Dmitry Glukhovsky is one of the most successful of today’s Russian SF writers. His post-nuclear-apocalypse novel, Metro 2033 (initially published for free online) has been translated into 35 languages and made into a videogame.
A sequel to the game, Metro: Last Light, is currently in development – scroll down to see the new teaser trailer for the live-action Last Light short due later this week.
When did you start putting fiction online? In 2002, when I published Metro 2033. I am still posting all my work online for free.
Did this affect your writing? The version I first published had a different ending: the protagonist died, hit by a stray bullet. Under pressure from readers, I resurrected him and wrote eight more chapters. Each went online immediately I finished it. The readers gave me feedback, and the novel became an interactive experience.
How long did it take for your site to become well-known? For at least a year the number of visitors didn’t exceed 20 per day. By 2005, 1000 unique visitors arrived daily, and the book was purchased by Russia’s second-biggest publisher for a print edition. Now the number of online readers has reached four million.
How did the videogame project happen? 4A Games found my novel when it was still an online project. They wanted a post-apocalyptic shooter and fell in love with the setting and story of Metro 2033. I couldn’t say no.
Are you happy with the game? 4A adapted the book with great care and created a real little masterpiece. I think they did a marvellous job, and the game brought me thousands of readers.
What is the SF scene like in Russia? A lot of alternate history and urban fantasy. Vampires, of course. Some space action. The glorious era of Russian sci-fi is back in the Soviet past. Many popular novels appeared in the last decade, but I can’t name any great ones.
What does the Russian SF community think about your success?
I can’t say they like me, that’s for sure. But, as Coco Chanel said, “I don’t care what all of you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.” Maybe they’re just jealous. It would be masochism to believe that you’re really writing complete crap, wouldn’t it?
You’ve written another book in the Metro universe, what’s next?
I’ve written a mystical thriller, It’s Getting Dark, and a collection of political satire novellas, The Stories of Motherland. My next novel will be a sci-fi thriller.
Will we ever see you in the UK? I do visit the UK occasionally. The proposed Worldcon in London would be a good opportunity to return.