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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+

Interview with Kathy Tyers

By Michael Potts

November 2000

Michael Potts recently had the opportunity to interview Star Wars author Kathy Tyers. She wrote "Truce at Bakura", the short story "We Don't Do Weddings", and the landmark New Jedi Order book "Balance Point". Be warned, though, that if you have not read Balance Point, spoilers are discussed here!

If you'd like to read more about Kathy, visit her Official Site.

Q1) Hello Kathy! I would like to start by congratulating you on your success with the recent release of 'Balance Point,' hardcover #2 in the 'New Jedi Order' series.

A) Thank you. I was honored to be asked to write a hardcover, and I?m just as deeply honored by the fan community?s generally positive response to BP.

Q2) Kathy, how would you describe your journey to become an author? Was this something you felt driven to do when you were young? I know during my late teens I was unsure what I wanted to do career wise -- did you have this feeling, or was your mind set on a career in writing?

A2) I went through three periods of life when I did quite a bit of writing. In middle elementary school, I created three "books" out of my dad?s dental-office scratch paper, writing and illustrating the stories and stapling them along the margin. In junior high, I had a creative group of friends ? we wrote fan stories about an alternative universe in which we actually knew our favorite singers. Then as a young mom, I was blessed with a child who ? at two years old ? took long naps and often entertained himself for hours. I had time to do something for my own personal growth and pleasure, and so I started writing another fan story. The year was 1983, a year of great import for Star Wars fans. . . . I never planned a career as a writer. I started college as a chemistry major, switched to microbiology, took a B.S. degree, then returned and got certified to teach elementary school.

Q3) Where is your home town? I am from Australia, have you ever visited the land 'Down Under'?

A3) I grew up in Long Beach, California. I graduated from Long Beach Polytechnic High School, where I founded "Local Smials," a JRR Tolkien fan club (sadly, it dissolved after I graduated). I?ve never visited Australia, but I?d love to.

Q4) Can you tell me a little bit about your family? Have your family influenced your writing?

A4) My dad was a dentist and a musician, and during WWII he was a test pilot. My mother was a professional flutist. My husband, Mark, is the band and choir director at a small rural high school. He has a lovely lyric baritone voice, plays folk & classical guitar, and we perform together semiprofessionally. Our son Matthew is now in college. Mark is a man with incredibly high literary standards (he is currently re-reading TALE OF TWO CITIES for fun), and he has played a significant role in my writing career. My parents? love for music also shaped my life. The fact that my dad had been a pilot gave me bragging rights at school and fired my imagination.

Q5) What are your influences in your writing career? What were your favourite books and authors when growing up?

A5) When my priorities are as they should be, the #1 influence on my writing is the Holy Spirit. When I was growing up, my favorite books included A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L?Engle, THE STAR CONQUERORS by Ben Bova, LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien, and Zenna Henderson?s "People" novels. I also loved joke & riddle books, biographies, and books on costuming.

Q6) The theme of music is often layered throughout your books -- how much does music mean to you? What are your favourite forms of music?

A6) Music was my first language. My mother played with the Twentieth-Century Fox sound-stage orchestra, and my father was a brassman (he had his first professional performing job as a drummer at the ripe old age of 3). I?ve played the flute since I was 11. I added guitar at 13 and Irish harp in my twenties. I substitute in the local symphony orchestra whenever other flutists have scheduling conflicts, and I?m currently dabbling in a Balinese Gamelan ensemble (on tawa-tawa, kempur, and barangan). I mentioned that my husband and I perform as a folk duo. As for my favorite forms ? I love classical (with a particular love for Russian romantic composers), 60s oldies (still a child of my times), folk (especially Irish), New Age, mellow and big-band jazz, Christian contemporary, and anything my son?s performing! :)

Q7) I believe you are a spiritual person. Can you share with us how your faith has influenced your writing? What is your view on the Force?

A7) I don?t feel there is any area of life that isn?t influenced by my faith. I serve a God who is utterly holy, wise, omnipotent, and outrageously loving. If He really is all that, then I feel that He has every right to dictate how He wants me to serve Him ? so I am an evangelical Christian. I believe that the Bible is to be taken literally (with the exception of clearly symbolic or prophetic passages), and that it?s the final authority for spiritual issues. I've centered on two aspects of the Force. First, I can imagine it as a kind of energy that is as biologically based as the biochemical energy that our own mitochondria provide to our cells ? in other words, as available to the citizens of the SW galaxy as visible light is to us. I can also write the Force as a metaphor for God, pushing the metaphor as far as possible, but eventually that metaphor does break down. I believe that Mr. Lucas and his staff have envisioned Jedi spirituality assomething that encompasses all terrestrial religions, so I don?t feel shy or constrained about including Christian spiritual concepts. I have been asked not to use religious words such as "prayer" in writing for Star Wars. I?ve also been told by the continuity people that "There is no God in the Star Wars universe." -- and I haven?t argued, but I also haven?t forgotten the scene in ANH when Han Solo tells Obi-Wan Kenobi that there?s no all-powerful energy field that controls HIS destiny. So I simply nod and smile. . . .

Q8) What are your thoughts on the religion and society of the Yuuzhan Vong?

A8) I find it abhorrent. It was chosen for exactly that reason, so that our heroes would find it excruciatingly difficult to communicate and negotiate peace. I don?t enjoy writing the Yuuzhan Vong. In order to try and write convincing characters, I must put myself inside their point of view, and try to understand what motivates them . . . to really "become" those characters in my mind. The notion of serving gods who would demand self-mutilation and the sacrifice of other sentient beings, instead of a loving and holy God whose demand for justice was satisfied by his own sacrificial death, feels like putting on an ooglith masquer ? absolute torture.

Q9) How long does it take you to write a book? Do you ever suffer from writers block?

A9) I like to have about a year from concept to submission draft. My first drafts are garbage ? basically just "outline with dialog" ? and I have to go back and add layers of description, subplot, and motivation. Yes, I sometimes suffer from writers block. Playing the right kind of music can help me through that. A John Williams soundtrack has nudged me out of writers block more than once. So has a Tchaikowsky symphony. When all else fails, I do mindless housework. That way, even if the words don?t start to flow, I?ll have more time for writing later.

Q10) What was your first reaction when seeing Star Wars?

A10) I couldn?t wait to see it again. And again. And again.

Q11) What is your favourite Star Wars movie, and why?

A11) I enjoyed "Return of the Jedi." Luke Skywalker surrendering himself into his father?s custody, hoping to somehow win his redemption, was the heroic high point of the trilogy. My only major disappointment was that the hero couldn?t marry the princess . . .sisssster? He had a twin sisssssster?!

Q12) What did you think of Episode I?

A12) Remember music is my first language. My favorite part of Ep 1 was "The Duel of the Fates." Magnificent!

Q13) What do you hope to see in Episode II? Do you avoid spoilers, or read them? Are you privy to anything about Episode II?

A13) In Episode II, I would like to be drawn into Anakin?s story, to be made to care deeply about him. Even knowing he will fall to the dark side, I hope he?ll be portrayed with depth and emotion! I confess ? I read spoilers. But I?m not privy to details about Episode II.

Q14) Who is your favourite character?

A14) Luke Skywalker. I empathize with his earnest desire to do right, no matter what it costs him ? with his loyalty to his friends, and his struggle to learn to use the incredible power that he?s been made an heir to, but WITHOUT falling to temptation ? and with his quest to see truth and justice triumph.

Q15) What character do you see similar to yourself? Do you have an alter-ego in your created Star Wars characters?

A15) I would like to hope that I have some of the same desires and priorities as Luke?s, although I don?t see myself in his heroic mold. I don?t have an alter-ego in the Star Wars universe. On the other hand, I have two in my Firebird series ? one of them good (if flawed) and the other one utterly, wretchedly selfish.

Q16) Can you give an insight how you first entered the realm of Star Wars? What was your first reaction when you were offered the opportunity? Was it daunting being the second author after fan favourite Timothy Zahn?

A16) I was first asked to write Star Wars by my editor at Bantam Spectra, Janna Silverstein. She?d been at Bantam during my early writing career, and she and I were already friends when HttE was published. She sent me a pre-pub copy, so I had the honor of writing Timothy Zahn one of his first SW fan letters. Several months later, when Janna asked if I would like to be a Star Wars author, I answered, "Well, let me think about it . . . yes." Her reply: "What took you so long?" It was daunting to follow Tim, but since my book had to take place several years before his trilogy, my only research requirement was to watch the movies one more time (oh, DARN!) and take good notes.

Q17) What was your reaction when being asked for the second time around?

A17) The second time around, I was fully engaged in finishing my Firebird books for Bethany House Publishers when Del Rey editor Shelly Shapiro called my agent. I think they were both surprised when I asked for a few days to think it over. Don?t get me wrong ? I love Star Wars ? and my first reaction was, "Great!" But I wanted to be certain this wasn't a temptation off the path I ought to be following. My Bethany House editor graciously moved my CROWN OF FIRE deadline to accommodate the NJO schedule, and Shelly at Del Rey was also gracious about giving me as much time as her schedule could afford. I?d never written two books in a single year before. I don?t plan to do it again ? not voluntarily. I have to put too much of myself into each book.

Q18) A monumental project on the scale of the 'New Jedi Order' is seldom seen in literature. Obviously, we fans have many expectations on the series, but what expectations do you, and your fellow NJO authors have for the series?

A18) When the NJO series has been published in its entirety, I hope it will be worth sitting down to read beginning-to-end in one glorious binge. If all goes as planned, character development will make logical sense throughout; plot events that don?t seem clear in the early books will be explained later, and it will be "monumental" in the best sense of the word.

Q19) What does the 'establishment' (Lucasfilm, Del Rey and the authors) set out to achieve with the NJO -- what goals do you have? To shake up the galaxy? Passing down of the torch? What underlying themes so far have been presented? Were these themes a part of the planning, or a natural progression of the story line?

A19) I can?t speak for the ?establishment,? only or myself. My goal is to tell my own part of the story convincingly, to show these moments in the characters? lives in a way that satisfies the readers, and to develop background areas of the Star Wars universe that intrigue me. I have handed off the baton to the next authors, and I?m eager to see how their puzzle pieces fit with mine.

Q20) For a new author into the NJO, such as Troy Denning (I believe he has written some WEG RPG), Matthew Woodring Stover, J. Gregory Keyes, and any other future author -- what is required reading by Lucasfilm and the editors for them to get a better understanding and grasp of the EU?

A20) I don?t know ? you?d have to ask one of them.

Q21) For those that don't know, Kathy has been an active member of the Jedi Council Forums here at the force.net for many months now. Kathy, can you let us know how you first became aware of the forums? Did you lurk initially because you were a fellow fan, or for research, or both? What made you choose your username, Shmi52?

A21) I don?t remember whether it was Mike Stackpole or Shelly Shapiro who first mentioned theforce.net, but I hadn?t been back from Skywalker Ranch long when I checked it out. My initial interest was 50-50 research and fun, and I enjoy talking Star Wars with other fans. As for my username ? since my son was a high school senior getting ready to leave home, I found Shmi a sympathetic character in Ep 1. That name was already taken, so I followed a pattern I?d noticed elsewhere and added my birth year.

Q22) Do you know of many other authors or representatives from either Lucasfilm or Del Rey that lurk in the forums?

A22) If I knew of other authors/LFL representatives who were lurking, I would honor their desire for privacy and not give them away! But the forums are extremely public, and I think it's safest to assume that anyone could drop by at any time.

Q23) I believe that fans in the forums influenced you in your decision to approach Lucasfilm to allow for Mara's pregnancy. Can you tell us some more about that?

A23) At the planning meeting I attended at Skywalker Ranch, I was startled to learn that Luke and Mara would be shown as having married for some years ? but still with no children. At first, I saw it as a fabulous opportunity. Then I was told that because of her disease, there probably would be no children. When I started lurking at Jedi Council, that?s where the issue had been left. The more I read, the more I believed that other fans would love to see the introduction of a Skycrawler, and the more I wanted to do the introducing. I made a proposal to Shelly, who sent it along to LFL . . . and it was accepted. I?m grateful!

Q24) What is your opinion of Star Wars fans, and fandom in general? Would you agree that fans of Star Wars are a passionate group?

A24) Star Wars fans are DEFINITELY passionate people. Maybe that?s one reason I seem to fit in.

Q25) Can fans have an influence on the upcoming storyline?

A25) Del Rey and LFL do watch fan reaction to the books. Directly or indirectly, I think that fans have some infuence on the upcoming story, particularly the subplots and scenes that aren?t firmly mapped out ahead of time.

Q26) If Mara's pregnancy was not originally going to appear in your novel, what was to be the 'major event' of this hardcover?

A26) The ?major event? of my hardcover was to be Jacen?s return to using the Force. Also major, but not as central, was to be the Han/Leia reunion, as well as the fall of a major world to the Yuuzhan Vong.

Q27) What is the hardest character you find to write?

A27) I find it difficult to write Tsavong Lah and his compatriots. See # 8 above.

Q28) Who is the most fun character to write?

A28) I loved writing Luke Skywalker as a happily married man, and Mara Jade as his wife. See #29.

Q29) From the past ten years in Star Wars literature, which character do you think has evolved the most, Expanded Universe and Classic Character?

A29) I?ve followed the career of Mara Jade Skywalker ever since Janna sent me that pre-pub copy of HttE. Even then, I sensed that Luke had met his match. She still shows the same strengths, but her attitude has changed from hateful, cynical, and selfish to controlled, secure, and confident. She?ll never be shy; she?ll always be very private, very closely held; very competent ? but I believe she has grown enormously.

Q30) Fellow Star Wars authors such as Mike Stackpole, Tim Zahn and Kevin J. Anderson have entered the realm of Star Wars comics. Would you have an interest in that at a later date? If so, what would you prefer to explore, a continuation of the themes of "The Truce of Bakura," or material in the New Jedi Order time period?

A30) I certainly won?t rule out the possibility of writing for Star Wars comics. It?s a medium where I would be an absolute beginner, though ? and I haven?t put any thought into what time period or which characters I would like to explore, because my experience with the Star Wars universe has always been by assignment.

Q31) Were you consulted in the production of the West End Games - "Truce at Bakura Sourcebook"? Would you be interested in writing material for the upcoming RPG from Wizards of the Coast?

A31) I was consulted by West End Games for the TABS, and I wrote several character vignettes that were included. Like the comics, the Wizards RPG would be new territory for me, but I won?t rule it out.

Q32) I believe you were a part of the planning process of the "New Jedi Order." Can you share with us your experiences with that, something new, without the patented Lucasfilm implant exploding? How did the concept first come about? Whose idea was it for the Yuuzhan Vong -- who thought of the name? Was there any disagreements of where the story arc should go?

A32) Actually, I was not involved in the original planning process. I did attend a planning session for the NJO?s post-VP development, but that was my earliest involvement.

Q33) What were your experiences like at Skywalker Ranch?

A33) Skywalker Ranch is a marvelous place. I got a kick out of the uniformed security guard at the gate (wearing a shoulder patch that featured an X-wing fighter!), the walking tour around Ewok Lake and Mount Yoda, the beautifully landscaped grounds and gardens ? I would love to work there as a gardener ? those gardens supply some of the produce for the employee dining facility, I?m told. During our meeting, postproduction work for Ep 1 was underway in the Skywalker Sound building, and security was extremely tight. Our meeting was held in themain building, the big white three-story Victorian "house" that isSkywalker Ranch?s showpiece. The employees? dining facility is more like a fine restaurant than a café ?

and our waitress was bringing salads to the table when Mr. Lucas walked in and sat down at the table next to ours. I didn?t speak to him. One doesn?t do that. But the energy level in that room soared, along with the volume of all conversations. The Ranch also has a small gift shop, where I bought Matthew a Skywalker Sound t-shirt, and there?s a small vineyard around the production building.

Q34) From what we know, the storyline seems to have deviated some what to the original plan. For example, "Seige" the planned 2nd novel of the proposed Dark Tide trilogy was cancelled, and now the "Knightfall" trilogy was cancelled. Do you see in the future, the storyline evolving again. I realise you can't give away specifics, but in a percentage term, what has been accomplished so far of the original vision?

A34) As far as I know, the story arc is still on track. But remember, I am not privy to the precise events in future books. I know the major events that were planned at the time I started writing. They may have changed. ;-)

Q35) Can you share with readers how you prepare for writing a Star Wars book? What material do you use to research the massive volume of backstory, history, information? What does Lucasfilm and Del Rey provide in assistance?

A35) I prepared to write TRUCE by watching the movies again and taking copious notes. LFL and Del Rey provide many excellent references, including all of Del Rey?s "Essential Guides", the Slavicsek GUIDE TO THE STAR WARS UNIVERSE, and access to resource people (for example, I made unabashed use of the spaceship and map specialists). I re-read several novels. I was also able to telephone and e-mail Mike Stackpole and Jim Luceno, in order to stay current on the progress of their novels, including any small continuity details that may have been changed (names that were switched, etc).

Q36) Can you explain how the editorial process works? If something is suggested to change that you disagree with, does your opinion count, or does Lucasfilm inevitably have the final say?

A36) BALANCE POINT had to be approved in outline form and then again as a manuscript. Long ago, I learned that my knee-jerk reaction to any change in my work is to disagree. I?ve also learned to swallow that reaction instantly, try out the editor?s suggestion, and then re-evaluate. If I seriously think it diminishes the story, I?ll argue, but that rarely happens. I don?t think that editors of this caliber ask for changes just to be arbitrary. They can see the "big picture," whereas I?m so closely involved in my characters? lives that my long-distance vision gets fuzzy.

Q37) One thing that I felt missing from 'Balance Point' -- which is a bit nitpicky, is that there are no chapter titles, like the first hardcover, 'Vector Prime." Other Star Wars books to have chapter titles, from memory are the AC Crispin Han Solo trilogy. Is this just personal preference?

A37) BP didn?t have chapter titles because I didn?t take the time to create them. My deadline was so tight that I needed every available day to simply finish writing the book.

Q38) Did you realise that Lucasfilm have stated now that the Duros and the Neimodians are the same species? Did this effect how you wrote the Duros?

A38) Yes, I?ve heard about this revelation. I?ll be intrigued to learn how the connection or transition is made. No, it didn?t affect how I wrote the Duros.

Q39) What made you to decide on the planet Duro as the main focus for the setting of 'Balance Point'?

A39) Duro was selected because of its location, because it made sense as a world that might still be accepting refugees, and because its environment had already been developed to some degree. I didn?t have time to develop a world from scratch . . . I needed one that was pretty much ready-made.

Q40) Was their a reason why Kyp wasn't used much in your novel? He seems to be missing lately. Was it a case of your characer roster being full?

A40) Kyp is operating in a different part of the galaxy from where my action was to take place, so he didn?t have much effect on my story line. I did make a point to mention his current activities.

Q41) Jacen has been going through a steady progression in his thoughts on the Force and his role as a Jedi Knight and an individual in the universe in the NJO -- how do you feel that his character has unfolded so far? He has been one of the most interesting characters in the NJO. As a mother, does this influence your writing on children developing into teens, into adulthood?

A41) Jacen is maturing into a thoughtful, talented young man of great depth, someone who will think long and hard before wading into a battle . . but when he finally pulls out his lightsaber, I don?t think he will hold back. Watching my own son grow out of childhood and into young manhood has had a profound effect on my awareness ? and even before I was a mom, I put in several years as a schoolteacher (my husband also works with high-school age). Coming-of-age is a powerful recurring theme in fiction because it includes many possibilities for growth and conflict. Even the events that seem like failures can be stepping stones to maturity.

Q42) Jacen gave himself fully to the Force at the end of 'Balance Point' -- do you think that he has now resolved his internal conflict regarding his role as a Jedi?

A42) I think Jacen has chosen to accept his heritage, but that like any thoughtful person, he will continue to weigh situations carefully before he chooses to act.

Q43) Where do you see Han and Leia going? Have they resolved their differences?

A43) I hope to see Han and Leia work together as a team in future books. I don?t know how her injuries in BALANCE POINT will influence her role as a mediator or her inclination to study Jedi skills. This will be very interesting.

Q44) I loved the line about entechment being the "ultimate humiliation" for the Yuuzhan Vong. I remember posting the same thing in the Jedi Council forums months ago. I think it amazing sometimes when you realise you are on the same thought paths as the author.

A44) And this author has to confess having drawn some excellent ideas from the Jedi Council forums. I was so rushed that I did not jot down usernames when I "borrowed" ideas ? but I owe a great number of small debts, and I?m trying to repay them by being available for continuing discussion.

Q45) Obviously you cannot please anyone with a work of art; have you received any criticisms regarding 'Balance Point' -- and if so, what is the main point of detractors?

A45) I think you mean, "you cannot please everyone." There?ve been plenty of criticisms, naturally. Among them: I?ve been told that I should have explained more of the non-viewpoint characters thoughts (I can?t do that without breaking point-of-view!) and that Han & Leia?s reconciliation should have been shown more fully. Some reviewers thought the beginning dragged and another thought it felt "rushed." Some people still want to punch Jacen?s lights out! The main criticism I?ve heard is that the book was too short. That?s my fault. I?m not a fast writer. See #37.

Q46) Do you hope to again write in the Star Wars universe? I know that Mike Stackpole felt that he needed a break from Star Wars, do you feel this way after 'Balance Point'? Would you like to write a prequel-era novel?

A46) If I?m asked to write Star Wars again, I?ll give it the same prayerful consideration that I gave it this time! It is always an honor to be asked, and I enjoy working with Star Wars characters, other authors and resource people, Shelly and Sue, and fellow fans.

Q47) What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

A47) I give aspiring writers three main items of advice. First, read widely ? read the very highest quality work you can find, and don?t be ashamed to throw away a book you haven?t finished reading (if the book isn?t any good, you?ve already wasted your money; why waste your time too?). Everything you read will become part of you, just like everything you experience. Second, write regularly ? but I don?t urge people to "write every day without fail." Instead, keep writing in perspective ? attend to your higher commitments first. Third, don?t be afraid to throw out something you?ve written. Learn to self-edit your work. I believe that on the day I junked the first four chapters of my first novel, I became a professional writer. (Oh, and don?t quit your day job until you?ve sold 3 novels . . . writing is NOT a lucrative profession, and your best asset is a spouse with a steady job!)

Q48) Can you give fans an insight into your non-Star Wars 'Firebird' series?

A48) FIREBIRD, FUSION FIRE, and CROWN OF FIRE are adventure-romance science fiction ? "space opera" ? very much like Star Wars. Imagine a young Imperial pilot having been taken prisoner by the Rebel Alliance during the OT era. Gradually, she realizes that her loyaltywas wrongly given to a government from which she could only win glory by dying gloriously. Now lift that story out of the Star Wars universe and into its own, add a spiritual element to the conversion story, and a romance between our pilot and . . . well . . . I don?t want to give too much away, but see #2 and #11 above.

Q49) What works do you have planned for the future?

A49) I plan to write another science fiction novel. It is still at the planning and outlining stage, so I?m hesitant to say more.

Q50) Kathy, it was great to see the prologue giving readers a quick summary of events that have occurred so far in the NJO story arc. Was this your idea, or from Del Rey? Is this also evidence that the main storyline is indeed set in the hardcovers, with the paperbacks the glue in between? I for one have loved every single book so far of the series, and hope people move beyond the growing misconception that the hardcovers are the only important books in the series. What are your thoughts on this?

A50) The prologue was written by Del Rey. The truly crucial plot events will occur in the hardcovers, but plenty of character development ? and adventure ? will take place in the paperbacks.

Q51) It was also great to see the invasion map, giving clarity to the route taken by the Yuuzhan Vong ? was this your idea? Very innovative!

A51) I like it, too! The interior maps were conceived and executed by others.

Q52) I noticed that you have named a Chiss ship, called a clawcraft ? was this a subliminal tie in to the ?HAND of Thrawn??

A52) They are called clawcraft in Mike?s books. See RUIN p. 169.

Q53) The Yuuzhan Vong are mentioned as dying with their ships when they are damaged, did you write this to being similar to the Japanese in World War II ? the Kamakaze pilots?

A53) I wrote it to be consistent with previous NJO books. The historical parallel only strengthens the idea?s credibility.

Q54) Jacen is mentioned as having longish hair at the start of the book ? is this another subliminal tie in, to the character of Qui-Gon, as they share similar aspects to the Force? Was this intentional?

A54) Actually, it was a characterization detail. This was a depressed and busy young man, living in a frontier setting, who hadn?t bothered with his looks for a while.

Q55) I noticed in Chapter 2 the comment that ?Borsk is clinging to power.? Doesn?t he have support in the Senate? I knew that the military and the Jedi have shown disdain for him, but I always thought that he had the Senate wrapped around his furry finger? What are your thoughts on Borsk as a character, and where his future lies? I always found him a character that I love to hate.

A55)I flounder unwillingly in the political realm, whether fictional or RL. Fortunately, BP didn?t have to be a political novel. I think that future events will put Borsk exactly where he needs to be.

Q56) I was a bit confused by the prognosis of Jaina in Chapter 5, where it mentions ultrasound ? how does ultrasound apply to vision?

A56) The "Traxes ultrasound enhancer" is a nod to the West End Games resource materials that were provided to NJO authors. Several terrestrial mammals, including bats and dolphins, use ultrasonic echolocation instead of or in addition to sight. It?s been suggested that humans could learn to do the same, and I was pleased to find an item that would fill the bill. See "Galladinium?s Fantastic Technology," page 37.

Q57) I loved in Chapter 14 ? where you wrote Han gave "the stare" this truly captured the essence of Harrison Ford, he has given this look in countless movies. It was awesome how those two words captured the moment. Also, in Chapter 5, Han calls Jacen, Junior. Is this a link to "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"?

A57) It?s easy to envision, isn?t it? The "Junior" line is a nod to The Empire Strikes Back ? "That?s two you owe me, Junior" ? when Luke was recovering from the wampa attack.

Q58)I loved your tie in line to the ?Young Jedi Knights? series, ?Jacen?s probably collecting again .. . ?. Did you read this series in preparation for writing the Solo kids?

A58)I reread several parts to study the way they?d been characterized.

Q59)I love how you compared Viqi Shesh to Senator Palpatine in the Old Republic era ? this is exactly how I envisioned this character. How do you see her progressing as a character? Where do her true loyalties lie?

A59)I suspect that Viqi?s loyalties lie chiefly with Viqi (and with her people, to some extent).

Q60) Kathy, thank you very much for your time!

A60) My pleasure.

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