Writing on Wednesday: James Dasher


A few weeks (months? I don’t know, time has been flying lately) ago, James Dashner came to Athens to talk about his new series and answer questions from the audience. I brought my six year old because I’m a terrible evil person and had no sitter. Thankfully, she was very good and did all her talking before James Dashner started his Q&A.

To James Dashner.

It was adorable. She told him that she’s a writer and that her recent project, “The Little Red Hen, only in this version the Hen is a cat,” is a whole ten pages long. “How long is YOUR book?”

Oh, 300 or so pages.

Utter shock from my child.

He was very nice to her and to me. He signed my writing advice book before the actual signing started, breaking the rules to do so (thank you random person for lending me your pen).

His advice?

“Write Every Day. Keep attending conferences. And do your best not to suck! :)”

I learned that he grew up in Georgia, so he comes back this way a lot. He’s a pantser, not a plotter but for his new series he actually outlined everything ahead of time. My approach tends to be write a draft then outline it, then revise. So I understand the struggle. I can’t outline too much before I write because when the story inevitably takes me off outline, I break.

Once the Q&A started, most of the questions had to do with some basics of writing, differences between the movie and the book, and is there any hope a certain character who died in the book will live through the movie. Dashner answered each question well and with a bit of an air of disbelief that his books and characters are so popular.

During the Q&A I didn’t ask any questions because here’s the thing. He’s a YA writer. I know a ton of adults read YA, I’m one of them. But when it comes to author appearances, I think the grown ups should take a step back in deference to the target audience. These are kids who are super into his books and talking to a role model. Kids who are actively being inspired to read and write. And that’s a pretty cool thing to watch all on its own.

Though my daughter did have a question, I had her wait until it was over and she asked him as we were walking out the door.

“Mr. Dashner, did you like the lion king?”

Why, yes he did.


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