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Interviews -
Face To Face With The Masters

Any citizen of the galaxy may be summoned to answer to the Jedi Council. Here you may read the transcripts of such sessions.

Cellblock 1138 - 1997-1999 - 2000 - 2002 - 2003+

R. A. Salvatore

December 1999, by Helen Keier
Part 1 of 4

Our own Helen Keier recently had the pleasure of meeting R. A. Salvatore at a book signing in New York. After the meeting, she was fortunate to be able to chat on the phone for quite a while with Salvatore. This is the first in a multiple part interview with the author of Vector Prime. The interview below is transcribed directly from the tape of the conversation. This is probably one of the most in depth and honest interviews we've posted on the site, and we very much appreciate Helen and Salvatore for taking the time on it.

Salvatore has visited the TF.N forums and even addresses particular concerns, praises, questions, and criticisms. Also, when you're done here, be sure to visit RASalvatore.com. On with the interview!

Be warned that spoilers from the Vector Prime novel are discussed openly in this interview. If you haven't read the book, go read it, then come back here!

TF.N: How did you get involved with Star Wars? Why do you think you were asked to write Vector Prime?

RAS: I got involved with Star Wars back in 1977 when it came out. I was 18 years old and fell in love with the movie. How did I get involved with actually working with SW? Last August, Ballantine was looking for someone to kick off their series. Apparently, they were getting on the point where they needed someone to write this first book and they had a list of authors that they would submit to Lucasfilm. Lucasfilm would then pick, ...[and] approve or disapprove various authors. That was my understanding anyway. I wasn't in on any of this. Ballantine wanted to put me forward and show me off to the Star Wars audience. The editors thought my action writing style would fit with the SW Universe, and quite frankly, I'm one of the bigger authors over at Del Rey. Just like they wanted to showcase Terry Brooks with THE PHANTOM MENACE, they wanted to showcase me in the NEW JEDI ORDER.

One of the reasons I think they bought the license would be so they could take some of their authors and present them to new audience. They asked me to do it. I was very hesitant because I hadn't read the books. I think there is some heat being taken for that, but I don't think it's relevant. I don't think it's relevant because anything that any author is going to write in the NJO is going to get through not only several editors at Del Rey but a whole bunch of editors at Lucasfilm, many of whom have read all those books several times. They said don't worry about the continuity, we'll help you with that, [and] we'll help you inject elements of the novel past into your book. [They said] we want you to come and just tell a good story, and I agreed.

TF.N: What guidance did Lucasfilm give you in writing VECTOR PRIME?

RAS: ...The NJO story arc was a collaboration between Del Rey, Lucasfilm, and several of the authors who had worked on Star Wars before. What they had in mind was this one series. At the time it was 30 novels, [and] I believe it's 20-something now. I don't know the exact number they're planning, but this would be a continuous story arc, which is a hugely ambitious project, [and] a very difficult thing to maintain. They wanted to do [the series] this way, [to] introduce a new threat to the galaxy [that was] bigger, badder, meaner, instead of just doing the Empire. I think everyone has come to the conclusion that maybe they were done with the Empire for now. What they gave me for guidance basically was: They told me I needed the main characters from the movies. They told me who the bad guys were, just generally. I was told they were [a] humanoid barbarian race, [and] it's a warrior culture that uses biological instead of technological weaponry, ships, and everything else. [They] are completely devoid of the Force.

TF.N: It was Lucasfilm...[that decided] pretty much the basics of the Yuuzhan Vong?

RAS: The basics of the Yuuzhan Vong were [determined by] Del Rey, Lucasfilm, and those authors that got together at that meeting, including the absence of the Force, [and] the general physical appearance of them. What I added to the Vong were a lot of the particulars, like the Ooglith Masquer, the Ooglith Cloaker, the dovin basal gravity well creatures, and the coralskippers. Instead of having technology and having them use bio-weapons (like dumping plagues on planets), I had them be completely bio-based. Lucasfilm went for [this] right away, and said, "Yup, completely bio-based. If we can get away with that, let's do it."

TF.N: What were your goals for VECTOR PRIME?

RAS: ...My primary goal was to write a fun story. That's always my primary goal, [to] write a good story that will just have people having fun with it. My secondary goal - which was of utmost importance in this book - was that I create the platform that Mike Stackpole, Jim Luceno, Kathy Tyers, Troy Denning, et al., can jump on as they complete the story arc. I had to be careful not to tell too much of the story. I had to tell a complete story in and of itself but a complete story that was nothing more than a foreshadowing of what is to come. If I'm going to solve all the problems, [such as] Mara Jade's illness, do I fix her at the end? Han Solo is going through a very difficult period in his life, including one with his son. Do completely I resolve that, or do I leave it? This will crop up again. I had to give them enough ammunition to tie the books together. I created the platform and they're all going to jump off that platform with their own story arcs. Not an easy thing to do, by the way.

TF.N: A lot of talk was been given to how VP was going to take the characters in new directions, as you've just mentioned Han Solo and Anakin having ...[an] ongoing conflict. How do you think you accomplished that, just in VP?

RAS: I did a lot of things. Another of the instructions from Del Rey was "Let's get back ...to the feel of the movies." I don't know exactly how he developed in [the] EU, but Lando was just that charming rake. I got back to Lando from the movies. Mara Jade and Luke are married now. I didn't play any part in that. I hadn't read VoTF (VISION OF THE FUTURE) because the book wasn't available for me to read for one thing, so I have Luke and Mara at a different place. They've been married for 6 years. That was my understanding, although I don't know when UNION takes place exactly. I've got to inject something into that relationship that's going to make it different as well. One of the things I chose to do, because it was something very intimate with me at the time, was give Mara a very, very, nasty disease. One that Cilghal or Luke (with the Force), [or] no one else can just cure. You just can't cure this. It's just too alien, [too] devoid of the Force, if you will. It's a very devastating illness. Everyone else that has it is dead already. She's only staying alive because with the Force she can counter some of the problems that's going on [with her health].

What this does is add a dimension to Mara Jade. It makes her go back to being Mara Jade again, as opposed to being Luke's wife. A person with a disease like that will necessarily step back within themselves, and begin to question everything about their own existence. A fierce, independent, proud person does not want to be pampered, particularly when they're ill. I added a dimension there. It also means I have to add a dimension to Luke. He's got to be supportive without being condescending or pampering. The easiest people for me to grow were obviously Jaina, Jacen and Anakin because they're kids, and kids change weekly. I've got kids. I know this. My 15 year old son is not the same person he was when he was 14. So knowing the background of the kids...[I was] able to change them, logically, in slightly different directions than we've seen before...Han's gone through a pretty dramatic thing in VP. We see a different Han. We see a Han who has seen his bubble of invincibility go away. That is a terrible thing that happens to people. It happens to almost everybody, unless they die very young. When all of a sudden...you look...and someone who's always been there for you isn't there anymore and is never coming back to be there, it changes your perspective on the world. Dramatically. I know this, firsthand. That's what Han's going through. I think a lot of the characters have done slight shifts, with the introduction of the new bad guys and several other elements.

TF.N: One of the things we wanted to do was address some of the criticisms about VP. This seems to be a good point to get into that being we're talking in some detail. [We'll use] the comments that were in our message forums...[Using the forums] was a really great idea of yours; to really go to what the people are saying. I went through them and I've pulled a couple out. I don't have these in any particular order...If you could just take about them as we have been talking because I'm sure some of them will overlap and elements [of the criticisms] will be pulled together through them.

One of the criticisms I noticed was...you didn't use enough of the prior EU events and characters. Did you feel that was necessary or perhaps didn't need to cover every character?

RAS: Comments like that, [such as] where Rogue Squadron was, or where Wedge is, or where Tenel Ka is, where's Lando's wife, I've heard a lot of that. It's a new publisher who is trying to not just continue where the old publisher was at but is trying to expand the readership. That's what publishers try to do. You don't expand the readership after fifty books by referring intimately to fifty books. People can not jump at that point. My job was to give enough flavor of the old EU and this is where Lucasfilm came in. For instance, I had a rogue Jedi running around the outskirts of the galaxy chasing smugglers. It was going to be one of the impetus factors that will push Luke toward reestablishing a Jedi Council, understanding that maybe these guys do need some guidance, even though they're Jedi. When Lucasfilm saw it, they said, "You know what, this looks like it could be Kyp Durron." They sent me a ton of information on Kyp, and we had phone calls about Kyp. I made the character fit for Kyp. I had this bad guy agent, one of the agents for the Yuuzhan Vong - another primary goal [was] to make sure everyone knew these guys had been around in the galaxy for a while - and when Lucasfilm saw it, they said: "This looks like Nom Anor from CRIMSON EMPIRE" ...They sent me that [information]. They put me in touch with the creator, and we found a way to make it work. That's the beauty of shared worlds right there, where I'm creating things that are already in existence and they say use this instead.

Now for these other references [such as] where's Wedge, where's Corran, where's Tenel Ka, where's so and so, where's so and so? You can't possibly please everyone in something as diverse and huge as Star Wars by giving them their favorite character. That's not what this book was meant to do. This book was meant to present the main characters. I'm already hitting people who had not read any of the books but who had seen the movies...[They] are going to pick up with VECTOR PRIME and that was the hope. I'm already hitting them with the fact Han and Leia are married and they have three kids who are teenagers. I'm already hitting them with the fact that Luke has this love interest who's a primary character. You have to walk a very fine line between over- indulgence and the inside jokes...I don't mean that in a negative way...In the intimacies of a sixty book series or however many books there were, and just forgetting what came before, it's a fine line to walk. Now where that line [falls]...is going to be a matter of disagreement.

...I've heard people complain why weren't the Rogues mentioned. They're going to be mentioned in Mike Stackpole's books. They're not at this part of the galaxy. A galaxy is a pretty big place, and for me to sit there and keep injecting lines, sure some of them might have been helpful. When we're talking about Mara's disease I could have mentioned that she had seen Cilghal and Cilghal couldn't cure it. However, in doing that maybe I'm ruining a scene in a book three books down the line when Mara goes to see Cilghal. They finally can find her or something. I don't know.

TF.N: So it sounds like you have to strike a balance between a level of detail and leaving something else for someone else to write.

RAS: You also have to understand other things that happen. For instance, why are the Jedi back to X-Wings? There's a very simple reason. Did you see the Star Wars commercial for VP? It showed the X-Wings going toward the Death Star and those wings coming up. That's one of the most dramatic visual images of Star Wars. Now I know we have A-Wings, B-Wings, X-Y-Z Wings, and we have more advanced craft. I just made a more advanced X-Wing, because that visual means an awful lot, particularly to people who haven't read the previous books. You're right. It's an absolute balancing act and it's a fine line. Some people wanted more explanation. Why is Borsk Fey'lya the head of the Council? Why isn't Cilghal helping Mara? Why isn't Tenel Ka chasing Jacen around? If I'm going to answer all those questions in book 1 of a twenty-five book series, I am robbing the authors that will come after me. An author that comes after me, looks at Mara Jade [and] maybe his book or her book is going to focus on Mara Jade and her illness, is the one who should be putting those scenes about Cilghal in the book, not me. That's the difference between writing a series and writing a stand alone novel.

TF.N: Would you say then, that some of the criticisms from the Forums that there's not enough development is [not] really a criticism at all, but something you were precluded from doing at this time because of VECTOR PRIME being the start of a series?

RAS: It is a creative decision that was made by me and by the editors that we can't tell everything in the first book. We had to be very careful to pull back a lot of things, particularly about the Vong. [There were] things I would have loved to put in the book, but we can't because if we give it all away now, why would you buy book 2? If we gave it all away now, by the time you got to book 6, it would be nothing more than repetition. Ah... but the Vong have a new superweapon, and then in book 6, maybe Jacen's kidnaped...Then in book 9, Jaina will be kidnaped....In book 12, Anakin will be kidnaped...Then in book 15, all three of them will be kidnaped.

TF.N: That's pretty funny because one of the criticism of the Star Wars books in general is that they keep rolling out which one of the kids are going to get kidnaped now.

RAS: There you go. There are only so many plot tension elements you're going to be able to put in that are going to be reasonable and logical, especially when you're dealing with a singular enemy in this Vong. Yeah... I had to pull back on a lot of that stuff. My first instinct when someone had mentioned to me in an email: "You should have had a scene in there...if you had just mentioned that Mara had seen Cilghal, it would have been so much stronger for those of us who knew about Cilghal the healer"...was: "Gees... you know I wish someone had told me that. They're right." Then as I thought about it, and no, they're not. If Troy Denning for example, wants to deal with Mara's disease, that scene between Mara and Cilghal can be a poignant and touching scene. Who am I to take that away from him, for the sake of adding one line in my book?

TF.N: I think leaving Cilghal out was actually a good choice, because it raises bigger issues, if she had not been able to heal Mara Jade.

RAS: There's all of that too. How could she not be able to heal Mara Jade? It takes more than a line to explain that.

TF.N: It takes a lot more. It could be chapters, because in the introduction to Cilghal, when she cured Mon Mothma of an illness, she went cell-by-cell of Mon Mothma's body. Kevin Anderson in the Jedi Academy Trilogy went into detail on that, [as to] how arduous a task that was. It would not have been able to, in my opinion, adequately have been done in even a paragraph or two. It was several pages of that book...

RAS: ...and what's my book really about? It is really about the foreshadowing of the biggest, baddest thing that's happened. It's not about a page by page description of Cilghal trying to cure Mara Jade. Believe it or not there are page restrictions for publishers.

TF.N: Back to some of the other criticisms. We'll leave the big one for last. I think you know what I'm talking about.

RAS: No, I really don't because there have been a lot of big ones.

TF.N: Well, the big spoiler of VP.

RAS: Oh, that one. That's an easy one. Ok.

TF.N: One of the things that was said in the Forums was that - and I have the text of the post here - that maybe kicking off a series with a controversy isn't the best way to go about it, that perhaps you want to let people get involved first. The poster wrote: "Controversy is not what you want in an established line of books to kick off a new series. That event should come well into the series. Again, you want all the existing readers on board when you make a big change in story. " Would you agree or disagree with this statement?

RAS: The statement makes no sense, and here's why it makes no sense. It's a new series. You're saying you should wait until they get into the series and then [introduce] controversy?...[When we say] controversy, are we talking about the big controversial event?

TF.N: No, I ...think it was controversy in general.

RAS: How could you not have controversy in Star Wars when you change? I can't even believe the level of it. I'm not trying to put words in Mike Stackpole's mouth, but I think this was the source of his frustration when he was doing that interview. I saw some frustration in that interview he did. You have a whole bunch of core people -these are the board posters. I can go into THEFORCE.NET and read message boards, log out and come back in 5 minutes later, and half those message boards have new messages. That's wonderful that people can have something to be that involved in but there is a huge, huge difference between expectation and demand, and there is a huge, huge difference between being the reader and being the writer. I think this was what Mike was talking about when he said that a true fan would accept what's going on. He's not saying a true fan would like everything, but a true fan would at least give the authors and the creative folks that are trying to do...[the series] the right to take it in the direction they want to take it.

You don't have to like that direction, but it's a direction that being chosen by people who care very deeply about what they are doing. [This applies] whether it's me being brought in to write one book, or whether it's Mike who's written several before and now coming back to help with this series, or whether it's the folks at Lucasfilm or whether it's the new editors at Del Rey. They care very deeply, and as far as controversy goes, how can you not have controversy [when] changing things in Star Wars? How could you not have controversy in everything that's Star Wars? This is the problem. You've got a message forum that says "X-Wing Series Bashing." You've got another one "Why I Hate So and So Authors." It's too proprietized. I guess that's the right of the reader. I think it's a silly way...to be a reader. Here's the perfect example. I read [it in] an actual post on one of your boards. I don't remember where it was because a friend brought me into it. He said "You've got to see this. This is incredible to me." It's incredible to me too. A guy actually posted, or a woman, actually posted on one of your boards "I read VP and I really liked it. And then I read it again, and I liked it even more. But then I've come in here and seen the criticisms and now I understand it's not a very good book." That's garbage. That's purely garbage. That is completely missing the point of what it is to be a consumer of entertainment. It's particularly frustrating to be an author trying to please a crowd like that. You almost feel like a politician. If I can get 51% of the vote I win. That's insane.

TFN NOTE: see this link for Michael Stackpole's recent interview with TF.N.

TF.N: I saw the post that you were talking about. It seemed to me that the person had read the books but then was swayed by others.

RAS: Which is very common. That can happen. I can tear apart any book you want me to tear apart. You name a book, and I will write you a five page thesis. I'll ... [write] a fifty page thesis telling you why everything in that book was horrible. It's a very easy thing to do. Any book. Any book at all. Even books I love. It's an easy thing to do. So I don't understand why, if this controversy they're talking about is the big event, then that was a decision that was made because there was an understanding that the tension had gone out of the series.

TF.N: In the quote I had read to you one of the things I think the poster was trying to say was that perhaps the controversies of NJO had been introduced too early.

RAS: How do you introduce them later? You've got the Bantam Doubleday Dell books tied up beautifully with Tim Zahn. What are we going to do? Are we going to write a book that's going to have everything peaceful and funny and wonderful and la-ti- da? Are we going to write a whole book that centers around Luke and Mara's wedding? I don't know, maybe we are, but it's not a book I'd want to write. It's not a book that I'd want to read. It might be a good chapter in a book, but I don't think it's a book. The essence of Star Wars is conflict. It's good versus evil. We're introducing new evil. Should we have started the series off by writing another Bantam Doubleday Dell book? I don't know. It seems to me it's not the province of a reader to decide. That's what the publisher has to decide. The publisher's decision was to do a continuous series [introducing] a new threat. It's years later. Keep in mind that years have past. A year is a fairly long time. The publisher, Lucasfilm, and the other authors who worked on this project decided we were going to introduce a new threat to the galaxy, a new tension. We were going to make it big, and bad, and ugly. So I don't understand. Again, I say that post makes no sense only because how do you start it off without controversy unless you're going to write what's been done before, and that's not the purpose of a new publisher, and a new beginning story arc. I don't understand how you do it differently.

TF.N: I'd like to talk about some of the criticisms...raised that ...character change isn't really there. A poster wrote that they couldn't see examples of how Han changes...They saw that it is demonstrated that Han is depressed, but the poster made the point that his behavior doesn't change, [and] he doesn't skip a beat when fighting the Yuuzhan Vong. He doesn't reject Leia, he forgives Anakin, but he's still Han. Do you think...[character change] is something that could have been addressed in VP...or is it one of the issues that have to be left open for other authors to tackle later on?

RAS: Are we talking about character, or character actions? There's a very big difference. I just had a huge loss in my life. I played basketball last night. I did very well. Do you want Han to change by reaching for his blaster and missing? That's not a character change. The last chapter of that book [and] the epilogue that Han gives is not something that Han Solo would normally be saying. Han doesn't think that profoundly, or tries not to, but he has to now. That's a character change. I don't know what they mean by character change. Should he shave his head? That's not a character change; that's a characteristic change. A character change is somebody who has to go through emotional levels. He's in grief after it happens. He lashes out immediately at his son after it happens. It's very un-Han like. Then he goes into [a] mode where he is doing things out of necessity, and then he sees a similar situation to what happened when he lost his buddy.

When he sees that situation, it makes him think: "Maybe the kid had to do what the kid did." That's an epiphany, and the biggest epiphany of all is that bubble of invincibility is shattered - which is the ending of the book. I don't see how you can say in that book that Han Solo doesn't grow, because...that last chapter of the book, in my opinion [is] something that shows tremendous growth in Han Solo. Now again, I am not discounting this particular criticism. This is an opinion. I don't share it, but I'm not discounting it. I am not saying it's not valid. I'm saying for me, I see growth in Han from that moment on. I'm not sure what people are talking about when want to see when they say specific changes. That happens two thirds of the way through the book. Han doesn't appear often after that happens. I've got 12 protagonists, then 11. Han's in a few scenes after that, and [in] many of those scenes, his actions are being dictated by necessity. I could have put in that when he's fighting, he looked over and it just wasn't the same without this buddy there.

TF.N: You did.

RAS: But he's fighting. That's a minor point. I think at the ending of the book [and] the epilogue that Han gives shows tremendous growth of character. It also forebodes tremendous problems for the character, because he will react differently when presented with dangerous situations as he thinks about it.

TF.N: Do you think that Chewie's death should have affected more [characters] than just Han? One of the things...I had noticed in the posts [was] that people were almost criticizing the other characters, other than Han, for not reacting more strongly to the big event in the story.

RAS: What would you have them do? They're being faced with a threat to the galaxy. In SAVING PRIVATE RYAN ...[the main characters have] stormed Normandy Beach. Their buddies get cut in half on the beach. They wipe their tears and they go on and do their job. I remember a scene in the movies when Han got deep frozen right before Lando Calrissian's eyes. I didn't see Lando shut down from that point on as the story unfolded. What would you have them do? I think it did effect them. I could have done a huge scene. I saw Obi-Wan Kenobi get cut in half in the movie or at least disappear when he got whacked...A few scenes later I saw Luke Skywalker being Luke Skywalker again. People don't fundamentally change immediately after an event. Life goes on. In real life, life goes on. It has to. Again, if people wanted to see more of that, ok, maybe some people did. To me, there was great affectation to the big event. It did hit home with a lot of people. They also happened to be in a situation where if they sat around crying about it, they were going to be obliterated, and they knew it.

TF.N: There were some criticisms raised about it as a body of work. Some people had mentioned that you had written VP under a certain time frame, with a certain time constraint.

RAS: I write every book under a time constraint. So does every other author out there who's making a living at it.

TF.N: Would you say the time constraint imposed upon you by Lucasfilm impacted on the book?

RAS: No. I'm very proud of VECTOR PRIME...My writing style is my writing style, like it or leave it. There's nothing I can do about that. As far as other things, like could I have done more research into the EU? Well, I could have, but I don't think if I had spent five years researching the EU I would know more about it than people like Sue Rostoni or Mike Stackpole or Jenny Smith or Steve Sansweet or Steve Saffel or Howard Roffman. There are a whole bunch of people here who were intricate in okaying, letting go, [and] finding new things to add in, who have been with this Star Wars thing since the beginning. I don't see how the time made any difference. Typically, I write a 100, 000 word novel in three to four months. That's what I do. I've been doing it for 12 years. I have 30 books out. You do the math. So no, I don't think the time constraint [impacted upon the book]. I wish had the time and the book was available to me to read VoTF before - a little bit. I don't know how much it would have changed what I did, but that would have been about it. I don't see any reason to stretch things out beyond that.

TF.N: Do you think VECTOR PRIME can stand on its on, as a story, away from the ongoing series?

RAS: I think it stands better away from what's come before. The reactions to the book from people who weren't immersed in the Bantam Doubleday books has been almost universally positive, from what I can tell from my emails, from when I just meet people on the street or from when I go to book signings. The only negative reactions I've really seen - and I haven't seen that many, I've got to be very honest here - ...[are from] several posters on your boards...I've gone away from your boards by the way, I feel like I'm violating their rights by being there...You've got several posters on your boards who post probably 10 negative messages a day on 10 different... threads about Vector Prime. I don't see a tremendous outpouring of anger at the book. 99% of my emails and the people I meet that talk about the book when I'm at book signings...are extremely positive. Well, maybe not 99%, but a very high percentage...With people who hadn't been so immersed in the EU before VP and are just jumping in, I haven't seen a single problem. At all....Can it stand alone? I think it stands alone better than if it stands behind 50 other novels. Would it stand alone as a finished story? If no one ever wrote anything after it? No. The reason I say no to that is because it was written as the beginning of a series. The ending would have to be changed.

TF.N: How would you change the ending?

RAS: ...The ending certainly shouldn't have the foreshadowing of what's yet to come. All through the book, we talk about the Praetorite Vong as the beginning of an invasion force. The expeditionary force if you will. Certainly you can't end a series there, when you know there's probably 300 worldships or whatever sitting just beyond the galactic rim ready to jump in. Also, I think that the ending of the book, Han's...eulogy...would be much more full of closure than foreboding. As it's written, it's written in a foreboding way, "Now I know nobody's safe," as opposed to "Oh, my God, I've lost my friend." Little things like that would have had to change focus, but it was never written as a stand alone book. It was written as a stand alone story within a series.

TF.N: Some of the criticisms, I guess could said to go to style...[such as] the plot seemed a bit contrived, and sometimes we're told things rather than shown them. For example, Danni's intelligence. She accepts Yomin Carr's lies. How would you address that?

RAS: I don't know how to. It's hard to address an issue of style. I write a certain way. I have a certain way of telling a story [and] that's the way I tell a story. Many people like the way I tell a story. Some people don't like the way I tell a story. There's not very much I can do about that. If you don't like the way I tell a story, then you'll have no trouble at all I'm sure finding authors who tell a story the way you like to be told the story. I don't change my style. I don't mimic other authors. There are plenty of people who say "You should write more like Tim Zahn," and I've heard that...Then there are readers of mine who say "Oh, God no, don't write more like Tim Zahn." That's a question of personal taste.

As far as Danni goes, I don't understand that, only because Danni's the one who beat the cougar....I didn't show it because I didn't have the room go back and show her beating the red-crested cougar when it came into the compound. Danni's pretty resourceful in that book. I don't understand where she should have done things differently. Or could have done things differently. Why does she believe Yomin Carr's lies? Why wouldn't she? This guy works for the same company she does. He's in the same outpost she's in. He's been nothing but an exemplary worker as far as she knows. Is she supposed to suspect that there's an invasion force coming in from outside the galaxy? Or these alien life forms she's never seen anything like before that have organic technologies and are completely devoid of the force? Hmm... only if she's been watching a lot of X-Files. Otherwise she wouldn't suspect that. Why would she? You know, I've gotten a lot of mail [from] people that really like Danni....Again, it comes down to personal choice. It's hard for me to address. If people want to criticize the way I write a book [or] my style of writing, it's hard for me to answer something like that because I only have one style. That's the way I write a book. You can read VP and then go read HOMELAND or one of my DEMON WARS books and you'll see very many similarities in style because that's the way I write. I don't notice that Mark Twain and William Shakespeare and Mike Stackpole and Tim Zahn and Terry Brook sand Robert Jordan write books the same way.

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