This evening, Star Wars: Riptide author Paul S. Kemp responded to questions from fans on the Del Rey Star Wars Books Facebook page. The questions concerned Riptide, his previous books Crosscurrent and Deceived, and other aspects of his fandom and writing career. You can find a complete transcript of the Facebook Q&A below. For clarity purposes, questions have been edited for spelling.
Q (from Del Rey): Are you basking in the glow of RIPTIDE Paul? I've always been curious, when an author has a book publish do friends and family all ask for signed copies?
A: My mom always wants a copy and then asks me afterward: "How do you come up with all this dark stuff?" :-)
Q: At what point in time is this novel set?
A: Set right at the end of Legacy of the Force.
Q: Will there be another Old Republic novel?
A: REVAN comes out in days, so yes indeed.
Q: Do you feel it is more difficult writing Star Wars novels, due to the large amount of lore and story associated with it, or do you find it a good challenge?
A: Both. It is difficult (but obviously important) to stay consistent with and (more importantly) mesh your story with existing lore. It's a nice creative challenge to try and spin a good story in that situation.
Q: Where did the idea of the cloned "Jedi" come from?
A: clones obviously have a long and storied history in SW lore. Because of that, I was somewhat *hesitant* to go that route, but I thought there was a compelling story there with Soldier and Grace.
Q: What was your inspiration for the phrase "There be dragons"?
A: That's a common phrase used on ancient maps to denote unknown regions. Seemed to fit well with Jaden/Kyle in the context in which it was used.
Q: This was a good book but I felt it was too short. Great storyline.
A: For me, a story is either good or bad (for a particular reader). Length has nothing to do with it (again, for me). I'd rather read a compelling 300 page story than a 600 page yawner.
Q: Have you ever considered writing a novel set in the New Republic era?
A: I dig all eras of SW timeline, so I'd be more than open to that.
Q (from Del Rey): Paul, you're one of the few authors so far to have incorporated elements of what will be the One Sith in the Dark Horse Legacy comics into your books. Was that because you read those comics and purposely wanted to write about them or did you simply see kind of open territory other authors weren't using?
A: Both. I really love the idea of this scheming, powerful organization existing under the noses of the Jedi. And, as you observed, there's some ripe storytelling potential there, since they're little explored in this era.
Q: Have you had input at all on the main Fate of the Jedi plot?
A: No. That's the bailiwick of LFL, DR, and the FotJ authors.
Q: When I read Crosscurrent, I found myself fascinated by the character of Relin and his slide down the dark path. How hard was it for you to write his character?
A: Candidly, not hard. All my books feature characters who live in the moral twilight, in one way or another. The question is just how did they get there and what do they do once there. For Relin, the loss of his Padawan (to the scheming of another "lost" Padawan, in Saes), just pushed an already fragile Jedi over the edge. I'm glad you dug, though. I very much enjoyed writing him.
Q: Why does Malgus appear so much bigger and badder than Revan when Revanís the master?
A: I don't know. I'm guessing you might not feel the same way once REVAN comes out. ;-) But, you know, Malgus is hardly meant to be some second tier pushover. In many ways, I think he's THE Sith Lord of his era.
Q: What are some of your favorite Star Wars novels from others?
A: I always hate to name favorite titles, because it suggests I didn't like others. You know what I mean?
Q: Who is your favorite Sith character?
A: Vader. Then Malgus (Iím biased there, though ;-))
Q: How much autonomy do you have while writing Star Wars books?
A: In my experience I've had a ton of autonomy. Obviously, there are editorial/lore checks, but in general, the rule has been: We want a good story. What do you want to write about?
Q: Are the clones somehow connected with the events in the Fate of the Jedi novels or am I way off?
A: Alas I can offer neither a yes or no and have to take the Fifth.
Q: When you are writing Star Wars, do you watch the films over and over again when you do research?
A: My sons love Star Wars, so we watch the movies and TCW religiously. I tell myself its research.
Q: Any hints as to what timeframe or what your next SW books will be about?
A: Andrew, I can't speak about future books or the timeline until LFL and DR give me the go ahead. So I can't even speak to era. Sorry, man.
Q: Can we see some concept art of Adraas? Or some art of Veradun stabbing Eleena?
A (from Del Rey): Look for the ESSENTIAL READER'S COMPANION which will publish next August. There will be some original paintings in that and we're considering the characters you've mentioned for the DECEIVED painting.
Q: Obviously there was some pre-characterization for Jaden for the video game. How much of this went into his backstory for the novel?
A: I tried to incorporate events from Jaden's past into his character, but the game events happened so far in the past from the time of Crosscurrent, that they didn't drive his character. What did was the events on Centerpoint.
Q: I enjoyed Crosscurrent and am reading Riptide, is there potential for a third book?
A: I hope to visit with Jaden, Khedryn, and Marr again in the future. That's about all I can say on that at the moment. :-)
Q: Since you're interested in doing a novel with Luke, Han, and Leia, would you do a Luke-only book or a duology (since Luke appeared in your books including Crosscurrent and Riptide)?
A: I'm OPEN to the idea of doing a Big 3 novel, but I'll be candid and tell you I find it the most fun to deal with the side characters, leaving the Big 3 and their offspring to the authors who've been writing them for years.
Q: What is your favorite Star Wars era?
A: Thatís tough. I suppose I have a fondness for the Old Republic at the moment. Just love all the Sith and Jedi running around, in the midst of a galaxy spanning conflict. Great stuff there, but all eras have their charm.
Q: How do you get started writing a Star Wars book? Do you pitch your idea first and wait for approval?
A: With CC, I eventually convinced Shelly Shapiro to look at my work (which she graciously did). She then offered me a book and said "what do you want to write about?" So I pitched what would become CC.
Q: Do you ever meet up with other Star Wars authors and hang out and talk shop?
A: I've only met JJM in person. Others I've corresponded with via email from time to time.
Q: Is there any plan for Marr to reappear in future Expanded Universe installations?
A: I can't really say what the future holds at this point. I can say I'm pretty fond of Marr and Jaden, so who knows? :-)
Q: I enjoy Crosscurrent, I love the concept of Jedi from the Old Republic meeting Jaden in the present. What brought the idea of such story?
A: The whole point of CC was to imagine the Force as deterministic, and to conceive of two Jedi falling to the Dark Side. Only one can be saved, and he can be saved only by crossing (you see what I did there?) the currents of their lives, even if that meant one coming forward thousands of years. That's the entire point of the two colliding stories in CC. I was kinda of taken with the idea and ran with it.
Q: What is your opinion on Mr. Lucas' rewriting of characters' or even planets' established histories invented by EU authors like yourself?
A: I don't get caught up in that kind of discussion. This is GL's playground. I'm a visitor and feel privileged to play here.
Q: I'm reading Deceived right now and I am finding it hard not to like Malgus... am I warped?
A: I'm pleased to hear that, since it's my hope that readers will both like and loathe Malgus.
Q: How did you come up with the idea of the catchphrase "therefore" for Wyyrlok? I think it really suits him!
A: I thought it suited him, too, and I like to give characters (even side characters) 'hooks' that help them stick in a reader's mind. So Khedryn has his lazy eye, Marr has his mathematical outlook, DW has his "therefore" tic. :-)
Q: Part of Crosscurrent was set in 5000 BBY -- would you be interested in exploring that era with a novel/short story? If so, would you prefer doing it from the Sith, Jedi or non-Force user viewpoint?
A: I would, and I'd have both Jedi and Sith POV. That's a cool era, almost mythic. Lots of neat things to do there.
Q: How'd you get into writing with Forgotten Realms, SW, etc.?
A: I started writing in law school, landed a professional gig, created Erevis Cale (my signature character in the Forg. Realms) and things have snowballed since. I've been fortunate, to say the least.
Q: How many Star Wars books have you read in your life?
A: Not all that many, to be honest. I find it helps sometimes to read out of genre/line, in that it sometimes lets you see things sideways when you're writing in the genre/line, and many readers appreciate a slightly skewed/novel take.
Q: Do you intend to provide more background on things like the Umbarans in future stories or do you rather leave this for other authors to explore (or to keep unexplored)?
A: I do leave some things open. Intentionally so. I really enjoy leaving readers with some things to ponder after they put the book down, so while I try to give some clear answers and lots of emotional closure, I like to leave some things open (for myself, for other authors, or just for readers to ponder/discuss/enjoy).
Q (from Del Rey): So you've written in other worlds outside of Star Wars. How do you think some of your other characters, like Erevis Cale, would stack up against the Jedi and Sith you've penned?
A: Cale would hold his own. He's a lot like a somewhat more pleasant (but only somewhat) Malgus, frankly. :-)
Q: I loved your last book on audio. Is the new one also available on CD?
A: As far as I know, neither RIPTIDE nor CROSSCURRENT will get the audio treatment, alas. Be cool if I was wrong, though.
Q: Are you a player of video games -- particularly any Star Wars titles?
A: I used to play a lot (but mostly First Person Shooters; "Headshot!"). These days, between writing, family obligations, and the day job, there's not enough hours in the day for much gaming. Except when I slap around my sons in Super Smash Bros. NO ONE TAUNTS KIRBY/DAD CUZ KIRBY/DAD BRINGS THE PAIN!
Q (from yours truly): I've always wondered, do your kids read your Star Wars books? I know if I were in their position, I'd be bragging to all my friends at school that my dad got to play in Uncle George's sandbox. :)
A: They're a bit young for the content in some of my books, Eric, but I think they kind of dig that I write them. They don't quite understand how unusual it is, but they did. Once, Roarke started teh sequel to CC. He wrote: Jaden flew to his friends in his starfighter. He didn't tell me. I just found it one day. Very touching, really.
Q: Whose decision was it to print Crosscurrent and Riptide in paperback instead of hardcover? and why?
A: Format decisions are DR's call. I'm good any which way.
Q: In an earlier Star Wars Books chat, you said the following about Darth Malgus: "What I tried to do with it is get to the core of Malgusís psychology (and there you can really see the Neiztshean bordering on Existentialism in his character)." Can you elaborate more on the philosophical motivations of his character?
A: What I meant is that Malgus represents/embodies the Nietzsche's "will to power," unshackled by "moral facts."
Q (from Del Rey): I was curious if your kids are aware how cool it is to have a father who gets to create stories in the SW EU.
A: They definitely do not. To them, it's just that thing Dad does in the library and books magically appear. :-)
Q (from Del Rey): How much of Riptide did you have in your mind as you were writing Crosscurrent?
A: I didn't have a ton of RIPTIDE in mind when I wrote CC, but the rough plot seeds were there. I was scheming there. You see how I did that? :-)
Q: Will you be going to CVI?
A: I'm not sure just yet. I'd love to attend, certainly, if I could figure out the scheduling.
Q (from Del Rey): Crazy Duel Paul, who wins: Jaden or Malgus?
A: Alas, Jaden goes down there. Malgus is a rage elemental when he's on his game. :-)
Q: Which is your favorite Star Wars film?
A: Empire, followed closely by Revenge of the Sith (in fact, RotS's end duel with Anakin/Obi is my favorite scene from all the movies; You were my brother, Anakin! Ewan kills it).