Star Wars and other science-fiction authors Steve Perry (Shadows of the Empire) and colleague Michael Reaves (Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, Courscant Nights Trilogy) both recently sat down with EUC for an interview about past and upcoming works among other things. Before they answer those, however, some Steve and Michael links:
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the interview!
EU Cantina (EUC): Mr. Perry and Mr. Reaves, welcome to EU Cantina! It’s a huge pleasure having you both here.
Steve Perry (SP): Nice of you to have us.
Michael Reaves (MR): Likewise
EUC: So, you’ve both done a lot of Star Wars writing– both together and alone. What can you tell us about the projects that you have done together and are currently working on?
SP: I’ve written a fair number of novels, several with Michael. Fantasy, science fiction, techno-thrillers, many of which can still be found on Amazon.com or Powells. Currently projects include a doorstop-fantasy with Michael. We’ve just turned the manuscript over to our agent, it’s called Eilandia: The Dreadnaught.
MR: Right now, I’m finishing up the Coruscant Nights trilogy and writing a comic book miniseries.
EUC: Aside from working alone you often work together, as I stated above and you’ve told us some of those projects. What is that like? Is it something like the LOTF writers have or something different because you’re so used to each other?
SP: Each project is different, but we have been doing collaborations, books and television and short stories and a couple of spec movie scripts since shortly after we met, back in the late 1970′s. We’ve figured out how to do the give-and-take necessary to write together. Not always easy, since we both have definite ideas about how something should be done, but we’ve managed to keep from killing each other so far …
MR: As long as it’s understood that I’m always right, we get along fine.
EUC: Let’s move on to specific projects: Mr. Perry, what can you tell us about being involved in the Shadows of the Empire Media Event? Mr. Reaves, what can tell us about working on Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, as Darth Maul is such a mysterious character ?
SP: SOTE was a test-run by Lucasfilm, designed to see how such a multimedia project would work, during the time before the second set of movies. A very collaborative effort, which was laid out during a meeting at Skywalker Ranch, wherein a bunch of us sat down and hammered out a storyline, then parsed it out — I took notes, then went home and wrote an outline upon which the novel, comics, games, toys, etc. were based. It was a lot of fun, and I got to play with the original cast, plus come up with some interesting EU characters.
MR: The fact that Maul was a cypher actually worked in my favor, as I had a clean slate upon which to work. I could make him pretty much anything I wanted, so I chose to give him a strong sense of honor and dedication to Sidious. He’d die rather than fail him. Which is pretty much what happened …
EUC: Another specific project that you worked together on were the MedStar novels. What can you tell us about those? Was it different writing in the Clone Wars era?
SP: We enjoyed getting a chance to work with a lot of EU characters that we could bend and shape as we liked. We always saw it as a murder mystery set in a M*A*S*H unit, plus we had a chance to say some things about the Jedi nobody else had really dealt with, such as how do you actually get to be a Jedi Master?
MR: It was a great deal of fun creating characters from scratch, as we weren’t slaves to continuity, the way I was with DM, or both of us were with DS. It let us raise the stakes emotionally, because you didn’t know who lived and who died.
EUC: Speaking of the MedStar novels, is there any chance of seeing Bota in the EU again?
SP: Michael is current doing some work in the SWs universe, so maybe.
MR: I don’t want to give too much away about the Coruscant Nights books, but if you’ll remember, at the end of Jedi Healer, Barriss Offee entrusts a vial of Bota extract to I-Five for safe delivery to the Jedi Temple. Of course, by the time he gets to Coruscant, things have changed somewhat …
EUC: Another, more recent, project you both worked on was Death Star. What was it like writing that? How hard was it to really get into the lives of everyday people aboard the weapon?
SP: We didn’t think it was hard, and that was the point, to get into the minds of the every day people. Plus we got to do a different viewpoint on the original cast, and we really enjoyed that. A lot of questions we had, we got to answer: Who pulled the trigger on the big gun? What did the troops do when they were off-duty? How did the construction happen? And, of course, why that heat vent was there …
MR: Not much I can add to that, except to agree that it was a lot of fun
EUC: Mr.Perry you mentioned the exhaust pipe; why did you make the decision to have the Death Star’s weakness (the exhaust pipe) be the result of an accident of the builders as opposed to the overconfidence of the Empire?
SP: Well, irony, really. If you look at the plans for the DS, there’s no need for a vent there. There needed to be a reason. And in a project that large, there are always mistakes. Building the DS was pretty much an exercise in over-confidence by the Empire anyhow.
MR: It just seemed so much more believable to have it be a design flaw — after all, it’s not like there isn’t precedent. The Hindenburg had ‘em; so did the Bismarck. It ultimately all comes back to the Empire’s hubris in the end.
EUC: Why don’t we move on to Mr.Reaves recently released novel, and the series, Coruscant Nights: Jedi Twilight. Will there be any bounty hunters or other “shady” persons in it? Jax, as seen on the cover text, is going to be in quite the place to meet these people…Perhaps even famous shady characters?
MR: We have a few “guest stars” lined up who’ll spark your interest.
EUC: Where did you get the idea for writing this story of Jax and surviving Order 66 and adventuring through the New Empire? What was one of the biggest influences on the current series outside of the Star Wars realm?
MR: Mostly it evolved around the character of I-Five. I didn’t show him being brainwiped at the end of DM:SH because it was too much of a downer for everybody to die, and I liked the character and hoped to be able to use him again. The Medstar books provided the perfect opportunity. I had in the back of my mind a series of gritty, noir books set in the Coruscant underworld, and with Jax grown up and in hiding, and I-Five determined to find him, both as Lorn’s son and as one of the last of the Jedi — it all fit together, and Del Rey went for it. As far as outside influences, obviously there’s more than a taste of Chansler and Hammett in it, as well as John D. Macdonald The books were a lot of fun to write, and I hope they’ll be fun reads.
EUC: Thank you both, Mr. Reaves and Mr. Perry, for answering our questions and we can’t wait to read your upcoming Coruscant Nights as well as Death Star when it comes out in paperback. I hope you enjoyed the EU Cantina, and don’t be strangers!
SP: Thanks for having us.
MR: Always a pleasure.