College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL
April 9, 2006
Interview by Chris Spice (Darth Spice)

 

ONE-ON-ONE WITH MR. STACKPOLE
With over eight Star Wars novels to his credit Michael Stackpole started out on video games 1984's "2010 Adventure Game" for Coleco! He has written a ton of Sci-fi novels, comics, short stories, role-playing guides, video game guides and more. His Star Wars books include: X-wing Rogue Squadron Series, I, Jedi, Dark Tide I: Onslaught and Dark Tide II: Ruin. Michael has also done work on several Star Wars comic books including: Rogue Squadron, Mara Jade: By the Emperors Hand, Star Wars Union (marriage of Luke and Mara). We caught up with Michael and were able to ask him a few questions about his Star Wars success.

1.  Was 1996's Rogue Squadron your first New York Times Bestseller? How did that change your life?
Yes it was my first Bestseller and how it changes your life is you will forever afterwards be known as a New York Times best selling author. It’s sort of nice when you met a person who asks, “have I ever read anything of yours?” and when you tell them many of your books have been on the list you tend to get a little different attitude out of people sometimes. Mostly the cool thing with a Star Wars book out, it brought me a lot of new readers, a lot of loyal readers.

2.  How did you come about being a Star Wars author?
I was really lucky I had a two-book contract with Bantam. They were looking for an author who had the right background knew how to write fast, write military science fiction and had been there and been stable and worked in other universes as well. I was the only guy that scored in every category, and one morning my agent called and said “Bantam just called, they’re waiting to do four X-Wing novels!” I couldn’t wait to get to work.

3.  With the X-wing Rogue Squadron Series being such a huge hit with fans would you consider making more?
I’d consider it anytime, unfortunately when you work in someone else’s universe or world you have to be invited. So unless they ask me to come back and do something I can’t just write another book.

4.  Knowing that Lucasfilm has a "Don't call us, we'll call you" attitude towards its Authors, any calls from them lately?
No, but you know it’s one of those things, I still get along quite well with the people at Lucasfilm, they are very, very nice and great to work with. When books would come out in foreign languages they always forward copies to me. So I guess it’s a question of if they see something that they think I might be good at, they’ll then give me a call.

5.  Going from characters that did not have a strong presence in the Star Wars novels (Wedge, Corran) to having to take on more well know characters for the Dark Tide series (Luke, Leia, Han) was that a challenge?
No because by then I had learned enough about the universe and especially learned a lot from Tim Zahn and how he handled those characters. So I was confident enough in what I was doing and was able to slip in and use Leia, Luke and Han. That was just so much fun, I used them a little bit and then Han in I, Jedi.

6.  Which characters were your favorites to write?
That is like asking a parent which of your children is your favorite. I loved Wedge and Ysanne and I think they’re great, I really liked writing Coran. Someone like Booster, how can you not love that character? I think that is the key thing to writing really well, you find an aspect about that character you really like. Some of the characters I absolutely hated, but they were fun to hate.

7.  Being that the Dark Tide series was one of the first to feature the Yuuzhan Vong, did Lucasfilm have set ideas of what the Vong were, how they fought etc.? Or did each author get to create that part of the characters as they went along?
Well, I was involved in the planning of the Dark Tide series. It was a weird situation where I helped develop the thing, so since being involved with the project early I was given a quite a bit of freedom. I have worked with Star Wars for a long time, and I’ve sort of developed a sense of how much leeway the author has. Lucasfilm is also very good too about allowing you to do many things you would like to do in the universe.

8.  The Rogue Squadron series had such a great mixture of seriousness and humor. Is this common in all your novels?
Oh yeah, there is a lot of stuff that I look at and say you just can view the world as so grim that you can’t laugh at some point and sometimes you just have to laugh or you would cry. The other thing is when you are a writer, especially Star Wars, if you look at the movies they have humor, action, romance they’ve got everything. If you don’t bring that whole mix to the book you’re not doing your job. I love humor and I love making people laugh, where and when appropriate.

9.  Out of all of the novels you have written which is your favorite?
It’s really hard, for me the X-Wing books as a short series are one of my top choices. Some of the fantasy series I’ve written as well in my own world but the X-Wing books were all spread out, but like a sprint more than a marathon. If I had to put my finger on one book it would have to be I, Jedi just because that one wrote itself so fast and was so much fun. Everyday I was on the phone with Tim Zahn and we were coordinating things back and forth, and it was just a total blast. So if you’re into Star Wars I’d say you have to read I, Jedi.

Thanks again for your time Michael, the readers of Sandtroopers.com appreciate you allowing us interrogation! Keep us informed if you are ever on “patrol” again!
Special thanks to Rogue Jedi Princess for her work in contribution to this interview, the Empire hasn’t a finer Slave!

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