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James Dashner‘s ‘The Maze Runner’ series has been gracing book shelves since 2009 and cinema screens since 2014. This post-apocalyptic reimagining of our near future has been beloved by fans since they were first introduced to Thomas, Newt, Chuck, and the rest of the lovable cast of characters. The latest series instalment, ‘The Fever Code‘, is a prequel to the original trilogy, answering most of the burning questions that have plagued fans. And we’ve been given the chance to answer the rest!
Want to know which other famous book the series is inspired from? Who would James Dashner sacrifice to the maze? Which role would he be given inside The Glade? You’ve come to the right place to find out.
Hi, James! Where did the idea behind ‘The Maze Runner‘ series come from?
I think it can be traced all the way back to when I was a little kid. Somehow I came across the movie ‘The Shining‘ on TV and I was probably way too young to watch it. At the end of the movie he’s chasing his son through this big hedge maze in the snow and I just have always been fascinated with mazes ever since then. That was always in my head.
Yeah, one night I was just kind of brainstorming, trying to go to sleep, and I had this image pop into my head of a giant stone maze, which looked really ancient and had lots of ivy on it and everything. I don’t know where that image came from but it just spurred a lot of ideas in my head, and I sat down and outlined quite a bit of the story on that very first night, actually.
That’s so cool! Wow. ‘The Fever Code’ is the most recent release in the series but it is also a prequel. Why did you decide on that order of publication?
The original trilogy – so ‘The Maze Runner‘, ‘The Scorch Trails‘, ‘The Death Cure‘ – that was always the real meat of the story and what I wanted to tell. But even from the very beginning, thought it would be cool to have prequels some day: to go back and explore a lot of these mysteries that were set up; all of the allusions to things in the past. So it was a plan from the very beginning but we wanted very strongly for people to read them in the order they were published because I think the prequels are a lot more powerful if you’ve already read the main trilogy. So, that’s just what we decided on.
How do you think the young adult genre has altered between the release of ‘The Maze Runner’ and the most recent release, ‘The Fever Code’?
I feel like I was very lucky to be in the right place at the right time with this story. You know, ‘Harry Potter‘ had come out and, of course, exploded. And then you had ‘Twilight‘, which exploded. And then there were just so many children who had been reading and they had all turned into teenagers and adults and had fallen in love with these types of stories. And then ‘The Hunger Games‘ came out and it felt very different: something completely new and fresh. And then ‘The Maze Runner’ came out, right after that. I was very lucky to have a lot of people say, “hey, if you like ‘The Hunger Games’ then you should check out ‘The Maze Runner’.
That’s how I got into your books! I read them both back-to-back.
I just think that there has been a lot of stuff that has come out since then and dystopian and post-apocalyptic seems to still be very popular. I am just very happy that I got in on the early part of that wave and was able to find success.
So do you think your writing has also altered over the course of writing these books?
Yes, I think so. Hopefully, I’ll always improve and get better at what I do. And I also think as I grow older a little bit of maturity in my voice, heavier themes will seep their way into my stories. I am always studying my craft and trying to improve. And if you’re not getting better you’re probably getting worse, so keep working at it.
I feel like each of your titles reveals a lot about the events that occur in the books, even if that isn’t evident until after you’ve read them. What can readers expect from ‘The Fever Code’?
‘The Fever Code’ was probably the hardest title we had. It was very difficult to come up with that one and we went through several different titles during the writing process. I think of all the titles, I think it is probably the most mysterious. It doesn’t directly relate to the story at any certain point, but the fact that we’re dealing with an entity that’s trying to find a cure for this disease, and that fever is one of the first symptoms of it, we just thought that putting fever and code together sounded like a cool title.
I think in the book itself, even though it’s a prequel and you know exactly where it’s leading, there are still a lot of surprises along the way. And it’s really fun to see, right in front of you on the page, things come to life that were alluded to in the original books. I think that people will enjoy reading it.
Can you sum up Thomas’ character, in ‘The Fever Code’?
Thomas is definitely the focus of this entire series – his journey and his story arc. I really had a lot of fun writing ‘The Fever Code’ because finally, I could really dive into him as a person. You know, I was always dealing with him having lost his memories in the original three books and that makes it really hard to dive into a character. So seeing him grow up within the confines of this WICKED organisation – really showing his memories of his mother and some of the hard things he has been through; showing him met people like Chuck and Newt and Minho and Teresa how much they all meant to each other, and how Chuck is like a little brother to him – I feel like we really just add a lot of depth to his character. It makes us look at him in a little bit of a different light with the other books.
This may be a bit of a tough one, but out of all your book babies which one is your favourite child?
Oh, that is a hard one! You know, I have four actual human children and I always joke that it’s like asking which one of them is my favourite.
But then I do actually have a favourite of my kids, but I just can’t tell anyone who it is!
Keeping them all guessing?
Yeah! With ‘The Maze Runner’ books, I think that as I’ve written each one and as they’ve come out, those have become individually my new favourites. ‘The Fever Code’ meant so much to me because all of the characters are back. We see their development and we see some of the hard things they had to go through and it really just sets it up to help us understand better their emotions and the ramifications of what they went through in the original books. So, I guess right now I’d say ‘The Fever Code’ is my favourite.
This may then be a tougher question, but who is your favourite character you’ve created?
Hmmm. Well. you know, I’d say 90% of my readers would say that Newt is their favourite character.
Yeah, he’s mine.
See. I get a lot of flack about that. I would say that in a lot of ways it’s easy to say, Thomas, just because I was in his head the whole time and so a lot of myself was poured into him. I also really liked and loved the character of Minho just because he’s, I don’t know, really fiercely loyal and you never really doubt where his dedication and loyalties lie. You know, I think it’s a tie between Minho and Thomas.
Let’s say you’re a greenie to the Maze Runner world. What do you think your role within The Glade would be?
Well, I know for a fact that I would be a terrified, little chicken. Thomas, I feel, like is kinda like me but is a much, much, much braver version. I think I would end up being a lot like Chuck. Just a scared little kid. I feel like I’d go run and hide in the corner. They’d probably put me in charge of picking up garbage or something.
If push came to shove hopefully I would show a little bravery.
There’s a lot of glamour become a runner in The Glade. Are there any sports or activities that you are passionate about, outside of writing?
Yes, I’m actually a runner myself. I’ve run a marathon before and I like to run to keep up my exercise. I’m also a huge fan of basketball. I’ve always enjoyed sports and I’ve always enjoyed running so that helped me understand what my characters were going through, a little bit.
So you’ve got a bit of Thomas in you?
With writing as, obviously, such a central part of your life, what does your daily work schedule look like?
It was tough for me at first, as I became a full-time writer, to stay disciplined when I could make my own schedule and everything. But I tried my hardest to treat it like a normal day job and have some structure to my day. Usually, I have, what I call, a writing session in the morning and in the afternoon, where I am either writing or editing. That can be as little as a half hour to two or three hours. It just depends on how things are flowing and how my mind is working.
I also spend a lot of time dealing with promotional stuff, and answering emails, taking care of the business side of things. I’m very passionate about keeping up-to-date and keeping my mind fresh with creative input. So I watch a lot of movies and I read a lot of books, which sounds really hard, I know! I keep pretty busy and I enjoy it very much. I am very thankful for what I get to do for a living.
As an aspiring writer myself I find it very inspiring to see your books adapted for the big screen. What was this process like for you?
Oh, that has definitely been the highlight of my career. I am a huge fan of movies, I’ve always loved movies, so from day one when we found out that 20th Century Fox was interested in making a movie it has just been a huge thrill for me. Fox has let me be involved just enough to enjoy the ride. I get to read the script and be on set and stay in the loop with castings and everything. So it has just been a huge thrill. I feel extremely lucky that it has all happened and that people have embraced the movies. Yeah, it has definitely been the highlight of my career.
So for my last question I thought we could play a little game. I’m going to name three characters from your series and you’re going to pick which one you’d run in the maze with, which you’d fight a crank for, and which you’d sacrifice to a griever. So it’s between Newt, Chuck, and Teresa.
Oh man. Oh, that’s tough. That is really tough. Well, it’s all about survival, right? I feel like I’d really need Teresa and Newt to survive and as much as I love Chuck I don’t think he’s going to help me very much.
Someone’s getting sacrificed!
I’m gonna have to become ruthless and sacrifice Chuck. I’d fight crank for Newt and I’d definitely want Teresa with me in the maze.
I think that would be my choices as well.
That was the most perfect way to end this, good job.
With that slightly dark ending to a wonderful chat, let us know what your answers would be to this The Maze Runner edition of Kiss, Marry, Kill. Do they match James Dashner? Leave your answers in the comment section, down below.
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