Suvudu has added a new Star Wars author interview and this go 'round Matt Staggs chats with Rogue Squadron, I Jedi and NJO author Michael Stackpole. We've included an interesting excerpt below which touches on the restrictive nature of writing in canon, but make sure to click here for the full read.
"I understand that your public career began with the Battletech tie-in novels ? This was certainly where I first encountered your work ? and later transitioned into work on the rightfully celebrated X-Wing: Rogue Squadron novels. All the time you were writing your own original fiction as well. Was there a learning curve with writing fiction set in someone else?s universe, maybe with balancing creativity with respecting canon? If so, how did you overcome it? Also, did writing tie-in fiction later help you with writing your own original novels? Did you learn anything from this process?
There is a common misconception that writing in a canon is restrictive. It?s not. Even when an author is writing in a universe of his own creation, he?s hemmed in by design choices he?s made previously. So, whether it?s in the DragonCrown War universe, or Star Wars, it really boils down to the same thing: tell a good story and make sure it ties into the universe where it is being told. You can?t have Star Wars without acknowledging the existence of the Force, for example; or without embracing the history. If a writer fails in that capacity, they?ve failed to do the job for which they were hired.
Working in a franchise universe does give you a chance at identifying elements that intrigue readers, simply because you hear about those elements for fans. If you will, a franchise universe has already been playtested for you. If you analyze what people enjoy, figure out WHY they like it, and then provide them a story that hits similar highs and lows, you?re good to go. Unfortunately a number of authors refuse to do that sort of analysis in depth, so their stories are all window-dressing and no substance. The fans, quite rightly, complain.
That in-depth analysis, when turned on your own work, really helps a writer identify themes, characters, situations and elements that resonate with the audience. Once you know what those are, you can tailor stories to provide those sorts of experience. Doing that is how a writer actually develops a career."