Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Walter Jon Williams Interview

Walter Jon Williams is a Nebula and Hugo nominated science fiction author who made his Star Wars universe debut with Destiny's Way and its e-book companion Ylesia. We are pleased that he agreed to do this recent online interview with us.

We're interviewing Walter Jon Williams, author of Destiny's Way. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview with us. In your interview on StarWars.com, it was stated that you had to do research on the expanded universe. What sources did you look at in particular to get a feel for Mara's character?

I read the earlier NJO books, and I got Mara's backstory out of the various Essential Guides and the Star Wars Encyclopedia.

Did you contact any of Mara's previous creators for hints and details on how to portray such a meaningful character that had not appeared on film?

There were a lot of general discussions involving other NJO authors, though none of them focused on any one particular character. There were certain things in Destiny's Way that I had to do with other characters, but Mara didn't have an arc for that particular volume. That meant that she was up for grabs--- so I grabbed her!

One gets a feeling from the book that you enjoyed the character of Mara Jade. What aspects of her character appealed to you?

As well as the usual threats faced by the Jedi, thus far in NJO Mara's been coping with life-threatening illness, with pregnancy, and with the danger her illness posed to her child. By Destiny's Way all these special threats had been removed. I decided that, if I had just got over a long-term illness and had the threat of death removed from myself and my child, I'd want to have a good time! So that's what I did with Mara--- I showed her having fun.

This was an aspect of Mara that hadn't been developed in NJO, and I enjoyed working with it.

Another aspect of Mara's character that I like is that she's a redhead. I like redheads. I married one.

Along those same lines, what was your favorite Mara scene to write? What was the hardest one to write? And why for both?

Obviously the sub combat scene was big fun to write, though I think the scene in which I got to best express Mara's joy was the one in which she was off with her mouse droids hunting spies.

The hardest scenes to write were those in which she was viewing pictures of Benjamin and missing her child. It's an experience I've never felt personally so I had to work hard at trying to get it right.

Was there anything involving Mara that had to be changed, edited or omitted? (deleted scenes, not enough room for another subplot, etc)

I wanted to have Mara interact with Jaina more, but Jaina's arc called for her to be emotionally isolated, so I never got to write that scene.

I would also liked to have seen Mara on the Jedi Council, but I felt Luke would be scrupulous in avoiding accusations of nepotism and wouldn't have appointed her.

If the length of the book was not an issue, what other things would you have liked to cover?

I would liked to have shown each of the individual characters relaxing instead of having them race off to save the galaxy every minute. I enjoyed the chapter where Jacen is enjoying his vacation on the reef--- I thought it was important to show Jacen healing, even if the chapter didn't advance the plot.

Mara got to have fun by chasing spies, so that was okay. But I would have liked to give the other characters a little relaxation before throwing them back into the fray.

How do you think Mara personally felt about the brief rift between her husband and Cal Omas, whom she had worked closely with during the election for Chief of State?

Obviously she had to have felt a measure of responsibility for what happened, as she and Luke had been keeping Vergere in their home, and Vergere used information the Skywalkers had let slip in order to commit what the New Republic would have considered a crime.

Shada has been dying to know the answer to this one, and you don't have to answer it, but in chapter 3, were Luke and Mara having the discussion in the kitchen after "the mood struck" naked?

I think these things are best left to the imagination!

Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring writers wanting to do what you do?

I usually give two pieces of advice.

1. Read EVERYTHING. Even if you want to write only SF, you should also read mysteries, literary fiction, nonfiction, biographies, poetry . . . everything. Because eventually you're going to need it to make your own work better.

2. NETWORK. Stay connected to people in the business. Share information. And when an editor tells you something, believe it.

Also, there is a lot of free information for aspiring authors on the SFWA site at sfwa.org

Thank you again for agreeing to take part in this interview.

My pleasure!

If you'd like to check out some of Walter Jon Williams' other works and learn more about him, visit his website at http://www.thuntek.net/~walter/

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