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Interview with James Dashner

I recently got the opportunity to interview James Dashner, the author of the thrilling YA THE MAZE RUNNER, which I devoured in one sitting despite all the homework due the next day. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, James!

KB: Describe your newest novel, THE MAZE RUNNER, in twenty words or less.

JD: A dystopian tale about teens in an experiment that has a much bigger scope than they realize.

KB: You are the author of several series for tweens and teens, including The 13TH REALITY and THE MAZE RUNNER series. Is it difficult to juggle so many characters and plots? How do you keep yourself organized when writing on two series at once?

JD: I can't work on both series at once or it gets way too confusing. So it's usually months at a time on one or the other. And I don't really have a method of organization - I just try to keep it straight in my head. I know, scary!

What was it like to transition from the 13TH REALITY series, which is fantasy, and THE MAZE RUNNER, which has more elements of science fiction/ dystopian?

I loved the transition, because it keeps things fresh to have two completely different stories.

World-building plays such a huge role in all your books. What is your process for creating the worlds in which your characters live?

JD: I usually let my brain spend a little time coming up with the base elements, but then I let the world build itself as I write. It's a lot of fun to do that!

KB: I get goosebumps every time I see the book trailer for THE MAZE RUNNER, and the websites for both series are beautiful. You've obviously done a great job with promoting your novels. What advice would you give to authors who are just starting out and want to start marketing their books?

JD: End up with Random House! Haha. I've been very lucky with some of the things they're doing for TMR, but I've also had a lot of experience being with a smaller publisher. My best advice is to do school visits associated with book signings nearby. By far the best way to sell books, and you're hopefully inspiring kids at the same time!

KB: THE MAZE RUNNER, in some ways, reminded me of THE LORD OF THE FLIES. What was the inspiration behind the society that the boys created for themselves in your novel?

JD: Oh, TMR is definitely inspired by Lord of the Flies, as well as Ender's Game. Very much so. I think the most specific thing I did in building the community is that I wanted them to react differently from the kids in LOTF. Instead of degenerating into animals, I wanted them to become more organized, more lawful, more determined, never losing hope. I hope that's really how humans would react.

Can you describe the moment you were told that your first novel had sold?

JD: Such elation that I didn't know how to react. I had to tell my agent later that I really WAS excited, just stunned silent when he told me. The cool thing is that I was with my family and my mom, who had just flown in to visit.

KB: Do you have any rituals when you write (i.e. eating a handful of M&Ms every hour, loud background music)?

JD: My favorite place to write is at a bookstore cafe, and I love to listen to movie soundtracks. Some of my favorites: Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, Dances with Wolves, Last of the Mohicans, Aliens.

KB: In your opinion, what are the three most important ingredients to a dystopian YA novel?

JD: Dark, scary world, people who still seem real, and solid reasons behind any tyranny, agression, or anything else. People are not usually evil just to be evil.

KB: Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring writers out there?

JD: Writer's conferences. Go to as many as you can. Almost every author I know made some kind of connection at a conference, not to mention all the invaluable things you learn to improve your craft.

Thanks again for chatting with YA Highway, James!

And if you haven't seen the creepy-awesome trailer for THE MAZE RUNNER, check it out now:

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  1. Thanks for this great interview, James and Kristen! I just finished this book last night--I was devouring it as I reached the last few chapters.

    Can't wait for the sequel.

  2. That was a creepy trailer- not only do I want to read the bok, I can't wait for the movie! lol!

  3. Great interview! I really want to read this book.

  4. hooray Delacorte!
    Haven't read TMR yet but it's at the top of my list. First time I've seen the book trailer -- wow.

  5. I third that - awesome trailer. And great interview, too! Thanks, James and Kristin!

  6. So nice to hear how different, successful authors do their writing. Thanks for the interview!

  7. Awesome interview! Great Qs & answers. LOVE the trailer, wow.

  8. Great interview! James is a class-act and TMR is fabulous. Can't wait for The Scorch Trials.

  9. I've been listening to this on audiobook in my car, and let me tell you, I don't mind getting stuck in traffic!

  10. Great interview! I have the book on my TBR shelf and its definitely moved up to the top now!


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Item Reviewed: Interview with James Dashner Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anonymous