Roqoo Depot Interview with Jeff GrubbApril 24, 2012 at 12:02 am | Posted in Interview, Star Wars Books, Star Wars News | 2 Comments
Tags: hutts, jeff grubb, scourge
Star Wars: Scourge hits stores today. We interviewed Jeff back in September last year without really knowing what to expect in the novel. So after reading and enjoying Scourge, we decided to get back in touch with Jeff to ask a few more questions. The interview covers how he ended up being his own source material at times, insight into Mander and Eddey’s characters, how the Pantorans came into play, and much more. There are some mild spoilers, so tread carefully.
Mander Zuma is a Jedi master and an archivist for the Jedi library. He’s also a bit inexperienced for field operations and has some personal flaws that he’s faced with overcoming. When you sat down to write Scourge, did you know you were going to give Mander a lot of personal growth, or was that something that came about as the story unfolded?
JG: I knew that I wanted to write about a different type of Jedi, and all of the traditional examples – Qui- Gon, Obi-Wan, Luke, all had a sense of confidence and self-assuredness. Mander’s not like that. He has command of the Force, but he is also plagued by the feeling that he doesn’t measure up to the legend. The idea that he becomes an archivist, that he pulls back from the legend, is where we see him at the start. From there, the question is, what is it that would cause him to leave behind the safety of his work and journey, not just into the great galaxy, but into one of the greatest hives of scum and villainy – Huttspace.
Were there any hidden themes or messages tucked into Scourge that readers might want to look out for?
JG: I think I have more themes than I know want to do with. I get into the nature of addiction and the question of imposter syndrome. The question of family and family loyalty. I compare and contrast the chaotic nature of Nar Shaddaa with the militant meritocracy of the Corporate Sector – Chaos versus Law. I question the responsibility that comes with the ability to pull off “Jedi Mind Tricks”.
Not too far into the novel, readers find out that Mander has a recurring dream that haunts him. While some of Mander’s dream is explained, a lot of it seemed unanswered. Can you reveal a little of what some of the hidden meanings and symbolism were in his dream?
JG: Mander’s dream takes place in the Jedi Archives on Coruscant. This is a site of great learning and knowledge, and in the wake of the Empire, has been corrupted by the Emperor. That’s a big loss for someone like Mander, the idea that basic truths can be lost in the wake of political upheaval. The shelves going dark are the loss of knowledge, the sound of the bell the death knell for a lost age.
Eddey Be’ray is a Bothan side character that ends up teaming with Mander. Later in the story he shows some pretty intuitive medical insight yet we never get to see where that came from. Did you have a backstory in mind for his medical knowledge?
JG: Eddey Be’ray is not a doctor, nor does he play one on holovision. He is, however, a repository of information, a Bothan of all trades. He doesn’t understand medicine, but has no problem with going through a number of medical journals in the spare time, in case something useful comes up. That’s what Bothans do, and why they are so good at gathering information. They make connections others miss.
Where did the name for the ship Barabi Run come from?
JG: Barabi is a planet on the outer rim. Chicken Run was a movie that came out about two years before Tempest Feud was published. It sounded like a good name at the time.
There are some Twi’lek handmaidens that accompany Popara the Hutt. In the RPG supplement Tempest Feud, it was stated that they were Force sensitive. Is that still the case?
JG: I think one of them, at least, is.
What are your feelings on having turned Tempest Feud into a novel?
JG: Tempest Feud provides the spine of the book, but it is really Mander’s story, and he wasn’t in the original game project. I first thought of the book as a straight-forward novelization, but quickly discovered that it really was the backdrop for Mander’s own personal journey. In addition, I had a lot more ability to direct the action than in an RPG, where you always had to take into account every logical player action in a situation. I could cut away from Mander to other members, and to show what the Spice Lord was up to in parallel with Mander’s own experiences.
Between Tempest Feud and Scourge, how much of the Hutt stuff was your own invention?
JG: It is very strange, but when I started in on Scourge, I went looking for things about Hutt society and relationships. What I found were often things that I had helped create for Tempest Feud, which had entered into the canon and were treated accordingly. In short, I was my own source material.
When I am researching a book, I’m an omnivore, skipping from one resource to another, seeing if there are connections that can be made. The Hutt origin mythos both fits into the plot and also explains a lot about the basic attitudes of Hutts with others.
There’s some interesting species that show up in Scourge: Swokes Swokes, Pantorans, Bosph. Each of them are fairly rare species in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. What drew you to using them?
JG: I like the sentient alien species in Star Wars, and I find them marginalized within the Empire, confined to crime, cantinas and other fringe activity. They’re my kind of people. The Swokes Swokes were chosen first and foremost because of their proximity to Huttspace. The Pantorans were Roonians in the initial proposal, but Lucasfilm requested I go with Pantorans because of their recent appearance in The Clone Wars TV show, and I was good for that. For the Bosph I was looking for a nice, alien-looking businessman.
Do you know how old Mander is?
JG: I think he’s in his 30s – he came to the Force late in life, but had enough time to train and to take on an apprentice. When the Empire fell, he was too young for the important battles, which again fuels his feeling of inadequacy.
Will we be seeing more of him? Honestly, we’d really like to see more stories about him. He was very fun to read about.
JG: I think his worst personal problem is dealt with, but his live experiences makes him particularly useful in dealing with this particular arm of the galaxy. He has contacts with the Hutts and with the Corporates, and that would make him a very interesting ambassador. I think there’s another good story or two to be had, here.
Mander and the other characters have some fun things to say about Jedi mind tricks. The dedication in the book even mentions them. Is there a funny story there?
JG: Not really a funny story. The entire question of mind tricks grew up over the telling of the tale. If you have the power to make people do things, what is to keep you from using it all the time? This became actually a major plot point within the book, and strengthened the whole question of responsibility when using the Force. Part of the advice on the perils of using the Force came from my wife’s Star Wars RPG group, which has been running for well over a decade.
Switching gears: with the militaristic shift in Hutt philosophy after the New Jedi Order, and the recent slave uprisings throughout Hutt Space in the Fate of the Jedi series, would you be interested in tackling the Hutts again in the post-FOTJ period or would you rather tackle something new if given the opportunity?
JG: I am very comfortable in the Rebellion/New Republic/NJO eras, primarily because those were time periods that I was familiar with from the books and fiction from when I was younger. I definitely think that both the Hutts and the Corporate Sector are underutilized in the fiction, and would gladly take them on in another era.
Last but not least, were there any fun tuckerizations in the book?
JG: Tuckerizations are putting the names of people you know into the book as an in-joke. There are a couple. The names of the Anjiliac clan of the Huts are based on another famous gangster family from the 70s – the Corleones. But the one that is true Tuckerism is the B1E medical droid, which is named after my wife’s long running, now-deceased character in the her game – Doctor Bunny.
We’d like to thank Jeff for taking the time to answer our questions and we hope to see more of him in the future. If you’d like to find our more about Jeff you can check out his blog, Grubb Street, or you can find him on Facebook. While there aren’t any future Star Wars novels planned yet, Jeff will have an upcoming short story featuring Parella the Hutt that will be in Star Wars Insider #133.