Q&A for James Dashner

     
James Dashner
 September is the season for the “The Maze Runner Movie 2014.” And as part of it series of post with regards to the book and the movie will be posted here in Dystopian Hub. First is this Question and Answer for James Dashner featured in Answer.com.


Your new book, The Rule of Thoughts, is the sequel to The Eye of Minds. For those who haven't read it, can you summarize the plot of the Mortality Doctrine series?

The story takes place in the near future, when virtual reality technology is extremely advanced and lifelike. A teenager named Michael is a big gamer who is very skilled at programming. His help is sought when terrible things start happening in the virtual world, causing people to show up brain-dead in the real world. As he digs deeper and gets more involved, his own life becomes endangered and the line between what's real and what's not becomes blurred.

Ender's Game and Lord of the Flies heavily influenced The Maze Runner, your most popular novel. What sources did you draw from when writing The Rule of Thoughts?
The central idea for this series came to me way back in the '90s when I watched The Matrix for the very first time. That's one of my all-time favorite movies, and it heavily inspired this story. I'd also say that the movie Inception was a big inspiration.

The Eye of Minds shocked readers with its cliffhanger ending. How will The Rule of Thoughts prove it was worth the wait?
The sequel picks up the very next morning, and readers will get to see Michael's reaction to the events that have turned his entire world upside down. And then he has to adjust and adapt, and things get crazy pretty quickly.
How would you compare The Rule of Thoughts and The Eye of Minds?
I would say the first book is very crafted and precise, setting up the virtual world and the clues for the twisty ending. The second book jumps right into the action, with almost no setup, and there's also a lot more of the real world in the sequel.

The Mortality Doctrine series was originally planned as a trilogy. Is that still the case, or is there a possibility of more novels?
Right now it is still mapped out as a trilogy. I do think it would have the potential for a sequel series if the time was ever right, but the story will have a very solid ending this time around.

Which series has been your favorite to write, and why?
That's like asking which one of my kids is my favorite! (My last one, by the way. Don't tell the others.) I can honestly say I don't have a favorite. I love them all equally and for different reasons. (The books, not my kids.)
You're not afraid to kill off your characters, which has upset some of your fans in the past. Which character was hardest for you to say goodbye to?
Death is hard in writing, no doubt. I thought The Maze Runner series needed that toughness to stay true to how awful the world is. It’s not something I could probably ever get away with again or it’d become a cliché for my writing. That’s why there’s less death in my new series. But as I always tell people, there are things worse than death (evil laugh)! The hardest death scene I’ve ever written took place roughly in the middle of The Death Cure.

Your novels are geared toward readers as young as middle school, yet even adults enjoy your stories. What's your trick to entertaining audiences of all ages?
I just write what I think is awesome, honestly. I never really think about the age of my reader. I love using teenagers as main characters because I think it's a fascinating age. But every single adult in the world was once a teenager, so I think they can really relate. Teenagers are remarkable, and we never give them enough credit. They can do amazing, spectacular things.

Readers have called both the Maze Runner trilogy and the Mortality Doctrine the next Hunger Games/Divergent series. Why do you think our society today is so fascinated by dystopian societies of the future?
I just think it's another fascinating layer to the whole otherworldly aspect of speculative fiction—that underlying fear that these things could actually come to pass. It's terrifying to think of what the future holds, and also important that we do think about it.

The Hunger Games, Divergent, and now The Maze Runner have been adapted for the big screen. Are there any plans to make a film adaptation of the Mortality Doctrine as well?
No concrete plans as of yet, but it's something I definitely want to happen!

What is your process when writing a book?
My process is relatively simple. It goes from cool idea to simple outline pretty quickly, maybe a few days of brainstorming. Then I write the first draft while never looking back, no editing, just full-speed ahead. That's my favorite part of the process. After that creative burst of storytelling, I finally go back and revise, revise, revise. That's not my favorite part. But it has to happen. Then I shoot it off to my editor and we go through several rounds of nitty-gritty back-and-forth to make it as good as possible.

What will most excite readers about The Eye of Minds and The Rule of Thoughts?
I think that it's very different from The Maze Runner but definitely appeals to the same audience. So you get more of what you liked, but without feeling like you've read it before. And more than anything I've written previously, there are lots of surprises and twists.

What does it feel like to see your story come alive on-screen?
It's so hard to describe, so surreal and amazing and fantastic. I feel so lucky that Twentieth Century Fox put together this spectacular team to adapt the book to film. I had high expectations, and I can honestly say that they've been exceeded.

What do you think of Dylan O'Brien as Thomas? Did you imagine Thomas differently when writing The Maze Runner?
I think he's absolutely perfect. I truly don't remember a Thomas that wasn't Dylan O'Brien at this point. Dylan has become Thomas, and Thomas has become Dylan in my mind, and I couldn't be happier. His performance is going to blow people away.

We all know that sacrifices have to be made, especially when it comes to book-to-film adaptations, to keep a movie close to 120 minutes. How closely do you think the movie The Maze Runner follows the book?
I'm extremely pleased with how it's turned out. I consulted on the script and have been involved with the process from the beginning, so I felt like Fox and director Wes Ball really treated the source material with huge respect. I fully support the changes made and feel that they make a lot of sense. Everything remains true to the spirit of the book. Every character is there, every major scene, and it begins and ends like the first book in the series. I feel so fortunate to have had such an immensely positive experience.
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