“I knew from the very first stages of planning this series that it would lend itself nicely to a prequel,” James told Cracking the Cover. “The whole magic of the series was based on figuring out the pieces, along with Thomas, as he went through the story. So I thought, when it’s over, a prequel would be a lot of fun.”
“The Kill Order,” which takes place before WICKED, the Glade and the Maze, keys in on the initial aftermath from solar flares super-heating the Earth. Thomas and Teresa, who are the main characters in the trilogy, play tiny roles in the prequel, making brief appearances in the prologue and epilogue. At the center of this new story are Mark and Trina, friends from school who survive the flares while riding in the subway only to face a dangerous disease that threatens to wipe out humanity.
James had always planned on the prequel, though he says the subject matter changed quite a bit. “At first I thought I would write about Thomas and Teresa again, but we decided that story had been told well enough. So instead we chose to go back and show how the world got in the terrible shape that made the events of the trilogy necessary in the first place.”
Writing the backstory to the Maze Runner series came with new challenges, and James says the writing process was a whole new experience. “It was very different because Thomas was no longer my main character,” he said. “It was fun getting to know new characters and developing them. Their environment was also very different, as was their state of mind. All in all it was like writing in a different world.”
Sometimes there’s a fan backlash when prequels are released — Star Wars, anyone? — but James says that’s not a worry here. “I think any fan of the trilogy is going to read this story and be very satisfied, and feel complete. … I’m most excited about my fans seeing, firsthand, all the terrible things hinted at in the three books of the trilogy.”
While James says he’s learned never to say never, he doesn’t expect there to be any more books in the Maze Runner world. “For now, I feel like I’ve explored this version of our world enough,” he says. “I’m excited to move on to new things.”
James will be at the West Jordan Barnes and Noble at Jordan Landing (7157 Plaza Center Drive) for the launch of “The Kill Order” on Tuesday, Aug. 14 at 7 p.m.
He will also read from and sign copies of “The Kill Order” at The King’s English Bookshop (1511 South 1500 East, Salt Lake City) on Friday, Aug. 17, at 7 p.m.
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