Interview with Shadow Games co-author Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

November 22, 2011 at 9:00 am | Posted in Interview | 4 Comments
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The release of Shadow Games is just a week away. In order to give EU fans one last tease, we interviewed co-author Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff about the fourth Coruscant Nights book, Even Piell’s surprise death, and everything Shadow Games!  Maya’s answers were not only heartfelt and insightful, but giggle-inducing as well.  You’ll have a smile on your face by the end of this interview!

General

If you could recommend one of your non-Star Wars novels to fans, which one would it be and why?

MKB:  That would be Taco Del and the Fabled Tree of Destiny (available as an eBook on Amazon, iBooks, and http://www.bookviewcafe.com).  It’s future urban fantasy, post-non-apocalypse and was more fun to write than anything I’ve done.  I love these characters and I like it that’s sort of off-the-wall.  I mean, a merlin (wizard) whose medium is a Douglas fir in a brass pot who’s in love with a tough-as-nails redhead Chinese girl that happens to be General of Hismajesty’s army? Mysterious whisperers from beyond the grave?  Thirty-six catalogued varieties of fog? What’s not to love?

Who’s your favorite Stargate character?

MKB:  StarGATE or StarWARS? In case you really did mean StarGATE (one of my FAVE TV shows EVER) that would be Daniel Jackson.  If that was a typo the answer is Princess Leia.  Every time I see the first three STAR WARS movies, I’m more impressed with the girl.  I mean, she effectively orchestrates her own rescue from the Death Star.  A real take-charge lady.

Which Star Wars character do you wish had more time in the limelight?

MKB: C3PO.  I love the droids and I’ve been fortunate to write about two very…erm…shall we say…very vivid ones: Dash’s sidekick, Leebo, and Jax Paven’s best friend, I-5YQ. So, I like to see the droids come forward as more than plucky comic relief.  C3PO might even have a piratical side or be a standup comic or a consummate actor.

Michael has serious medical issues. Is he holding up all right? Is there anything fans can do to help him out or show support?

MKB:  He has good days and bad days.  And I’m ever hopeful that there’ll be a medical breakthrough that will just put him into complete remission.  The thing I admire the most about him is his refusal to give up.  He’s full of great ideas for stories and books and he’s just continually adapted to his illness technologically.  He does a lot of work on his iPad, for example.

What can fans do?  What every writer wants them to do: read our books.  And they like the books, they will tell their friends they’ve just gotta read it, too.  Then take the time to give them good reviews on Amazon, GoodReads, etc.  Beg the publisher for more.

We write because it’s because we love to do.  You can’t read Michael’s work and not see how much he loves words and characters and yeah – the reader.  It means the world to a writer when fans give that love back. It keeps us writing.  And Michael, more than ever, needs to keep writing.

So this where I’d like to put in a plug for Michael’s earlier work–MR. TWILIGHT, STREET MAGIC, VODOO CHILD.  And of course, STAR WARS books, DARTH MAUL: SHADOW HUNTER, the MEDSTAR books, and the CORUSCANT NIGHT series (which is an omnibus from the Science Fiction Book Club, by the way).

When you and Michael co-author a novel, how do you go about that? More specifically, how do you split up the work? Do you alternate characters or chapters?

MKB:  It varies, but we usually brainstorm the plot together, going back and forth and expanding our ideas until we’re happy with that we got.  I love that.  It’s exciting.  Full of “oo! What if. . .?” Then we talk about the first chapter and the first scene and then I start the first draft.

After about three to six chapters, I send what I’ve got to Michael and we kick it around and adjust anything in voice or characters or whatever. Then I finish the draft, sending clumps of chapters to Michael for his input until we’ve gone through the whole book.  He’s got experience writing in the GFFA, so he makes sure that we’re playing by the laws of the universe as well as making adjustments to plot elements and filling in back-story and details.  I’ll sometimes stick comments in like: “Think this needs more background?” or “This seems to weak to me–whatm’ I missing?”

After that, we have a draft that we’re happy with, we start editing it–he does his magic first, then we go back and forth a few times until we feel it’s ready for our editor.

Michael and I have written four books so far.  The first was MR. TWILIGHT (which also love to pieces) and which he had about a dozen chapters before he brought me in and we wrote back and forth a bit on that one. Adding scenes here and there.  When I back over the final draft, I couldn’t tell what he’d written and I’d written–that’s how compatible our writing styles are.

And when you write, do you write in-sequence or out-of-sequence?

MKB: Totally depends on the story and how much is in my head.  I usually relatively write in sequence, but may put notes to Self into the manuscript that instruct me to come back and flesh something out after I’ve gone further into the story.  I also give myself permission to leap ahead and write scenes out of the timeline if they’re really bursting to get out onto the page.  I did that in the book we’re working on now.  I had a particular scene was just eating a hole in my brain (Zombie ideas) and I put in a placeholder (i.e.,”need a scene in here that establishes the quest for-“TOP SECRET-“) and then I wrote this intense scene.  It was like doing barrels in an airplane.

Shadow Games

In one of the “A Padawan’s Journal” entries, you stated that there was one idea that Michael had that made you “Snoopy Dance” all over your office. Any chance you can share that? If not, at what point in Shadow Games can readers find out about it?

MKB: Yes, I CAN tell you. I don’t even have to give you a mindwipe after.  The editor asked if we could give one of the iconic characters a cameo.  Michael said, “Let’s put Han Solo in–he’s perfect for this.  He and Dash are supposed to be in the Battle of Hoth.”  I oohed and ahed and said something about a walk-on in the cantina and Michael said, “No, not a walk-on, but a supporting role” “Can we do that?” I asked, star-stuck (I mean, who wouldn’t want to write about Han Solo?)

We consulted the Oracle (that being Sue Rostoni and Leland Chee) and the Oracle said,  “Yea, verily. Han Solo, it shall be.”

Hence, the Snoopy Dance, which I normally reserve for award nominations and Indian food.

What characteristic defines Dash Rendar and separates him from Han Solo?

MKB:  The two men are a lot alike.  Which is why they get on each other’s nerves.  They are both extremely competitive, cocky, no-nonsense risk takers.  But Dash wears his heart on his sleeve.  Despite his tragic past, he’s never learned to cover his thought processes and feelings successfully.  You can pretty much tell what he’s thinking by looking at him, which he finds embarrassing and annoying at times. I admit I’ve grown very attached to Dash.

How prominent will Han Solo and Prince Xizor be in Shadow Games?

MKB: Well, Han will have more than a walk-on—-I guarantee it :) and Xizor will, shall we say, exert a strong influence over the events.

Was Syal Antilles Fel (a.k.a. Wynessa Starflare) considered for the role of the holostar?

MKB: No. We wanted a character that didn’t have an established back-story and reader expectations attached to her. With the inclusion of Han Solo, there was already a lot of research to do and some pretty high expectations to meet.  We wanted a tabla rasa.

Can you tell us more about the holostar featured in Shadow Games?

MKB: Her name is Javul Charn and she’s truly talent–not just a bimbo.  She sings (in fact, I slipped a lyric from “Midicholorian Rhapsody” into her show) acts, dances, and does aerial work.  In her public appearances, she makes a point of doing set pieces with real scenery and costumes because she wants her audience to have a real experience that’s not just smoke and mirrors (or lasers or holograms). This is ironic, as it happens, because of course, she’s up in her ears in something that’s not quite on the level.  (Editor’s comment: Listen to Maya’s “Midicholorian Rhaspody” here.) 

On your Book View Cafe Blog, you had a series titled “There’s a Bimbo on My Cover” that detailed pictorial and blurb errors on various covers.  How do you feel about the Shadow Games cover and blurb?

MKB: I love, love, LOVE this cover.  It’s striking and dramatic and has my favorite colors in it.  And it does more than just illustrate more than a scene from the book.  It captures the house of mirrors that Dash is going through.  (Oddly, it could work for the forthcoming CORUSCANT NIGHTS book, but for completely different reasons. . . and yes, that was intended to be mysterious.)

The blurb is very cool, though it does give away a plot twist we’d rather have the reader find out the honest way.  But, hey, it’d make ME want to read the book. :) It does a good job of hinting at the layers of stuff going on.  Layers are cool.

Coruscant Nights

The fourth Coruscant Nights novel is still a ways away.  What goals did you and Michael set out for this book?

MKB: We wanted it to feel like the logical step in Jax’s personal saga.  If it’s the last Coruscant Nights book, then we want it to feel like the “right” ending.  If it’s not, then we want it to lead somewhere interesting and cool.  Most of all, we wanted it to have a deep emotional impact on readers.  I’m personally hoping that readers will finish it and hold it in mind for a long time.  Maybe even be haunted by it.

Ironically, there’s a comedic one-liner that Steven Wright does that kind of captures the feeling.  Wright asks, “You know that feeling when you lean backwards in your chair and you’re just about to tip over? Well, I feel like that all the time.”  That’s the feeling that I’d like readers to feel to get reading the next CORUSCANT NIGHTS book because it’s the feeling I’ve gotten sometimes writing it.  I’d also like them to feel as if they’ve gotten off a really, really good roller coaster complete with the stomach flip-flops.

The Coruscant Nights books stuck me as adventure stories, but with some interesting intellectual threads buried within.  Will the Coruscant Nights IV continue in that vein?

MKB:  I’m certainly hoping that readers will feel that way because we’re trying to explore what it is to be a Jedi–or at least what it means to be allied with the light side of the Force. I’m personally fascinated by Force adepts who are not Jedi or Sith—what role they play.  In fact, Michael and I are both fascinated by the Force–how it interacts with everything, not just Force adepts.  There are a lot of Force adepts on stage and they each have their own way of relating to that binding energy. We wanted to look at the whole nature of the light and darkness and ask questions about what lengths can a Jedi go in service of a cause without slipping to the dark side–or at least becoming gray.

Will there be any Inquisitors in Coruscant Nights IV?

MKB: Inevitably.

Who created Kajin Savoros? In an “A Padawan’s Journal” entry, you mentioned that Kajin will be appearing in Coruscant Nights IV, can you give us a tease about his character arc?

MKB:  Michael created him and sketched the scene in which we meet him in Patterns of the Force.  We do refer to him in the next book, but he doesn’t exactly appear. . . or at least he hasn’t yet . . .

Even Piell was a pivotal character in the Coruscant Nights series. In the last season of The Clone Wars television series, Even Piell died. How do you feel about his death? Will Coruscant Nights IV address his death in any fashion?

MKB:  Ahem.  You noticed that, did you?  We’ve bounced all sorts of ideas around our head with editors, but our first response to the precipitous demise in Clone Wars was, “Huh?”  Our only concession in the next CORUSCANT NIGHTS is that Jax never mentions his Master by name.  That way, whatever the powers that be decide in any potential reprints of the earlier books, it won’t affect Book Four.

We’d like thank author Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff for kindly and promptly answering our questions. We hope you enjoyed Maya’s responses as much as we did.  If you’d like to know about Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, please visit her Book View Cafe and Mystic Fig websites. Shadow Games goes on sale November 29, 2011!

Discuss Shadows Games on our brand new forums!

Interviewed by: Dancelittleewok for Roqoo Depot.  All the latest in Star Wars interviews
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4 Comments »

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  1. Awesome interview DLE. I’m looking forward to the book now.

  2. [...] Depot has an interview with one of the authors, Maya Kaathryn Bonhoff.  She talks the fourth Coruscant Nights book, the [...]

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