A N I N T E R V I E W
W I T H
KEVIN J. ANDERSON
TFN's Brian Linder recently had the good fortune to chat with Kevin about his latest literary works like The Essential Star Wars Chronology (with Dan Wallace), and his prequel to Dune. KJA also shares his thoughts on Episode I and much more!
Brian: Kevin thanks for taking the time to talk with us. What new Star Wars books or comics are you currently working on and what can you tell us about them?
KJA: Things have
finally quieted down here a bit, now that the Young Jedi Knights series wrapped up with
#14 and my comic series REDEMPTION just released its last episode. Right now, I
still have a few issues remaining in my new JEDI ACADEMY comic series,
"Leviathan," from Dark Horse. My major creative focus in Star Wars right
now is the massive job of the ESSENTIAL STAR WARS CHRONOLOGY, a book to fit in with Del
Rey's "Essential Guides" series, but this one summaries *all* the SW stories and
history and turns it into a coherent epic. I'm writing this with Dan Wallace (who
did the Planets and Droids Essential Guides), and we are sifting through an enormous
amount of material -- trying to prove to the fans that we really had a plan all along
Brian: There's such a frenzy surrounding the recent release of the Episode I trailer. Have you any of the seen the film or read any of the screenplay? If so, what are your impressions?
KJA: Actually, I
haven't seen it or even read the script. I have enough connections at Lucasfilm that
I suppose I *could* talk my way into getting a copy...but that seems a little bit like
opening your presents before Christmas Morning. It's cool and sneaky for a few
minutes, but ultimately you have more fun if you wait until it's time. I want to
walk into Episode I wide-eyed and
fresh, just like when I saw ESB.
Brian: But opening your presents before Christmas morning was so much fun...and you still didn't get to really *play* with your toys until after Christmas anyway! :) Speaking of the trailer...we got our first official glimpse of the evil Sith Lord, Darth Maul in the preview. He wields a double bladed lightsaber. Folks familiar with the your comic Tales of the Jedi will know that Exar Kun was the first character in the Star Wars universe to use such a weapon. Do you think your idea had any impact on this bit of Episode I development?
KJA: Well, I'm certain
it had an impact -- I mean, how could it *not*? George read the outlines for the
new SW novels, but he actually read most of the comics and he gave us specific directions
for the Sith in our TOTJ. The artist and I made up the double lightsaber to go with
the Exar Kun story ... but when I signed contracts with Lucasfilm, I agreed that *they*
own any ideas I contribute to their universe. If they liked something of mine enough
to use in the new films, then I think it's cool. I can always point to it and smile.
(Similarly, a lot of the work I did with Ralph McQuarrie for THE ILLUSTRATED STAR WARS
UNIVERSE ended up being digitized into the "Special Editions" (the Coruscant
stuff, the Cloud City backgrounds). I get a thrill when I see it.
Brian: Obviously, the prequels will introduce new settings and characters that may later be used in the "Expanded Universe". Have you been approached about writing any comics or novels based on the prequels at this time? If so what can you tell us about them?
KJA: I haven't been approached to write any projects set in the prequel time-frame. My understanding is that Del Rey is still developing their program to begin once Bantam's license runs out. Naturally, Del Rey has some of their own authors they may want to use first. Everything's too up in the air right now to talk about any long-range plans.
Brian: So you haven't been keeping up Episode I news at all? I'm curious as to what elements of the story interest you most? In other words, what would YOU LIKE to write about if you could choose from any of the news or rumors that have surfaced?
As I mentioned earlier, I am enjoying the suspense and I am
actively trying *not* to know too much. I read the SW INSIDER, but I am not trying
to spoil any secrets. I do love the trailer, though...
Brian: Fair enough. :) Although we're Star Wars fans at heart, a lot of us equally dig some of your other work. Is your first novel in the Dune prequel series complete? What can we expect?
KJA: My first
novel in "Prelude to Dune" HOUSE ATREIDES has been completed and delivered, all
750 pages of it. I cannot express how pleased Brian Herbert and I are at how well it
turned out. Our editor, agent, and even the head honcho at all of Bantam Books were
overwhelmed -- they had expected a good book, but this exceeded all their hopes (or so
they told us). Brian Herbert and I looked at thousands of pages of his father's
original notes, we read and reread the DUNE books (all 6 of them), and did our best to
create something that really "feels" like a DUNE book. We are just now
beginning to write HOUSE HARKONNEN, Book 2, and just delivered the 75-page outline.
This one looks like it'll be even better than ATREIDES. (Betcha can't tell I'm
excited about this, can you?)
The story tells the love story of Duke Leto and Lady Jessica, their first battles with a "lean and muscular" Baron Harkonnen, and the Imperial Planetologist Pardot Kynes assigned to Arrakis to discover the secret of the spice melange. All DUNE fans should love it. The book will be out the first week in September, and we have already sold French, Italian, and UK rights -- all together, this is the largest single science fiction contract in publishing history.
Brian: Briefly, are there any other X-Files books in your future?
KJA: Not at the
moment. I did three original novels and six comic issues. I still love the
show and the characters -- but all these other projects are absorbing most of my time.
Brian: Many of us movie geeks remember the passing rumor a few months back that your novel Ignition was being looked at as the basis for a new film in the Die Hard series. I know I'm not ready to see Bruce Willis in the Space Shuttle again after Armageddon, and you even stated that you hadn't heard a thing about this when the rumor surfaced. Have you ever considered doing any writing intended solely for the screen, big or small? Will "Illwind" be adapted for TV?
KJA: IGNITION was purchased outright by Universal Studios to be made into a major motion picture; the producer was the guy who did DANTE'S PEAK and COURAGE UNDER FIRE; the screenwriter they assigned was the person who wrote THE MASK OF ZORRO; they paid us a decent amount of money for it...so all looked wonderful. And then it disappeared into Hollywood, with never a peep again. Briefly, I understand (just from rumors) that they were considering selling it over to Fox to be used for a new DIE HARD movie, but Bruce and ARMAGEDDON sort of made that a moot point. No other news on that front.
ILL WIND was optioned by ABC TV for a movie or
miniseries. The script was developed and written by Melinda Snodgrass (a great SF
author who has written a lot of TV, including ST:TNG, LA LAW, and others) -- but just
before shooting was to begin, the programming director at ABC changed over to someone who
prefers the "true inspirational story of the man with athlete's foot who walked on
his hands across Iowa" sort of thing. Who knows where that will go now?
Brian: You and your wife (Kevin is married to Star Wars Author Rebecca Moesta Anderson) have collaborated on a number of projects. When the two of you are working on separately, how much to you get involved in each others work? (as far as sharing ideas, and brainstorming together, etc.)
KJA: Even when a project just has my own name on the cover, Rebecca is always there brainstorming and there to proofread, offer suggestions. I did the same when she does her solo projects (Anakin solo, that is...) Our entire life revolves around writing, and we love telling each other stories, helping out with research, etc. "Normal life"? what's that?
Thanks for your interest. I hope those answers offered a little insight. Best wishes to you all, and keep reading.
Brian: Thanks again Kevin for chatting with us! Best of luck to you.