THE END IS NOW Author Interview: Daniel H. Wilson

This interview was conducted by Liz Argall.

A lot of this story takes place during an action sequence. I was struck by how tangible, practical and vivid the action was. What kind of research did you do to create that clarity?

“Avtomat” takes place in the early 1700s, as a man and his daughter try to escape an attack by mounted Imperial Russian infantry. I researched the weapons and tactics by reading books on Russian history, including a couple of books meant for children that turned out to be very illustrative (literally, they had pictures). They are fighting on the Mongolian plains, which are similar to the Great Plains where I grew up. I tried to make it as realistic as possible, and I’ll admit this one required a lot of research!

What drew you to this time period and place?

In my latest novel, Robogenesis, there is a Russian character who I fell in love with. While researching that character, I really got into trying to understand the macho-yet-incredibly-sentimental national character of Russia. Historically, I have always been fascinated by Peter the Great—a nearly seven-foot-tall human dynamo who basically reinvented Russia. Finally, I’ve been itching to write about court automata—ancient robots that were built to entertain kings and emperors. It all came together in a really fun way in this story.

Writing prose is often a solitary pursuit. What has it been like writing in a more collaborative environment for DC Comics weekly series “Earth 2: World’s End”?

For the last six months, I have been showrunning and co-writing a weekly series for DC Comics called “Earth 2: World’s End” (first issue released October 8th!). Signing on to write twenty-six issues of a comic book is something you only do if you don’t know any better—my specialty. That said, I’m glad I did it. My routine each week is to generate the story for two issues and then script two issues (along with my co-writers, Marguerite Bennet and Mike Johnson). It’s about 80 pages of story and scripting every month. That requires a staggering amount of coordination, including with the other writers, artists like Phil Jiminez as they create new character designs, and of course my wonderful editors Mike Cotton, Rickey Purdin and Eddie Berganza at DC. It’s a lot more interaction than I’m used to, but oddly enough I love it.

What does “Pravda” mean to you and what does it meant to your Avtomats? What is the Truth?

Pravda is a Russian word for “truth.” I think of it as a Platonic ideal of truth that is wrapped in the armor of honor and justice. It is the shining sword of vengeance in the hand of an archangel. And in the tradition of a golem (a kind of robot from Jewish folklore, in my mind), the Avtomat are each given a “Word” that defines their quest in life. The protagonist of Avtomat is pravda incarnate.

I get the sense that this is just the beginning of our journey with these characters and world. Do you have any further plans for them?

You are absolutely right! “Avtomat” is actually a novel I’m writing. After twenty thousand words or so, I carved out a short story to put in front of people. I’m also eager to see this world on the screen (big or little) at some point. So there is much, much more to this epic story—spanning centuries—and I’m hard at work digging deeper.