The winner of the Trapped in a Virtual Reality contest in conversation with the incredible author of The Maze Runner and The Eye of Minds, James Dashner.
"Hello. Before we start, I’d just like to say that I am a huge fan of your work. I recently finished reading the Eye of Minds and it was utterly brilliant- with such a fantastic twist at the end. Now to the questions, of course.
First of all, Kyra, THANK YOU! That means a lot to me, especially with it being a brand new book and series. Thank you very much. Now, to the answers...
1) There are millions of writers out there. The business is pretty tough. How do you get noticed amongst a sea of extremely talented people? Is it all about being different?
You are totally right, this is a brutal industry sometimes. Honestly, a huge part, the most important part, is the incredible efforts of my publishers. Without them, I'd be a nobody for sure. All I can do is write the coolest stories I can, and hope that my publisher can get it out there. So far, it's worked splendidly!
2) It is very easy to get sucked into the cyber-world of today - from Facebook to Instagram, everything we do is online. What is even more troubling is that today's youth are becoming increasingly obsessed with video games and all things virtual. What is your opinion on this? And is The Eye Of Minds a warning in disguise?
Like anything dealing with technology, it has its good and bad. For example, the Internet brings us news, ways to keep in touch with distant relatives, a platform for spreading charitable efforts, etc. But it also brings bullying, stalking, addictions. The Internet, its future (a very plausible VirtNet in my opinion), can be a very good thing if it's done in moderation. The key is how to best preach that. One side note: just like Michael and his friends in my book, a lot of my fans on Twitter and such have become friends without ever having met. I think that's kinda neat.
3) When I’m writing a futuristic/sci-fi novel, I find it necessary to make an outline of the society I have created. Otherwise I catch myself slipping back into another time frame. Any tips on how to stay faithful to the world you have created?
Oh man, that's a tough one. I mostly rely on my instincts, but I do keep notes as well. And it helps tremendously to have an editor that you trust.
4) People say that getting published is 50% luck, and that it's all about being in the right place at the right time. But is getting published all it's cracked up to be? Is self-publishing a simple and as-effective route?
An answer people hate: it depends. I think the vast majority of the time, the traditional publishing route works best. But I've also seen a lot of self publishing success stories (although most of them then move over to traditional publishing, which says a lot). This is not a statement of arrogance or anything. You just can't beat the mighty distribution and marketing power of the big publishers. Having said that, it does take lucky breaks to get there. I recognize this more than anyone, and I'm very grateful for what I have and will never take it for granted.
5) In the Eye of Minds, did both Bryson and Sarah’s VirtNet characters have to die nearing the end? Or do you think the story could have been as effective if only one of them had?
I think it was very, very vital. Michael had to be alone at the end or the story wouldn't have worked as well, especially for the big twist. I mostly think it was okay because they only died virtually.
6) E-readers such as the Kindle and Nook are increasing in popularity. In 2011, Amazon.com reported that it sold three times as many Kindle books as hardcover books. Then that same month it reported that it had also been selling more Kindle books than paperbacks. I find this extremely troubling. What is your opinion on the subject? Are books becoming obsolete?
Don't fret. Books are not in trouble. Take the Amazon stuff with a huge grain of salt: their whole purpose in life is to sell those Kindles. Plus, they cater to that market, so of course their numbers will be skewed that way. But the independent bookstore is making a huge comeback, and ebook sales overall have leveled off greatly since their huge rise. I think there's a definite place for both in this happy reading world.
7) And, finally, if you could give one piece of advice to all of the young authors out there, what would it be?
Find and attend writer's conferences. They are invaluable. Not only do you learn more about your craft, you meet other authors, editors, and agents.