Kevin Hearne is the author of the upcoming Empire and Rebellion novel that centers on Luke Skywalker, which will be released after Martha Wells’ Razor’s Edge and James S. A. Corey’s Honor Among Thieves. At the end of July, Hearne joined his pal, first-time novelist Jason M. Hough, for the launch party for Hough’s book. I had a chance to chat with Hearne about Star Wars, his current series, The Iron Druid Chronicles, an urban fantasy series, and other stuff. Here’s the transcript of our interview:
Jawajames: James Floyd here for ClubJade.net, I’m here with Kevin Hearne at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego. How are you doing, Kevin?
Kevin Hearne: Doing good, how about you?
James: I’m doing great. I know you were out here for Comic-Con a couple weeks ago. What brings you back out to San Diego today?
Kevin: I wanted to come out and help support Jason Hough with his launch of The Darwin Elevator. That happened to fall after San Diego Comic-Con, so it was just a moral imperative – had to come back.
James: …And support your fellow author. That’s very cool.
Kevin: Yeah. Also, it was a chance for some of the fans who couldn’t see me at Comic-Con – they could come out here with no problems.
James: Especially fans of your Iron Druid Chronicles series. What other series are you working on?
Kevin: Right now, that’s the only one I am currently working on. I have a Star Wars book coming out soon. I actually don’t have a publication date for it yet, but I’m working on it right now. Then I will be working on an epic fantasy as well. I will be writing that concurrently with the Iron Druid series as I’m finishing that up.
James: Right now we have six books in The Iron Druid Chronicles out?
Kevin: Yes, six books out now. There are a couple of short stories scattered in anthologies here and there that are also Iron Druid stories. One’s in Unfettered, and one is in an anthology called Carniepunk. There will be nine books total in the Iron Druid series.
James: Going back to Star Wars, what drew you to Star Wars in the first place?
Kevin: When I was a wee lad, I was seven years old when the first movie came out. You see this Star Destroyer coming out of the top of the screen and “Pew! Pew! Pew!” – it was the coolest thing ever. I got the Star Wars action figures to play with when I was a kid for Christmas. So, I grew up with that – part of that whole cultural phenomenon. When Del Rey approached me to write a book, I’d get to basically play with all the same characters that I played with as a kid. There was no way I could say no.
James: What were some of your favorite characters as a kid?
Kevin: I always enjoyed the banter between Han, Luke and Chewie. They’re always snapping at each other, but at the same time, they are all on the same side. Underneath the seeming hostility and impatience, there’s a lot of love there. I love that part of it.
And of course, the bad guys were so clearly very bad. It was easy to hate the bad guys and never feel some of the moral conflict that I guess you see in some of the more modern villains, and some of the more modern heroes that aren’t necessarily good. It is very clearly good guys and bad guys.
James: And the good guys are set up – they have friends, they may not always get along, but they are loyal to each other.
James: And the bad guys are bad through and through.
Kevin: Exactly. That’s absolutely true. It was simple for a kid to understand. Good guys and bad guys. None of the moral ambiguity you get in the more modern stories. I appreciate those as an adult, but as kid, those might be a little more inaccessible.
James: It’s more clear cut.
Kevin: Yeah, I think that is part of the appeal of the Star Wars universe in a lot of ways. There’s not a lot of doubt about the bad guys and the good guys.
James: It sounds like you certainly grew up with Star Wars – did you ever read any of the comics or other books?
Kevin: I never did. That was actually one of the reasons Del Rey approached me. They wanted somebody to try a book who was completely unfamiliar with the Expanded Universe stuff, who had never read the comic books. They said, “We want somebody who’s just in love with the movies and that’s all they know. Let’s see what happens – what kind of book comes out when you have somebody who’s just a fan of the movies and decides to write a book out of it.” That was the way they approached it, for approaching me and Martha Wells and James S. A. Corey, to write the other two books in the trilogy.
James: The trilogy – we have the first book (Razor’s Edge) coming out later this year, and for the second book, they just revealed the cover art at Comic-Con.
Kevin: Oh, did they?
James: Yes, they released the Honor Among Thieves cover, and your book will be coming out further down the line. Are you collaborating with the other authors? Can you talk about that?
Kevin: No, I’m not. We’re all just writing standalone adventures. If anybody wound up writing something in their outline that might conflict or overlap with something one of the other authors was doing, the editors would then tell you. But none of us have been talking to each other at all. In fact, I just got to meet James S. A. Corey at Comic-Con, and they are now just finishing up their process, going through their edits, stuff like that. They are much further along the road than I am – I’m still drafting my first draft.
James: I’m sure they explained to you – getting into Star Wars novel writing, the fandom is a little different than maybe for fantasy. Do you have any thoughts about Star Wars fans or dipping into the wading pool – no it’s more like going off the deep end practically into becoming a Star Wars novelist?
Kevin: I haven’t been prepared for that yet, because I’m still pretty anonymous to most Star Wars fans. Once the book comes out, I’m sure that will change and somebody will pull me aside and let me know anything I need to know to handle it. I figure fans are fans wherever you go, and I like meeting them, and that will be fun. I know certainly that there are fans of my particular series that are also Star Wars fans, and I love them all.
James: Tell us more about The Iron Druid Chronicles.
Kevin: My Iron Druid Chronicles is an urban fantasy series, following Atticus O’Sullivan. He’s a 2,100-year-old druid who looks pretty darn young, and he’s hiding out from Irish gods who want to kill him. It’s very mythology driven. Once those Irish gods do find him, where he’s hiding out in Arizona, he decides that he’s tired of running for the past two thousand years: “Let’s fight! Let’s do this!”
Everything snowballs from there. The consequences of his decision to fight against the gods are far-reaching. And it builds from there.
James: You mentioned during the author talk that mythology is one of the things you geek out about. Was there a particular reason you picked Irish mythology?
Kevin: Part of it is that I’m Irish myself, but also part of it is because I think that the Irish mythology is often neglected or skimmed over. In the sense that we hear about the Morrigan, we hear about the Wild Hunt sometimes, but there are a lot of other deities in that pantheon that are quite interesting. They are a lot of fun as characters to play around with. What would their agendas be now? I thought there was a void there in the fictional bookshelves, so I had a great time filling it.
James: Do you see any parallels between the Irish mythology and the Star Wars mythology?
Kevin: I haven’t looked for any but I’m sure I could find some. I like how the Irish stuff has some parallels with the Greco-Roman stuff. For example, Flidais the huntress, is not associated with the moon – but aside from being a huntress, she’s the exact opposite of Artemis or Diana, who are virgin goddesses. Flidais is about as wanton and libidinous as you can get, and that’s part of her character. I always wondered, is that the Irish looking at the Greco-Roman stuff and saying “Hey, we can do this better! Our goddess will actually have sex and that will be nice.” That kind of stuff I find fascinating – those little parallels. You also see some parallels with some of the Norse mythology. I think it’s great to explore that and let people know more about it.
James: Cool. Tell us more about those anthologies you are in – Carniepunk and Unfettered.
Kevin: Carniepunk is an urban fantasy anthology, set in carnivals basically – dark stuff. We have some great, great authors in there: Seanan McGuire, Rob Thurman, Jennifer Estep, and Rachel Caine. We also have some authors that maybe are not quite as well known, but are all awesome and have great series on their own. It’s an excellent opportunity to discover a new writer. Kelly Gay is in there, as well as Kelly Meding, Jackie Kessler, Mark Henry, Nicole Peeler, and Jaye Wells – all great authors that I love.
The other one is Unfettered. It’s a huge anthology with a lot more straight fantasy. The authors in there are more traditional epic fantasy, I suppose, like Patrick Rothfuss, Terry Brooks, R. A. Salvatore, and Brandon Sanderson. It’s a great lineup there too.
I have Iron Druid stories in both of those, and those are out now, wherever you go to find books.
James: And you’re also working on another epic fantasy series?
Kevin: I have an epic fantasy on my contract. I have not begun to actually write that draft yet – I have to finish the Star Wars book first. Beginning next year, once I finish the Star Wars book, I’ll start drafting that. That’s going to be a lot of fun – I’m looking forward to it.
James: Thank you, Kevin, very much, for being with us here at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego. Hope to hear more from you down the line as we get closer to the release date of your book and welcome to the Star Wars family!
Kevin: Thank you so much. I’m looking forward to it. I know that they have a separate Star Wars booth at Comic-Con. They said, “Yeah, we’re going to get you over there next year!” All right – let’s do it! It’ll be fun!
Thanks to Kevin Hearne for chatting with me about The Iron Druid Chronicles and Star Wars. You can learn more about his writing at his website, kevinhearne.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Learn more about Jason M. Hough, author of The Dire Earth Cycle (Book One is The Darwin Elevator), at his website, jasonhough.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Del Rey Books publishes both the The Iron Druid Chronicles series by Kevin Hearne and The Dire Earth Cycle by Jason M. Hough. Thank you also to Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore for hosting the launch party and allowing me to interview Kevin Hearne.