James Dashner has been touring internationally lately, however, he was able to spend a little bit of his time in answering my questions. Just to let you know, there are *MAJOR SPOILERS* about The Kill Order. So, if you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend that you do before you read on in this interview. Now let’s get on with it.
To refresh your memory, The Kill Order (TKO) takes place 13 years prior to the events in The Maze Runner. This time the story is seen through the point of view of Mark as he deals with trying to survive along with a group of other survivors after the sun flares hit the earth , including his schoolmate Trina.
The relationship between Mark and Trina seems like what could’ve been the relationship between Thomas and Teresa before they were in the maze. Did you mean to make that similarity or is it just my imagination?
JD: I’m not sure it was intentional, to be honest. Although I can say that the relationship, and its lost potential, for Thomas and Teresa is always prevalent in my head, so it very possibly affected me as I wrote TKO.
Virus VC321xb47 was a vicious killer. Is there any significance to the name of the virus?
JD: Only in that we did our research and wanted it to sound legitimate. Plus, I love it that something so deadly has such an emotionless, scientific name.
The way that the sun flare happened is horrifying. Do you mean to put fear into every kid’s heart about the sun exploding on us? Or did you just want them to understand one different end-of-the-earth possibility?
JD: Oh, my goal is always to terrify kids and give them nightmares! Maybe haunt them for life. 🙂 I just wanted an apocalyptic scenario that hadn’t been used too much already. It was fun to research.
Darnell’s death from the virus was pretty gruesome. Did you come up with a detailed explanation as to what the virus exactly does to the brain?
JD: Yes. Basically it eats away at the parts of the brain that run our mental abilities and conscience, driving a person utterly and truly insane. That concept terrifies me.
How much research did you do in regards to sun flares and the earth’s reaction to it?
JD: A lot, actually. I had to take some liberties for the story, but I tried to stay as true as possible to what scientists believe might happen in such a disaster. Most people think about the heat, but radiation is actually the bigger problem.
When did you decide to make Teresa a main character in TKO? And why choose Teresa over, say, Thomas to be a part of TKO?
JD: It all had to do with the backstory I’d created a long time ago. Thomas was discovered after the creation of WICKED, when they actively sought out those who were immune. Teresa was the first discovery that such people even existed.
Do you think the fact that Mark had sent Deedee through the Flat Trans, seeing that Mark and Trina were unwilling to go through it themselves for a possible cure and to avoid infecting anyone else, was the reason she became so loyal to Wicked? Because she felt in her own way that it was her responsibility to save humankind?
JD: That is one of the most insightful questions I’ve ever received. If I’m honest, I don’t think I thought of it quite that way per se, but I definitely knew that Teresa’s memories of Mark and Trina and the horrors she saw would affect her deeply, leading to her eventual loyalty to finding a cure.
I know you’ve said that the Maze Runner trilogy and this prequel is the end of the whole series. Are you absolutely certain about that?
JD: As absolutely certain as I can possibly be at this time. I can’t imagine another story to squeeze out of it. There’d be no surprises left, and surprises are essential to my storytelling.
Please check back tomorrow for the conclusion of the interview and more insight about The Kill Order, plus a bit of information about The Maze Runner movie!