James Dashner closes Maze Runner series, starts new projects
Posted November 15, 2016
After more than 10 years of blood, sweat and tears, James Dashner’s Maze Runner series is coming to a close with the second prequel, “Fever Code” (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $18.99, ages 14 and up), which was released in September.
"It's very bittersweet," Dashner said in an interview with the Deseret News. "I'm going to miss it, but I'm also very excited to wrap it up and … move on to other things."
He said he's 99 percent sure that he's completely done with the series. The first book, "The Maze Runner," a young adult dystopian novel, was published in 2008 by Random House. According to a previous Deseret News article, he had already published two middle grade series, one through a small publisher that he had to contribute some of his own funds to print, and another, The 13th Reality, through Shadow Mountain.
Though he had a decent amount of success with the Deseret Book publishing company, Dashner's true big break came with "The Maze Runner." It was that contract that allowed him to quit his accounting job, which he said he hated, and become a full-time writer.
According to a blog post written by Dashner on Barnes and Noble's website, he first wrote a version of "The Maze Runner" in 2005. But, after years' worth of rejections, he decided he needed to focus on learning his craft and shelved the book to work on other projects.
"But my sweet wife wouldn't stop talking about those people running around in a giant stone maze," Dashner wrote. "She loved it and kept telling me to try again. So I did."
He then basically rewrote the whole thing, and this time it sold in three weeks, according to the blog post. Since then, the series has grown to five books, including two prequels. A major motion picture based on the first book was released in 2014, with the second book made into a movie in 2015 and the third planned for 2018.
Today, Dashner said, his life and career are pretty different from what they were in 2005.
"I can remember the days when I had one or two people show up at my signings and there was a lot of awkwardness and quiet moments and people asking where the bathroom is," Dashner said. "It's definitely fulfilling to have a good crowd and such positive feedback. Just to look in the eyes of all these people reading my books — it's fantastic."
As a Utah resident, Dashner said it's always fun to attend events at home, where he often sees familiar faces of people who have been reading his books since the very beginning.
These days, he has some pretty passionate fans.
"Several people die in the Maze Runner series and there's one or two of them that (my fans) get extremely upset about," he said.
When he meets these fans, they'll often make him apologize or sign a frowny face on the page where a character dies.
"I actually love that," Dashner said. "It's cute and funny because they tell me they'll never forgive me and they hate me, but then I'm their favorite author."
He loves meeting his fans and getting to tell stories for a living, but his fame also means he has to do some things that are more challenging for him.
"You deal with a different type of stress when it comes to speaking to people all the time and going on TV shows," he said. "There's a lot of anxiety and stress sometimes, but I've learned how to deal with that and I would not trade it for anything in the world."
Right now, he plans to take a break from writing series and author a few stand-alone novels for a change. He's currently having fun writing a thriller horror novel, which he doesn't think is too much of a stretch from his normal science fiction/fantasy fare.
"I think now my books have some sort of element of paranormal," he said. "Sometimes there's some scary stuff, so it doesn't seem like I'm doing something that crazy different."
For the most part, he said he doesn't worry about genre.
"I just try to come up with cool stories and characters you care about and weave a good tale," he said.
And he takes his stories and characters just as seriously as his fans do.
"I absolutely, positively, definitely have cried about my characters," he said. "They seem real to me, and it blows me away that they can seem real to my readers."