For James Dashner, each leap he's taken in his life has been a big, important one.He was born and raised in Austell, a small Georgia community, so going to Provo — to attend Brigham Young University — was "really big.""At that time, that seemed about as huge a jump as I could possibly make in my life," the 37-year-old LDS novelist said with a laugh.__IMAGE__But that was only the start of a series of "really big things." After spending a decade working as an accountant, and writing, Dashner finally made the transition to full-time author.He's been a best-selling author and may now be Hollywood bound as well.Major movies studios have been sniffing around Dashner's books, in particular, "Maze Runner," his 2008 young-adult adventure about Thomas, a teen who awakens amid other teens in a dystopian society called the Glade.Despite some original trade-paper reports that said a deal was signed with Fox to bring "The Maze Runner" to the big screen, that deal is still in the negotiations process.But for Dashner, any interest at all in making movies out of his books is "exciting.""I've always thought that my writing was a bit cinematic, to be honest," he said by telephone while preparing to head off on his latest book tour.In fact, Dashner's dream profession is filmmaking. He says he's a big movie fan, "including anything from Peter Jackson's 'Lord of the Rings' films to Martin Scorsese. I try to see everything, or at least most of it."Also, he tries "to imagine what anything and everything I create — characters, creatures and worlds — would look like on a movie screen. It helps with my writing."Obviously, a "Maze Runner" movie is a long way off. And if and when Fox really does acquire the film rights to the book, there are no guarantees that he'll be involved with a cinematic adaptation.That's fine with Dashner, though. "I wouldn't want to meddle with things. I'd just love to linger around the set and see what's going on," he chuckled.Dashner doesn't have much free time for those sorts of diversions anyway. He's embarking on a cross-country tour to promote his latest novel, "The 13th Reality: The Blade of Shattered Hope" (Shadow Mountain, $18.99).The novel is the third in his series, which features a protagonist named Atticus Higginbottom, or "Tick."In "Shattered Hope," the teen is still trying to master his reality-changing powers and deal with his nemesis, the evil Mistress Jane. "It's a completely different world from 'Maze Runner.' It's got puzzles instead of mazes, and there's some physics and science involved — but not in a dry, academic way," Dashner added quickly.And like "Maze Runner," the "13th Reality" series has already gotten quite a bit of positive press and is selling well, especially with its target audience. "These books have absolutely blown up, which is really rewarding," he said.So naturally, Dashner hopes that "13th Reality" will have some cinematic prospects as well. "Stranger things have happened," he said.If that weren't enough, he's already in the process of writing a sequel to "Maze Runner," titled "The Scorch Trials."The success of these books has allowed Dashner to make the transition from accountant to full-time novelist, and he's "very happy to have finally arrived.""But I have nothing against my former boss, who was great to me," Dashner added. "I'm just having a much better, more fulfilling life as a writer."His choice of career has even allowed him, his wife, Lynette, and their four children to "live comfortably" in South Jordan."I think she's still a little skeptical, to be honest," Dashner said, laughing. "She's still making sure I don't go too wild buying extravagant things with my checks."


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