Q&A with James Dashner - Best-selling author of the Maze Runner books

James Dashner (USA) - the best-selling author of the hugely popular Maze Runner books - is featured in Guinness World Records 2017 Blockbusters! alongside all your favourite record-breaking books and movies.
We recently caught up with the writer to find out about his inspiration for the series and his love for movies:

Who were your favourite authors growing up?

Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, Franklin W Dixon, Beverly Clearly. The list goes on and on!

Why do you think dystopian fiction is so popular right now?

I think one of the reasons is that, because of the internet and social media, we know more about our own world than ever before. And the present day is full of real-life dystopias. Fiction has always been a way of looking at ourselves through a different lens, and I think young people like to see themselves as potential heroes in a dark world.
James Dashner portrait
©Maria Wood

If you weren’t a writer, what would be your perfect job?

Perfect perfect? NBA superstar. But considering that never had much of a chance, I’ll say a movie critic – one who actually likes movies.

Where did the idea for the Maze Runner series come from?

It was inspired by so many things, from the creepy maze scene at the end of the movie The Shining, to the book Lord of the Flies, to the TV show Lost.

How do you go about researching science-fiction novels or does it all come from your imagination?

Most of it comes from my imagination, but a lot of that is inspired and informed by research I do mostly out of fun. I love reading about technology and gadgets and speculations of the future.

Did you have any specific inspiration for the Grievers?

I’m not sure I remember anything specific, but I wanted them to be a new creation of my own, and I wanted them to be part animal, part machine. And they have a lot of things I hate in life: slimy skin, stingers, sharp objects that can maim you…

If you were ever dropped into a similar scenario to the Gladers, what would be your survival tactics?

I’m not sure I’d have any! I’m such a timid chicken. I think I would have run to the corner and wrapped myself into a ball, trying to find my happy place until something killed me.

Tell us what it was like seeing your books come to life on the big screen.

It has definitely been the highlight of my career. Movies have always been my second love to books, and to be involved with any movie would have been amazing. Add to it that these are based on something I wrote and it just becomes too surreal and fantastic to describe. I’ve been a small part of the process, just enough to keep me happy. 20th Century Fox and the crew have treated me really well – everyone has become like family.

Riddles and mazes are a recurring theme in your fiction – are you a fan of puzzles in real life?

Absolutely. I think it’s why I loved math so much growing up, which surprises a lot of people. I like figuring out things with my mind.

Having now written two prequels, is there anything you would have done differently in the original Maze Runner trilogy?

An author always doubts himself. And if I let myself go down that road, I’d probably come up with a long list of things I might have been able to do better. But I try to look forward, not backward. I know what my fans would say. There’s a certain death that they were very unhappy with!

For more exclusive interviews with blockbuster stars, be sure to check out a copy of Blockbusters! 2017.
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