Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Jade Crusades: The Legacy

For five years, I co-operated the Mara Jade website Jade Crusades under the alias Mazzic. The lovely Shada was my partner in crime, although we inherited Jade Crusades from ArchJedi Sarah in the Fall of 2000.

Jade Crusades had enjoyed a long and successful run under ArchJedi Sarah, and Shada and I were happy to continue that tradition. This was at a time when Del Rey had taken over the Star Wars license from Bantam, and Mara Jade was appearing (newly wed to Luke Skywalker!) in nearly every publication: novels, short stories, role playing games, comic books, card games, action figures – Mara Jade was everywhere!

Jade Crusades enabled us to meet many incredible authors, artists, and creators who were happy to share their stories with us. I am happy to still call Shannon McRandle, the official Mara Jade model, a dear friend. Above all, Shada and I met many fans that shared a love for a particular fiery red-headed Jedi. Without them, Jade Crusades would never have been possible. Jade Crusades, under the leadership of Mazzic and Shada, closed its doors in July of 2005.

Although the original incarnations of Jade Crusades are now defunct, I wanted to share the exclusive content that made Jade Crusades so special. Jade Crusades, and Mara Jade, shall live on.

In closing, I’d like to re-post our last update to Jade Crusades. Thank you for the memories, friends!

Saying Goodbye
Posted by Shada, July 2, 2005.

This is not the easiest thing in the world to do, but as you may have noticed we have not been updating this page as much as we used to. Life as they say goes on and good things do come to an end. Mazzic and I inherited this site from ArchJedi in the fall of 2000. Jade Crusades also enjoyed a long run under it's original owner, so I think we've had an incredibly long lived life for a fan site run by such a small group of people. But after nearly five years, it's time to let Jade Crusades rest. Jade Crusades will be going off line on July 31, 2005.

We would like to thank the following people for all of their help throughout the years:

• Archjedi Sarah for entrusting us with this site.

• Timothy Zahn for creating Mara Jade and sitting down with us for a couple of great interviews!

• Shannon McRandle for her kindness, her help with tips and news, and especially for helping us meet Timothy Zahn!

• Michael Stackpole for not only sitting down for an interview but helping us get Tim Zahn there too!

• Aaron Allston, R.A. Salvatore, Kevin J Anderson and Walter Jon Williams for agreeing to be interviewed

• Brandon McKinney who designed our incredible logo.

• The absolutely amazing artists who have shared their work with us as well as doing interviews: Cory Allemeier (and the folks at Lucasarts who allowed us to show concept artwork), Matt Busch (thanks for the exclusives, and getting us in touch with Andi Ficara), Joe Corroney (thanks for the exclusives), Storn Cook (thanks for the great interview), the legendary Carlos Ezquerra (thank you so much for the pencil sketches), Terese Nielsen (thanks for the exclusives), Dan Veesenmeyer (my pin-up is still the most beautiful piece of Star Wars art I own), and Mike Vilardi (thanks for the exclusives)! We'd also like to thank the following artists for granting interviews: the legendary Dave Dorman, Tommy Lee Edwards (who found us and actually used one of our photos as an inspiration for a piece for The New Jedi Order Sourcebook, so we're famous!!), Doug Alexander Gregory, and incredible Drew Struzan.

• Game designer Chuck Kallenbach II for taking us through the process of creating a game card

• Model Andi Ficara, the charming lady who was also Mara Jade, you were such fun to talk to and thank you so much for your kind words!

• Our special reporters Erin Nance, Regina Day, Erik Nielsen, and Doug Atwood. We could not have done this without you!

• All of the talented fans out there who have graced our site with custom figures, fan fiction, wallpapers, and artwork. Thank you so much for sharing a bit of you with us!

• All of you who have sent us news bits, corrected bad links, or just stopped by over the years, we're glad that you came to visit.

May the Force be with you!!

Star Wars, Mara Jade, and related items are trademarked and copyrighted Lucasfilm Ltd. All of the artwork used on this site was posted with the permission of the original artists and ownership reverts to them. Other sources and copyright holders may apply as noted in the appropriate sections. Permission given for artwork, interviews, or reproductions does not in any way imply endorsement by any of these parties. We have no affiliation with Lucasfilm, Dark Horse Comics, Del Rey Books, Wizards of the Coast, LucasArts, or any other corporate body mentioned.

Jade Crusades was created by ArchJedi Sarah Kabala. The site is now maintained by Mazzic and Shada. All original content on this site belongs to the present owners. All fan creations are the property of their original contributors (i.e. artists and authors). Do not reproduce this information on other websites without the permission of the owner. Jade Crusades Logo was created via commission for Jade Crusades by Brandon McKinney. It may not be reproduced or posted elsewhere without express permission.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Timothy Zahn Interview

Timothy Zahn is a Hugo award winning author who introduced Mara Jade in his novel Heir to the Empire. Our guest reporter Erin Nance sat down with guest of honor Zahn at the TusCon in November 2002.

This is Erin Nance here at TusCon, interviewing Star Wars author Timothy Zahn for Jade Crusades. Thank you for allowing Jade Crusades to pick your brain a second time!

*laughter* All right, no problem.

It has recently been announced that you will be writing two novels: one set during the Prequel era, dealing with the Outbound Flight Project, and another novel featuring Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade. What can you tell us about these two books?

Actually, it’s Mara Jade Skywalker at this point. That book, called Survivor's Quest, takes place about three years after the “Hand of Thrawn” duology. Which is about two years before New Jedi Order. The basic setup is that the Chiss have discovered the remains of Outbound Flight out in Chiss Space, and invite Luke and Mara to come out with them to examine the wreckage, and to make arrangements to get it back to New Republic Space. And there are of course, various problems along the way. We won't get in to that - that'll be for the book.

The other book will actually come out a year later, and is going to be the story of Outbound Flight, and its destruction by the young Thrawn at the edge of Chiss Space. In a sense I'm doing a book and a Prequel, similar to what Lucas himself is doing. We’ll see the results of a lot of the details of what happened to Outbound Flight in Survivor's Quest, but not exactly how it got there.

Will your Prequel novel expand on Mara's origins?

No, it will be before she's born. It will probably be between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Obi-Wan and Anakin will make an appearance, but it won't be the major thrust of the story.

Do you have any plans on revealing Mara's past? Specifically, how she was taken from her parents and trained by Palpatine?

No, no plans. There are two schools of thought on this. One group really wants to find out everything they can about Mara. The other group would rather leave her past shrouded in mystery. I haven't quite decided which way I want to go with that.

How do you think Mara has been sufficiently redeemed for what she did as the Emperor's Hand?

How has she been redeemed? She’s been a pretty good friend to the New Republic, I think. I went into that in the “Hand of Thrawn” with the fact that she wasn't really of the Dark Side because she was serving as best she knew. Many of the people she assassinated were corrupt, and were evil in their own way. Not just enemies Palpatine was trying to get out of the way, they were actually people who - I hate to say it - deserved to die. She was actually doing justice in many cases.

How will your Luke and Mara novel deal with Mara's development as a Jedi?

She’s going to be pretty well developed at that point, I think. Most of what this is going to be is just showing how she and Luke will work and operate together in situations of crisis and danger, and intrigue and all that. I think most of her development has been done, now it's just going to be turning her loose and seeing what she and Luke can do together.

Will the novel expand on her relationship as Jaina Solo's Jedi Instructor?

No, none of the other main characters make appearances. This whole thing takes place out beyond the edges of the New Republic. A couple of other minor characters come out and they are mentioned here and there, but nobody else really shows up.

In your novel, Dark Force Rising, Mara reflects on her tenure as a server girl, a mechanic, and a come-up flector for a swoop gang. We've seen stories in which Mara is depicted playing out the former jobs, but what exactly is a “come-up flector,” and what are the chances of us seeing you tell that story?

*laughter* I don't know what the chances are. A come-up flector is what would be called a "come on." She is a come up deflector. It's someone who will deflect or divert people's attention; a diversionary type of person. I just made up the term. A throwaway comment, but I actually went along and wrote some stories. I may do that one next - who knows?

Have any plans been made to expand on Mara's "missing" five years between the Emperor's death and the “Thrawn Trilogy,” either in comic, short story, or novel form?

I did the Mara Jade comic, which picks up right after the Emperor's death. I did a story for the Star Wars Tales anthology for Dark Horse. And I did the story for the Star Wars Gamer that fits in that gap. I'd be happy to do more. At the moment, the Insider is more interested in doing Clone Wars Era stories. I'm going to hopefully be doing a three-parter for them on that. I've been offered that. I've just finished the outline, and I need to send it in and get it approved.

What else was Mara doing during that time, besides hiding from Ysanne Isard?

I don't know. She was moving around, trying to make a new life for herself. Probably running into problems, executing justice as she's been taught to do, as she's done in a couple of the other stories. The details at the moment are shrouded in mystery. I haven't thought of them yet.

You've written two Mara Jade short stories in which Mara rescues a character that appears in your other novels as an employee of Talon Karrde. Given the opportunity to write another similar story, which other character would you like to cross paths with Mara?

I don't know if there are any other characters that I want her to specifically cross paths with - nothing comes to mind. There is one story involving Mara I would like to do some day, if the Insider is interested. There is a reference in Vision of the Future when Karrde and Shada D’ukal are searching for Jorj Car’das. They run into a crime lord, and mention offhandedly that a young lady and an elegant gentleman saved him from an assassination attempt. That was Lando and Mara, when they were doing their preliminary investigation. I'd like to do that story. Of how it was they came to save this crimelord, and why he was so deeply in dept to Karrde.

Are there any chances of seeing a reoccurrence of Shada D’ukal in future written works by you?

Nothing planned at the moment, but I'd like to. I think she and Karrde are an interesting team. Very different than Karrde and Mara were, but with some of the same potential for good stories. Again, there's not that much outlet for fiction except for the Insider, and they're mostly interested in Clone Wars Era material. It's a setup I'd like to come back to sometime, but no idea when.

There are many different versions of Mara Jade, from comic books, book covers, and reference books, action figures and live model. What is your preferred image of Mara Jade?

I have a very hard time with a real physical image of any of my characters. I tend to think of them more as their personality. Several of the Maras have been fine. Shannon Baksa is the “official” Mara Jade now. If it's got the correct Mara Jade attitude and expression, it's probably something I can live with.

Speaking of comic books, what is the current status of your and Michael Stackpole's Mara/Mirax and Luke/Corran series?

We don't even have a complete story worked out, let alone pitched it to Dark Horse. Actually, before that, Mike and I do have a complete story worked up that Dark Horse has never been interested in called The Reenlistment of Baron Fel. That shows how Fel went from the New Republic, as in Mike's “X-Wing” comics, to being out at the Hand of Thrawn with Admiral Parck. We have a six-part comic, or a four-part story. But so far, we haven't found anybody interested in taking it. If we do, we'll probably do that one. Then the Luke/Mara and Corran/Mirax is definitely a possibility. We would both very much like to do that one. There would be trouble for everybody around them.


Jade Crusades and many Mara Jade fans are pushing to see Mara appear in more Star Wars comics. It has been hinted that Dark Horse may be interested in creating an “all Mara Jade” issue of the Star Wars Tales comic book. What would it take to see you writing one of those Mara stories, and would you be interested?

It would take them asking me, and that's about it! I haven't even heard this was a possibility. Dark Horse and I have not talked for quite a while. I don't know what's happening over there. That would be something I'd very much like to do though. Probably another intermediate type of story, in Mara’s 5-year gap. Basically, all they have to do is say, "Would you like to do a story for us?" And I'll say, "When do you need it?"!

The following questions were submitted to Jade Crusades from other Mara Jade fans:

What were your impressions with Michael Stackpole's Star Wars: Union comic book?

We talked about it some. I'm not sure I actually ever got a final version of the whole thing. Again, that was the time when I was out of the loop with Dark Horse. It would have been nice if they had asked me to do it. Mike and I discussed the story, and it seemed reasonable. I'm not sure if I actually saw the entire thing.

Where did Luke and Mara spend their honeymoon?

*laughter* I have no idea.

If you had written about Luke and Mara having a child, would it have been a boy or girl, and what would he or she have been named?

I probably would have made it a boy. Not for any particular reason, but I probably would have. I have no idea what I would have named it - the question has never come up. Ben is a fine name. I like that reference to Ben Kenobi.

Were any of the character for the Thrawn Trilogy inspired by people you knew in real life?

There are several people that have sort of been tuckerized, I think the term is, when you put someone else's name into a book. There are something like eight references to a club and convention down in Tampa called Necronomicon in the first book. There are two people who got their way in a charity auction in that book as well. And there are a couple of people, again names only, in The Last Command. Not the people themselves, but names and maybe a little bit of description. I don't usually take people's characteristics. I wouldn't take my son’s personality, for example, and put him into a book. I might put his name in. I don't generally put real people into books.

Do you know if Mike Stackpole's short story for the Star Wars Insider will contain Mara Jade?

The upcoming one? No because again, they're wanting Clone Wars Era. That's before Mara is born.

Well, that's it. Thank you again for the opportunity to interview you.

Not a problem!

Thank you.

Okay, thank you!

Timothy Zahn & Michael Stackpole Interview

Jade Crusades’ very own Mazzic was fortunate enough to interview Star Wars authors Timothy Zahn and Michael Stackpole while at San Diego Comic-Con 2001. Zahn and Stackpole may well be the most formidable team of Star Wars writers, having scripted the entire Mara Jade: By the Emperor’s Hand comic series for Dark Horse, as well as writing the short story Encounter at Darkknell. Zahn has been credited with originally continuing the Star Wars saga with his first "Thrawn Trilogy" books, as well as the "Hand of Thrawn Duology." Stackpole has written many of the "X-Wing" books, I, Jedi, and the "Dark Tide Duology" in the New Jedi Order Series. Both have written numerous short comic and fiction stories set within the Star Wars universe.

So, how are you enjoying San Diego Comic-Con, 2001?

TZ It’s been fun so far. I've heard the big crunch comes on Saturday.

MS That's right. No blood, no pain yet. So yeah, we're doing fine.

As you know, Jade Crusades is a fan created website, dedicated to Mara Jade. The following questions will involve her, in some way, shape, or form. So, Mr. Zahn, how did you come up with a character as Mara Jade in the first place?

TZ When I start a book, I work on the plot; organizing the story line, figuring out where all the plot threads are going to start and end up. And at that time, all the characters show up as sort of cardboard placeholders. I have a villain here; let's call him Grand Admiral Thrawn. I have somebody here; lets call him Garm Bel Iblis. And we have this character here who we'll call The Emperor's Hand, Mara Jade. Originally her role was, or where she showed up in the outline, was as a link between the first part of Return of the Jedi and the rest of the Star Wars saga. The rescue of Han always seemed sort of disconnected. So I decided there was an agent of the Emperor there, waiting to kill Luke. And that seemed to link it back to the main story line of the movies. Well, as the plot developed, so did the characters. So her original role was as a link, and then she grew as I worked her into the character she became.

Who did you model Mara's personality after?

TZ No one in particular. Every author has this grab bag of people, ideas, thoughts, phraseology and such that has gone in the back of our minds, and everything we have experienced. So we just reach in there and grab out pieces, mix and match. I wanted someone who could be a strong woman who could stand up to Luke. I've always liked the somewhat sarcastic voiced characters, especially when there is a reason for the sarcasm. They're not just a nasty person. But with Mara, it's a calculated technique. Basically just as a foil for Luke. Perhaps, in some ways, the same way Han had been a foil for Leia. But not in the same exact way.

What ideas from Lucasfilm did you receive when creating her character?

TZ None at all. Lucasfilm basically kept hands off of my project. They would tell me when there were things I couldn't do, and showed me the boundaries of the field, but there were no "you should do this, you should do that plot lines we'd like started in this book". Nothing like that. I had pretty much free rein within the boundaries they set. Great experience working for them, because of that. I felt a lot of freedom.

Are you amazed that a character you've created has become so popular with Star Wars fans?

TZ I'm always amazed that people like the books. You know, as a writer, I’m never sure, when I finish a book, whether anybody is going to like it.

MS *laughing*

TZ I don't know if there are any surprises, and it-

MS *laughing*

TZ Stop laughing, Mike.

MS *continues to laugh*

TZ I don't know if there are any surprises for the reader, because I know where everything is going. So it's impossible for me to anticipate what the reaction is going to be. So, starting with that, then the popularity of Mara Jade has been completely flabbergasting.

Obviously. How do you feel about the New Jedi Order, and how her character has developed?

TZ I haven't really been following New Jedi Order. Um...what I know about it, I know I trust Mike to handle Mara. I read Kathy Tyer's handling of her because Kathy asked me to. Aside from those two, I don't know where exactly it’s been going, or how they've been dealing with her.

How do you both feel about the new addition to the Skywalker family, as written in the latest books Balance Point, Conquest, and the upcoming Rebirth?

MS You know, I knew there was going to be an addition, and it'll be interesting to see how it develops. I mean, a baby...a baby is a baby.

TZ *laughing*

MS I suppose this one can elevate bottles to itself, and other annoying things. But what happens with that, it's a nice turn, it's a nice twist, and I think it's a good maturation point for Mara and for Luke. I think it will provide areas for growth for both of them as characters, but I also think, that given the story arc and the events that are going on, there is not going to be as much growth there as we might like to see.

TZ And always assuming that the writers know how to handle it. Writing for young children is very hard to do, and I think a lot of writers who are good at writing for adults or teenagers, may not be able to capture a two year old, or a five year old quite as well. We'll have to see what happens.

Do you have any hopes for the young Skywalker?

TZ I think it will be an interesting...very potentially interesting character, considering - is it a him or a her?

It's a him.

TZ Him. Considering his parentage. You've got a lot of interesting family dynamics you can play with there. The question will be what happens in future books, how the authors who deal with the growing up, or the raising of the child, see the relationship, see the dynamic and go on with it.

MS Writing is not like a math problem. You look at "what do you think is going to happen with the Skywalker child," or "what are your hopes for?" Well, this is not a math problem. For every writer that could possibly deal with it, there would be a different answer. I think that for us, as long as there is an exciting story that is told that keeps the characters within character – And yet, if you look at the saga, you know the way Tim and I view Mara is not necessarily the same way that other people view Mara. So it will be interesting to see the interpretations, and watch how things develop. And then we'll do it right.

*laughter around table*

TZ Of course.

Speaking of youth, what age was Mara taken from her parents?

TZ I have no idea. I'm not sure Mara does. I've been asked various times. There are two schools of thought on Mara's history. One school is, "Tell us everything about her." The other school says, "No, keep her mysterious." And I've dropped a few hints in the books, some of which may of may not be true. Because, as you know, with children you can implant memories just by telling them something that supposedly happened. So even Mara's recollections may not be accurate. Up to this point, I've deliberately avoided giving any real details. I haven't decided if I ever will.

So there is no back-story, because some of her memories may have been implanted by the Emperor?

TZ Until it’s actually written, hopefully or preferably by me, it doesn't exist.

MS It's one of those things, especially about developing characters and stuff, you can have general feels and you can guide things, but then when you're asked to do a story, or when that story occurs to you, and you're able to back fill things, you do that in accord to what you've already written. Trying to fill in too much means you kind of limit and trap yourself, whereas being able to do it later makes it far more dynamic and a lot more fun.

TZ It's very similar to doing a map of the story you're doing, and I never fill in areas I'm not going to be dealing with in a book, because I may want to go on with another book or story. I don't want something up here limiting me, even in my thought process, as to what is out in this area. And same with character development. If you put it down, even on paper just for yourself, as Mike said, you'll limit your own mental thought processes in going back.

What age was Mara given the title "The Emperor’s Hand?"

TZ Probably soon after her training, I'm guessing 12 or 13. But I don't know that for sure either.

MS I defer to Tim. I mean, everything I've done, I just pick up on the stuff that Tim has laid out there with a sense of the character. Now she's what, two years older than Luke? Something like that?

TZ I set her about the same age...I don't know what has been established. Neither younger or older.

MS Yeah, I think it's two years older, actually.

TZ Older? Okay, that'd make more sense otherwise she'd be 16 when the Death Star blew up. And that wouldn't work very well.

MS The important thing is, you've got this very dynamic, very strong character. And a character who's strength shields her, and yet is capable of great feeling, great loyalty, inside. It's a fascinating character to write.

TZ In many ways, she has a marshmallow center she doesn't want to have. She doesn't want to need people, doesn't want to rely on people. And at the same time, if she decides you are her friend, she will defend you to the death. In some ways, she wants to be able to give loyalty more than she is willing to except it. Plus it's very interesting, in a complex character.

MS That made her so much fun to use in I, Jedi. The first time that she and Corran meet, they are not getting along at all. It's sort of like, "Look, can we hit the reset button here?" Once there's sort of that de-escalation, they actually become friends. And Mara comes back and faces the ghost of a Dark Lord of the Sith to help him out. *laughter* I mean that's a lot of loyalty!

TZ She's really the kind of person you'd want on you side in a fight.

As the Emperor's Hand, how do you figure Mara would have viewed Darth Vader? Was she jealous?

TZ He was another associate of the Emperor. The Emperor says, "He is my apprentice, he is one of my tools, leave him be." And that would be it for Mara. The Emperor was basically the "be all" and "end all" of her life at that point.

And how do you figure Vader would have viewed Mara?

TZ I don't think he would have trusted her at all. I don't think that he would have particularly liked her. Simply because he was steeped in the Dark Side, and the Dark Side is ultimately one of selfishness. "Me first." Mara, for all of her service to the Emperor, was not in the Dark Side. And I think that would have bothered Vader. He would not have seen Palpatine as having the same hold over Mara as he did over Vader himself, and Vader would not have liked that.

MS I think ultimately, Vader would have seen the fact that she was never of the Dark Side as her naivety, and a weakness. Just as he did with Luke, and that would have been something he would have exploited if ever necessary.

Could you elaborate on some of the missions Mara would have gone through as the Emperor's Hand?

TZ I have a limit. I've done three or four of them in the Mara Jade comic books, and another short story comic in Star Wars Tales. I can't elaborate on anything that hasn't been written yet because I might want to write it some day! She would have been his "wild card." She would have been outside the Chain of Command. Anything he wanted done, without leaving any kind of – you can't say paper trail, there is no paper trail – electronic trail that might lead or point back to him, that's what she would be doing. She'd be investigating; she'd be doing assassinations; she'd be doing justice as the Emperor saw it, on traitors and people trying to feather out their own nest at the Empire's expense. Her loyalty would be to Palpatine and the Empire, and she would do whatever he told her to do, consistently close.

So how much training in the Force did she receive?

TZ A fair amount. But she had a lot of linkage to the Emperor that limited – that got her abilities fading after his death. It lasted for a while, but then it kind of faded away. So she wasn't as independent in the Force as Luke and Vader were. And possibly that was by design in case Palpatine would have had any questions about her and her loyalty, and what might happen in the future with her, and therefore built in a limiting factor to her. The guy was a conniver you've got to face that.

How much training in the field of dance did she receive?

TZ She probably picked it up on her own as part of the various disguises and covers she would use.

Did she actually enjoy dancing then, or did she just use it as a cover up?

TZ Just a tool. I'm not sure what she really enjoyed in that time of her life, except doing what Palpatine told her to do. Successfully completing a job in the professional way she wanted to do it, and hearing the Emperor's thanks when she came home.

MS There is a section in the Mara Jade comic where she literally comes back from that mission, is told to enjoy herself, and goes and does all the things people would do to enjoy themselves. But it's almost as if she's trying to try on the role of "who would I be if I were free to enjoy myself?" When, given her training, her enjoyment was hearing the Emperor say "good job." She didn't really have those distractions. Could she find pleasure in dancing? I have no doubt that if she and Luke danced, that she'd find it was absolutely wonderful. But –

TZ But dancing in front of Jabba is not the same thing at all.

Given the chance to write another Mara Jade story, what era would you chose? As the Emperor's Hand, top smuggler, or Jedi Master?

TZ Actually, I've probably got ideas in all three eras. I've got a story proposed that will take place after the comic, after the Emperor's death and she's on her own. And Mike and I have been kicking around a four-part story that picks up between Visions of the Future and the New Jedi Order. Luke, Mara, Corran, and Mirax go off on a little vacation together.

MS (laughing) Actually, Mara and Mirax go off on a vacation together and Luke and Corran have to pick up the pieces. (laughing) "They did what to a planet?!"
(laughter from table)

TZ We have some plotting ideas, and if we get to do this thing, it's going to be a lot of fun.

MS (uncontrollable laughter subsiding) Yeah.

TZ You may remember at one point, is it Corran? No, Luke...

MS No, it's Corran. Corran says to Luke, "We can never let them meet."

TZ "We can never let them meet."

What other Star Wars projects are you working on?

MS Well, we've done some outlines for possible projects for Dark Horse and are waiting to hear back on those, and we'll talk to other people. And of course, Tim and I appearing as Talon Karrde and Corran Horn in cards, it is one of those projects that is...

ANNA ZAHN (TZ's wife) Kicking off your acting careers?

MS Yeah, kicking off our acting careers!

TZ Our modeling careers.

MS We're "talent" now. We're models.


Can you expand on some of the other stories you've proposed to Dark Horse?

MS Actually, we can't. Lucasfilm does not like you to talk about possible future projects, as these things can be green lit at any point, so we really can't. It's one of those places that they're kind of...hazy.

TZ I'm also talking to Del Rey about a Prequel Era novel, that they've told me they want done. They've told me they want me to do it, but for certain technical reasons, it can't be published right yet. It is to wait until the release of Episode III. There is a lot of stuff in between now and then so Del Rey is not in any hurry to actually work out a contract. But it sounds like I'll probably be doing it. I've got the outline worked on.

You've reviewed the Star Wars Gamer, what do you think about the "Many Hands of Palpatine" article?

TZ I actually haven't read the article yet, but it is my opinion he had only one Hand, and anybody that says otherwise is lying, or conniving.

And why is that?

TZ She had a unique relationship with Palpatine. She was able to hear his voice anywhere in the Empire. When I did the story "Sleight of Hand," because Lucasfilm gawked at that communication, we had to establish that was absolutely unique. It was Mara and the Emperor who had that telepathic communication. He didn't have it with anybody else, and she didn't have it with anybody else. That is a unique position, and Palpatine obviously had other agents, but he only had one Hand.

Was there anything in Mara Jade: By the Emperor's Hand, the comic you both created, that was cut from your original vision? Were you allowed to do with Mara as you wished?

TZ I don't remember anything being touched.

MS No, we had to add stuff! (laughter) That's the great thing about working with Lucasfilm. They are remarkably open to creators adding their own material, and they trust people. And they especially trust Tim and I to get things right with characters that we've created or worked a lot with. It's a wonderful vote of confidence to be able to go in, and they say, "knock yourselves out."

Whatever happened to the comic you had apparently scripted that was supposed to go between the "Hand of Thrawn" duology?

MS I didn't script it. I'd done an outline. What had happened, was Tim's "Hand of Thrawn" novels were very, very broad in scope. Nobody had told Tim that there was going to be a comic that was going to deal with stuff in between those two novels. And Tim, being a very efficient writer, had not left loose ends or free times for any characters to be involved.

TZ There are 6 hours between those two books. Not enough for even Mike to work with.

MS That's right, yeah. What I had done, I had turned around and plotted an adventure that would take place on a world that would go into great depth over the background controversy that Tim was dealing with. In Tim's book, you get to see the interracial hatred and the speciesism tearing the thing apart. I was going to get to go in with far greater depth with that, as well a few other things, but in Lucasfilm's opinion it wasn't going to do the job, and got canned. As it worked out, because I'd already been contracted and they'd already contracted an artist, they had the space in there to turn around and do Mara Jade: By the Emperor's Hand.

TZ Part of the problem with Mike's interlude was because I'd written it so tightly, none of the major characters were available. They all had places to go, places to be, and things to do.

MS There was one intercept scene we were going to be able to do, and that was pretty much it.

TZ But mostly, it was going to be minor, walk-on type characters. For that reason, in addition, they decided it wasn't going to be strong enough. If someone would have told me, I could have left him left him space, but nobody mentioned it!

Whose idea was it for the showdown between Mara and Ysanne Isard in Mara Jade: by the Emperor's Hand?

MS I mean, it was a natural. It had to be a natural. The Emperor was dead, and somebody was exerting control. Mara was a "wild card," and Isard would have to gain control over her because she was powerful.

TZ And in fact, if and when I am allowed to continue more stories in that era, Isard is going to be either moving in or behind the scenes, full way. She's going to be the pursuit that keeps Mara moving. And we should probably run them into each other at some point...

MS Oh yeah, definitely.

Why didn't Isard ever mention Mara in any of the X-wing books or comics?

MS You have to remember that Mara and her escape would have been a failure, as far as Isard was concerned. And you bury your failures very deep. Nobody knows where they are, so that’s why.

TZ Besides, she's not really sure who Mara is. Mara has no identity. Remember, she was linked only to Palpatine. She has no identity. That alone makes Isard nervous and suspicious. But, because of that, you don't want to put out an all pointable agenda because we don't know who she is. We don't know who her friends are. It's both the failure that she's trying to find, and also, she doesn't want word of this getting out. There may be allies that don't know Mara is on the loose that might rally to her. A lot of good reasons for her to just ignore her, until she can just come up with her herself.

How much interaction do you figure Isard, Mara Jade, a well as State Pestage had in the Imperial Court?

MS Well, Mara certainly knew who Pestage was and probably, while not having direct contact with him in any real sense, may have watched him. May have supplied information that the Emperor used for, with, or against him. But the Emperor probably kept her away from Pestage, and visa-versa. Because Pestage was his creature as well. He could break him as necessary. And again, Isard had vague knowledge that there were agents like that out there, but the Emperor would have tried to keep them separated. You definitely see that in the Mara Jade comic, where Isard is going, "Okay. The insulation has been removed here, now I've got to deal with this." And attempts to break her, and fails utterly.

TZ Mara obviously knew who Pestage was. She would have known everybody in the top echelon. But as Mike said, she would have been kept isolated and insulated from everybody else. And she would have been known only as part of his entourage. Some of his eye candy.

Would you have ever have considered Corran Horn and Mara as an item?

MS There is that passage in I, Jedi. There certainly could have been sparks struck. I suspect, had they ever had gotten together, it would have been a 'brief, very hot, but very brief and very nasty breakup,' kind of relationship. I think they probably would have just torn at each other. They are enough alike that is it very easy for them to be allies, and there certainly would be an attraction there. But again, it is something that both of them were smart enough to look at, as Corran did right then, and say, "No. This is just not a good idea."

TZ I see both of them as being smart enough and understanding enough with human nature to realize it is not going to work. "Let's not even go down that path. We'll settle for a friendship, and both enjoy that."

In I, Jedi it is joked that Mara and Mirax never meet, but they are obviously friends by Union and the "Dark Tide" series. What exactly were you implying by "they should never meet"?

MS At the time when that comment is made, Mirax has just shown up and is full of vigor and wanting to take things on. Obviously Mara is like that, and the idea that the two of them would get together...(laughs) And in Union, we were actually allowed to do that; Having them all meet, and having all the women of Star Wars get together in that spa and kick the snot out of a bunch of fighter pilots. (laughter from table) Just imagine them all going off to some planet and creating havoc. When you look at Mirax, being a smuggler, and Mara, having that background, just the absolute havoc they would create in any situation is pretty close.

TZ It was not a matter that they will not get along. The problem is that they will get along far to well. Watch out anyone who gets in their way!

MS And for poor Luke and poor Corran, who’s going to bear the brunt of it? It's going to be like, "Oh my God."

Do you have any tips for young, aspiring writers?

TZ The way you learn how to write, is you write. That's basically it. The more writing you do, the better you get at it. Like playing tennis or anything else, you just have to write. And keep writing, get better at it, learn how your voice works, how to put words together, and then just start sending the stories out.

MS I agree with everything that Tim has said. I have some things on my website which are pretty much the same thing. Another thing I recommend a lot, is for people who want to write, read critically. Find good writers, find bad writers. Read the novel the way you normally would, but at the end of each chapter just jot down some notes. If there were characters introduced, if they provoked any particular feeling; at the end of the chapter you felt that you had to run on, just quickly jot down what your impression is and go back to reading the book. Afterward, with your notes, go back and figure out how the writer did everything that you liked, and figure out you can do it. Figure out what you hated, and figure out why you hated it, and how not to do it. A lot of what we do, we learn to write based on what we read and finding the techniques that other authors use. I'll give you an excellent example. In Wedge's Gamble, the three overlapping plotlines (the way one would come up to this point, and the next one picks up from there) is exactly how Edgar Burroughs used to plot many of the Tarzan novels. Which I loved, and I loved his plotting method because it makes the book just race. I used that plotting method very deliberately in Wedge’s Gamble. And it worked very, very effectively. But a lot of readers don't read critically. They don't think about that sort of stuff. And if you think about it, you'll learn a whole bunch. And it makes it a lot easier.

TZ Actually, I would go so far as to say, if you start writing and trying to put words together, you'll automatically go into this mode. That's what happened to me. I started writing, and then I started noticing how other people were doing it. They're both partial, but almost actually bootstrap each other.

Any other comments you would like to make about Mara Jade?

MS I just want to say that Tim has been incredibly generous to me, intrusting me to be able to use Mara and stuff like that. A great character to use, and I've had an absolute blast. When I was doing I, Jedi, we were shooting stuff back and forth. The chapter where she comes in and helps Corran deal with Exar Kun, was one I never got a chance to shoot to Tim to vet, before the book came out. And we'd gotten copies, and I handed him a copy and he flipped through it, and I said, "Oh yeah, this chapter you didn't get to read." He flipped it over, read it through and said, "Okay." (laughter) I mean, that was like, "Okay, whew!"

TZ But though I hadn't read it, we had discussed it. We had discussed the point that she is going in and she is being sarcastic. She is goading him, for the express purpose of trying to get him to make a mistake. She's stalling him, waiting for Corran to recover. She's trying to get him mad enough to be stupid. We had discussed the whole thing, Mike already had most of that. We bounced that back and forth, even though I didn't see the final version, we were both on the same page as to what she is doing, and why. At that point, you can just turn Mike loose on the character and he just does great with her.

Well thank you very much for letting me conduct this interview.

MS You're welcome.

TZ You're quite welcome.

Thank you.

TZ & MS Thank you.

Andi Ficara Interview

Before Shannon McRandle was the official model, Andi Ficara posed for images of Mara produced by Matt Busch. She recently completed an online interview for us.

We’re interviewing Andi Ficara, the woman who modeled as Mara Jade for artist Matt Busch’s illustrations of Jade Solitaire. Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I'm not sure where to start from for this question. I guess you could say I'm a 'Jack of all Trades' in terms of activities I enjoy doing. I love to be outdoors enjoying things like swimming, horseback riding, camping, hiking, fishing (a little grandpa taught all the grandkids how.)and lots of other activities like those. I also do enjoy getting my fill of creativity and culture. I love going to art galleries and museums, listening music (no, I don't play an instrument but I enjoy singing and my CD collection), concerts, reading, movies, dancing (clubs, ballroom, swing),etc. I'm currently looking to finish my art degree sometime in the near future. Until then, I'm busy being a new mom to my 7 month old daughter.

What other projects have you modeled for?

I've had a few tiny things over the years but mostly I've worked with Matt on a few of his projects. The biggest one being a supporting character in his graphic novel/comic book Alizarin's Journal. I get to play German parapsychologist, Dr. Andrea Schwiegen. My guinea pig is in there, too! I'm really more excited about my guinea pig than my stuff. It's just all really fun.

Are you a Star Wars fan?

Yea, but not as much as my sister! I do enjoy Star Wars/Sci-Fi but I almost always end up watching it by accident! Don't worry all you Star Wars fans! I am not an imposter in the Star Wars realm. I know my stuff; I keep up on the trivia.

In Busch's interview, he said that he had you read Timothy Zahn's first novel to get to know the character. Did you like the character?

I love the character of Mara Jade. I related to her much more than any of the other characters. She's so wonderfully feisty.

What parts of her character intrigued you?

As I mentioned before, I really related to her. What really intrigued me was how much I understood her thought processes (after her stint with the Emperor). Her loyalty to herself, her crew members, and Luke. Also the way, she protected her softer side with wit and sarcasm. It was kinda crazy to read something like that!

What was Busch’s process of turning you into Mara?

Matt did have me read her story but I also did some research on my own to understand her on a more 'personal' level. After that, we raided my closet for the costume of what we thought she would wear. I then did my hair and make-up. Matt set up some lighting, handed me a sword (to use for a light-saber reference), set the pose, and *poof* Mara Jade incarnate. With Matt's artwork 'what you see is what you get', meaning he presents his models with incredible accuracy in a very readable layout/format.

What was it was like portraying Mara Jade for Busch’s illustrations?

Are you kidding?! I get to be a Star Wars character! How COOL is that?! It was a lot of fun to do.

Were you able to see any of the finished illustrations, before they were sent to West End Games?

Yes. That was a hoot to see how he set up the scenes and stuff. Also, even though he was already going to send in his work he wanted to see how I liked them just for fun.

Are you still keeping tabs on Mara Jade and Star Wars?

Of course! Now, even more just because of my additional research into Mara Jade and Star Wars. Hey, "May the Force Be With You!" I always wanted to do that. Thanks!

Thank you for participating in this interview.

You are very welcome!

Chuck Kallenbach Interview

Jade Crusades was fortunate enough to contact Chuck Kallenbach II, a senior game designer with Decipher, who helped create the Mara Jade cards from Decipher's Star Wars Customizable Card Game. He very kindly agreed to fill out this great email interview for us.

We are here with Chuck Kallenbach who helped create the Mara Jade cards from Decipher's Star Wars Customizable Card Game. Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions.

No problem! I'm always happy to talk with other Mara Jade fans.

When did you first become interested in Star Wars?

Christmas 1976. I was in a theater with some friends and saw an exciting teaser trailer for a new movie called Star Wars. We were depressed when it ended with "Coming This Summer," but it was worth the wait!

How familiar are you with Mara Jade's character?

When I designed the cards, I had read Timothy Zahn's ground-breaking Heir to the Empire trilogy and a couple of short stories with Mara.

What exactly was your role in creating the Mara Jade cards for the Star Wars?

As a designer for the Decipher CCG studio, I come up with the lore, title, game text, and help to select the image. All of these aspects are subject to change due to playtesting, editing, marketing, and licensing concerns.

What was it like working on such powerful cards in the series?

It's always exciting to work on the "mains," as we call them. They're the main characters from the story . . . Luke, Leia, Vader . . .you know which ones. We absolutely put Mara in the same class right away.

What kind of research was involved before creating the Mara Jade cards? (What kind of sources did you use, etc)

I read everything there was to read. That includes novels, short stories, and comics from Dark Horse.

Can you tell us the process of creating a card? (For example, the Mara Jade, the Emperor's Hand card.)

With a multifaceted character like Mara Jade, we have to decide what to emphasize on this particular card. Is she a dancer? A spy? An assassin? Do we concentrate on the early part of her career when she hunts Luke or later when they become friends?

You can see from the lore and the game text on the card which way we decided to go. It's interesting that we mention Arica in the lore of this card, since that would be better suited to her later version.

She's a spy, of course, which has gameplay advantages. She can show up anywhere, even to places the Dark Side is not currently strong. She can use undercover cards to make it hard for other characters to battle her.

Mara is a pilot, that was a certainty. She gets a power boost when the Emperor is in play. We hadn't done his card yet, but we knew he was on the way. Emperor Palpatine eventually showed.

She had to be able to handle a lightsaber. Mara was one of the few characters in the Star Wars universe that wasn't really a Jedi (or Sith Lord) but still was trained in lightsaber dueling. So she can use the two most powerful dueling cards in the game.

Because we treated Mara Jade like another main character, she gets the awesome game text that lets her get a weapon right out of your deck so she can use it. This is a terrific "quick draw" ability that immediately put her into tournament decks everywhere.

For the image, we decided to find a model to portray Mara. Our art director, Dan Burns, contacted modeling agencies with all the appropriate description: tall, fit, attractive, red hair, you know the rest. He included depictions of Mara from Dark Horse comics as well. This was just like any other model search for a particular look.

The first time I saw these images was some contact sheets with pictures of Shannon Baksa, the local model who would become Mara Jade. I saw she has a terrific look and presence that made her a perfect fit.

We contacted theatrical costumers to make her weapons and outfit, again based on literary descriptions and comic images. The results, as you can see, are fantastic.

As a tremendous bonus, Shannon became a representative for Decipher at convention appearances, once again wearing the costume and wielding the lightsaber. The prop weapon was enhanced by a long neon tube which actually lit up! Awesome.

What were some of the difficulties creating the cards?

Obviously, a major character card like Mara Jade goes through a lot of playtesting to make sure it's just perfect. This process went smoothly with Mara's card. The only real problems we had were deciding how the Alien/Imperial dual icon gameplay worked, and which of the dozens of pictures we had to use!

How many Mara Jade related cards were you involved with? (Mara Jade's Lightsaber, Arica, Mara Jade the Emperor's Hand, Watch Your Step/This Place Might Be a Little Rough.)

Even though I was working on other projects and in and out of Star Wars CCG at that time, it seemed whenever I came back, there more Mara Jade cards to do. Which is just fine with me!

For the Reflections II Expanded Universe project, I even got to go to the photo shoot and meet all the models for those cards. Unfortunately, I got there late and missed the shoot for the Arica card. That image was based largely on the Dark Horse comic illustration for that scene.

I'd met and talked with Shannon at a lot of conventions before, and she was there all day long doing makeup for the other models. I got to meet all of them, including Mike Stackpole and Tim Zahn. In fact, I drove the two famous writers to a local military supply store to buy some last-minute items for their uniforms for the shoot. That was a real blast!

Did you happen to work on any never-produced cards, like the Light Side Mara card? (Can you expand on what we would have seen had this card been produced?)

I can tell you that a lot of extra shots of Shannon were taken during that original photo shoot, and some of them featured her in a green military jumpsuit like the one that Mara wore in some of the Dark Horse comics. I'm pretty sure the plan for that was to be her Light Side version.

Did you ever get the chance to meet Mara Jade model Shannon Baksa?

Sure! I've spent a lot of time with Shannon at conventions and other appearances. She's been a terrific representative for our company and our game. Shannon is very gracious with all questions and comments. She loves to give autographs and talk about her baby girl.

What other Expanded Universe character cards did you work on?

I worked on all the Reflections II cards. This required a lot more research, but it is fun to get paid to read Star Wars novels.

What are you working on currently?

Now I spend most of my time working on Decipher's Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game and other projects I can't describe right now. I love my job!

How did you land a position at Decipher creating game text for the Star Wars card game?

You have to be lucky. I got to playtest the Star Trek Customizable Card Game before it came out, and that led into playtesting for Star Wars too. Eventually, Decipher offered me a job and I jumped at the chance.

Thank you for participating in this interview for Jade Crusades.

You're welcome! It's great to reminisce about working on Star Wars and Mara Jade cards in particular.

Mike Vilardi Interview

Jade Crusades has been lucky enough to correspond with one of the earliest Mara Jade artists, Mike Vilardi. Vilardi has done many pieces of art for the old Star Wars Roleplaying Game by West End Games, and is now currently creating more original Star Wars art for Wizards of the Coast. You may recognize Mike Vilardi’s art from the Star Wars Gamer, or the fan-favorite WEG book, Scouts, to name a few sources. Vilardi kindly agreed to participate in this Online Interview, exclusively for Jade Crusades!

Are you a Star Wars fan?

Are you kiddin'? I'm one of the original "jaw-slackers." You know, one of the first crowds of young kids to sit in a dark theatre, bug-eyed and slack-jawed as that incredible battlecruiser rumbled by overhead...for what seemed like an eternity! That kind of event always leaves a mark. It was an internalized dream that became an imagination-generated reality. And it was (and is) so much fun to believe that George Lucas' playground is as real as the plane of existence we actually live in.

Which of the four Star Wars movies is your favorite?

Star Wars: A New Hope stands alone in my psyche as the strongest of the movies to date. Excellent storyline, vibrant characters that pull you into the action, and a great villain! It really had it all in one package. Mix that in with the startling impact and the groundbreaking special effects, and that movie is tough to beat. I do, however, have favorite elements from all the movies. I loved everything to do with Hoth in Empire, and who can forget the ride we took on those speederbikes! SCOUTS RULE!!

Are you a Mara Jade fan? we're getting to the real point, aren't we? I've been drawn (pun intended) to the character of Mara Jade from the first time I read about her in the pages of Heir to the Empire. Very strong, independent, self-driven female character.

How familiar are you with Mara Jade's character?

As far as my familiarity with the character of Mara Jade - I'd have to admit that I lost touch with her "life" outside of the Zahn novels. Shameful perhaps...but nothing that can't be remedied, I'm sure.

What preparations did you go through before producing the images for the West End Games Star Wars Roleplaying books?

My preparations are always the same: Carefully read up on the character(s) to be depicted; Gather all necessary reference materials (for example, find (if any) past depictions of the character); and study relevant SW Universe guides to make sure that the Star Wars "look" is consistently maintained. Then I visualize the scene in my head, trying to choose the best action and "camera angle" to use in the construction of the illustration. Next...draw, draw, draw!

You were one of the first artists to illustrate Mara Jade. Did you model her appearances after anyone?

I don't mean to disappoint everyone here, but my depictions of Mara were based solely on the sketchy illustrations done of her in the West End Games Heir to the Empire Sourcebook. I found that Allen Nunis’ depictions of Mara were loose enough to allow me room to somewhat re-define her look. But to answer your question, there was no model involved. Let me add here that I've never seen Shannon Baksa (although, as of this reading...I'm sure I've remedied that as well), so I didn't have access at that time to someone who embodied Mara's physical characteristics. I did do some sketches to help me develop Jade's look, which I felt should reflect her strength while still allowing for vulnerability and a touch of weariness/inner conflict.

What was it like getting to depict one of the most popular Expanded Universe characters for West End Games?

Simply put, it was an honor to have a hand in the development of Mara's look, adding to her personality and "fleshing-her-out," so to speak. It’s truly awesome to be an adult and be able to play in a universe that held me spellbound as a kid. Very cool!

What other art assignments are you currently working on?

My latest assignment was for Wizards of the Coast. I did a series of "Undead" PC portraits for Dragon Magazine #288. There are only 13 portraits there, even though I originally drew 14. At the last minute the editors opted to pull one of the characters - a succubus - because they were uncomfortable with her complete lack of clothing. Coupled with the fact that the pieces were slated to go into their website...well, they decided for a more discretionary approach.

What is your favorite art medium?

I love oil paint, but seldom get to use it in my work. I generally use watercolors and color pencils because of the versatility and quickness they offer. My work, however, is predominantly black and white...which is a medium I feel gets much less respect than the color world.

What kind of tools do you use?

Tools? Since most of my work is B&W, I use a brush to apply 98% of the ink you see, with the remainder (small details) put in with technical pen. The paper I use is uni-shade or duo-tone, which is a paper that has a shading pattern imbedded in the surface of the paper. I use a developing liquid, applied with a brush, to burn-in the desired shades specifically where I want them. Its expensive paper, but it saves time and allows me to easily control the mood and tone of each illustration.

Who are some of your artistic influences?

I have to give credit to my parents for their positive influence as I was growing as an artist. Their contribution was to nurture my creativity.

Artistically speaking, my greatest influence had to be Alphonse Mucha. His sense of style was incredible, and his figures absolutely oooozed sensuality.

In a literary sense, no writer had a greater influence on me than Ray Bradbury. His style is so rich that it seemed I was experiencing a taste-sensation as I read his stories. He knows how to fire the imagination!

What would you recommend to aspiring artists hoping to do what you do?

My recommendations are simple. Work to develop your’s your edge in this world against mediocrity. Practice, practice, practice! That is how you discover your artistic weaknesses, and then correct them. Lastly, do not succumb to discouragement. That's the easy way out. I have known several talented people who failed to become artists because they just couldn't handle the struggle of the learning process.

Dan Veesenmeyer Interview

Jade Crusades was fortunate enough to procure this interview with Star Wars artist Dan Veesenmeyer. Veesenmeyer has worked on several Star Wars projects, but currently, his most recognizable SW art is his black and white character sketches for the Star Wars Insider #57’s "Who’s who in the New Jedi Order" article.

How long have you been a Star Wars fan?

Since A New Hope came out in '77.

Which of the four Star Wars movies is your favorite?

The Empire Strikes Back, of course.

Are you a Mara Jade fan?

Sure. I think she was a fine addition to the roster. But like most SW characters in the books, she can be written really well or poorly. So it's all relative.

How familiar are you with Mara Jade's character?

Pretty much so. I can't claim to know everything that has happened to her, but I know about the big story lines or major character development points she's been involved in.

Have you been keeping up with the New Jedi Order series?

Mostly. I'm pretty busy so I can't read all the novels but I do listen to almost all of them in the books on tape form.

What preparations did you go through before producing the image of Mara Jade for the Star Wars Insider #57's "Who's who in the New Jedi Order" article?

I have a lot of reference that I would go through. Covers of the novels and comics, a few photos of Shannon Baksa as Mara from her Decipher card shoot. I tried to come up with a Mara that has one key element; Easily recognizable by fans, even if her name were not attached below the image. I've found that at this point, many artists are using Baksa as the primary look for Mara in their work. Therefore, it's kind of what the fans expect. I used Baksa as the basis for my Mara but then altered it just enough to not let it be a literal translation of Shannon's face. To be honest, I just sexed up her look a bit more. Fuller hair, more defined features. Shannon doesn't quite pull off a smoldering look that Mara should have. This is something that I think I added.

What other art assignments are you currently working on?

I have really been at the call of Wizards of the Coast for the last year and a half as I write this. I plan to do more SW game related projects for them in the future here and there. I've worked on a lot of SW stuff for various companies at this point over the years, including Lucasfilm directly, so I've learned that one assignment eventually leads to another new one.

What is your favorite art medium?

For me to work in, pencil. I hate inking. Wish I could color with the computer better but have little time to practice.

What kind of tools do you use for inking/coloring?

I leave that stuff to the pros. If I have to ink my own stuff, I use Mirco pens because they are easy and quick to work with.

Who are some of your artistic influences?

Too many to list. But Adam Hughes is probably the most influential. He's also a good friend.

What would you recommend to aspiring artists hoping to do what you do?

Get a real job! Just kidding. It's hard to give advice like this because each individual has strengths or weaknesses that can't be addressed in a paragraph. But briefly; As much as constantly working the drawing skills, you need to network - knock on doors, make calls, send letters, learn how to present your portfolio properly, follow up and learn from mistakes others show you.

Thank you for participating in this interview for Jade Crusades.

No problem!