James Dashner has been touring internationally lately, however, he was able to spend a little bit of his time in answering my questions. Just to let you know, there are *MAJOR SPOILERS* about The Kill Order. So, if you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend that you do before you read on in this interview. Now let’s get on with it.
To refresh your memory, The Kill Order (TKO) takes place 13 years prior to the events in The Maze Runner. This time the story is seen through the point of view of Mark as he deals with trying to survive along with a group of other survivors after the sun flares hit the earth , including his schoolmate Trina.
The relationship between Mark and Trina seems like what could’ve been the relationship between Thomas and Teresa before they were in the maze. Did you mean to make that similarity or is it just my imagination?
JD: I’m not sure it was intentional, to be honest. Although I can say that the relationship, and its lost potential, for Thomas and Teresa is always prevalent in my head, so it very possibly affected me as I wrote TKO.
Virus VC321xb47 was a vicious killer. Is there any significance to the name of the virus?
JD: Only in that we did our research and wanted it to sound legitimate. Plus, I love it that something so deadly has such an emotionless, scientific name.
The way that the sun flare happened is horrifying. Do you mean to put fear into every kid’s heart about the sun exploding on us? Or did you just want them to understand one different end-of-the-earth possibility?
JD: Oh, my goal is always to terrify kids and give them nightmares! Maybe haunt them for life. 🙂 I just wanted an apocalyptic scenario that hadn’t been used too much already. It was fun to research.
Darnell’s death from the virus was pretty gruesome. Did you come up with a detailed explanation as to what the virus exactly does to the brain?
JD: Yes. Basically it eats away at the parts of the brain that run our mental abilities and conscience, driving a person utterly and truly insane. That concept terrifies me.
JD: A lot, actually. I had to take some liberties for the story, but I tried to stay as true as possible to what scientists believe might happen in such a disaster. Most people think about the heat, but radiation is actually the bigger problem.
When did you decide to make Teresa a main character in TKO? And why choose Teresa over, say, Thomas to be a part of TKO?
JD: It all had to do with the backstory I’d created a long time ago. Thomas was discovered after the creation of WICKED, when they actively sought out those who were immune. Teresa was the first discovery that such people even existed.
Do you think the fact that Mark had sent Deedee through the Flat Trans, seeing that Mark and Trina were unwilling to go through it themselves for a possible cure and to avoid infecting anyone else, was the reason she became so loyal to Wicked? Because she felt in her own way that it was her responsibility to save humankind?
JD: That is one of the most insightful questions I’ve ever received. If I’m honest, I don’t think I thought of it quite that way per se, but I definitely knew that Teresa’s memories of Mark and Trina and the horrors she saw would affect her deeply, leading to her eventual loyalty to finding a cure.
I know you’ve said that the Maze Runner trilogy and this prequel is the end of the whole series. Are you absolutely certain about that?
JD: As absolutely certain as I can possibly be at this time. I can’t imagine another story to squeeze out of it. There’d be no surprises left, and surprises are essential to my storytelling.
What was the challenge to writing this book as compared to the Maze Runner trilogy? Or did the story come out fairly easily?
JD: It was actually easier. And a lot of fun. I always had to worry about the over-arcing story of the trilogy when writing the others, but this one was self-contained and I wrote it very quickly.
Did you think about making this prequel into its own trilogy or was it always the plan to have only the one book?
JD: No, the plan was always just to write one book. Always. Like I said earlier, there’s just not any more story to pull from this world.
Where did the idea of a Transvice come from? Star Trek?
JD: Not really Star Trek. It’s just the one scientific achievement that I daydream about the most. Instant travel to anywhere. I’d give anything to have that ability. I can’t think of anything that could change the world more than that development.
(NOTE: Yes, I do believe James is talking about the Flat Trans, not the Transvice, but I won’t hold it against him. It’s hard even for the author to keep track of all the things he’s created.)
This book barely gave the reader time to breath, being that it was so action-packed as well as mentally tiring (not that I didn’t love it, though). Why was it necessary to make their journey so bleak and ultimately tragic?
JD: Well, the trilogy was bleak, as you know. And this book’s purpose was to set that up, to show how the world got into the mess that made the story of The Maze Runner necessary in the first place. It was just a dark story from the get-go.
JD: I’ve had a conversation with the director, and there’s a chance I could get involved a little bit later down the road. But it’s still very early in the process.
Were you able to give any suggestions as to who they should cast for any of the characters?
JD: Not yet. They haven’t reached the casting stage as of yet.
As with many movies based on books, not everything that the book has will be included in the movie. Are there any scenes that you think are essential to have in the movie?
JD: That’s such a hard one. I know that movies represent a very different form of storytelling, and that changes are always necessary. But it makes me sad to think of any scene being cut or altered too much. But I’ll leave it in the hands of the experts and hope for the best.
There you have it, folks! We hope you enjoyed all the insights from James about The Kill Order. Might I suggest this book as a Christmas gift for your reader friends and family. Click on the link the sidebar to order The Kill Order now!