The Mind Behind the Maze: Author James Dashner

   Maria WoodMaria Wood

We jumped at the opportunity to catch up with the mind behind The Maze Runner, author James Dashner! And we’re so glad we did because we discovered a funny, smart and instantly likeable guy who made us understand why our crush on Thomas has been so enduring….


As fans of the series, we’re all so excited for the movie! What are the top five things you’re anticipating as we head toward the release date?

Well, it was always about stages for me, and some of them have already happened:

1. Visiting the set.

2. Seeing a poster in a theater for the first time.

3. Seeing the trailer.

4. Hearing the music.

5. Actually seeing the final film, of course!

And all of these experiences have surpassed even my wildest, most optimistic dreams. Now I’m just counting down the days until my readers and fans can see it for themselves. I really think they’re going to love it.

ABC StudiosABC Studios       We know we will! What inspired you to write The Maze RunnerI think the first spark of an idea came from watching The Shining as a kid. Scarred me for life! But that last scene in the garden maze, the creepy, crazy dad chasing his little boy in the snow, has always stuck with me. Mazes fascinate and terrify me. Other influences, easily seen, are Lord of the Flies and the TV show Lost.Warner Bros. The Shining: MazeWarner Bros. The Shining: Maze


 Which cast member best matched your character vision in the book?

20th Century Fox

I’d have to say Chuck, played by Blake Cooper. I mean, it’s plain eerie. Blake is Chuck and Chuck is Blake.

20th Century Fox20th Century Fox20th Century Fox

Which movie character casting initially surprised you most?

Will Poulter. This is a testament to his ridiculous acting abilities: I didn’t see how in the world he was going to be Gally. Don’t get me wrong, I was THRILLED to have him cast. I knew we’d scored a gold mine. I just didn’t know exactly how he planned to tackle the role. But now I can’t believe I ever thought that. He’s so perfect and so wonderful, he’s absolutely become Gally to me in every way.

Which one of the Maze Runner series books is your favorite?

I think I had the most fun writing the third book because things I’d been planning for so long were finally coming alive on the page. But the first one will always be my favorite because it took years of hard work to birth that baby.

Was there a scene that blew you away when you saw it come to life?

The first appearance of a Griever. I’d been on set and seen a lot of footage, but never really the Grievers because they were mostly done in post production. I had high expectations and it still blew me away. They are AWESOME!

What do you love most about the movie?

No doubt: the characters. As amazing as the film is in so many ways (in my humble opinion)—visually, the sound, the excitement, the music—I was still most impressed by how much emotion Wes pulled out of the actors. And how well they pulled it off. I left the movie having been most affected by their performances.

20th Century Fox20th Century Fox

What is it about Dylan O’Brien that makes him the perfect Thomas?

First and foremost, he’s an incredible actor. Anyone who watches Teen Wolf has seen this for themselves, especially in Season 3. He nailed the part, plain and simple. He is Thomas. The legion of fans he brings to the film won’t hurt either!

What was your first emotion when you saw the final movie?

Overwhelmed. Seriously, if you could’ve seen me. I was a wreck. Crying, shaking, laughing. I’m surprised they didn’t lock me away somewhere. I’ve used the word transcendent. I don’t know if I’ll ever experience anything quite like that ever again. The first time.

New Line CinemaNew Line CinemaWe know you’re a huge movie fan. What is your favorite book-to-movie adaptation of all time?

That is, without a doubt, Lord of the Rings. Those movies are perfect, and they are my favorites. Peter Jackson taught me a lot about how to adapt a book. If you try to literally translate the page to the screen, you’ll fail every time. It’s about capturing the spirit of the book and transforming it into the equivalent experience cinematically.

What is the biggest change book-to-movie that #DashnerArmy may be surprised by? Probably the lack of the telepathic implant. That just never works very well in a movie or on TV. It comes across as hokey and cheesy. But Wes gave a hint of it, and figured out other ways to show their special connection.

Can you tell us a little about Eye of Minds?

With all the Maze Runner hysteria, sometimes people forget that I have a brand-new series out there! Thank you for asking. I’m really proud of The Eye of Minds. I wanted to do something very different and yet appeal to the same people who’ve enjoyed the Maze Runner series. It’s set in the future, but it’s not a dystopian story at all. Technology is extremely advanced, especially virtual reality. And that is a setup for some real mind-trippy stuff. I think it’s my most crafted, thought-out story to date, so I hope people give it a shot. It was inspired by The Matrix and Inception. Enjoy!


Be sure to run out and see The Maze Runner when it opens September 19! And check out James Dashner’s newest series, too. If you liked The Maze Runner, you’ll love The Eye of Minds!