy the second movie next year. Could you give us a hint about the adaptation of The Scorch Trials? Which new challenges will you have to face?

I can’t say much at this time, but I’m happy with the script, and they are shooting as we speak, in the deserts of New Mexico. I’ll be visiting the set soon. I think the biggest challenge is knowing now that we have a huge audience that loved the first movie, and somehow we have to make the next one even better.

 

The Maze Runner is a story for young adults and The 13th Reality is a middle-grade novel. What draws you to children’s and YA literature?

Honestly, I don’t think about it a whole lot. I just write stories that I think are cool, and they always end up having young characters. Part of it is that I fell in love with reading at a young age, and nothing could ever match the magic of that time period. But I never write down to them. Never. I think kids and teenagers are way smarter than we ever give them credit.

The Infinity Ring is not yet available in Spain, but the project has caught our attention: same scenario, different novels written by different authors. What are the origins of this idea and, what´s more important, how do you make it work?

It’s just a fun thing that Scholastic, the publisher, likes to do, an attempt to capture reluctant readers. Because different authors work on it, the books can come out much faster than they normally do. There’s also an amazing video game that goes along with you from book to book, bridging the stories. I had the opportunity to outline the entire series, then write the first and last book in the first story arc of seven books. It was a lot of fun for me, and the other authors were fantastic to work with. 

Although you still have some unfinished sagas, we would like to ask you about your future literary projects. Would you like to try a new genre? Are there any ideas already in your mind?

Ideas are one thing I will never run out of. They constantly bombard my brain, and it’s just a matter of finding the time to write them all. One thing I really want to do is write a true horror novel, something that would probably be marketed toward adults. Stephen King is my favorite author, and I’d like to write a book in that vein. We’ll see what the future brings!

      

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