Interview: Kathy Tyers Talks ‘Balance Point’, ‘The Truce At Bakura’, & ‘Star Wars Legends’

December 8, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in Books, Del Rey, eBooks, George Lucas, Interview, Lucasfilm, Sci-Fi, Star Wars, Star Wars Books, Star Wars Rebels, Television | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , ,

Today we have a very special interview conducted by Doug McCausland. A couple weeks ago Doug did an outstanding interview with author Kevin J. Anderson covering the 20th anniversary of the Jedi Academy Trilogy. This week Doug continues his series of Star Wars author interviews with Kathy Tyers.


In the early to mid 90’s, Kathy Tyers was one of the most prominent authors of the Bantam-era Star Wars Expanded Universe alongside Timothy Zahn & Kevin J. Anderson. Her first contribution to Star Wars lore was 1994’s The Truce at Bakura, taking place immediately after the events of Return of the Jedi. She would later go on to contribute several short stories to Kevin J. Anderson’s Tales From The… series, including “Prize Pelt: The Tale of Bossk” and “We Don’t Do Weddings: The Band’s Tale”, as well as the New Jedi Order installment Balance Point.

I recently had the chance to conduct an email interview with Tyers to commemorate the 20th anniversary (albeit a bit belated) of Truce, while also touching on various other points of her Star Wars portfolio. Special thanks goes out to the regulars of the JCLit community for assistance in compiling questions.

What was the process of being chosen to write a Star Wars novel like?

After Tim Zahn’s trilogy was so successful, Bantam Books got a contract from Lucas Licensing to publish more Star Wars novels. At the time, I had written four science fiction novels for Bantam’s “Spectra” imprint, and my editor — Janna Silverstein — was a fellow Star Wars fanatic. She contacted me and asked if I would like to be a Star Wars author. My reply was pretty much exactly: “Wow. Let me think about that. Yes!!”

'The Truce at Bakura' by Kathy TyersWhere did the idea to set the Truce at Bakura literally right after Return of the Jedi come from?

That came from above. I was asked to come up with a story that would take place as soon as possible after RotJ. When I describe the setting of TRUCE, I tell people, “The Ewoks are still dancing on Endor.”

Though the story is kind of pigeonholed by taking place right after ROTJ and before other Bantam-era Star Wars novels, did you have any “big” or “controversial” ideas that were vetoed by LucasFilm?

In the first version of my synopsis, which was vetted by Lucas Licensing before I started actually writing the book, I had Luke using the Force in a way that they nixed. They thought it was seriously over-the-top, and they asked me to dial things back a bit. Apparently moving a starship using the Force is rather a bigger deal than raising an X-wing out of a swamp, as Yoda did. So apparently size DOES matter.

Truce at Bakura illustration by Darren TanDid you have any inspiration in creating the society of Bakura, with local authority figures being schooled into the Imperial system by being educated on Coruscant? The new cartoon Star Wars Rebels seems to have been inspired by your concept, with Lothal society operating the same way.

It simply seemed logical that authority figures would be schooled at the heart of civilization. It’s a nice thought — that SWR might have been inspired by my concept — but I’m guessing they also thought of it independently, based on Earth history.

What about the character of Eppie Belden? Did you have any real-life individuals that inspired the character? 

No specific persons! I’ve always had a thing about wanting to write spunky older characters. Maybe because I have no desire to fade away myself. There are a few strong elders in my other novels too, e.g. the aging but still amazing General Caldwell and Lady Firebird in DAYSTAR.

Trandoshan by Chris TrevasTwo of your Bantam-era contributions, Truce At Bakura and Prize Pelt: The Tale of Bossk, are both themed around people who look like dinosaurs. Do you have a thing for dinosaurs?  

Great question — but it was purely coincidental. Current theory is that the dinosaurs’ descendants are more closely related to birds than to reptiles, and it was fun to play with that idea, imagining a saurian species with birdlike speech, which might have arisen in a different universe.

Bossk came to me differently. Working with Kevin J. Anderson on the “Tales from…” series, I had begged to write the Cantina Band’s story (for TALES FROM THE MOS EISLEY CANTINA) and then Oola the dancer’s story (for TALES FROM JABBA’S PALACE). I felt it was only fair to take last pick from the bounty hunters. Bossk came to me already looking like a dinosaur.

You fleshed out the Trandoshan species with the idea of “Jagganath points” accumulated in their lives. Was this influenced by Hindu mythology?

I suspect you’re right, but I honestly don’t remember. I do have a strong interest in theology and comparative religions.

'Balance Point' by Kathy TyersExpanded Universe authors were often in contact with each other in an effort to build the flourishing post-Return of the Jedi timeline. Can you describe the experience? 

There was more of that with BALANCE POINT than TRUCE AT BAKURA. Since the NJO series was being written with a continuing storyline by multiple authors, our editor at Del Rey (Shelley Shapiro) put us in touch with each other–and she made sure we had copies of finished books or pre-edited manuscripts of the stories preceding our own. It was great fun corresponding with fellow writers who also were major Star Wars fans.

You were a musician before/during the earlier days of your writing career, did any of your own experiences translate into the Cantina Band short story in Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina?

Absolutely! My late husband and I did some work as a folk duo, and we did reach the point where we refused to perform for weddings–unless the bride and/or groom was a personal friend, in which case we played for free. Before that, it was tricky (and occasionally touchy) work for a modest paycheck. Hence the title and plot line for my Cantina Band story, “We Don’t Do Weddings.”

Mara Jade by Darren TanFor Balance Point you had to write about Mara Jade – a character that a lot of authors have had difficulty capturing well. How did you approach tackling the character? Are there any other characters created by others that were challenging and/or interesting to write about? Did you ever struggle to write any of your own characters?

First, of course, I re-read Tim Zahn’s excellent original trilogy. We had already corresponded briefly, so out of professional courtesy (and wanting to get Mara Jade right!), I asked him for advice, which he was gracious to give. He also pre-read the BALANCE POINT chapters in which she appeared, and he offered a few suggestions (Here’s one I jotted down: “Mara has pride, but no false pride; her ego isn’t involved when someone else’s life is at stake”). His support was helpful and gratifying.

Ssi-ruuWhen the Ssi Ruuk were written again into the New Jedi Order, did you have any input/did the authors come to you for help writing them? 

No. By then, if I remember correctly, they were written up in the RPG guidebooks. Those guidebooks were invaluable resources, especially since at that point Mr. Lucas’s people were asking us to please NOT invent any more alien races.

Are you aware of the recent rebranding of the Expanded Universe as “Legends” by Lucasfilm, making the majority of it ambiguously canon? What are your thoughts on the matter, and would you ever return to the Star Wars universe if asked?

Mr. Lucas and his staff always had the final say over our use of his characters. That’s as it should be. And I would be honored!

'Firebird' by Kathy TyersFinally, what have you been up to lately in the non Star Wars realm?

My “Firebird” space opera series is being re-released by Enclave Publishing. They’re doing all five novels as paper and e-books, starting with the very Star Wars-inspired FIREBIRD and ending with my messiah-in-space novel, DAYSTAR. It’s wonderful to see those books going out to another new audience, since originally the first two were published by Bantam Spectra, the first three were published by Bethany House, and the whole series was done by Marcher Lord Press. Enclave Publishing will probably be their final home. My web designer calls them “the books that wouldn’t die.” I hope he’s right.


Doug McCausland is a freelance writer and a regular at AlternativeNation.net. For feedback email Doug at dmccausland1(at)gmail.com

To check out Doug’s previous interview with Star Wars author Kevin J. Anderson, click here. For those interested in finding out more about Kathy Tyers, you can visit her official website.

Posted By: Doug McCausland for Roqoo Depot.
Advertisements

2 Comments »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. […] just because, here is an interview with Kathy Tyers from last December about Legends and her own […]

  2. […] In the early to mid 90’s, Kathy Tyers was one of the most prominent authors of the Bantam-era Star Wars Expanded Universe alongside Timothy Zahn & Kevin J. Anderson. Her first contribution to Star Wars lore was 1994’s The Truce at Bakura, taking place immediately after the events of Return of the Jedi. She would later go on to contribute several short stories to Kevin J. Anderson’s Tales From The… series, including “Prize Pelt: The Tale of Bossk” and “We Don’t Do Weddings: The Band’s Tale”, as well as the New Jedi Order installment Balance Point. (“Interview: : Kathy Tyers Talks ‘Balance Point’, ‘The Truce At Bakura’, & ‘Star…) […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: