After Action Report: Facebook Live Chat With Paul S. Kemp

March 30, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Posted in Books, Events, Interview | Leave a comment
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Due to some technical difficulties, the live chat with Paul S. Kemp on Star Wars Books Facebook page didn’t go as smoothly as planned. However, Paul did answer a lot of questions and we have nice little transcript of the highlights, including a few questions I managed to sneak in (note there are some minor spoilers)…

Daniel Negrete: Mkay, so here’s my first: In the Dramatis Personae, it describes Ven Zallow as being of “unknown species.” Was this a mistake, because the prose seems to describe him as human while in the trailer, he appears human as well.

Paul S. Kemp: ‎@Daniel: I’m not sure to be honest. I conceived of him as human, but since he only has a bit role, perhaps the powers that be wanted to keep the o “near human” option open.

Trevor Davey: Hi Paul, have yet to read Crosscurrent (started a chronological journey 4 years ago and am only now at 2aby!!), but have heard good things about it. My question is, what was your initial reaction/feeling upon being asked to write a SW book?

Paul S. Kemp: ‎@Trevor Nervousness. :-)

Paul S. Kemp: ‎@Trevor: to elaborate: It’s such a huge deal to write a SW book. Wanted to satisfy the readers an do justice to the setting.

Ricky Peisker: In Crosscurrent there was an appearance by Darth Wyyrlok. Can we expect another appearance by The One Sith in Riptide?

Paul S. Kemp: ‎@Ricky: Yes.

Daniel Martin: I really loved the novel, and found all of the characters extremely compelling. *** minor spoilers *** Yet the character I was most curious about, Eleena Daru, seemed shrouded in mystery to the very end. We never really got inside her head. I wanted to understand… why (and how) she could love Malgus; I also think that seeing things from her point of view from time to time would have given us a fascinating insight into the prejudices and procedures of the Sith military. Was it deliberate to leave these questions unanswered? Would you have liked to have spent a bit more time on Eleena, or are you happy enough with the way the novel focuses on its three main characters? Thanks a million for taking the time to answer our questions tonight!

Paul S. Kemp: ‎@daniel: I think of Eleena as seeing Malgus as her savior (from slavery). Hence, she sees everything he does through that filter. Makes her very forgiving.

Mark Hurliman: What kinds of differences did you have in mind when creating the Ancient Sith for Crosscurrent vs the ones for Deceived? The Sith in the KOTOR era are always evolving was this something you considered when writing each incarnation of the Sith?

Paul S. Kemp: ‎@Mark I did but in some sense I think Sith of the two eras have more in common than they do differences.

Jono Bradley: My copy of Deceived came through a few days earlier than expected so I’ve managed to read through the book twice now and I still really enjoy it. My question is about how you got too the place where you were writing a book for Bioware/LA about TOR and specifically linking to one of their major in-game characters (as far as we know) is it something that you were working on before the Deceived trailer was published or did you approach/approached by Bioware/LA after they saw the popularity of that particular trailer? :)

Paul S. Kemp: Jono: My editor approached me with the option.

Brett Walker: Would we be on target to assume the Z-man is an ancestor of Jaden Korr?

Paul S. Kemp: ‎@Brett Plead the fifth. :-)

Bill Leonard: When writing a book like Deceived, do you create all of the characters and their names, or are you given somewhat of a “list”?

Paul S. Kemp: ‎@Bill: in this case, Malgus and Ven were givens (including name). But everything else was mine.

James Floyd: I really enjoyed reading Deceived – focusing on just four interesting characters made for a better story than trying to set up an entire galactic war *** minor spoilers *** — was it intentional to have the heroes end as farmers on Dantooine as a reversal to Luke’s farmboy origins on Tatooine?

Paul S. Kemp: ‎@James Nice catch. It was an attempt at a subtle homage.

Jake Reilly: Hey Mr. Kemp, honored to speak with you! And also, was Deceived a blast to write? :) I may have more later.

Paul S. Kemp: Jake, writing all Star Wars novels is a blast for me. Seriously. Just a boatload of fun.

Justin Van Koughnett: Thank you very much Paul, for this book and your others. Erevis Cale is one of my very favorite heroes to date. Was there a certain direction that you were steered towards by the publishers, or did you have free reign over the course of the story?

Paul S. Kemp: Justin, the only given was that it needed to feature Malgus. Other than that, I was free to develop things (obviously with input and feedback from LA and BIO)

Daniel Negrete: I must say, I LOVED the way you presented Arra and Zeerid, particularly his love for her and the tragedy in their lives. How did you go about crafting their story, and did you have a specific inspiration for Arra?

Paul S. Kemp: Daniel, not a specific inspiration, but I have young children so fatherhood and what it means is on my mind a lot.

Mark Hurliman: Another question I have is Eleema’s skin color- with Knight Errant- I recently discovered Kerra should look like Salma Hayek- though her appearance in the comic doesn’t really enforce this as much as John Jackson Miller’s Knight Errant novel. But I was curious- should we consider her appearance in the Deceived trailer as false? Since the Lavender color seemed to factor in as an important tracking feature for Z and Aryn. And I get that artistic licenses change from comic to book to game. But it’s always nice to know the INTENDED look of a character.

Paul S. Kemp: Mark: Good catch. I did tweak the skin color for story purposes, rationalizing it by thinking: The image in the trailer had bad lighting. :-)

Ricky Peisker: what do you feel is the most important aspect to writing a good book, if it can be narrowed down to one thing?

Paul S. Kemp: Ricky, characters, characters, characters.

Peter Morrison: Paul, in researching for Malgus’ personality did you draw on any particular previously established Sith for inspiration/influence?

Paul S. Kemp: Peter, I didn’t. I thought mostly of Nietzsche when I thought about Malgus’ thinking.

Jeremiah Song: Mr. Paul did you create Malgus or was he already in the game ?

Paul S. Kemp: Jeremiah, he was pre-established. Much (most) of his background was a blank when we started, though.

Jono Bradley: I’ve got to say quickly. I’m really impressed and really happy that you managed to develop help the reader explore Malgus’ mind and his personality; as I went into the book already convinced that I knew what sort of Sith Malgus was from watching the Deceived trailer and came out the other end of the book pleasantly surprised.

Paul S. Kemp: Jono, really glad to hear that.

Hank Alexander: I’m wondering how many books you’re planning on doing With Jaden Korr? I really loved the way you integrated the character from the game and am looking forward to the next installment.

Paul S. Kemp: Hank, as many as Del Rey will let me write. :-)

Brett Walker: Did you work with any other writers during the process, either those writing other TOR novels or game devs?

Paul S. Kemp: Brett, I worked directly with two editors, but I was getting some indirect feedback on the manuscript from folks involved in other areas of the process (I’m not sure what role they had though; whether game dev or something else).

Jeremiah Song: Is there going be a book 2 to Malgus’ journey?

Paul S. Kemp: Jeremiah, I’d love to write it if there is.

Stephen Howard: Is Zeerid Korr related to Jaden Korr?

Paul S. Kemp: Stephen, I’ve got to stay mum on that. I can’t wait for you guys to read Riptide, though.

Mary Farah: Good Night Mr. Kemp and all. Mr. Kemp, if you could be one of the characters you developed, which one would you like to be and why?

Paul S. Kemp: Mary, hard to say. I will say that I grok Zeerid better than any other, what with his family obligations and general willingness to kill him some folk when they get crosswise. I’ve had to do that a couple times myself, just between us. :-)

Justin Van Koughnett: Were you given any reference material for the specifics of imperial rank, galactic conflicts and the general state of things in the TOR setting? Or are you just that silky smooth?

Paul S. Kemp: Justin, I was, yes. I don’t recall just now how detailed it all was, but it felt like a lot at the time.

Bill Leonard: As of right now, will you be working on future novels set in The Old Republic? Or, at least open to the idea if you can’t say specifically? :)

Paul S. Kemp: Bill, I’m more than open to it.

Hank Alexander: EPIC, I love the writing style and can’t wait for more of Jaden. Is there any chance you will integrate other well known Jedi into the series? Jaina, Zekk, or Lowbacca perhaps?

Paul S. Kemp: Hank, thank you kindly.

EU Cantina: ‎***SPOILER*** What would you like the reader to take away from Z-Man’s ending actions? Would you still think of him as a hero who did the right thing?

Paul S. Kemp: EUCantina: I’d like the reader to come away asking the question you just asked. Meaning, I want (and hope) that different readers have different takeaways from Z-man. I just want the action to have some emotional resonance, to cause the reader to think about how they conceptualize him, and maybe to struggle with it a bit.

Star Wars Books: Paul, when you get a chance, can you talk about your story in STAR WARS INSIDER?

Paul S. Kemp: Sure thing. The THIRD LESSON in a Malgus short story that appears in Insider 124. It takes place during the Sith retreat after the Battle of Alderaan. What I tried to do with it is get to the core of Malgus’s psychology (and there you can really see the Neiztshean bordering on Existentialism in his character).

Carl Schmeil: Paul, how do you make sure what you write is on par with the lore of the star wars universe? like lore/cannon type things

Paul S. Kemp: Carl, it’s tough. I just try to do the research. I’m sure I have (or will) mess up. It’s just a lot to keep track of. Fun, though.

Paul S. Kemp: Carl and fortunately I’ve got great editors and the Holocron Keeper Leland to help me out.

Justin Van Koughnett: How long until Godborn? ;) I really hope Cale manifests himself again in some way, he’s too legit to quit.

Paul S. Kemp: Justin: 2012 is all I know. Sorry, man.

Luke Stabe: I’m sure it is tough, I know you could spend a lifetime reading and studying and still not know everything about the universe. And its constantly being updated with new stuff out there

Paul S. Kemp: Luke, it’s a lot of fun though. I always say to myself: You get PAID to know this stuff. PAID MONEY. It’s awesome.

Mark Hurliman: So based off of the 2 finished Novels- which end of the timeline has been more fun to write in?

Paul S. Kemp: Mark, I don’t have a strong preference. In both cases, I’ve had plenty of room to write the stories I’ve wanted to write (thanks, Shelly!), so it works for me either way. I’m easy. Or so my wife tells me. Ba dum ching.

Mary Farah: Mr. Kemp. As Malgus was a ‘blank paper sheet’ when you started, did had a core idea or something in mind to start it (besides the information related to the game)?

Mary Farah: Sorry, I meant to say, ‘Did you have a core idea…’

Paul S. Kemp: Mary, I got taken early on with the idea of a Sith who thought of conflict as the evolutionary vehicle by which his understanding of the Force deepened. That became the core of Malgus.

Stephen Howard: ‎*** minor spoiler *** You mentioned the Zillo Beast is Deceived. Do you watch The Clone Wars with your kids every Friday?

Paul S. Kemp: Stephen, my sons go to bed early, so we DVR it and watch it on the weekend. Luvs me some Zillo.

EU Cantina: You mentioned on Twitter that you had an idea for your Star Wars duology – anything you can share? ;)

Paul S. Kemp: EUC: I’m sword to silence. Until the outline is approved, it’d be premature anyway. Idea could get gonged.

Sean Smith: Hey Paul – as I read the deceived I was oddly struck with the sense, this was a character driven Star Wars story. Relationships, inner struggles, personal things. Is this for you a more enjoyable wrote than a heavy action, environment interactive storyline? Or is it just whatever is best for the story.

Paul S. Kemp: Sean, I always start with characters, which means I always move to relationships. That’s the core of any novel, I think, Star Wars or otherwise. All my work in all the various settings is that way.

Star Wars Books: Who do you think would win in a fight: Jaden or Malgus?

Paul S. Kemp: Star Wars Books: Well, if *I* was writing it, I’m going with Jaden, because Khedryn and Marr would swing around the back and put a few blaster bolts in Malgus’s bad attitude.

Daniel Negrete: I’m not sure if you’ve answered this, but what length of time did you imagine between the end of the occupation of Coruscant and the events of the epilogue?

Paul S. Kemp: Daniel, I thought in terms of months.

James Floyd: Malgus does seem driven more by honing his connection to the Force through war and not by vengeance – but does he harbor a grudge against Satele and the trooper on Alderaan?

Paul S. Kemp: James, I should say so. That’d be a nice showdown to write.

Daniel Martin: Will you be playing The Old Republic MMO when it’s released? If so, which class? (Silly question, sorry)

Paul S. Kemp: Daniel, I’d love to, but I’m afraid if I did I’d never get any more writing done. it looks incredible.

Bethany O’Connor: Paul, this is a really general question, but something I’ve honestly wanted to ask you for a time: For someone who’s attempting to jump into writing seriously, what advice would you give? I’m currently drafting my first attempt at a “Dragon” submission, so I’m feeling a wee bit nervous. x3

Paul S. Kemp: Bethany, I’m not trying to hedge here, but every writer’s path is so different, it’s tough to give advice. Two principles have always served me well, for what it’s worth: First, characters are everything. Second, write fearlessly (meaning, push, push, push). And don’t be nervous. You’ll be fine.

Star Wars Books: After reading Crosscurrent and Riptide (one of the perks of working for Del Rey) I have to say that I am a HUGE fan of the Jaden, Kehdryn, and Marr trio. The relationship between these three is so well written I can’t help but cheer them on. Thank you Paul. (ES)

Mark Hurliman: What history of Malgus were you given? And how much of him is you’re development?

Paul S. Kemp: Mark, I don’t recall fully but if memory serves, I had very little on Malgus’s background. A page maybe?

EU Cantina: Paul, I think the only time Malgus mentions Shan fighting him was when he called her a “Jedi Witch” (could be misquoting that). It was just this month that it was revealed that Shan is the Jedi from the Hope trailer. Did you know that it was her when you were writing Deceived, and if so, did you leave that information out by instruction or just because you wanted to?

Paul S. Kemp: EUC: I did not know the Jedi’s ID when I wrote Deceived (which doesn’t mean the devs didn’t).

Justin Van Koughnett: Can we expect any more TOR novels from you? Haven’t quite finished Deceived so if the ending indicates otherwise, apologies.

Paul S. Kemp: Justin, never say never. :-)

EU Cantina: Paul, I think the only time Malgus mentions Shan fighting him was when he called her a “Jedi Witch” (could be misquoting that). It was just this month that it was revealed that Shan is the Jedi from the Hope trailer. Did you know that it was her when you were writing Deceived, and if so, did you leave that information out by instruction or just because you wanted to?

James Floyd: ‎@ EU C: Satele was revealed as the female Jedi from Hope at last year’s comic-con stage ;)

EU Cantina: ‎@James Oops, didn’t realize that. They made a big deal about it on the TOR website this month – maybe for those who missed the info at comic-con?

Paul S. Kemp: EUC: Incidentally, Jedi WITCH was not the description I wrote in the first iteration. My language got gonged and for good reason. :-)

Peter Morrison: Most important question of all: What color lightsaber if you could choose?

Paul S. Kemp: Peter, yellow.

Jeremiah Song: Mr. Kemp will there will Tenel Ka be in future novels you write?

Paul S. Kemp: Jeremiah, probably not, alas.


To see the full transcript, you can head on over to Star Wars Books Facebook page here. Since the live chat got cut off, Paul might be back in the next day or two to reply to a few of the unanswered questions. We’ll make sure to keep you updated.

Posted By: Skuldren
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