Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kevin J. Anderson Interview

While at San Diego Comic-Con 2001, Jade Crusade’s very own Mazzic had the privilege to interview Star Wars author Kevin J. Anderson. Anderson has written over a dozen Star Wars novels, as well as scripted many issues of comic books for Dark Horse Comics. Some of his novels and comics include "The Jedi Academy" series, Darksaber, and the "Young Jedi Knights" series, as well as the entire saga of the "Tales of the Jedi" comic series.

What was the hardest thing about writing Mara Jade?

Since I put Mara Jade in a lot of my stories, we had to put together and do continuity with one book to another. This isn't like some other Science Fiction series where every book stands alone and nobody reads anything else. When Tim Zahn created Mara Jade, obviously this was somebody that needed to carry on in the different books. So I included her in my "Jedi Academy" books, and in my novel Darksaber. I also asked Tim to write a Mara Jade story for Tales from Jabba's Palace, and he did that story. We wanted to keep her appearing in all the different stories, not just the ones that Tim Zahn did. But my wife, Rebecca Moesta, and I had an interesting challenge. We wrote the 14 books in the "Young Jedi Knight" series, which takes place, chronologically, after Luke and Mara got married. Now, we knew that Luke and Mara were going to get married, but that hadn’t been published yet, so we couldn't tell any of the fans that. But we couldn't say Luke wasn't married because that would contradict everything. So he was at the Jedi Academy training new students, and he just happened to go off on mysterious trips once in a while, which we now know were conjugal visits of course. It's a complex problem for writers to be telling all the stories when you're getting all the pieces in all the wrong order.

Well, with The Essential Chronology you helped write you’ve helped clear that - how Mara was away from the Academy during those years.

And that honestly wasn't a last minute fix-up. We knew this all along, and Tim was planning on writing the great "Luke and Mara getting married" novel, but our books were coming out every three months. Really, they came out years before he got to finishing Visions of the Future and Specter of the Past. So, we had to keep this secret for the longest time, and it was tough to deal with. But now you can actually read them in chronological order and not wonder what's going on.

What preparations did you go through before writing the character, Mara Jade?

Pretty much the same preparations as writing any of the characters in the books. Obviously the things we study the most are the characters from the movies, because you can watch the movies over and over again. But in the entire fiction series, what we had to do is take all the stuff together, including the characters that were created by other authors, like Mara Jade. I read all of Tim's books. In fact I read the second one before it was released, and I read the manuscript for the third one as soon as Tim finished with it. So you study what material there is, and draw from there. You get your picture in your head who Mara Jade is. Now, some of the fans have asked me about the kind of thing Mara Jade and Lando Calrissian were having, in my second book in the "Jedi Academy" trilogy, Dark Apprentice. That's because when Tim had just finished writing The Last Command, I spoke to him on the phone. And I said, "clearly you're setting something up something between Luke and Mara" and at the time he said, "No, I don't think so. There's nothing there." So I said, "All right, do you mind if she does something with Lando?" He said "fine," because he wasn't planning to do anything else. I think it was most of the fans who came back and said "It's Luke and Mara!" So Tim came back and did his other books, the way he ended it. And in fact, some of the big Mara Jade fans, you're probably one of them (Who, Shada and Mazzic? Never! :) ), were angered when Barbara Hambly came up with Callista in her book, who was the first, or the great love of Luke's life. Well that was meant to be the great love of Luke's life because Tim had said Mara wasn't going to be the love of Luke’s life. But, you know, like real romance, things change. So, I got to get rid of Callista in Darksaber. See, we're all working together, and I helped clear things up. At the end of the day, we like to pretend that we had a big plan all along. And sometimes we did.

So, had you considered including Mara in your Jedi Academy: Leviathan comic series?

When I started, the Leviathan comic series was one straightforward story. We had ideas of maybe continuing the overall "Jedi Academy" series with different characters. I wanted to bring Mara and Callista into something - I thought the sparks would fly there. But, it was mainly a thing to do with the comic license, and how many books they could do every month. That's one of the reasons why the "X-Wing" and "Tales of the Jedi" series stopped. So, unfortunately that didn't keep going. But I had ideas to bring Mara into the comics sometime later.

Is there any chance that you might be talking with Dark Horse to set that up?

Right now I have about 7 books under contract, and I'm working on some other graphic novels. It's not that I don't want to, it's that I don't have a clone of myself to help finish up some of the other projects. I would like to do the Mara and Callista thing. Stand them in a locked room and see who comes out alive!


Good luck Callista! Whatever happened to Mara's Smuggling Coalition or her and Lando's operation on Kessel? Why was that never followed up on?

Well Lando sold the operation on Kessel, and I don't remember - I think Mara still had the Smuggling Coalition. But you're asking someone who wrote these about 10 years ago, and I can't even remember little details like that. You guys probably know more about it than I do now, at this point.

Are you keeping up with the "New Jedi Order"?

I'm not reading the "New Jedi Order." Not because I refuse, but because I'm writing on prequels to Dune which are taking all of my creative energy and time right now. And those are big best sellers written with Frank Herbert’s son. I have a new Science Fiction series of my own, called "The Saga of Seven Suns." Those are 700 page books that come out once a year. I just sold a book that is the life story of Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo that comes out in January. I've got a standalone Science Fiction book called Hopscotch, comes out in February. I don't get to read for fun at all anymore. I'm always researching and doing things. I wrote the Star Wars: The Essential Chronology, with Dan Wallace, and that required me to read everything. But once that book was done, I kind of got to take a vacation. As much as I love Star Wars, it was like trying to drink from a fire hose, getting all this stuff incorporated into my mind. When I got free of that, and I didn't have to read it all, I rapidly started reading some other books that I wanted. Maybe some day I'll catch up, but the publisher has to slow down!

When creating the character, Kyp Durron, what did you have planned for his future?

Well, I looked at Kyp Durron as I wanted him to be one of Luke's students gone bad. I wrote that story and really enjoyed it. Turns out that the fans liked him so much, that I brought him back in Darksaber and put him in the Leviathan comics. Other authors have included as well. I think that he turns out to be a stronger Jedi because he's had this brush with the Dark Side. I think it's made him like a trial by fire, and gone through. So I want him to be one of the stronger of the new Jedi that are created. But he’s always got this dark spot in his past, and he's done his time. But is he going to fall again? Who knows?

Thank you very much for the interview.

Thank you.

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