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James Dashner | Biography


Early Life

James Dashner was born in Austell, Georgia, on November 26, 1972. Two years later his family moved to Duluth, Minnesota, where he attended school and graduated high school in 1991. English was his favorite subject in high school, and he cites an English teacher who allowed a creative take on assignments as encouraging his career. Dashner attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where he met Lynette Anderson. They married in 1998 and had four children, and they live in the Rocky Mountains of Utah.

Writing Career

Dashner originally pursued a career in accounting, but he never gave up on his teenage love of storytelling. He wrote his first manuscript, A Door in the Woods, in 1998. In one interview, he explains that he "muddled through a succession of rejection slips and negative responses that left him 'mortified.'" The novel was eventually published with a regional publisher. The novel grew into Dashner's first series, the Jimmy Fincher series (2003–05). For his next series, The Maze Runner, Dashner aimed bigger with a national publisher. Just like with A Door in the Woods, The Maze Runner was initially rejected by every big publisher and was not picked up until two years later. Upon release The Maze Runner was a wild success, and the movie rights were sold within three years of the first title's publication. The Maze Runner won the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults award in 2011 and the Young Readers Choice Awards in 2012.


Dashner regularly cites prolific American suspense writer Stephen King as his primary writing influence. But The Maze Runner series was written in response to Dashner's critique of British novelist William Golding's classic speculative fiction novel, Lord of the Flies (1954). In Golding's novel a band of school-aged boys must govern themselves after being stranded on a desert island. Golding's boys descend into murderous anarchy. Dashner argues, "I think [the characters would] be more civilized, orderly, and determined to survive and escape." From this inspiration, the Glade and the Gladers of The Maze Runner were born.

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