What a difference three years can make in someone’s life. Ask James Dashner.
It was in the fall of 2009 that Dashner, working as an accountant, had his first novel, “The Maze Runner,” published. Coupled with that novel’s two sequels, “The Scorch Trials” and “The Death Cure,” the trilogy spent more than a year combined on the New York Times bestseller list. The trilogy sold 1.4 million copies and has since been optioned for film by 20th Century Fox.
Needless to say, he’s an accountant no more.
“Even during my days as an accountant, I was writing and hoping to get published,” Dashner said in our interview. “ ‘The Maze Runner’ was more of a dream than a goal for a lot time, and I finally got serious about writing it once I got out of college and started working, because frankly, I hated accounting.”
Dashner is about to launch the publication of his newest book, “The Kill Order,” which hits bookshelves on August 14th. It’s certain to capture the fascination of readers of “The Maze Runner” trilogy, since it’s a prequel to that series that gives fans the background information as to how the world characters in “Maze” inhabit came to be.
In “The Kill Order,” teenagers Mark and Trina are riding the underground train home from school when their lives are forever changed. Sun flares have hit the Earth, scorching everything and everyone in their path, and leaving the teens to fend for themselves in a world decimated by the disaster. Coupled with another discovery they make, as desperation sets in on the surviving human race, the teens fight for their lives in a world gone mad.
Though Dashner has been classified as a YA novelist (writing for young adults), many of his readers are adults.
“My characters are teens, but I write books that I like, and I think they resonate with other adults as much as young people,” he said. “So many ‘adult’ writers are pegged into one type of storyline, whereas in YA, they’re all mixed together. It just adds more variety to what we can write, the mixtures of genres within the same books. It gives us much more freedom as novelists.”
Dashner developed a love of reading very early in his life, as most authors do. “I call the adolescent years the magic years of reading,” he said. “I wrote some short stories as a kid, and the biggest education I ever received came from reading.”
In addition to “The Kill Order,” he’s working on a new project for Scholastic’s “Infinity Ring,” a multi-platform series of books and online games that are “very interactive.” Dashner wrote the first book in a seven-book series (“A Mutiny in Time”) which is rolling out the series, and is working on the seventh book that will be published in March of 2014. He turns out about two to three books a year, as well as editing and promoting. Random House ordered an initial printing of 150,000 copies of “The Kill Order,” and Dashner begins public appearances and book signings on August 14th.
How does he develop so many ideas?
“I have a vivid imagination,” he said. “It’s the result of loving pop culture, movies, books, TV. I really try to look at things that are unique, creative, that are something new. They just come out of my head, and every story I try to make as original and unique as possible.”
“The Kill Order” is from Delacorte Press. Read more on Dashner’s blog at http://jamesdashner.blogspot.com.