Star Wars: Scourge, on-sale today, tackles a relatively unexplored aspect of the Star Wars universe (Hutt politics) and introduces an equally unexplored third party (the Corporate Sector Authority). It is also author Jeff Grubb’s first Star Wars novel. Scourge is based in part on a story from a Star Wars roleplaying game supplement, Tempest Feud. Now, there are no established hazing rituals for new Expanded Universe authors (the only rule is “no disintegrations”), but I decided to go easy on Jeff because I really enjoyed his EU debut. If you’re not sure what to expect from a first-time Star Wars author writing about all-new characters, let me just say this: as much as I love the established material, this was a breath of fresh air. I really recommend picking it up. If you’re like me, finishing Scourge will whet your appetite for more standalone novels set in those corners of the EU that rarely receive the spotlight.
What follows is the first half of my interview with Jeff Grubb. You can find the second half on TheForce.Net.
First of all, welcome to the Star Wars Expanded Universe! What’s your earliest Star Wars memory?
It was my sophomore year at Purdue University, at the Pizza Keg with a group of gamers, SF Fans, and SCA members. One of the group was talking about a new SF movie coming out next summer. He described it as a space opera, but it was the bad guys who wore the white armor.
Who’s your favorite character and what’s your favorite scene involving him/her?
From the movies? Definitely Han, for his amazing ability to leap into the middle of a situation and then realizing he was in over his head. The entire intercom conversation on the Death Star is a great example. (“We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you. How are you?”) This has that moment where he believes – “Yes, this is going to work” before everything falls apart.
Did/do you collect Star Wars memorabilia?
“Collect” is a strong word. Let me say that I “accumulated” instead. I have a full run of the old Marvel Star Wars comics, and had some of the original Star Wars action figures (including a C3PO whose joints were painted over and so as a result had no points of articulation).
How familiar were you with the Expanded Universe before you got the contract for Scourge? What’s your favorite in-universe era?
I have been splanging off the Star Wars universe for years. I was involved with the Star Wars RPG from Wizards of the Coast (my Wookiee is named Whappamanga), wrote several projects for that game, and was one of the designers of WotC’s Star Wars miniature game. And my Lovely Bride has been playing the West End Star Wars RPG for half-past forever.
Favorite era? I am old-school. The Rebellion era is my favorite, followed by the New Jedi Order period.
Did you get any advice from other Star Wars authors as you were writing Scourge?
Troy Denning has been particularly helpful, and I want to thank him publicly for his help and advice. Both he and I are old TSR veterans, and have worked in a lot of shared worlds. Having dealt with the Star Wars universe deeply, he knew how things worked, and gave me a head’s up about what to expect when working with a classic license like Star Wars.
Why did you want to write a book that featured only new characters?
When I started on this book, I pitched a number of concepts to Del Rey. Some of them involved well-known characters, some used minor characters from the canon (Dexter Jettster is also a fave of mine), and some totally new characters. We settled on a story set in a familiar time and place, but with new characters.
Were there ever plans to include established Star Wars characters in cameo appearances?
No cameos in so many words (I just got an image of Han showing up, waving, then leaving). I like the idea that this is a big universe, and there are a lot of stories to be told. However, the iconic characters cast very long shadows, so their achievements and wisdom comes down through the years.