James Dashner On Writing & Influences Of The Maze Runner!

To celebrate The Maze Runner's DVD and Blu-Ray release earlier this week, we shared an interview with The Maze Runner author James Dashner on the film! Today, Dashner shares his experiences on writing the novel!c

James Dashner explained that The Maze Runner was inspired by a number of things he'd watched and read over the years.

"The idea goes way back to my childhood when I saw the Stephen King movie The Shining, he said. "At the end of that movie, there's a creepy scene where the main character's chasing his son through a garden maze. I was way too young to see that movie and it freaked me out, and since then I've always been a little scared of mazes. They creep me out and they fascinate me."

In high school, he read Lord Of the Flies, which he said also had an obvious influence on his novel.

"It's just the idea of all these boys trapped on an island, figuring out how to treat each other," he said.

He also drew inspiration from Ender's Game and the television show Lost.

"All these things were swirling in my head," he said. "I started brainstorming and The Maze Runner came out of it."

Though Dashner's writing process begins with outlining and brainstorming sessions, he said that most of his ideas result when he actually sits down and write.

"A lot of it comes to me literally as I'm typing and writing, and kind of in the throes of the creative process," he said. "With characters, I like to have variety and I like to have conflict between them. A lot of times when I introduce a new character I think about them for a while and a couple of their main traits, and then my imagination just takes over and fills in the blanks and they become real on the page. It's hard to describe how I do it, but it works."

With the current popularity of young adult dystopian fiction, we asked Dashner how he had aimed to differentiate his series from ones such as The Hunger Games and Divergent.

"I think I was very fortunate that I was on the early part of that wave," he answered. "I started writing The Maze Runner at the end of 2005 and I swear on my kids I had no idea what the word 'dystopia' meant. I was just trying to write a cool story."

Dashner worked on the story for about three years, facing a number of rejections as well as rewrites. 

"We actually sold it to Random House even before the first Hunger Games came out, so luckily I didn't have the pressure of trying to be different or trying to catch a trend or anything like that. I just wrote the best story I could."

In fact, Dashner wouldn't really describe The Maze Runner as "dystopian."

"I see it as more of a post-apocalyptic tale, which is something I've always enjoyed, way back from 1984 and Mad Max and stuff like that," he said. "I was just very fortunate that it came out while these books were becoming very popular."

For even more on James Dashner, check out part 1 of our interview with him in the suggested stories below! Stay tuned for even more on The Maze Runner, and share your favorite novels and more with us at Sweety High!