‘FOTJ: Apocalypse’ Interview with Troy DenningMarch 13, 2012 at 12:02 am | Posted in Interview, Star Wars Books, Star Wars News | Leave a comment
Tags: Apocalypse, fate of the jedi, Troy Denning
Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse is out today, and to kick off this momentous release, we have an interview with Troy Denning. Troy was gracious enough to answer our questions concerning Apocalypse, the Fate of the Jedi series, and even some obscure ones involving Ewoks and Barabels. The interview does include some spoilers for Apocalypse, so fair warning.
Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse is dedicated to former LucasBooks Executive Editor, Sue Rostoni. Do you mind sharing your experience of working with her?
TD: Sue has been a great friend and editor for more than ten years, and this is just my way of being sure that she remembers to visit! In all seriousness, Sue is one of the people who have always made writing Star Wars so much fun, and I wanted to make sure she knew how deeply I valued the experience.
Keeping in mind the Dark Nest Trilogy, Legacy of the Force and Fate of the Jedi, it seemed that it was all one big story with different chapters. Was there any idea of that back at the beginning with the Dark Nest Trilogy? How much was planned in advance?
TD: The “plan” was really more of a gradual revelation/development. I started Dark Nest with the idea of exploring what happened to Jacen’s morality after the defeat of the Yuuzhan Vong. It’s the age-old question of what happens to a soldier after the war. He returns home fundamentally changed — traumatized by what he has seen and done, alone in ways no one else can understand, and uncertain that there’s any place for him in a peaceful society.
As the trilogy progressed, I came to see that Jacen was taking responsibility for the future of the entire galaxy, and by the time Dark Nest ended and Legacy of the Force began, we had decided that Jacen’s hubris would lead to the dark side.
Then we learned about Dark Horse’s plans for the Legacy comics and Darth Krayt, and I began to toy with the idea that this was the dark future that Jacen was trying to prevent. We never formalized that idea. But from that point forward, in the back of my mind, I always had the idea that Jacen was trying to prevent a vision he had seen — of Darth Krayt sitting on the Throne of Balance. At some point, and I can’t remember when that was, I decided to add Allana to the vision. And that became a sort of nebulous climax that I kept in the back of my mind through both series, that I kept writing toward and hoping that would fit into all of the different stories we were telling.
In Apocalypse it’s hinted that Abeloth might be a Celestial and that she might not. Did you include that ambiguity on purpose, or is she really one or the other?
TD: The answer is pretty clear in the text, if you take the Killiks’ words literally. The Ones aren’t Celestials; they are what Celestials become.
This is your second time tackling Boba Fett. Did you have more fun writing him this time around as compared to Legacy of the Force: Invincible?
TD: I always have fun writing Boba Fett. But I like my Fett a little closer to the older, badass version. It’s fine to humanize him, I guess — as long as you make him a badass human.
How did the idea of tying Fate of the Jedi and The Clone Wars Mortis Trilogy come about? At what point was the decision made?
TD: That connection occurred about the time we were writing Allies and Vortex. The FotJ team had been discussing how we were going to link Abeloth to the Celestials, and Leland Chee (the Keeper of the Holocron) let us know that Dave Filoni would be dealing with some Celestial-stature characters in the upcoming Clone Wars season. At that point, we realized we either needed to coordinate with what Dave was doing, or go in a radically different direction. So we asked Leland to see if Dave would be willing to share his thoughts on the Mortis episodes with us, and let us link Abeloth to the Mortis story. He was very receptive to the idea, and it worked fabulously. I can’t stress enough what a pleasure it was to work with Dave on this, and how grateful I am for his cooperation. He was truly very generous.
You killed Barv…and it was so well done. At what point in the series did you know he was going to die?
TD: When I wrote it. I kept wanting to kill Han, but I knew the editors wouldn’t go for that, so I killed Barv instead. (Joking!) Seriously, as I was writing that chapter, I could feel in my gut that this was a pivotal moment, a time when something terrible needed to happen. And it was a great place for Barv to go out, as a hero and Allana’s friend and protector. It was a hard death to write, but it felt right, and I think it’s going to play a key role in Allana’s development as the EU progresses.
How satisfying was it to finally write Jaina and Jag getting married? By the way, one of our site admins was very glad you did that and loved the Jag-baby Barabel scene.
TD: It was satisfying. I used to be a Jaina/Zekk guy, because I really didn’t want to see Jaina removed from the Jedi lineup to play Empress in the Imperial Remnant.
I’m speaking as an author here, by the way. I just enjoy writing her too much to lose her, and I don’t like the plot machinations we would have to go through to keep her in the main storyline if she had said good-bye to the Jedi to go become an Imperial citizen. (Besides, can you imagine Han’s reaction if his daughter not only married an Imperial, but became an Imperial citizen? He would never have let me write him again.) But, now that we’ve found a way around that hitch, I’m very happy with their marriage. I think they’re going to make a great pair of characters going forward.
Now that Fate of the Jedi is finished, can you reveal if there were any major plot changes that were made as the series progressed?
TD: There were no major changes, in that we didn’t change our minds about who we killed or how the series ended. (Actually, I think we had plotted the last scene in Apocalypse within the first hour of the story conference, and that never changed.)
But we did decide to add the slavery subplot after the first three books were written. Christie really felt like we needed to do something to give the Jedi a moral center, and that was a great insight. It added a lot to the series, and really gave me a crucial plot point to work with in Vortex.
You brought up a lot of interesting possible plot ideas for the future of the Star Wars Expanded Universe: the Ten Knights, rescuing Raynar, finding Kesh, investigating the One Sith, exploring Vestara’s development with Krayt. Which idea would you like to explore next?
TD: All of them. I’ll be writing Star Wars until I’m 150.
Can you tell us what Jae Juun and Tarfang are up to?
TD: How can you even ask that? You know I can’t answer — they’re the GA’s top secret agents!
Is there a chance that some of the Barabels in Tesar-Dordi-Wilyem-Zal’s clutch might be non-Force sensitive?
TD: Only time will tell.
You mentioned at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con panel that Dark Horse’s Legacy was just one possible future. It seems you’ve definitely opened up the future regarding when, how and if the events of Legacy will unfold. Is that true? And if so, how do you see it proceeding?
TD: I feel like I definitely opened that possibility, but I honestly don’t know the answer. I’m only a writer, and that’s something the editors and people at Del Rey, Dark Horse and Lucasfilm will decide. To tell you the truth, at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if even they don’t know.
Will we ever see Tenel Ka escape her job on Hapes and get a bigger role?
TD: You know how I hate spoilers.
One final question: Apocalypse was a very satisfying read. How satisfying was it to write?
TD: Apocalypse was a bear to write, but it was worth it. I think it’s probably one of my best books, and I KNOW it was the most ambitious. It closes out what I think of as the Jacen-era of the EU, which started with his hubris in the Dark Nest trilogy, then continued with a fall in Legacy of the Force that reverberated through the entire Fate of the Jedi trilogy. And now I think Jacen will be at rest. We’re standing on a whole new threshold, looking out at a dozen new kinds of story potential. The possibilities are enormous, and I can’t wait to see where the EU goes from here.
We thank Troy for taking the time to answer our questions, and for writing a great book.