Monday, March 21, 2011

Exclusive Interview: Paul S. Kemp, Author of Deceived and Much, Much More.

In advance of the eagerly anticipated new Star Wars novel, The Old Republic: Deceived (released 3/22/11), and  hot on the heels of his appearance at C2E2, author Paul S. Kemp stopped by Lightsaber Rattling to answer a few questions:  

1.        How did you first become exposed to Star Wars?  Do you have a favorite movie of the saga? 

My dad took me to see A New Hope.  I still remember the sense of wonder I felt watching the opening sequence, as the Tantive IV emerges from the bottom of the screen, followed immediately by the Imperial Star Destroyer.  Heady stuff for me back then.  

2.       Your novel Crosscurrent featured a very diverse leading cast of alien characters including an Anzat, a Cerean, a Kaleesh, and an Askajian character.  How do you go about choosing species for the characters in your Star Wars novels?

That’s a hard question to answer.  It really comes down to a very ephemeral notion, and that’s “feel.”  I develop a rough character concept first.  Once I have that, I move through the rolodex of potential species and see if one feels like a better fit than a human for the concept.  In the case of Kell Douro (the Anzat assassin from Crosscurrent), I knew he’d be an Anzat almost right away.  The race just fit the concept perfectly.  Something similar happened with Drev (the Askajian).  I fiddled around a bit before deciding on a Kaleesh for Saes.  

Of course, once you decide on a species other than human, that informs and changes the rough character concept, in that a character from an alien species will see things differently than would a human (hence, Saes the Kaleesh became very much the hunter; Kell the Anzat become a bit of mystic, and so on).

3.       You tweeted on Jan 14th that Riptide was basically done except for a few tweaks.  What can you tell us about this Riptide?  Are we in for a heavy dose of evil clones, force philosophy and internal angst for Jaden Korr

Yes, yes, and not so much.  Jaden came to grips with his nature in Crosscurrent.  As a result, Riptide’s focus is not on the tightrope that Jaden walks between light side and dark side.  He’s found his balance and he’s all right up there. 

4.        One of the patterns that I have seen in my exposure to your writing is the use of conflicted characters.  Are these kinds of characters better for storytelling then well adjusted characters?  

 Absolutely.  Internal conflict is, for me, the meat of any character arc, and resolving that conflict is what gives books lasting resonance.  

5.       The Old Republic: Deceived as well as your Old Republic short story, stars Darth Malgus the Sith Lord who sacks Coruscant.  Interestingly enough this is a Sith Lord who also has a slave who is his lover/companion in the Twi’lek Eleena.  What can you tell us about Malgus and does he have what it takes to join the pantheon of Star Wars villains?  

I like to think that Malgus is a complicated character.  He embodies much of what we think of when we think of the Sith – he’s violent, values strength and power, and in general regards peace/passivity as weakness.  At the same time, he’s possessed of a keen sense of honor, and has a powerful attachment to Eleena.  These somewhat contrary impulses give him his internal conflict and drive his character arc. 

6.       What can you tell us about the other Point of View (POV) characters in Decieved?  

 The other two main POV character are Aryn Leneer, a Jedi Knight and Force empath, who has very personal reasons for confronting Malgus, and Zeerid Korr, a former Havoc Squad commando who is in deep to a criminal syndicate known as The Exchange.  

7.        Back in December you mentioned that you turned in short story staring Darth Malgus that is set before the events of TOR: Deceived.  It’s rumored that this story will appear in Star Wars Insider #124.  What can you tell us about your forthcoming short story without being hauled away by Stormtroopers?

 The story, entitled “The Third Lesson,” will appear (or has appeared) in Insider #124.  It takes place on Alderaan, in the immediate aftermath of the battle there, when the Sith are in retreat.  Juxtaposing flashbacks with current scenes, we get a sense of what made him who he is.

8.       Del Rey non-fiction editor Erich Schoeneweiss (via Shelly Shapiro) recently mentioned in an interview (EUCast) that the subject and time period for you duology has yet to be decided upon.  You have written in both the Old Republic Era and in the modern era of the EU, do you have a preference for the setting of your duology? 

Not a strong preference, mostly because I think whatever the time period, there’s lots of room for stories.  In the end, I DO prefer to have a reasonable amount of elbow room in which to develop new (or previously underdeveloped) characters and stories.  

9.        For readers who are unfamiliar with your non-Star Wars work, is there a book or story you would recommend for them to get a flavor of your writing? 

 Oh, absolutely.  I’m best known for my sword and sorcery stories featuring Erevis Cale, an assassin and spy turned priest.  The stories are dark, gritty, and character-driven (which is much the same way I try to write my Star Wars stories).  The best place to start is probably with Twilight Falling or Shadowbred.  And on that note, let me leave you with the link to the “Ten Reasons Star Wars fans should read the Cale stories.”

10.   Writing Star Wars involves working in a shared universe, not only do you have George Lucas, but you have all of the different authors, comic writers, video game writers, etc producing materials that are considered canonical.  How do you approach researching your Star Wars stories?

Read, read, read.  I pore over the Essential Guides, make use of online resources, and pester Leland Chee with questions.

11.    We have seen the expansion of Star Wars storytelling crossing over into other genres of novels with detective stories in the Coruscant Nights series and into horror with Death Troopers and Red Harvest.  As a lawyer, do you think there is room for a John Grisham-esque legal thriller set in the Star Wars universe

 Honestly, that’s a hard one to imagine.  Star Wars stories should at least aspire to touch the myth of the Hero’s Journey, and it’s hard for me to imagine a legal thriller that does that. 

12.   Thank you for joining Lightsaber Rattling for this interview, in closing are there any parting thoughts you would like to share with our audience?   

Only that I want to thank those of you who’ve offered encouragement and kind words.  It’s truly a blast to write in the EU and a big part of the fun is the readers/fans.  So, thank you.

A special thanks to Mr. Kemp for taking the time not only in this interview but in his continued interaction with fans both of Star Wars and his other works.
For more Paul S. Kemp news and information check out the following:

His Twitter: @paulskemp

His Author Page: Paul S. Kemp

To Read Excerpts from Deceived:  Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 3.


  1. Great interview. Thanks to you and to Mr. Kemp.

    I hadn't made it to Mr. Kemp's work yet... but it just jumped up to the top of my reading list. Thank you.

  2. I am currently reading Deceived. I am enjoying it very much, as a critical reader of Star Wars, It very well might become one of my favorites