Exclusive SDCC 2015 Interview with James Dashner

In our interview with James Dashner, we talk writing the final book for The Mortality Doctrine trilogy

We got an interview with James Dashner during July’s San Diego Comic-Con, and were able to spend some time talking about The Mortality Doctrine, especially in writing the complexities of a virtual world versus the real world.  We also got to talk to him about The Maze Runner movies and how the films affected his writing for the prequel that he’s currently working on.

You can watch the video, however, I admit it’s not the best video due to me holding the monopod (I neglected to bring my tripod with me) and actually doing the interview at the same time.  For that reason, I’ve included the transcript of the video below as well.

Hitting the last book of The Mortality Doctrine, are you in the middle of writing it right now?
I’m pretty much done with that. We’ve gone through the editing process and it comes out in November.

What has been the most challenging part of it as compared to the first two books?
You know, anytime you’re wrapping up the story, it’s- you no longer have that leeway of, oh, I’ll fix that in the next book. So, you really have to wrap everything up, and most importantly, you have to have an ending that just satisfies your readers. So, it’s a lot of pressure, but this series, I felt like I had planned it from the beginning more than any other thing I’ve ever done. I feel good about it.

The Game of Lives

Well, how has it been as compared to The Maze Runner series?
It was- I think I was better prepared. The Maze Runner, I had a general idea where I was going. But this one, my editor Christa, really pushed me to outline it more and to really know where we’re going because it has some pretty complex plot twist stuff, so it’s just really planned out and it was a lot easier for me.

So, what was the process in differentiating what was the real world versus the virtual world, and did you confuse yourself with it?
Yeah, you know it’s- it’s such a fascinating thing for me to think of once we can create an artificial world that is so lifelike and so real, how can you ever know again what’s real and what’s not. It was kind of fun to jump between both worlds and think of all the conflicts and problems that that would bring, you know, if that was really how it is. It was just really fun for me to write.

With breakthroughs in technology constantly growing, and changing out how we live and interact with one another, how does this affect the stories you write or intend to write in the future?
Wow. Deep question. I just, uh- my biggest goal is when I move on to something new is that I really want it to feel different. My goal is never really like, okay, I gotta tackle on some important issues and make people think. My number one goal is to entertain people. But just naturally, you know, things going on in the world, everything from environmental to politics, tragedy and all that, they just naturally seep into my stories, even if it’s metaphorically. But I’ve got some things up my sleeve that I really want to explore next. I’ve always wanted to write a horror novel. A true thriller, and that might be what I do after The Mortality Doctrine.

I was going to say, what’s your next-
Well, I’m actually currently writing a prequel to Maze Runner.

I know that you talked about that. It’s regarding the actual characters from The Maze Runner compared to Kill Order-
Yeah, it’s like a bridge between Kill Order and Maze Runner. So, when I mean next, I mean after that.

So, with the prequel, are you going to have a focus on Thomas again, or is it going to be from a different point of view?
I’m going to keep it consistent and make Thomas the main character. But I am playing right now a little bit with seeing things a little bit other point of views. But it’s just going to be a really fun book that all these things have been alluded to throughout the main trilogy that you’re going to see front and center like you are there. It’s really going to be fun for me.

maze-runner-2-ki-hong-lee-poster-412x600Has the film process for the Maze Runner movies changed your thinking about any of the characters or plot points from the books?
I have to try really hard to keep them separate. But honestly, I’ve learned a lot from Wes Ball about storytelling and pacing and character development. And those actors have done such a great job. I just have to be honest, they’ve become those characters for me in my head. Which is okay, because all of them stay true to the characters in the books. So, I really do imagine them as I’m writing it now. It couldn’t be a better book because everyone’s alive. It’s like some of them were resurrected. It’s just a unique thing that I may never be able to match again, but I’m having a lot of fun with it.

Can I ask you then, will we get to see more of Chuck and Gally and stuff like that?
Oh absolutely. Yeah, we’re going to see Chuck and Newt and Gally and we’ll see Thomas and Teresa a lot. And we might see some glimpses of Group B and it’s going to be fun.

You already answered that your next book will probably be something horror-ish…
Yeah, maybe a standalone.

And since we’re at Comic-Con, you are a veteran now.

What is it, like three times now?
I think it may be five now. Maybe even six.

What have you seen this year, as far as like panels or even cosplay? Like highlights for you?
Well, I didn’t get to see Star Wars. But I did feel the excitement of Star Wars throughout the whole place. And it’s one of my favorite things in the world. I couldn’t be more excited it and the new movie coming out. That’s the biggest vibe I’ve got. And I also love looking at the different people who do miniatures, even the big miniatures of superheroes and stuff. Those are probably my two favorite things.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is out in theaters now.

The Game of Lives, book three of The Mortality Doctrine, hits bookshelves November 17, 2015.  Pre-order your copy today!

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