Interview with Dan Wells – original

About the Serial Killer Movie, Inspirationen and why we need Science-Fiction

I wanted readers to feel familiar and confused at the same time: I wanted to take some technology that we’re already very comfortable with and just blow it up to a massive extreme.

© Dan Wells
© Dan Wells privat

Phantastisch-lesen: Dan, after living in Germany for two years you moved back to the States. Is there anything from Germany you miss in the States? And is there anything in the US you are lucky to have back?

Dan Wells: I miss so much about Germany. I miss being able to ride the train everywhere. Germans always complain about their train system, but it’s one of the best in the world. I miss Maultaschen and Schnitzel and Spätzle and Spargelcremesuppe and Döner kebab. I miss Fasching and Martinstag lanternwalks. This time of year I start to miss the Weihnachtsmarkt, especially the Mittelalter Weihnachtsmarkt in Esslingen, near where I lived in Stuttgart. On the other hand, being back in America again I have my family around me, and hundreds of amazing Mexican restaurants. Plus I get to vote against Trump, so that’s a big bonus 🙂

Ich bin kein Serienkiller - Dan Wells © Piper
Ich bin kein Serienkiller © Piper

Phantastisch-lesen: The first „John Cleaver“ Story was made into a movie. How did it feel like when one of your books was turned into a movie?

Dan Wells: Watching my story turn into a movie was amazing. It was a long process, more than six years from our first email to the first public screening, but, it was worth it. I loved watching the director and screenwriter take my story and put their own spin on it, and then to watch the actors bring the characters to life in ways both true to my books and also wholly original. They brought truths to the characters that I didn’t even recognize until I saw them on the screen.

Phantastisch-lesen: Are you happy with the result? Does the film meet the atmosphere you have created in the John Cleaver novels?

Dan Wells: The movie is great, and I’m very happy with it. It changed some of the details, as any adaptation must, but it stayed very true to the characters and to the feel I wanted the books to create. I hope the movie comes to Germany soon, because you’ll love it.

Phantastisch-lesen: Will the other „John Cleaver“ Books be made into movies as well?

Dan Wells: We don’t know yet. The studio owns the rights to the first three books in the series, and the cast and crew would jump at the chance to make more, but it all depends on how well the movie does: if it makes a bunch of money, we might see more.

Phantastisch-lesen: After a break of three years you continued writing the „John Cleaver“ novels. Why? And how many more can we expect?

Dan Wells: The second trilogy of John Cleaver books came about because I was living in Germany, actually. I finished the first three, and brought John’s character to a good ending place; he finished the arc I had set up for him, and I didn’t think there was any more to say. Then I moved to Germany, and that experience of living in a new place made me think more about John. His story was finished, but now he was in a new place living another story. Within just a few days of that thought, I figured out exactly what that new story should be, and the second trilogy of books was born.

Du bist noch nicht tot - Dan Wells © Piper
Du bist noch nicht tot © Piper

Phantastisch-lesen: When we met the last time (2013 at Ludwigs bookstore, Cologne) we talked about a writer‘s life. You told me that you are playing computer games to get your brain recharged. Was one of your computer games an inspiration for your new book „Bluescreen“?

Dan Wells: Absolutely. I don’t usually play competitive games, like the characters in „Bluescreen“ do, but I do like to follow the industry news. And one day I stumbled across an article stating that esports video game players were now eligible for athletic visas, just like a football player or a swimmer. That fascinated me, and I started to do more research into esports and competitive gaming, and I started following the teams in the European League of Legends championship. The game they play in „Bluescreen“, called „Overworld“, is my own combination of „League of Legends“, „Counterstrike“ and „City of Heroes“.

Phantastisch-lesen: What would you do if you woke up in the morning and found out that you are in Mirador 2050?

Dan Wells: The first thing I’d do is figure out how to get a djinni. I would love to have a computer in my head that could do everything for me.

Phantastisch-lesen: How difficult was it to develop a future world that is set only 34 years in the future?

Aufbruch - Dan Wells © Piper
Aufbruch © Piper

Dan Wells: Surprisingly hard, actually. It was easy to create the future of „Partials“ because it was 70 years away, and there was an apocalypse to help explain anything I got wrong. Science fiction that takes place far in the future is easier, I think, because there’s so much more time for the world you create to come into existence. With only 34 years, I had to cheat on a lot of it. Self-driving cars are a good example. They’ll be everywhere, I think, but my claim that no one will ever drive their own car, or even remember how, is probably very wrong.

Phantastisch-lesen: Some technical devices in Mirador are familiar to us. Did you want the reader to feel a bit like home in 2050? Or what was your intention?

Dan Wells: I wanted readers to feel familiar and confused at the same time: I wanted to take some technology that we’re already very comfortable with and just blow it up to a massive extreme. We already have sensors that can detect your credit card information on your phone, so you can pay just by holding it close. But what if those sensors had a much longer range? What if they could read your information from your phone as you walked past the store, and then check your purchase history and offer you a deal on something it thought you were likely to buy? That’s a very natural progression of our current technology, and sooner or later it’s definitely coming.

Phantastisch-lesen: Do you have a favorite charakter in „Bluescreen“?

Dan Wells: Obviously Marisa is fantastic, and I especially love the pairing of her and her father. They have very similar personalities but very different ideas, and that gets them into a lot of arguments. I also love Anja, the crazy girl, who’s always looking for something new no matter how weird or difficult or dangerous it might be. I think there’s a lot of Anja in all of us, but most of us have a little more self control. 🙂

Bluescreen - Dan Wells © Piper-Verlag
Bluescreen © Piper-Verlag

Phantastisch-lesen: Will the mysterious person „Grendel“ become more important in the second „Mirador“ book?

Dan Wells: Marisa is desperate to talk to Grendel again, and finding him is her top priority. Though there are some new characters and obstacles that get in the way of that….

Phantastisch-lesen: And will the virtual reality play a more important role in the following books?

Dan Wells: Absolutely! In book one the girls were training for a tournament they never got to play in, but book two is all about a virtual reality gaming tournament that has much higher stakes than they might be ready for.

Phantastisch-lesen: Mirador“ is your second SF-series after the „Partials“. Do you think that we need more SF-literature?

Dan Wells: Science fiction is the literature of exploration; they are the books that ask us questions about who we are and where we’re going, in a way that other books can’t. We need SF because we need to stretch ourselves. We need to push and question and reach for what’s next. Science fiction is the most important form of literature we have.

Phantastisch-lesen: How many „Mirador“ Bokks are planned? And when will the second „Mirador“-Book be published?

Dan Wells: There will be at least three, though if people keep buying them I will keep writing them forever. The second book comes out in English in February, and in German in October.

Phantastisch-lesen: Thank you very much, Dan for enlightening answers! 🙂

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