James Dashner’s ’Maze Runner’ series has become a sensation in the world of young-adult fiction – the books have taken up long-term residence on the New York Times bestseller lists, and the first motion picture adaptation of the series will be released by 20th Century Fox in early 2014, starring MTV’s own Dylan O’ Brien. Dashner’s highly-anticipated next book, The Eye Of Minds, will be released this October, and we’ve teamed with our friends at Delacorte/Random House to bring MTV Geek readers an EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK at the new book trailer, and a Q&A with the author:
MTV Geek: I must admit, I was really surprised at some of the twists and turns this story took. I’d seen it publicized as a virtual reality/cyberpunk thriller, but it seems like you used the premise as a launchpad to spin off in all kinds of directions, and break down barriers between genres. Was that your original intent, or did that evolve as the story developed?
James Dashner: My main intent from the start was to do something that felt different from Maze Runner. Other than that, I just wanted to take my readers on a trip that would constantly surprise them while having a good time along the way. It was a lot of fun for me to have the backdrop of a virtual reality world because the possibilities are endless. The challenge was to keep it grounded in reality somehow, where the real terror can come to life.
Geek: So then, with all the different sequences and settings you have to play with here, what particular inspirations did you draw from?
Dashner: I think this story more than any other took inspiration from countless books and movies I’ve enjoyed over my far-too-many 40 years of life. But two in particular stand out: The Matrix and Inception. There was a twist I kept expecting in The Matrix that never happened, and that stuck with me. Also, I absolutely love the concept of a dream-within-a-dream from Inception.
Geek: Did this story come about as a reaction to the wide-open feel of your Maze Runner series, where tech didn’t play as much of a part in the story?
Dashner: I specifically wanted to avoid this book being called a dystopian or post-apocalyptic tale, even though it was set in the future. It was important to me for the new series to feel different. And yes, it was liberating to be in an entirely different world where I could flex those creative muscles like crazy. I had way too much fun writing this book.
??Geek: Given that this new book envisions all sorts of advanced tech, where do you go for information and inspiration on that front? Are you a gamer yourself? Do you keep up with Wired/BoingBoing/tech journals/etc?
Dashner: I’m the type of person who stays very dialed-in with the latest advancements in gaming and technology because it fascinates me. If you’d shown me as a kid what we have today, I would’ve died of shock and excitement. That’s why I think the world of the VirtNet is not even remotely implausible. I think it’s 20 to 30 years away at most.
Geek: What exactly pegged this story as a ’Young-Adult/Teen’ novel? Were there moments where you had to tone down or adjust any sequences, in order to play to the intended audience?
Dashner: You know, I get asked this question a lot, and it’s a tough thing. Of course there are some limits to what I can put on the page because I don’t want to be banned by schools (right or wrong). But, honestly, I very rarely tone down or hold back on my writing. I write books that I would want to read, and they usually come out this way. I guess I never completely grew up!
Geek: This is the first of a planned series of novels… Do you have a specific end in mind, or are you just seeing where the characters take you, and leaving it open-ended?
Dashner: I’ve already mapped this particular story arc as a trilogy, and not just because that’s a popular length for a series. It just really worked out well for what I want to happen overall. I do think this series would have a better chance of having a sequel than The Maze Runner did. That trilogy pretty much had an end with no story left to tell (except for prequels).
Geek: And as a motion picture adaptation of Maze Runner is now in production, has there been similar interest in this new series? It certainly seems that there’s pretty great cinematic potential…
Dashner: There’s definitely been interest, but nothing is a done deal as of yet. But when I write, I always envision my scenes cinematically before they hit the page, so I really would love to see this one on the big screen some day.