Highlights of today’s chat with author Paul S. Kemp

The Star Wars Books Facebook page hosted a chat with author Paul S. Kemp this evening. Kemp is the author of last year’s Crosscurrent, The Old Republic: Deceived, and the just-released Riptide. Warning: This chat will contain some spoilers for all three of his books. I’ve tried to contain them to the last part here, but be warned: I might miss some, since I haven’t read any of them. Head beneath the cut to check it out the highlights.

Is writing SW novels more difficult because of the amount of existing material?
As opposed to writing for stuff like Forgotten Realms, which also has heaps of background info? In any case, Kemp says: “It is difficult (but obviously important) to stay consistent with and (more importantly) mesh your story with existing lore. It’s a nice creative challenge to try and spin a good story in that situation.”

On how he got the Star Wars gig…
“…With Crosscurrent, I eventually convinced Shelly Shapiro to look at my work (which she graciously did). She then offered me a book and said “what do you want to write about?” So I pitched what would become Crosscurrent.”

On book length…
“For me, a story is either good or bad (for a particular reader). Length has nothing to do with it (again, for me). I’d rather read a compelling 300 page story than a 600 page yawner.” This kind of thing can not be said enough particularly to Star Wars fans. A story is as long as a story needs to be.

On writing in the New Republic era…
“I dig all eras of the Star Wars timeline, so I’d be more than open to that.”

On his favorite Sith…
“Vader. Then Malgus (I”m biased there, though ;-))”

On how much autonomy he has when writing Star Wars
“In my experience I’ve had a ton of autonomy. Obviously, there are editorial/lore checks, but in general, the rule has been: We want a good story. What do you want to write about?”

On a third book to follow Crosscurrent and Riptide
“I hope to visit with Jaden, Khedryn, and Marr again in the future. That’s about all I can say on that at the moment. ”

On his favorite era…
“…That’s tough. I suppose I have a fondness for the Old Republic at the moment. Just love all the Sith and Jedi running around, in the midst of a galaxy spanning conflict. Great stuff there, but all eras have their charm.”

On interest in doing a Big 3 or Skywalker/Solo novel…
“I’m OPEN to the idea of doing a Big 3 novel, but I’ll be candid and tell you I find it the most fun to deal with the side characters, leaving the Big 3 and their offspring to the authors who’ve been writing them for years.”

On how many SW books he’s read…
“Not all that many, to be honest. I find it helps sometimes to read out of genre/line, in that it sometimes lets you see things sideways when you’re writing in the genre/line, and many readers appreciate a slightly skewed/novel take.”

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS.

On using Jaden’s game backstory…
“I tried to incorporate events from Jaden’s past into his character, but the game events happened so far in the past from the time of Crosscurrent, that they didn’t drive his character. What did was the events on Centerpoint.”

On the cloned Jedi…
“…Clones obviously have a long and storied history in SW lore. Because of that, I was somewhat *hesitant* to go that route, but I thought there was a compelling story there with Soldier and Grace.”

On the clones being connected to the events of Fate of the Jedi
“I can offer neither a yes or no and have to take the Fifth.” However, he says earlier, when asked if he had any input on on FOTJ: “No. That’s the bailiwick of LFL, DR, and the FotJ authors.”

On incorporating Dark Horse’s One Sith…
Erich Schoeneweiss (as Star Wars Books:) “Was that because you read those comics and purposely wanted to write about them or did you simply see kind of open territory other authors weren’t using?”
Kemp: “Both. I really love the idea of this scheming, powerful organization existing under the noses of the Jedi. And, as you observed, there’s some ripe storytelling potential there, since they’re little explored in this era.”

On Relin and “his slide down the dark path…”
“All my books feature characters who live in the moral twilight, in one way or another. The question is just how did they get there and what do they do once there. For Relin, the loss of his Padawan (to the scheming of another “lost” Padawan, in Saes), just pushed an already fragile Jedi over the edge. I’m glad you dug, though. I very much enjoyed writing him.”

On future plans for Marr…
“I can’t really say what the future holds at this point. I can say I’m pretty fond of Marr and Jaden, so who knows?”

On the concept of Old Republic Jedi meeting Legacy-era Jedi…
“…The whole point of CC was to imagine the Force as deterministic, and to conceive of two Jedi falling to the Dark Side. Only one can be saved, and he can be saved only by crossing (you see what I did there?) the currents of their lives, even if that meant one coming forward thousands of years. That’s the entire point of the two colliding stories in CC. I was kinda of taken with the idea and ran with it.”

On character ‘hooks…’
Mateusz Skalsk: “Mr. Kemp, how did you come up with the idea of catchphrase “therefore” for Wyyrlok? I think it really suits him!”
Kemp: “I thought it suited him, too, and I like to give characters (even side characters) ‘hooks’ that help them stick in a reader’s mind. So Khedryn has his lazy eye, Marr has his mathematical outlook, DW has his “therefore” tic.”

On further exploration of 5000 BBY…
“I would, and I’d have both Jedi and Sith POV. That’s a cool era, almost mythic. Lots of neat things to do there.”

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