Transcript of Paul S. Kemp’s Facebook Fan Chat

Author Paul S. Kemp took some time today to chat with Star Wars fans on Facebook. Using the official Star Wars Books Facebook page, Paul answered questions about The Old Republic: Deceived, Riptide, Crosscurrent, and more! Paul talked with fans for nearly an hour, and was then cut short by technical difficulties. We've taken the questions and answers (leaving out the extra chatter) and collected them below! You can read the entire chat here. Question (Q): In the Dramatis Personae, it describes Ven Zallow as being of "unknown species." Was this a mistake, because the prose seems to describe him as human while in the trailer, he appears human as well. Paul S. Kemp (PSK): I'm not sure to be honest. I conceived of him as human, but since he only has a bitrole, perhaps the powers that be wanted to keep the "near human" option open. Q: have yet to read Crosscurrent (started a chronological journey 4 years ago and am only now at 2aby!!), but have heard good things about it. my question is, what was your initial reaction/feeling upon being asked to write a SW book? PSK: Nervousness. :-) To elaborate: It's such a huge deal to write a SW book. Wanted to satisfy the readers an do justice to the setting. Q: In Crosscurrent there was an appearance by Darth Wyyrlok. Can we expect another appearance by The One Sith in Riptide? PSK: Yes. Q: I really loved the novel, and found all of the characters extremely compelling. Yet the character I was most curious about, Eleena Daru, seemed shrouded in mystery to the very end. We never really got inside her head. I wanted to understandwhy (and how) she could love Malgus; I also think that seeing things from her point of view from time to time would have given us a fascinating insight into the prejudices and procedures of the Sith military. Was it deliberate to leave these questions unanswered? Would you have liked to have spent a bit more time on Eleena, or are you happy enough with the way the novel focuses on its three main characters? Thanks a million for taking the time to answer our questions tonight! PSK: I think of Eleena as seeing Malgus as her savior (from slavery). Hence, she sees everything he does through that filter. Makes her very forgiving. Q: What kinds of differences did you have in mind when creating the Ancient Sith for Crosscurrent vs the ones for Deceived? The Sith in the Kotor Era are always evolving was this something you considered when writing each incarnation of the Sith? PSK: I did but in some sense I think Sith of the two eras have more in common thatn they do differences. Q: My question is about how you got too the place where you were writing a book for Bioware/LA about TOR and specifically linking to one of their major in-game characters (as far as we know) is it something that you were working on before the Deceived trailer was published or did you approach/approached by Bioware/LA after they saw the popularity of that particular trailer? PSK: My editor approached me with the option. Q: Would we be on target to assume the Z-man is an ancestor of Jaden Korr? PSK: Plead the fifth. :-) Q: When writing a book like Deceived, do you create all of the characters and their names, or are you given somewhat of a "list"? PSK: In this case, Malgus and Ven were givens (incl name). but everything else was mine. Q: I really enjoyed reading Deceived - focusing on just four interesting characters made for a better story than trying to set up an entire galactic war -- was it intentional to have the heroes end as farmers on Dantooine as a reversal to Luke's farmboy origins on Tatooine? PSK: Nice catch. It was an attempt at a subtle homage. Q: Hey Mr. kemp, honored to speak with you! And also, was Decieved a blast to write? :) I may have more later. PSK: Writing all Star Wars novels is a blast for me. Seriously. Just a boatload of fun. Q: Was there a certain direction that you were steered towards by the publishers, or did you have free reign over the course of the story? PSK: The only given was that it needed to feature Malgus. other than that, I was free to develop things (obviously with input and feedback from LA and BIO). Q: I must say, I LOVED the way you presented Arra and Zeerid, particularly his love for her and the tragedy in their lives. How did you go about crafting their story, and did you have a specific inspiration for Arra? PSK: Not a specific inspiration, but I have young children so fatherhood and what it means is on my mind a lot. Q: Another question I have is Eleema's skin color- with Knight Errant- I recently discovered Kerra should look like Salma Hayek- though her appearance in the comic doesn't really enforce this as much as John Jackson Miller's Knight Errant novel. But I was curious- should we consider her appearance in the Deceived trailer as false? Since the Lavender color seemed to factor in as an important tracking feature for Z and Aryn. And I get that artistic licences change from comic to book to game. But it's always nice to know the INTENDED look of a character.' PSK: Good catch. I did tweak the skin color for story purposes, rationalizing it by thinking: The image in the trailer had bad lighting. :-) Q: What do you feel is the most important aspect to writing a good book, if it can be narrowed down to one thing? PSK: Characters, characters, characters. Q: Paul, in researching for Malgus' personality did you draw on any particular previously established Sith for inspiration/influence? PSK: I didn't. I thought mostly of Nietzsche when I thought about Malgus's thinking. Q: Did you create Malgus or was he already in the game? PSK: He was pre-established. Much (most) of his background was a blank when we started, though. Q: I'm wondering how many books you're planning on doing With Jaden Korr? I really loved the the way you integrated the character from the game and am looking forward to the next installment. PSK: As many as Del Rey will let me write. :-) Q: Did you work with any other writers during the process, either those writing other TOR novels or game devs? PSK: I worked directly with two editors, but I was getting some indirect feedback on the manuscript from folks involved in other areas of the process (I'm not sure what role they had though; whether game dev or something else). Q: Is there gonna be a book 2 to Malgus journey? PSK: I'd love to write it if there is. Q: Is Zeerid Korr related to Jaden Korr? PSK: I've got to stay mum on that. I can't wait for you guys to read Riptide, though. Q: If you could be one of the characters you developed, which one would you like to be and why? PSK: Hard to say. I will say that I grok Zeerid better than any other, what with his family obligations and general willingness to kill him some folk when they get crosswise. I've had to do that a couple times myself, just between us. :-) Q: Were you given any reference material for the specifics of imperial rank, galactic conflicts and the general state of things in the ToR setting? Or are you just that silky smooth? PSK: I was, yes. I don't recall just now how detailed it all was, but it felt like a lot at the time. Q: As of right now, will you be working on future novels set in The Old Republic? Or, at least open to the idea if you can't say specifically? :) PSK: Bill, I'm more than open to it. Q: ***SPOILER for Deceived*** What would you like the reader to take away from Z-Man's ending actions? Would you still think of him as a hero who did the right thing PSK: I'd like the reader to come away asking the question you just asked. Meaning, I want (and hope) that different readers have different takeaways from Z-man. I just want the action to have some emotional resonance, to cause the reader to think about how they conceptualize him, and maybe to struggle with it a bit. Q: Paul, when you get a chance, can you talk about your story in STAR WARS INSIDER? PSK: Sure thing. The THIRD LESSON in a Malgus short story that appears in Insider 124. It takes place during the Sith retreat after the Battle of Alderaan. What I tried to do with it is get to the core of Malgus's psychology (and there you can really see the Neiztshean bordering on Existentialism in his character). Q: How do you make sure what you write is on par with the lore of the star wars universe? like lore/cannon type things. PSK: It's tough. I just try to do the research. I'm sure I have (or will) mess up. It's just a lot to keep track of. Fun, though. And fortunately I've got great editors and the Holocron Keeper Leland to help me out. Q: How long until Godborn? ;) I really hope Cale manifests himself again in some way, he's too legit to quit. PSK: 2012 is all I know. Sorry, man. Q: I'm sure it is tough, I know you could spend a lifetime reading and studying and still not know everything about the universe. And its constantly being updated with new stuff out there. PSK: It's a lot of fun though. I always say to myself: You get PAID to know this stuff. PAID MONEY. It's awesome. Q: So based off of the 2 finished Novels- which end of the timeline has been more fun to write in? PSK: I don't have a strong preference. In both cases, I've had plenty of room to write the stories I've wanted to write (thanks, Shelly!), so it works for me either way. I'm easy. Or so my wife tells me. Ba dum ching. Q: As Malgus was a 'blank paper sheet' when you started, did you have a core idea or something in mind to start it (besides the information related to the game)? PSK: I got taken early on with the idea of a Sith who thought of conflict as the evolutionary vehicle by which his understanding of the Force deepened. That became the core of Malgus. Q: You mentioned the Zillo Beast is Deceived. Do you watch The Clone Wars with your kids every Friday? PSK: My sons go to bed early, so we DVR it and watch it on the weekend. Luvs me some Zillo. Q: You mentioned on Twitter that you had an idea for your Star Wars duology - anything you can share? ;) PSK: I'm sworn to silence. Until the outline is approved, it'd be premature anyway. Idea could get gonged. Q: As I read the Deceived I was oddly struck with the sense, this was a character driven Star Wars story. Relationships, inner struggles, personal things. Is this for you a more enjoyable wrote than a heavy action, enviroment interactive storyline? Or is it just whatever is best for the story. PSK: I always start with characters, which means I always move to relationships. That's the core of any novel, I think, Star Wars or otherwise. All my work in all the various settings is that way. Q: Who do you think would win in a fight: Jaden or Malgus? PSK: Well, if *I* was writing it, I'm going with Jaden, because Khedryn and Marr would swing around the back and put a few blaster bolts in Malgus's bad attitude. Q: I'm not sure if you've answered this, but what length of time did you imagine between the end of the occupation of Coruscant and the events of the epilogue? PSK: I thought in terms of months. Q: Malgus does seem driven more by honing his connection to the Force through war and not by vengeance - but does he harbor a grudge against Satele and the trooper on Alderaan? PSK: I should say so. That'd be a nice showdown to write. Q: Will you be playing The Old Republic MMO when it's released? If so, which class? PSK: I'd love to, but I'm afraid if I did I'd never get any more writing done. It looks incredible. Q: This is a really general question, but something I've honestly wanted to ask you for a time: For someone who's attempting to jump into writing seriously, what advice would you give? I'm currently drafting my first attempt at a "Dragon" submission, so I'm feeling a wee bit nervous. x3 PSK: I'm not trying to hedge here, but every writer's path is so different, it's tough to give advice. Two principles have always served me well, for what it's worth: First, characters are everything. Second, write fearlessly (meaning, push, push, push). And don't be nervous. You'll be fine. Q: What history of Malgus were you given? And how much of him is you're development? PSK: I don't recall fully but if memory serves, I had very little on Malgus's background. A page maybe? Q: I think the only time Malgus mentions Shan fighting him was when he called her a "Jedi Witch" (could be misquoting that). It was just this month that it was revealed that Shan is the Jedi from the Hope trailer. Did you know that it was her when you were writing Deceived, and if so, did you leave that information out by instruction or just because you wanted to? PSK: I did not know the Jedi's ID when I wrote Deceived (which doesn't mean the devs didn't). Incidentally, Jedi WITCH was not the description I wrote in the first iteration. My language got gonged and for good reason. :-) Q: Can we expect any more ToR novels from you? Haven't quite finished Deceived so if the ending indicates otherwise, apologies. PSK: Never say never. :-) Q: What color lightsaber if you could choose? PSK: Yellow. At this point, technical difficulties disrupted the chat. Paul will be answering some of the remaining questions that he couldn't get to tomorrow.

About the Author

Austin Blankenship is the webmaster of EUCantina. He is a host of our official podcast, EUCast, and also founded our sister website, Austin helped turn EUCantina from a forum into a website in 2007, and continues to operate the site and the EUC social media accounts. Austin works as a librarian in a small town above Atlanta, Georgia.