SUVUDU Universe hosted an insightful Q&A with James Dasher and his executive editor Krista Marino! Check out our recap below (spoiler warning!):
Geian B.: Hello Sir James! If you were Thomas, what would you be doing in the sanctuary right now?
James: SPOILER Q: If I was Thomas, in that place that's a spoiler for some, I'd be dutifully working to gather seeds and start a garden. Oh, who am I kidding. I'd be eating fruit and lounging on the beach with Minho.
Aditi H.: I find the character of Teresa the most mysterious, and as a fan, I LOVE her character. Are you planning to write more about Thomas and her in the sequel of your book? Possibly bring her back?
James: Many people love Teresa, and some hate her. I think that's what's so great about books. If the same situation can pull out varied emotions, then it's like real life, right? I'm not exactly sure what's in store for future Maze Runner books, but they would most likely be prequels if it happened. :)
Solomon M.: Did you know how the Thomas/W.I.C.K.E.D. conflict would end the entire time, and were there ever any alterate endings you were playing around with?
Krista: Yes! That is the best part about working with James. His mind goes in crazy directions and he is always open to hearing my crazy ideas. I would say the series ending how it was meant to end, but we both were surprised many times (in writing and editing) along the way.
James: I had a general understanding of the story from the very beginning, but things definitely changed along the way. My editor, Krista, may respond as well. She helped me every step of the way! And yes, I did play around with some alternate endings, some of which were INSANE, but this one felt right.
Chip P.: What accent does Newt have/where did he come from? And why did you decide to kill such a well-loved character?
Krista: And when Thomas Brodie-Sangster opens his mouth to speak in the movie you will want to scream, "IT'S NEWT!" He is 100% the perfect Newt.
James: SPOILER: Newt, in my mind, was always British, maybe even Scottish or some mix. And I'm so glad that Thomas Brodie-Sangster was able to use his natural accent in the movie. As for his untimely demise, that's something I knew for a very long time. I knew that someone had to be susceptible to the isease to show just how awful of a world it was. It had to be him. It was tough for me, I promise. But it means a lot that he became so real to readers that his death created such strong emotions.
How did Ben get stung if he's a builder?
James: The movie differs from the book in the sense that he's a runner so we didn't have to deal with this question. That shows how smart you are! You should make movies, see? In the book, I wanted it to be a sign of things changing. It was supposed to represent that a Griever had actually come inside the Glade for the first time, even if briefly. But no one knew for sure.
With more and more franchises doing it, what are your thoughts on splitting the Death Cure movie (as long as sales are good) into two parts?
James: I really don't know what they would do with the third book, but I really, really doubt that it'd be split into two movies.
Keilah C.: If you write another prequel, what kinds of things do you think would put in it? Would it be more about the would in general, or would you consider doing it about Group B? Because I know a lot of people in the fandom would love to know more about the girls.
Krista: I think that owuld make for some hilarious material!
James: It might be fun some day to write a book from the perspective of Group B, but no plans for the near future. I promise to keep it under consideration! But won't it be fun to see them in the next film?!
I noticed in the last chapter of The Eye of Minds that Michael never puts clothes back on. So I ask you this, why doesn't he hesitate to answer the door naked?
Krista: Wait. I thought he was naked. Doesn't everyone answer the door naked every now and then?
James: Haha. It also never says in the book that he used the bathroon. Not every detail is included in a book. Some things just happen, at some point, off the page.
What inspired you to write The Maze Runner?
James: Many many things! It all started back when I watched The Shining, that last scene in the maze. They're captivated me ever since. And creeped me out. I'd also say the TV show Lost was a huge influence, as well as Lord of the Flies.
You didn't give memories back to Thomas, Minho, and Newt. Do you know what their memories actually could be?
Krista: My thoughts have always been--and maybe this isn't a happy though--but what if these characters were so different before that we wouldn't like them or what they remembered?
James: That might be something I explore in the near future. But, for now, they're left out of the story for a reason. We were in Thomas's head the entire time, and I want you, at least for now, to mostly experience the story in that way. But who knows what the future may hold...
Krista, how do YOU feel about all of the heartbreaking deaths in TMR and who's your favorite character?
James: Her tears wrinkled the pages of the manuscript...
Krista: SPOILER ALERT! There are so many deaths in the series, but the two that were the saddest for me were Chuck and then Newt. Those deaths were also so powerful, though. You just don't expect an author to let characters go. I think that this is part of why TMR is so compelling for readers--because James doesn't always give you happy "Hollywood" ending. You never know what's going to happen! And my favorite character in the series has to be Minho.
Yap Y.: What will happen to the rest of the people who are not immujne to the Flare? Did all of them die without finding the Cure?
James: In my mind, the whole purpose of the place they're sent to in the end, is that by the time they figure out a way to leave, the world will pretty much wiper clean of the disease. So unfortunately, that means the vast majority of people will have succumbed to it. But that's better than extinction!
Three new unknown facts about Newt.
James: He loves cheese, he remembered sweet things about his family right before the end, and he was reincarnated as a parrot that becomes Thomas's talking pet.
Did Newt really have a sister? Was she in Group B? Did she die in the Maze? Did she catch the Flare? Did Newt meet her in the Scorch Trials?
James: Yes, he did. The other details have yet to be explored.
How hard is it to deal with criticism and changes from your editor? Does it ever become contentious? Waht's the relationship like between you two?
Krista: James is so creative that he loves exploring new avenues. It's always fun and productive when it gets to the point where we're discussing plot points!
James: I can say this: never contentious. Never. I definitely disagree and push back some times, but the annoying part is she always ends up being right! haha. We work really well together, and I've said it many, many times: her name absolutely deserves to be on the cover with mine, but she refuses. I love her.
Did you ever have any doubts about some deaths or plots or anything in your books? Anything you wished you changed?
Krista: Yes--I do think the story was meant to be the way it was published. All of the deaths and twists and turns feel like they happen for a reason.
James: Sometimes, yes. An author always thinks back, thinks they could make soemthing better. I've doubted myself many times. But, in the end, I stand by what's published.
What happened to the dog that had 'always been there' in the Glade?
James: Everyone and everything and every animal left in the Glade became irrelevant to the project once Thomas and the others were gone. The system was shut down and those left were allowed to live their lives out. The dog survived and made the last days of some poor person happy.
How has your family dealt with your successes?
James: My family is so wonderful. They've been incredibly supportive and understanding. HOnestly, the stress isn't too bad. I've had such a positive experience!
How much involvement did you have during production? Are you nervous or wary of a Hollywood adaptation?
Krista: It is 100% amazing!
James: I was more involved than I could've ever dreamed. Consulted on the script, went to the set twice, got to know the cast and crew, witness the sscoring of the film's music. So many things, and so awesome. I'm nervous, yes, about crtiics, box office, and that sort of thing, but I'm 100% confident that my readers will LOVE the film.
If you could play any character in TMR, who would it be and why?
Krista: I'm trying to think of who should play the Rat Man. Definitely not you, James. How about John Malkovich? And in Scorch Trials--Jorge would be Adrien Brody.
James: The Rat Man. It's about the only part I COULD play. And it'd be fun to chew up some scenery. I could do it. Tell Wes to sign me up. (never gonna happen folks)
Solomon M.: Was there ever a character that even though you were contemplating it, you decided to NOT kill them off?
James: SPOILER: I refuse to answer this question completely. haha. But yes, Krista did stop me from a line of htinking about Minho that wasn't going very well. :)
Krista: James--you need to tell Solomon M who I saved from death!
What time frame do the books take place?
James: It's far in the future, actually. I didn't want ot relate to anything too current, at all. I don't htink it says this anywhere, but in my notes, those dates in the memos are showing how many years from a new reckoning of time in OUR near future. So we're talking a couple centuries. Think about it. The Flat Trans. That's some heavy tech right there.
Did you have any problems when The Maze Runner started filming?
James: Honestly, no. I pushed back on a few small things when I read the script, but mostly, I've been totally on board with Wes and Fox's vision.
Would you ever write a prequel or short stories about the days in the Glade? Or maybe release a chapter from the POV of Newt or Minho?
Krista: Yes! Don't you think that the story ends where it ends? I like to think I know what happens. Actually, I am sure I know--but it's just for me to know. I never wanted James to add who Thomas marries or what happens to the other Gladers. They are, after all, finally not under surveillance anymore!
James: I love all the questions about prequels. It's kinda cool because it's obvious that everyone else agrees with me that writing SEQUELS doesn't make a bit of sense. I could make up something lame just for the money, but it'd be terrible. But prequels are a definite possibility.
How you ever read TMR fanfiction? Anything you'd want to read in particular?
James: Not as much as I'd like. It's so fun to see others dabble in your world. I'd love to see people do some of these alternative viewpoints I've been asked so much about. Like Aris. He's a really fascinating guy that we never really got to explore very much.
After you finished the books, do you think WICKED is good?
Krista: I think "they" think they're good. They've certainly lost their way, though.
James: This is the fundamental theme of the series. I very purposefully used such an obvious dichotomy of a statement in the books. Two polar opposite things, equated. Because it shows so much. Nothing in this world is black or what. It's always gray. Usually you can see both sides of a story if you put aside your biases. Is WICKED good? I think they are good. And bad. And everything in between.
How do you physically imagine Brenda's physicality and personality.
James: Plan, but pretty. Nothing fancy about her. A nerd. Tough. Sweet on the deep inside. Conflicted, big time.
Why did Gally get stung by a Griever if he was a Builder?
James: He was one of the first. It took them awhile to really establish their rules and get used to the place.
How did you go through the writing process when you've ultimately written characters who have no clue who they are?
Krista: I remember when we were first working on The Maze runner and we had to figure out just how much Thomas could remember. James--you did it so well. On the first page you say he: pictures snow on trees, running down a leaf-strewn troad, eating a hamburger...It's briliant how you establish the boundaries of their minds right from the start.
James: This was so tough, actually! I'd never realized how often you used someone's past or their memories to develop their character. Notice it next time you read any book. You become connected with them as they reflect on their past, their families, their upbringing, their mistakes, their plans, etc. I just did my best and tried to develop them through what they experience each and every page.
How did you name Minho?
James: This is a frequent question. Because the book is so far in the future, I purposefully wanted a main character who is named after someone in the future. Not someone we already know. So I used my neice's husband's name. :) Now owuldn't that be weird if he turns out to be the one Minho in the book is name after...Wait a minute. I just blew my own mind.
Irina D.: What will be shown of the Changing process in the film?
You get to see some pretty cool snippets, actually. Very visual.
What do you think Minho would do if he found out that Thomas killed Newt?
Krista: I think he would have accepted it also. Minho would have done the same thing as Thomas if he was in that situation.
James: He would be extremely upset for awhile then accept it. What else was Thomas to do?
Who's your least favorite Glader?
James: Hmmmm. Gally. I understood him just enough to feel guilty for not liking him.
Who's the funniest person on set?
James: Dexter, Dylan, and Will.
Which character do you relate to the most? What would you do if you were sent to the Glade? Friends and enemies in the Glade?
James: I definitely relate to Thomas because I was in his head the whole time. I can't help but see myself bleed into his character. In the Glade, I'd cry for my mommy, no doubt. As for friends and enemies, I think it would've been very similar to Thomas. Espeically Chuck. I love that kid.
In your biography, you mentioned that writing became your focus after you studied Accounting and Finance. Prior to completing your studies, had you ever been interested in writing fiction or nonfiction? Was there someone or soemthing that made you want to change from numbers to writing fiction?
James: Yes, I did study finance in college. It was more of a praticality thing. I've always wanted to be an author, but I knew it was tough to make a living. So I was smart and had a backup plan. But through college and after I pursued my REAL dream until it came true. And I don't miss the finance world even the tiniest little tiniest smallest bit. :)