John Jackson Miller Chats with Fans, Transcript Provided

Author John Jackson Miller took some time today to chat with Star Wars fans on Facebook. Using the official Star Wars Books Facebook page, John answered questions about Knight Errant (the books and comics), the Knights of the Old Republic comic series, Mass Effect, and more! John talked with fans for nearly an hour and a half. We've taken the questions and answers and collected them below! You can read the entire chat here. Question (Q): Do you know when the second arc of Knight Errant will begin to be released, and do you have a title for that arc? John Jackson Miller (JJM): So far, there has simply been the announcement in Insider #123 that the second arc exists, and that it will appear in 2011. Look for Dark Horse to announce exactly when, and more about it! Q: What is it like creating yet another world within Star Wars with new characters, places, vehicles and more? Why haven't you really worked in an era already set up like the Clone Wars and New Republic, and created new eras? JJM: It's a lot of fun getting to flesh out some territory that isn't that well known -- this section of the timeline is pretty much a blank canvas, but for a few exceptions. Really, I've gone where the opportunities are. I got my start with an issue of Star Wars Empire, of course, and I also did a module for the "Dawn of Defiance" campaign for the role-playing game that was set in the Imperial era. Q: Will there be a Lost Tribe of the Sith comic? JJM: We'll see. I think things worked out pretty well with the way we did Knight Errant as both comic and novel, so anything's possible. Q: How difficult (or not difficult) was it to immerse yourself into a specific, but different era of the SW galaxy than what we are used in the movies? JJM: When I started with KOTOR, it took me a while to absorb everything that was out there (or close to everything) to make sure I wasn't getting things wrong. (Too often, anyway!) It just takes some study. But I do that whether I am doing Star Wars, or Mass Effect, or any existing milieu. Just part of the job. Q: Knight Errant question, do we need to worry about spoilers for the comic in the novel and vice versa. If that makes sense... JJM: No, the novel was written so as not to spoil the events of Knight Errant Aflame #5. Yeah, sure, you see that Daiman and Odion live, but you know that from the back cover. Actually, the books are being released in the order in which I wrote them -- I wrote #1-4, did the novel, and came back to write #5 afterward. Q: I'm a lightsaber nut so I have to ask, what kind of crystal does Kerra have in hers? JJM: Kerra doesn't have the slightest idea -- when we did the "Influx" story which is on StarWars.com, she explains that she just grabbed the crystal out of the supply room. She really doesn't think much about these things -- sorry! She's kind of the same way with lightsaber combat forms, too -- she wings it, a lot. It's in her nature. Q: Will there be more KOTOR? JJM: Will there be more KOTOR? Anything's possible. As you saw from "Demon," I really did park the characters and setting; they're available to be returned to if we decide there's something more to say. But whatever it would be wouldn't be a rehash of what we've done before. That's a lot of material to expect people to keep track of! Q: I love the strong new female lead Kerra. Have you written a female hero before? BTW she looks great with the artwork on Mr. Dallocchio in the comic :) JJM: Well, I did write a female hero in KOTOR, although she was not the main protagonist. But if you think about it, just in Lost Tribe alone we have had three female point -of-view characters versus poor, lonely Yaru Korsin! Q: I totally love the KOTOR Handbook from Dark Horse. Any chance we'll get more handbooks like this for Knight Errant? JJM: I liked doing the KOTOR handbook, too -- it was a lot of fun. Those are challenging projects to sell, though, because retailers often order less of those than for the regular series, and they really can't be collected anywhere without the content being out of date. Not saying it'd never happen, but there are other ways to get that content out there. Q: When is The Lost Tribe Collection going to be published & released? JJM: The free ebook novella LOST TRIBE OF THE SITH: 7: PANTHEON has moved to July 19, 2011 and LOST TRIBE OF THE SITH: 8: SECRETS has moved to March 8, 2012. These dates are to stay consistent with the pattern of Fate of the Jedi releases. Q: I'm sure you get this all the time, so please don't be annoyed, but advice for aspiring writers? JJM: I have a lot of thoughts on writing in my production notes pages on http://www.farawaypress.com/, but the best advice I have is for you to write, and write anything. Blogs, reports on high school basketball games, anything. Writing to be read by others. It's key. It's all experience. Q: John, are there any plans to have any of the heroic characters from the Knight Errant novel (particularly Rusher, Narsh and Beadle) appear in future comic arcs? I'd also be interested in learning how you approached the character of Beadle Lubboon. He was such a great bit of comic relief, I just loved the poor guy more and more with each appearance! JJM: Thanks -- especially on Beadle. I was working a fine line there -- I wanted to do a character who was obviously uncoordinated, but I wanted him to have heart, and I wanted Rusher's crew to realize they could make an asset of his nature, so he wouldn't be suspected of anything. We actually do see a couple of novel characters in Aflame #5, and as for the future, again, anything is possible. Q: Knight Errant seems to lend itself for more than just a single novel, is there any chance we'll get to see a series? The bequest for sure is something interesting that lends itself for some new and interesting stories. JJM: Well, a novel series is pretty much up to you guys, and how the book does. So spread the word -- which means posting about it, doing reviews on the bookstore sites, and then word of mouth. You wouldn't have to twist my arm too hard to do more prose in this era! Q: Any idea how long the new Mass Effect comic is gonna run for, it's looking awesome, looks like there making a mini EU for the series. JJM: Yes, Mass Effect Evolution runs four issues, just like the last series. And yes, it is very much an EU-style world. I'm doing more in that milieu -- yet to be announced. Stay tuned! Q: Are there more Lost Tribe of the Sith short stories in the works? I have read the first 5 and they are great. Looking forward to more. JJM: There are three more Lost Tribe short stories yet to be published, and then there will be all new material in the print collection in 2012. Q: Can you tell us something about the origin of Marn Hierogryph? Snivvians have always been among my favourite species so I was wondering if you had ever considered another species for Marn. JJM: I actually detailed Gryph's almost-species here. He was originally going to be an Ortolan -- a blue Max Rebo guy -- but then Brian said the face wouldn't lend itself to much emotion. So I thought of the old Snaggletooth action figure and went with Snivvian! Q: With the Knight Errant series seeming to be on a more alternating schedule from arc to arc, I was curious... do you have a long-term plan of plotlines for the era that you'd like to explore if given the chance and the blessing from the publishers, or do you just have a general idea for the time being and are mapping things out more specifically as each arc is greenlit (if that is indeed how things are working)? JJM: As to long-term plotlines, I really am taking this one project at a time. I sort of know what I would like to do in the future, but the nature of doing things in five-issue chunks as opposed to an ongoing series really does make me think more in terms of telling complete stories where possible, and not planting a lot of threads that will overlap as we did in KOTOR. Q: I would like to know what's on your schedule right now besides the ongoing Knight Errant comics and the just started second Mass Effect arc - as far as you can officially talk about it yet. JJM: Well, there are several things that haven't been announced yet -- February is really before the season where things get announced, although this novel and comics series, I should note, were announced a year ago this week! Q: If Kerra were ever animated is there anyone you'd like to do her voice? JJM: I haven't given a lot of thought to voice casting, but I think for Kerra I always think a deeper voice, like maybe Selma Hayek; I imagine she also talks pretty quickly at times. Gorlan is pretty much Kris Kristofferson in my mind; kind of a gravelly voice. Q: Read recently that a LTOTS anthology will be released. Will it be all of the short stories and perhaps some new stories/Chapters? JJM: Yep, all the LTOTS short stories I've done plus additional material in the Lost Tribe book. Q: I was really impressed with the new characters in the novel (Rusher, Narsk, Arkadia, and even Beadle) - at the end, Vilia refers to Narsk as Master.. is that just a old woman being formal, or has he attained Master status in some discipline? JJM: The term "Mister" doesn't exist in Star Wars, really; Master is simply a form of address in this case. Droids call humans master even if they're not their owners, we also see. Q: On a different note, I'd like to mention it'd be great to see same gender romance arcs continued in the Mass Effect Expanded Universe and apart of the upcoming SWTOR, is there anything you can add to the hopes of some of us out there? JJM: Regarding same gender romance arcs, the interesting thing with Knight Errant is that there's a pretty complete lack of romantic threads, at least to date. Kerra is just waaaaaaay too busy to even think about it. Lord Daiman is in love with himself, but that's not quite the same! VEEEEERY early in the planning, I had considered Daiman being the sort of person where you might have a Twilight thing happening with him and Kerra -- but once I figured out who Daiman was and who Kerra was, that was obviously impossible. And, yes, it's been done. Q: Any plans for an audiobook version of the novel (or any of your stories)? JJM: No audiobook plans that I am aware of, but certainly, that would be fun. Can we get David Ogden Stiers to read it? Please? :-) Q: Will Knight Errant comic book series be like KOTOR and go for 50 issues on a monthly basis or is it going to be in released as scheduled mini-series arcs? Also, are there any plans of you writing any more Star Wars novels for Del Rey? JJM: We're doing mini-arcs on the comics, as much of the stuff at Dark Horse has been lately. That's kind of a return to the 1990s strategy to a degree, and it helps us to be able to keep the same art teams on books. It's very challenging to do a book as detailed as ours are month in and month out. As for more prose, there is certainly Lost Tribe of the Sith -- and I'm also contributing a non-SW short story to an anthology that my Iron Man fans may find interesting. More on that later this year. Q: Have you been able to get the Jarael & Rohlan figures from Hasbro yet? JJM: Yes, I got the Jarael and Rohlan figures -- they are still available from Entertainment Earth. The Rohlan is really incredible. I have never seen an action figure with such fine points of articulation! Q: Is there a possibility of seeing Daiman and Odion at a younger age? Perhaps with their parents? That would make quite the family dinner! JJM: Well, you've seen them on Dr. Phil -- picture is here. We did see a slightly younger Odion in the flashback in Aflame #2. As for more flashbacks, anything's possible. I pointedly didn't do one in the novel, because I wanted to keep everything in the present day. Q: Is there any chance of a crossover of Knight Errant and KOTOR? JJM: No, it would be very difficult to do a cross-over between Knight Errant and KOTOR for some obvious reasons. But look for the photos of Peter and Madison together on my photos page -- they're the Zayne and Kerra models. There are quite a few little threads in the novel that refer back to KOTOR (and some in Lost Tribe, too). I tried not to get too gratuitous with the references, but the KOTOR era stands out as one of the few that we know a lot about, so I figured the same would be true of the characters, too. I mean, if you think about it, we all probably know more about what went on around the years 100 B.C. to 100 A.D. in our own timeline than we know about what happened in some of the centuries that came after that. The events were simply more resonant. So I don't have a problem referring back that far. Q: Any chance of the 2 KOTOR games being novelized for Del Rey like how they are treating The Old Republic game? JJM: As to novelizing the games -- well, anything's possible, and I guess some of that has come before. (Anyone remember when?) But there are a lot of challenges. First there's the obvious issue that you've got the point of view character, and every player has his or her own idea of that character and then, for a lot of readers, that story will simply already have been told. The game told the story, and so any novelization will be fighting with people's impressions of that. Q: Do you find some kind of music somehow inspiring when you're working on your projects? JJM: I generally don't listen to music when I write. Back in my journalism days I would write with a noisy newsroom, but not really with fiction. I am more likely to put a TV on with no sound -- something I don't have to pay attention to, like CNBC with its stock crawl, or some sporting event. Q: Will Knight Errant be a tv show? JJM: No, I don't think there'll be a TV show. But write the networks anyway! :-) Q: Where did you get your degree? JJM: I got my bachelor's in journalism from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, which as you see here, is memorialized in Zayne Carrick's name. Fellow KOTOR Campaign Guide writer Rodney Thompson, also a UT alum, was the only person who ever figured it out. (There's another secret in Kerra's name, too, if people look for it.) I got my masters in Soviet Studies -- Comparative Politics, actually -- from Louisiana State University. I also did a summer Russian language immersion session at Indiana. Q: The KOTOR Campaign Guide was superb! JJM: Yeah, that Campaign Guide was awesome -- and one of the most valuable recent SW items out there, now. Just try to find one at cover price. I dare ya! (And then come tell me where you found it!) Q: If Hasbro would make more figures from KOTOR or KE, which duo would you want them to make? JJM: Well, from KOTOR, obviously action figures for Zayne and Gryph. I really feel like I've already got the ones for Slyssk and the Moomos in the original Bossk and Hammerhead figures -- it was that Bossk's goofy-looking expression that inspired Slyssk! And a Demagol would be cool, although I think the instruments would be too small. From Knight Errant, I think all the villains. Arkadia I have in my mind's eye -- she would be awesome as a figure. And, yes, definitely, a Diligence model. We took our LEGO model apart! Q: Glad to hear that Kerra's not going to get in a fate-of-the-galaxy-class romance since she seems to be a good Jedi in not developing attachments... or even sidekicks. Was it intentional to keep her mostly on her own, and not have a sidekick or partner? JJM: The original concept that Randy Stradley at Dark Horse presented to me was "lone female Jedi" and then the time period. It seemed pretty obvious that she would travel, Lone Ranger style -- but without even having a Tonto. Any kind of sidekick or droid would just weigh her down, and of course, that's the situation we keep hitting her with, the burden of having to take care of others. Kerra gets a little testy about these things, and it's not going to get easier for her. She's been interesting to write, because unlike Zayne, she's a little too intense to be lovable. But she doesn't want our love, anyway! She just wants to do her job. :-) Q: All your writings occurred during the Old Republic era. Do you plan to write something happening during another period? JJM: Well, I am moving around in the timeline in Lost Tribe, so maybe that should count. But no, no plans to go to the Clone Wars or anything like that in the near future. Q: Can you mention at all what the new Lost Tribe story in the collected book will be about? Does it take place after the last part, Secrets, or in between the other parts? I may work for Del Rey but I'm still an uber fan boy myself. JJM: Yes, the idea is that in the Lost Tribe short stories, we got the Founders Tetralogy (chapters 1-4) and then we also are getting four stories from what I would consider the Darker Times, all in e-book form, with Purgatory and Sentinel really being right at that beginning moment of the Darker Times. The intention would be that the new material would provide the other bookend, showing more of how the Tribe got its act together, and evolved closer to what we see in the FOTJ novels. And it's all related. The threads from the very beginning reach very far into their future. It's been interesting writing these characters -- they weren't founded by great Sith Lords, but rather, middle-managers in the cause of evil. Showing how they evolved has been fun. NOTE: The chat was cut off early due to technical issues. John will try to answer all remaining questions tomorrow, so look for an updated version of this transcript then. Thanks to Mr. Miller for taking the time to answer all of these questions, and to Del Rey for hosting the chat. Be sure to check out our review of the Knight Errant novel.

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, SoloSound.net. 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.