EUC Interview: Drew Karpyshyn

When you think about The Old Republic, a variety of names pop up: Darth Malgus, Jedi Exile, and Drew Karpyshyn. Drew, as a writer and game designer, has shaped the era in ways few have. He’s back with a new novel, Star Wars: Annihilation. We sat down with him and discussed Darth Zannah, the Jedi code, and of course, Theron Shan.

EUCantina (EUC): Some Annihilation characters are from The Old Republic: Lost Suns comics or The Old Republic (MMO) video game. When you brainstormed plot ideas, how much material did you use from these sources?

Drew Karpyshyn (DK): In a shared universe like Star Wars you often work with characters you didn’t originally create. For me, I always make sure I’m familiar with the original source material, and then I try to remain respectful of it as I bring my own take to the characters. The important thing is to capture the spirit and essence of the original while telling an original story in my own style… and I know that, down the road, someone else will probably do the same thing with a character I originally created. It’s part of working in a massive collaborative setting like Star Wars.

The Old Republic: Annihilation, Out Now!

EUC: How would you describe the relationship between Theron Shan and Teff’ith?

DK: This is something that plays out in the novel, so I don’t want to give it all away. Let’s just say it’s complicated, though they both had a strong attachment to Ngani Zho, Theron’s mentor.

EUC: In the Harry Potter universe, a non-magical child born from magical parents is a Squib, which is very similar to Theron Shan. His mother is Jedi Grand Master Satele Shan, but he didn’t inherit Force powers. If you could coin a Star Wars equivalent word, what would it be and why?

DK: I don’t really want to coin a word for that. Anything I come up with would seem derogatory, and – as I think Theron proves – being born without Force powers doesn’t make you inferior or lesser in any way. Some of the coolest characters in the Star Wars universe don’t command the Force.

EUC: Many well-known Jedi have broken the non-attachment policy of the code before, but the consequences of an illicit affair are rarely touched upon in the Expanded Universe. By making Theron Shan the main protagonist, are you exploring the limitations of the Jedi code?

DK: I’ve always considered the Jedi Code to be a bit too rigid and inflexible, and I often wonder at the implications of imposing those kinds of absolutes on a very imperfect universe. Focusing on a character like Theron – and his mother, Satele – let’s me delve a little deeper into the practical applications of the Jedi Code versus the theoretical, and the contradictions and conflict that may arise.

EUC: At what point does a character battling against a super weapon like the Ascendant Spear cross the line?

DK: This is actually a pretty important theme of the novel, so I don’t want to spoil it by going into too much detail. I think anytime you confront evil, you risk becoming the very thing you’re fighting against – it’s easy to fall from the righteous path. However, I do think that the line is fluid. There is no easy way to answer this question, as it will vary from situation to situation and character to character. That’s what makes it such an interesting moral dilemma.

EUC: The ending of Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil left room for a Darth Zannah or Darth Cognus sequel. Once Children of the Fire is finished, would you like to continue their stories? How do you see them evolving after Darth Bane?

DK: I obviously left the door open to continue Zannah’s story, but I haven’t given a lot of thought as to how or where I would go with it yet. Obviously, I’d want to find a fresh take, and I think Zannah’s relationship with Cognus will be very different than the Master-apprentice relationship under Bane.

EUC: Did your experience writing tie in literature affect Children of the Fire?

DK: Like any skill, the more you write the better you get at it. My work in the Star Wars and Mass Effect universes has taught me a lot about the art and craft of writing, and I think on some level there are always going to be influences from my previous work in later works. I also think working in the two universes helped me focus on the thematic and stylistic differences between them – what made something feel like Star Wars or Mass Effect? Being aware of this helped me to be more aware of my own themes, style and feel when I set out to create the setting for Children of Fire.

EUC: Aside from The Tales of the Jedi  and Knight Errant, most of The Old Republic novels and comics tie directly into video games. As you peer into the future, where does The Old Republic era go from here?

DK: I think the Old Republic era is going to continue to grow. It’s proven quite popular with the fans, and it still has so much untapped potential for authors and other creative types to explore. In addition to more games, books and graphic novels, I’d love to see it make the jump to TV or the big screen someday. I believe that as more and more fans learn about the Old Republic, you’ll see more and more fans eager to experience it in as many ways as possible.

Special thanks to Greg Kubie for arranging this interview, and Drew Karpyshyn for kindly answering our questions. For more interviews, including Jennifer Heddle and Tom Taylor, please click here.

About the Author

Erin Amos joined EUCantina in 2012 as a communications coordinator. She contributes to EUCantina by arranging interviews with VIPs, and then conducting those interviews personally. She also works behind-the-scenes to bring fun and exciting giveaways to our readers.