Joe Schreiber Talks ‘Maul: Lockdown’

How did Maul: Lockdown come about? It’s a bit a departure from your two previous Star Wars zombie books, and much more action oriented like your Perry’s Killer Playlist novels.

Joe Schreiber: Lockdown came about with a single enticing question from Frank Parisi, my editor at Del Rey: “How would you like to write a Darth Maul prison novel?” It was the most exciting question I’d heard since my old editor, Keith Clayton, had asked me, “How’d you like to write a Star Wars horror novel?” In both cases my answer was an unhesitating, “Cool!” followed by weeks of wandering around, staring into space: “How am I going to pull this off?”

Back on Star Wars Reads Day, you did a Q&A which Star Wars Bookworms was able to attend. At that Q&A, you mentioned that Maul: Lockdown was originally going to be set during the Star Wars: The Clone Wars series, then was changed to a Boba Fett book tying into Star Wars 1313, before finally becoming Maul: Lockdown. When were the changes made from each of those transitions?

JS: We had a lot of fun following the different permutations of the story through those two characters. Originally we envisioned a post Clone Wars story with Maul as a kind of gangster rising up to solidify his empire, a sort of intergalactic Tony Montana. Then 1313 came on the radar and I actually got a chance to fly out to LucasArts and meet the game designers and animators who were working on the game. Then the Disney buyout happened, and obviously that changed a lot with LucasArts, Clone Wars, the world of 1313 — and the book. By the time we got back to Maul, we had him back in prison, but in a very different aspect of his life. In a way, it was kind of like having the world’s longest and most entertaining story conference on a three-year roller coaster ride. You learn to hold onto your laptop.

What was it like finding ways to tie-in to the Darth Plagueis novel and working with James Luceno?

JS: James’ book was a monumental achievement — it’s no wonder that it’s a lot of people’s favorite Star Wars book ever. It was huge blessing when it came to plotting out Maul. I really wanted my book to fit in with what he’d done there, and I spent weeks driving around listening to it on audio while I was writing the book. In a way it’s kind of like the Watergate tapes of the Star Wars universe, listening to these two relentlessly intelligent and colossally ambitious powerhouses plotting together…and against each other. I thought, if I can do half the job that he did, getting the voices and tone of their relationship right, then I’ll be happy.

Your book also ties into Ryder Windham’s The Wrath of Darth Maul. Did you intend from the start for Lockdown to tie-in to other works, or was that some that happened as the story progressed?

JS: Ryder’s book was terrific fun, and a great view of Maul’s inner life, his development, of which we know so little. We’ve got pieces here and there, and I liked the idea of tying in other elements of his past into this story. James’ short story “Restraint” was another piece of the puzzle, and I wanted to tip my hat to that as well.

What were your inspirations for the story?

JS: First, I love prison movies. Gladiator, in many ways, is a prison flick — a really good one. Snake Plissken and Escape from New York were big influences. Escape from Alcatraz. Joe Jackson’s nonfiction book about Leavenworth is another great example. There’s a certain resourcefulness that emerges in a prison environment, and I really wanted Maul to have that resourcefulness, to show him using every aspect of the landscape to his advantage. As readers and viewers, we love to see our heroes and anti-heroes finding clever, often low-tech solutions. There’s a great scene in that old Frankenheimer movie Ronin where Robert DeNiro learns everything he needs to know about his target’s defense system and bodyguards using nothing more than a luggage sign at a hotel. If you’ve seen that one, you know what I’m talking about.

While Lockdown isn’t a horror novel, there’s still a lot of violence in the book, and sometimes it gets pretty graphic. Would you say that’s just your style of writing, or is that something you do for specific storytelling reasons?

JS: I guess it’s part of writing a novel set in prison, where corruption and hardship and deep spiritual bankruptcy is a daily reality for these guys. I really wanted to go as far as I felt like I needed to, when it came to brutality and bloodshed, and then temper it back as necessary. What I don’t want to do is stop short of the mark, and give the reader a sense of, “Oh, well, this is Star Wars, this isn’t real.” Whether it’s The Walking Dead or Breaking Bad or some of the exciting stuff that’s going on in comics these days — I’m thinking of guys like Geoff Johns — what we respond to is the authenticity of the characters’ plights. So yeah, it’s going to get violent in places. Some people aren’t going to make it. I do think the author has a moral responsibility not to use violence gratuitously, to charge up something that’s narratively flat and fraudulent. But there’s a redemptive power in the blood as well, and I think as a culture we understand that. Some things can’t be redeemed any other way.

This one is somewhat spoilerish, but why does Radique take their eyes (especially when Artagan already knew what he looked like)?

JS: My first thought would be, simple draconian hostility. Followed by a certain flair for the flamboyantly grotesque.

The book provides an extremely fun and gritty adventure, but it does leave a few questions unanswered. For instance, what happens to the boy, to Vosa or even Jabba for that matter? And perhaps most importantly, what do you think happens to Maul at the end of his mission when he meets his master?

JS: This may sound like a cop-out, but those unanswered questions are often my favorite part about the way a book ends. I like being left with my own ideas of how certain characters develop beyond the story as it’s been told. I can happily go the rest of my life without hearing anymore about what happened to Danny Torrance from The Shining. I liked him just fine where Stephen King left him, sitting on a dock in Florida with good old Dick Holloran.

As far as Maul and Sidious, I imagine a lot of broiling anger, manipulative praise and awkward silence, followed by lots more physical training.

Last but not least, what books can readers look forward to next from you, be it Star Wars or non-Star Wars?

JS: I’d love to do another Star Wars book, but there’s nothing immediately on the horizon. I’ve got a book coming out in March called Game Over, Pete Watson, about a middle school kid who discovers his dad’s old 80s video game console in the basement and sells it at a garage sale…only to find out that his dad is actually a CIA agent and the console was his communications portal with the intelligence agency’s database, and that, by selling it, he’s unwittingly compromised the security of the United States, leaving it open to cyber attack of a brilliant and maniacal arch-villain. There’s a giant mechanical cockroach involved too. In the words of the late great Ned Vizzini, it’s kind of a funny story.


We would like to thank Joe for taking the time to answer our questions. If you haven’t picked up Maul: Lockdown yet, you can find retailer links on Random House’s official product page. Maul: Lockdown is available in hardcover, digital and audiobook versions. Joe Schreiber’s next book, Game Over, Pete Watson is available for pre-order and will be out March 11, 2014.

Posted By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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