Monday, September 16, 2013

Princess Leia, Fan Fiction, and Martha Wells

Star Wars author Martha Wells was nice enough to do an interview with me about her novel Razor's Edge, as well as characterization, diversity, and fan fiction.

The upcoming Razor's Edge is the first in the three-part Empire and Rebellion series, which will have one book each devoted to Luke, Han, and Leia. Wells is no stranger to Star Wars, and has published original fantasy novels such as The Books of the Raksura and the Ile-Rien series, and two Stargate: Atlantis novels.

Megan: Tell a little about your first impressions of Leia, the first time you saw Star Wars.

Martha Wells: I was 13 when Star Wars first came out, and she had a big impact.  I think it was the fact that she had been captured and tortured and seen her planet destroyed, but she didn't let it stop her, and she didn't show her reaction to that in front of Han and Luke when they rescued her.  She was toughness personified.

M: How about some of your thoughts about her after you realized you’d be writing a book about her?

MW: I wanted to make sure I showed her as a leader, as an important member of the Alliance, as someone who made hard decisions and followed-through.  I didn't want to just show her as a woman who happened to be there with Luke and Han, as their sidekick.

M: Your novel has a diverse group of characters - the book starts out with Leia and a dark-skinned female pilot. How important was diversity to you when you started writing characters like Sian (a dark-skinned woman), Kelvan (a dark-skinned man), and Anakaret (a Twi’lek woman)?

MW: Obviously Star Wars needs more diversity, and I wanted to create some characters that I hoped other writers might like and want to include in their own books, or that fans could write fan fiction about.  I feel like Sian and Anakaret in particular could be the protagonists of some great adventure stories.  I'd really love to see Sian go on an a mission with Wedge Antilles, or Anakaret maybe eventually getting involved with the Rebellion, and meeting Leia again.

M: You’ve written about fantasy creatures a lot in the Raksura books. Was it fun to write for different aliens in the Star Wars universe? Why did you choose the species you did?

MW: The number of different aliens is one of the things I've always really enjoyed about Star Wars, and it was actually hard to pick which ones I wanted to do when there were so many neat ones to choose from.  I tried to pick the ones that would best fit with what I wanted to do in the story, which ones would actually be where they needed to be for the plot, doing what I needed them to do.  I feel like there was so many possibilities, it was like being at a buffet and only being able to put a few things on your plate.
From this article:

Photos by Igor Kraguljac, who has a gorgeous site here:
Martha Wells photographed by Igor Kraguljac:
M: You were a fan fiction writer once upon a time. In what ways, practical or emotional, is writing a tie-in novel different from writing fan fiction?

MW: In fan fiction you have a lot more license to change the universe, to have the canon happen in different ways, to do whatever you want, basically.  In writing a tie-in the readers are going to expect it to be as close to the original material as possible.  It's going to be colored by your interpretations of the characters and the relationships, but I feel like I have to try to get the characters' voices as close to the actors' performances as I can, and to have the world in the book feel like it's part of the world we see in the movies.

 M: Did the fact that you wrote Star Wars fan fiction affect your dealings with Del Rey at all?

MW: No, no one ever mentioned it.  (I know so many writers around my age, especially women, who wrote Star Wars fanfic, that it might be harder to find one who hadn't.)

M: Did anything from your Star Wars fan fiction find its way into Razor’s Edge?

MW: Not really, except for the way I see the characters and their relationships.  I don't think that's changed much from the time I wrote fanfic.

M: Did you have a particularly favorite scene to write in Razor’s Edge? Which?

MW: I think it was Leia and Anakaret in the combat arena, and then Leia confronting Viest afterward.  That was just a fun sequence to write.


M: Although it’s ostensibly a trilogy, the Empire and Rebellion series seems so far to tell three separate stories. Have you had any involvement in the making of Honor Among Thieves or the Luke Skywalker novel?

MW: I talked to James S. A. Corey (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, co-authors of Honor Among Thieves) for a bit, but we didn't discuss each other's plots or what we were planning to do.  We saw the books as being individual writers' takes on the Star Wars universe.

M: Although we all know that Han and Leia end up together, you’re writing the very beginning of their relationship. Can you talk a little about how you wrote them?

MW: When they first meet, I've always thought they were two people who had a lot of chemistry, who were attracted to each other, and grew to like and respect each other pretty quickly, but who also irritated each other a lot.  I wanted to show that growing friendship and attraction, but I also wanted to show the bits where their personalities conflict.

Thanks, Martha Wells! Razor's Edge will be released on September 24, 2013.

Meanwhile, Tricia Barr is slowly unveiling official Razor's Edge art by Magali Villeneuve on Fangirlblog.

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