Author James Dashner Discusses the Origins of His New Prequel, The Kill Order
Editor's Note: James Dashner is the award-winning author of the young adult sci-fi trilogy The Maze Runner, comprised of The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure. Now, Dashner has written The Kill Order, an exciting new prequel to the trilogy. Here, he talks about the inspiration for his characters (both old and new) and the process of creating the back story of how the world in his books got so wrecked in the first place.
I'll never forget the night that most of the ideas that would become The Maze Runner trilogy first came to me. I'd gone to bed, and as I often do, my mind went nuts, brainstorming. I pictured a bleak future where a bunch of teenagers were put into an experiment. A maze came to mind. Then things really kicked into high gear and I had to run downstairs to record my thoughts.
A lot of the meat of the trilogy came to me that night. And I knew that the magic of the story would be in the mystery of it all, revealing what's behind the scenes piece by piece, discovering them along with the main character, Thomas. Another key element was his memory loss, and the here-and-there nature of some of those memories coming back to him.
It struck me, even on that first night, that a prequel would be really cool after the trilogy was complete. A prequel doesn't always work, but I thought for this trilogy is just might. Of course, that was really looking far ahead, so I shelved the idea and started working hard on the first book.
Jump ahead many years. The Maze Runner and its sequels had been written and released and seemed to be well-received and selling. All of which made me a very happy man and a full-time author. And, naturally, thoughts of doing that prequel came back strongly. I'd mentioned it to my publisher here and there, and they were strongly on board.
Here's the interesting part. I'd always assumed the prequel would tell the story of Thomas and Teresa and how they ended up with WICKED, and the things they did leading up to entering the Maze. But when I had the first discussions with my editor, Krista Marino, she strongly disagreed. She felt that so much of that had been revealed throughout the three books, and that by the end we knew that story very well. I couldn't believe how right she was! If I'd gone that route, I think my fans would have been excited to read it at first, but then felt a little disappointed and anticlimactic.
So we decided to go back even further and tell the story of how the world got so messed up in the first place, making the events of the trilogy necessary. Although it was a challenge, I had a lot of fun creating all-new characters and witnessing the sun flares and the unleashing of the Flare virus through their eyes. I hope my readers enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.