Face To Face With The Masters
Any citizen of the galaxy may be summoned to answer to the Jedi Council. Here you may read the transcripts of such sessions.
Cellblock 1138 - 1997-1999 - 2000 - 2002 - 2003+
Tom Dupree - Author
Name: Tom Dupree
Alias: "Dupas Thomree" in the Corellian Trilogy, or so I'm
told -- Dupas was a nasty guy and Roger Allen knows I'm a pussycat.
Political Affiliation: Bantam Books / Senior Editor, also Rebel
Vehicle of Choice: Mostly science fiction, plus a touch of Western
& historical fiction, plus Tom Robbins, plus the writers of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER
3000 -- I've edited books with them all.
Weapon of Choice: Blue pencil
The following is a transcript of the Emperor's 'conversation' with
this captured Rebel scum. The Emperor believes that this Rebel Propaganda Editor may have
EMPEROR: SO, PITIFUL YOUNG REBEL, YOU SEEM TO BE IN A BIT OF
TROUBLE, EH? IT WOULD BE TERRIBLE IF I HAD TO HAVE VADER 'DISPOSE' OF YOU. FORTUNATELY FOR
YOU, YOU MAY GET OUT OF THIS ALIVE IF YOU ANSWER ALL OF OUR QUESTIONS SATISFACTORILY. NOW,
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN AN AUTHOR YOU APPROACH TO WRITE A STAR WARS NOVEL?
TOM: First, s/he has to demonstrate talent, imagination and
professionalism in non-SW science fiction. Then there has to be a genuine love for STAR
WARS. We usually approach the writers, not the other way around. Lucasfilm also checks
them out and has final approval.
EMPEROR: SEE, VADER, I TOLD YOU HE WOULD COOPERATE! NOW, WHAT ARE
SOME UPCOMING NOVELS AND LONG RANGE PLANS FOR THE STAR WARS BOOKS? DO YOU HAVE ANY NEWS
TOM: Before the year is out, Michael P. Kube-McDowell will conclude
the Black Fleet Crisis, Michael A. Stackpole's third X-wing novel will be released,
Kristine Kathryn Rusch will give us THE NEW REBELLION in hardcover, Kevin J. Anderson's
DARKSABER will be reprinted and his TALES OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS story collection will
appear. Then after the first of the year we'll conclude the four-book X-wing cycle by Mike
Stackpole, and before long you'll see another Barbara Hambly novel, a trilogy by A.C.
Crispin that gives you some very interesting backstory on Han Solo, and the return of
Timothy Zahn with his titanic THE HAND OF THRAWN. Plus we have some other surprises in
Our long-range plans include maintaining the high editorial quality
that we've given you thus far, and not increasing the frequency of publication beyond what
we've had this year. We want each publication to be special.
EMPEROR: WE'LL SEE HOW 'SPECIAL' YOUR REBEL RAMBLINGS ARE ONCE WE
CRUSH THE REBELLION!! LET'S CONTINUE. GEORGE LUCAS DID A STORY WITH CHRIS CLAREMONT FOR
BANTAM CALLED SHADOW MOON> HAS THERE BEEN ANY TALK OF HIM DOING SOMETHING LIKE THAT FOR
A STAR WARS STORY? HAVE ANY OF THE ACTORS, SUCH AS CARRIE FISHER OR MARK HAMILL,
CONSIDERED DOING A NOVEL?
TOM: I wouldn't want anything to interfere with George's work on the
new STAR WARS trilogy, not even a Bantam book! I wanna see the movies! (By the way, that
Lucas/Claremont story is actually a trilogy. SHADOW DAWN will be here by the end of the
year, with a third book probably in early to mid-1998.)
As for the actors, remember the first thing I look for is a
demonstrated ability to write great science fiction. That's not to say an actor couldn't
do both -- after all, Robert Ludlum was a fine actor before he ever started writing novels
-- but nobody's come forward.
EMPEROR: GOOD, GOOD. ARE THERE ANY PLANS TO HAVE THE MAIN CHARACTERS
GO THROUGH MAJOR LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCES SUCH AS MARRIAGE, MORE YOUNG JEDI CHILDREN, OR
BEING KILLED OFF? (Hideous cackle inserted here.) WOULD LUCAS ALLOW SOMETHING LIKE THAT TO
HAPPEN TO HIS CREATIONS?
TOM: I could tell you. But then I'd have to kill you. Seriously, I
never comment on upcoming plots. Why spoil the surprise for our loyal readers?
VADER: MASTER!! LET ME CRUSH THIS FOOLS' NECK FOR HIS INSOLENCE!
EMPEROR: THERE WILL BE PLENTY OF TIME FOR THAT LATER OLD FRIEND. I'M
NOT DONE WITH HIM YET. NOW, FANS ARE ALWAYS ASKING HOW THEY COULD GET INTO WRITING STAR
WARS NOVELS. SINCE LUCAS HAS ALWAYS BEEN A SUPPORTER OF CREATIVITY AND NEW TALENT, WOULD
IT BE POSSIBLE TO HAVE A STAR WARS SHORT STORY CONTEST FOR FANS IN WHICH THEIR STORIES
(NOT DEALING WITH MAIN CHARACTERS) BECOME CANON AND ARE PUBLISHED?
TOM: As I've said before online, sometimes to a chorus of
razzberries from fans, Lucasfilm has a strict policy forbidding its licensees from even
reading unsolicited creative ideas -- we have to return then unread if the author has
included return postage, and trash them unread if not. The reason for this policy is
obvious if you think about it from Lucasfilm's perspective. The only foolproof way LFL can
protect itself against frivolous plagiarism lawsuits is to adhere strictly to a no-read
policy. That way, even if something similar to one of your ideas shows up by coincidence
in a future STAR WARS project, it *is* only a coincidence -- and we can prove it, because
we *never* read anything we didn't ask for. *Never.* In a letter to me, online, anywhere:
the moment I can tell it's a STAR WARS creative idea, I immediately stop reading and go
into trash mode. While I can't speak for Lucasfilm regarding a short story contest (or
anything else, for that matter!), it sounds to me personally like something I'd rather not
handle. I'd be more excited about getting sf writers whom I love already, and then turn
'em loose on STAR WARS. That's not to say I'm not interested in new young writers, but
remember my first point: demonstrate your ability to write great sf. By the way, there is
one market for SW short fiction that I do know of: the STAR WARS ADVENTURE JOURNAL
published by West End Games. They do a whale of a job over there -- our writers use their
material for research -- but I have nothing to do with the publication and so I don't know
their policies. But anybody who loves SW short fiction ought to be reading that thing,
just like I do.
EMPEROR: NOW THAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ME AND THIS LUCAS
FELLOW. IF SOMEBODY ATTEMPTED TO SUE ME, THEY WOULD HAVE TO FACE 20 STAR DESTROYERS, THE
DEATH STAR, AND MY FRIEND VADER HERE. NOW THAT'S POWER. NOW DO YOU SEE WHY YOU SHOULD JOIN
US? MOVING ON, HAVE ANY AUTHORS EVER TURNED DOWN THE CHANCE TO WRITE A STAR WARS NOVEL?
TOM: Yes, I've been turned down more than once. Some very fine
writers (remember the first thing I look for?), whom I'm positive would have done a
crackerjack job, prefer to stick with their own material, and I respect that. I won't name
them, because I consider those conversations private. But I'll also add that not a single
Bantam STAR WARS author regrets saying yes to me.
EMPEROR: OH, I'M SURE YOU'LL EVENTUALLY TELL US THEIR NAMES. VADER
HAS MANY NEW AND DIFFERENT USES FOR HIS LIGHTSABER, ISN'T THAT RIGHT?
VADER: YES, MY MASTER! (heavy breathing here)
EMPEROR: THE BOOKS SEEM TO HAVE COVERED EVERYTHING THAT THE LAST
TRILOGY COULD HAVE COVERED. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE LAST TRILOGY COULD BE ABOUT?
TOM: I would never try to second-guess George Lucas. It's a fun
Coke-&-pretzels kind of conversation, but really, nobody knows. He's off somewhere
else from you and me. He's not thinking about the movies you've already seen. He's way
beyond that. And to say he has his hands full with three prequel flicks right now is a
mammoth understatement. I think seeing three new prequel movies is fantastic enough. One
step at a time.
EMPEROR: YOU SPEAK OF THIS LUCAS AS IF HE WERE SOME GREAT JEDI
MASTER! WE'LL SOON SHOW YOU WHO THE MASTER IS!!!
VADER: CAN I CHOKE HIM NOW MASTER? (more heavy breathing)
EMPEROR: I SAID WAIT!! SO, DUPREE, DREW STRUZAN HAS DONE AN
EXCELLENT JOB WITH THE BOOK COVERS. ARE THERE ANY OTHER ARTISTS YOU PLAN TO APPROACH FOR
TOM: Besides Drew -- whom we *love* -- we've also used those
fabulous Youll brothers, Steve (the three Kevin Anderson anthologies) and Paul (the X-wing
books). Paul got the X-wing job after doing the first Timothy Zahn Conquerors (not a SW)
novel (see below), I'd said to our art director, "I want a cover that looks like the
first shot of STAR WARS." Paul delivered; then when we were "casting" the
X-wing artist, a light bulb lit above my head and I simply sent the CONQUERORS' PRIDE
cover out to Skywalker Ranch. A no-brainer, as the Lucas folks readily agreed.
EMPEROR: YES, YES! HAVE THERE BEEN ANY PLANS TO DO OTHER MOVIE
RELATED BOOKS SUCH AS CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, E.T., INDEPENDENCE DAY, ETC.? ALSO, WHY HAS THERE
NOT BEEN AN INDIANA JONES HARDCOVER NOVEL YET?
TOM: Matter of fact, there's a STAR WARS story in there. I bought
the rights to the novelization of THE MASK a few years back -- I knew who the Mask was,
who Jim Carrey was (Ace Ventura hadn't yet come out then), and who ILM was, so I sprung:
you should have seen me trying to explain the Mask concept to our publisher a year and a
half before the movie came out! I had admired the heads-up-and-fierce-too work of Steve
Perry on our ALIENS series. (What I Look For #1.) I knew he was a Southern boy, just like
me. Steve grew up in Louisiana, and I'm originally from Virginia, then grew up in
Mississippi. I used all my Southern charm to convince Steve that we'd have *fun* on this
project instead of necessarily a whole lot of gol-darn *money*. Well, one Southern boy can
recognize another one's snake-oil instantly, so I wasn't fooling anyone, but Steve decided
to take the project anyway, and it *did* turn out to be fun. We clicked. I read some of
Steve's science fiction work for Ace, and I was impressed. He has a tremendous ear for
dialogue; he writes scripts for animated TV series. He's an expert martial artist, so his
one-on-one scenes are absolutely perfect. His sense of humor rivals only mine. He does
fantastic bad guys. He is a consummate pro who fights for what he believes in but is
willing to consider another opinion too. When the unique SHADOWS project came up, I sent
some Steve stuff out to Lucasfilm, and our cooperative decision was, I think, one of the
best ones we've made during this whole saga. That said, we don't do a whole lot of
novelizations, only when something really clicks in the screenplay stage. I just read a
screenplay for a future movie that might be fun -- but then I'd have to kill you.
Indiana Jones? I edit those books too. My opinion is, they're
filling the pulp-adventure gap that used to be filled by Doc Savage. In fact, Indy is just
a better educated, more erudite, more human, Doc. Who wants to pay $22 for an adventure
novel? Keep them at the paperback price, then if INDY 4 gets closer to reality, maybe we
EMPEROR: YOU BEGIN TO TRY MY PATIENCE, DUPREE. AND NO, VADER YOU
CAN'T CHOKE HIM....YET. IN TIMOTHY ZAHN'S NEW BOOK, THE HAND OF THRAWN, WILL WE FIND OUT
WHAT THE BECKON CALL DEVICE DID FROM HIS FIRST SERIES?
TOM: ...but then I'd have to kill you. Seriously: I'm the kind of
guy who doesn't want to know what I got for my holiday gift until it's time to open it. I
feel very strongly that I'd be diminishing the fun if I teased you, so I just don't
comment on future plots.
EMPEROR: VADER, LOOSEN THIS PITIFUL REBEL'S TOUNGE.
VADER: WITH PLEASURE, MASTER.
EMPEROR: NOW, WHAT NON-STAR WARS BOOKS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO STAR
TOM: (wheeze, ack!) From SW authors: Read Timothy Zahn's Conquerors
trilogy (CONQUERORS' PRIDE, ... HERITAGE, and ...LEGACY). They really have that SW feel.
DREAMSNAKE by Vonda McIntyre is incredible. CLIMBING OLYMPUS by Kevin Anderson (we're
working together on a non-SW book called HOPSCOTCH which is going to blow your mind). ONCE
A HERO by Mike Stackpole is high fantasy at its finest -- and lots of SW comes from that
discipline. Michael P. Kube-McDowell is a truly incredible writer, as I trust you're
discovering: THE QUIET POOLS is awe-inspiring. I loved BRIDE OF THE RAT-GOD by Barbara
Hambly, but I may just be weird (except there are thousands of others who share my
weirdness). Rog Allen? Read his Asimov books, but hold on for THE DEPTHS OF TIME, one of
the most cosmic ideas I've ever heard of, I am going to try and edit this book for Bantam
if I can manage to get my mind around the huge canvas, , and then it will lay you out flat
cold on the slab when you're through, guaranteed. There are more, I just don't have the
Non-SW: If you love SW, you must read STARSHIP TROOPERS by Robert A.
Heinlein, and do it fast, before it's a big big movie next year. SLAN by A.E. van Vogt.
THE STARS MY DESTINATION by Alfred Bester, one of my favorite writers ever. HYPERION by
Dan Simmons. And go to the video store and ask them for the the Japanese movie THE HIDDEN
FORTRESS for lots of unexpected surprises -- George Lucas was and is a film student, and
the knowledge of the history of his art informs his work just like it does the work of any
other serious artist.
EMPEROR: NOW IT COMES TO THE END. WILL YOU JOIN THE DARK SIDE OR
SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES?
TOM: Hah! At Bantam, the dark side has been vanquished. I lost my
hand in the battle, but that just means I can edit faster. (Besides, I'm left-handed!)
Outside this interrogation room, the skies are full of X-wings. The attack foils are
opening. I can almost hear the astromech data transmissions. LONG LIVE THE REBELLION!
EMPEROR: SO BE IT, ...REBEL.
At the conclusion of this interview, the Emperor fried Tom Dupree to
a crisp with his Dark Side powers. Don't worry, though, the Emperor's throne room floor
had a No-Stik coating on the floor, so all is well. As for the X-Wings Dupree mentioned,
well, ummm....they did relatively minor damage to the palace. Yes, that's it. GLORY TO THE
EMPIRE AND LONG LIVE THE EMPEROR!!!