AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Julianna Baggott

This interview was conducted by Jude Griffin.

What did “Golden Hour” come from?

My husband and I were in new Orleans when the idea came to me. That city always feels Old World to me. It has a steampunk vibe — old architecture, a little Black Plague meets black magic, an undercurrent that feels like it’s running on gears. So the robots that arrived in my brain weren’t the typical fare. They had heart and a literary bent; New Orleans is so beautifully storied.

I really loved how emotion was wired into, and manifested for, the 117 robots. What was the inspiration for this?

If humans were about to be destroyed, it seems like a good idea to keep some remnant of them around. Jazz — and this brings me back to New Orleans — is a purely human invention. No robot could really create that kind of improvisation because of its dependence on emotion. It seemed to me that the elements of our humanity might be of some practical use. Jazz as a structure built of notes could hold some other importance. If nothing else, we sometimes invent things by accident. Robots don’t make accidents.

Can you talk more about the reason robots keep humans around? I found myself thinking about invention and innovation being more a product of pattern-based thinking than accidental insights, but even if the latter proved more valuable, couldn’t robots use random-generator-based programs to simulate the same? Did you find yourself caught in loops of thinking this through (or was it just me)?

Random seems fine, but the double helix in stars and in our DNA was first noted by a guy high on mushrooms — isn’t that how the story goes? I think we have more value than just randomly generated programs — even sometimes when we’re stoned.

What a list of items in the Archives! Was it a challenge to pare back all the random, charming elements?

I think I looked at it as if humanity were shoved into a corner of my parents’ attic. My own childhood is lodged there so I just widened the view.

Any projects or news you want to tell us about?

BURN, the third and final installment in THE PURE TRILOGY just came out. So, there’s that. I miss the world, the characters, being consumed. . .But, too, there are bright fields stretched out before me.

What is the appeal of “robot uprisings” fiction? Why do writers—or you yourself—write about it? What do you think readers like about it?

I think we like the Frankenstein-aspect, making our own monsters, and I’m particularly drawn to the limits and edges of our own humanity.