Production notes and trivia from my experiences on comic books, fiction, and games including
Star Wars: KenobiStar Wars: Knight ErrantStar Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
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Tales from the Memory Bank: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: Commencement, Part 1

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

http://bit.ly/KOTORMarv1
In honor of the July 1 rerelease by Marvel of the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic comics, I'm revising and updating my production notes here on what I hope will be a weekly basis. You can get Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Old Republic Vol. 1 from your local comic shop, from Things from Another World or from Amazon. You can also purchase signed copies directly from my shop while supplies last.


Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #1
"COMMENCEMENT" PART 1

Art by Brian Ching
Lettered by Michael Heisler
Colored by Michael Atiyeh
Cover by Travis Charest
Edited by Jeremy Barlow and Dave Marshall
Released January 25, 2006 by Dark Horse Comics
Story licensed and © Lucasfilm Ltd.

As with all my “production notes,” consider a “Spoiler Warning” attached. Please read the books first.

Long before I came into the picture, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic began as a video game series – and before that, a sub-genre of Star Wars comics from Dark Horse under the Tales of the Jedi label. My involvement began in early 2005, when editor Randy Stradley and I began discussing some of the features we liked seeing in Star Wars comics: camaraderie, humanity (even among aliens), and drama, among other things. That conversation led to my putting together some thoughts for a series to be launched during Dark Horse’s 20th anniversary in 2006 – and, indeed, KOTOR became the first big event of that anniversary celebration.

As my plans for the series grew in detail, I changed little from my initial pitch for Randy and my eventual editors, Jeremy Barlow and Dave Marshall (except for a bit about Gryph, below). After approval, I turned in the first script and Brian Ching, who had recently drawn Star Wars: Obsession, went to work.

Brian and colorist Michael Atiyeh developed detailed visuals for the series characters – including a lot of important characters that we see in the first issue but that don’t have speaking parts there. By Comic-Con International: San Diego in August 2005, when Dark Horse announced the series, much of the first issue was done – and I had already scripted well beyond that.

The lead time allowed me to concentrate much more on story flow and pacing than I’ve had the opportunity to do in the past. For the most part, Knights of the Old Republic is told as economically as I can manage, with very little “flab” – most every detail included either means something or is deliberately in there because it doesn’t. I was also able to work out much broader plans for how this series fits into the overarching continuity, which readers will be able to better see as we go forward.

After what felt like a long wait, the first issue released exactly on schedule: Jan. 25, 2006, 363 days after Randy and I had that initial conversation. Amazingly, we managed to keep the particulars of this issue’s surprise ending secret almost up until the release. Initial sales were brisk with wonderful reactions from fans to the mysteries the issue posed.

In 2007, the issue was reprinted in Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 1 from Dark Horse; in 2013, it became part of the first Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Omnibus. The cover from this issue would become the cover for both of those. On July 1, 2015, Zayne Carrick made his first appearance at Marvel as the publisher released the issue as part of its Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Old Republic Vol. 1.


TRIVIA
• In my first draft, Gryph was a member of the Ortolan species, the same as blue-elephant Max Rebo from Return of the Jedi. Clever crooks are supposed to be fairly rare for that race, giving Gryph an opportunity to play against type.

But Brian Ching quickly realized it would be hard for Gryph to convey the many expressions my story required without a visible mouth, so I went back to the casting room. I’d always liked the Snaggletooth action figure from the first movie, so it took me less than an hour to suggest that Gryph be a Snivvian. It turned out to be great move for all involved, and a good example of how collaboration in comics works.


• Attentive readers may have noticed that the Jedi Tower, as it appears later in the story, appears in the very first panel. Detail-oriented, that Brian...
The very first Gryph drawing, by Brian Ching. Not an Ortolan!
• If you read closely, you can see how out of step the honest citizens of Taris are. The businessman refers to the Highport area remaining safe, when in fact we’ve just seen what Gryph is doing there!

• Reading between the lines, we also see how Gryph never misses an opportunity. The same warehouse full of busted ale drums and broken droids he tries to sell later as intact droids with drums of machine lubricant…

I considered the double-page scene that preceded it — the one with the Padawans' deaths — so hot for the fan press that I deleted Brian’s preliminary drawing from my hard drive, in case I accidentally e-mailed that image by mistake!

• We worked hard to get Zayne’s and Lucien’s expressions just right for the final page. I think Brian managed to hit just the right notes – because there are several there.

• I managed to get the start date of the Mandalorian Wars wrong by a year, a consequence of my misreading something in one of the game files. We wound up working that into the story, and it became the "False War" period when we described it in the 2008 Campaign Guide.

• There is no scene in the comic book like what we see on the cover of this issue, but it was drawn a good bit before the rest of the comic book was. It was a fine piece of artwork, in any event — and it makes Zayne seem a lot more competent than he actually was!

Next week: Read about issue #2's opening action scene—and my choice to avoid omniscient narrators. Or you can skip ahead and read all the notes for the series, though they're only updated up through this issue.

Read more...

June signings in Illinois

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I interrupt this spring of writing to alert you to the following events...

First, I'll be at the Joliet Public Library's Star Wars Day on Saturday, June 6 in Joliet, Ill. It's a huge event, with a costume parade out front. My first time there; I'm looking forward to being a part of it.

And then on Saturday June 13 I'll be at the complete other end of the state, appearing (for just that day) at Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Ill., along with other comics creators and actors. I've been to Metropolis many times to see the statues but not the event, so this should be fun.

Finally, you can hear be discuss my latest Star Trek novel, Takedown, at the Captains' Table podcast.

And that's all I have time to report. I return you to your regularly scheduled programming!

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Some moments from my Celebration Anaheim trip

Monday, April 20, 2015

Signing for a princess. Photo by Del Rey.
Back from Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, my fourth one of these events and the best yet, in my estimation. I'm thankful to the team at Random House/Del Rey, Lucasfilm, and the event organizers for making it a great experience for me.


While the release of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer was naturally and quite deservedly the big news of the first day — we were all standing in the exhibitor room watching the live event on the big screen above the Lego booth! — I had a fun personal first, doing a seminar on how best to write stories within shared universes.

I've done many panels on writing, but never any really on my own, with a program, before, so it was a bit of a novel experience, no pun intended.


The room was full and we wound up getting started early, giving me the chance to elaborate more on the topic. (The photo at left's from Leland Chee, "Keeper of the Holocron" at Lucasfilm and someone who knows plenty about dealing with milieus with multiple different writers.)

If you weren't able to catch the seminar, you can find an audio recording of it on Tosche Station. It was a fun topic and one I may return to at greater length at some time in the future if enough people are interested.

Photo by Lucas Siegel.
I did several signings with the folks at the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore booth, including a bonus one on Thursday afternoon. (My earlier signing that day overlapped with the trailer's release — I got to see it on Leland's cell phone a little afterward. It looked great, even at cell-phone size!)

I spoke on the Del Rey panel on Saturday, along with Alan Dean Foster, Christie Golden, Jennifer Heddle, James Luceno, and Shelly Shapiro. We announced there the Rise of the Empire collection, a unique volume which brings together James' Tarkin novel and my New Dawn novel, along with some new short stories connecting them and conveying the spirit of life in the Imperial era. I'm writing one of them. The book is out in October and should catch anyone up who missed the earlier volumes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9qQWESbYcA&feature=youtu.be
Photo from the live stream.
I also got to do an interview with tie-in novel legend Alan Dean Foster, who was announced during the Del Rey panel as the writer of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens adaptation. A perfect choice, neatly paralleling his work on the New Hope adaptation years before. I had met Alan before years ago at Midsouthcon in 1993 — but this time I got the chance to talk with him about some of the many tie-in novels he'd written in the past. The interview with the two of us and James Luceno was live-streamed on Star Wars.com, and it can be seen now here at the 5:34 mark.



And then, of course, there were all the great fans and costumers who stopped by to say hi or get pictures taken. I met not one but three Jaraels this year, as well as two Zaynes, all from the Knights of the Old Republic comics.


Again, a great experience. My thanks to everyone who dropped by!

On sale today, I have a short story, "Orientation," in the new Star Wars Insider issue, #157, with art by Brian Rood. It's my first story featuring both the Emperor and Darth Vader, and it ties into Paul Kemp's new Lords of the Sith novel. You can get the magazine from your local newsstand, bookstore, or comics shop.

http://amzn.to/overdraft1Elsewhere, be sure to check out my notes on Star Wars: A New Dawn, posted last week — and, of course, the book, which is now in paperback release.

And as a special bonus, for the month of April, my Overdraft: The Orion Offensive book is just $2 for Kindle users! You can also get the latest adventure of Overdraft star Bridget Yang in Apollo's Daughters, which is on sale now.

And if you're in Wisconsin, here's another event of note: I'll be at the Fox Cities Book Festival this weekend, speaking at 1:30 at the Appleton Public Library.

Read more...

My Star Wars Celebration Anaheim schedule

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Ahoy there! Here be my tentative schedule for Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, April 19-22:

Thursday, 11:00 a.m. to 12 noon
Signing at the Mysterious Galaxy booth

Thursday, 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Rule the Galaxy Together: Writing in a Shared Universe, Star Wars University room, 206AB

• This is my first how-to seminar at any Celebration, and I'm pretty excited about it: I've gathered up a number of pointers from my years of working in tie-in fiction for presentation. Whether you're looking to write tie-ins professionally, writing fan-fiction, or collaborating with other authors on a project for prose, comics, or gaming, these ideas can help you out.

I'll touch on things from turning continuity problems into springboards to best practices for preserving future story opportunities for others.

Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 12 noon
Signing at the Mysterious Galaxy booth

Saturday, 12:00 noon to 1 p.m. 
Signing at the Mysterious Galaxy booth

http://bit.ly/SWI157Saturday, 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. 
Star Wars at Del Rey panel, Behind the Scenes stage
• I'm on this panel about the past and future of Star Wars publishing with Del Rey Editor Shelly Shapiro, Lucasfilm Sr. Editor Jen Heddle, and authors Jim Luceno and Christie Golden.

There are other events coming together, I expect; keep an eye on my Twitter account for details. I'm @jjmfaraway. As I know more, I will do my best to post there.

Some more fun: I have a short story, "Orientation," in the new Star Wars Insider issue, #157, with art by Brian Rood. It's my first story featuring both the Emperor and Darth Vader, and it ties into Paul Kemp's new Lords of the Sith novel. 

http://amzn.to/overdraft1
Be sure to check it out; the magazine goes on sale April 21. You can get the magazine from your local newsstand, bookstore, or comics shop.

Elsewhere, be sure to check out my notes on Star Wars: A New Dawn, posted last week — and, of course, the book, which is now in paperback release.

And as a special bonus, for the month of April, my Overdraft: The Orion Offensive book is just $2 for Kindle users! Reading material for the plane while you're heading to Celebration...

See you there!

Read more...

Star Wars: A New Dawn paperback now available -- plus production notes!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

http://bit.ly/SWNDawnAnd another book for your shelf! Star Wars: A New Dawn is now available in paperback at your local bookseller — and you can also, at long last, find my production notes, trivia, and answers to frequently asked questions here on the site.

It's a wide-ranging document, covering the creation of the book and including trivia that hits stops everywhere from the Civil War to the Russian Revolution, while taking in goofier stuff like the novelty son "Convoy" and the strange 1970s sitcom Holmes and Yo-Yo. If you've read any of the dozens of pages of notes on my other books on the site, you know the drill.

I'll be signing the book on Saturday. April 4 from 1-3 at Book World in downtown Stevens Point, Wis. — and again at Star Wars Celebration, where I'm also appearing, as well as speaking on the main Del Rey panel at 2:30 Saturday, April 18. I also have my own writing seminar for the first time: "Rule the Galaxy Together: Writing in a Shared Universe." Click the link for the time and place. Should be fun!

I'm then appearing at the Fox Cities Book Festival, Saturday, April 25, at 1:30 at the Appleton, Wis. Public Library. Click the link to read my interview with them.


http://bit.ly/SWI157
Next up, I'll have my first Darth Vader/Emperor story in Star Wars Insider #157, which is out in April and ties into the new Paul Kemp novel, Lords of the Sith. Should be some fun surprises in that one. The story is called "Orientation" and you can get it in both newsstand and variant cover editions.

Some catch-up work. I've been in a lot of podcasts recently, but you might pay particular note to My Star Wars Story, which is a series where people do interviews about their paths through fandom. 

I also appeared at MidSouthCon again, thirty years after my first one -- and was interviewed for my hometown newspaper.

More news to come. The spring looks busy!


Read more...

Red Alert! Star Trek: The Next Generation - Takedown is now on sale!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Hailing frequencies... well, you know the rest. My debut Star Trek novel is now on the stands: Star Trek: The Next Generation - Takedown! 

Takedown, as I've mentioned before, is a fun romp of a novel, a true interstellar naval yarn in the Star Trek tradition. From the description:

When renegade starships begin wreaking destruction across the quadrant, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise are shocked to discover that the mastermind behind this sudden threat is none other than Picard’s protégé and friend: Admiral William T. Riker. The newly minted admiral is on board the U.S.S. Aventine as part of a special assignment, even as the mystery deepens behind his involvement in the growing crisis.

http://bit.ly/STTakedownBut the Aventine is helmed by Captain Ezri Dax—someone who is no stranger to breaking Starfleet regulations—and her starship is by far the faster vessel…and Riker cannot yield, even to his former mentor. It’s a battle of tactical geniuses and a race against time as Picard struggles to find answers before the quadrant’s great powers violently retaliate against the Federation…

There's mystery and adventure — and it's written for both the newcomer to Star Trek fiction and to the seasoned veteran. You can find it at your local bookseller and at these outlets:



I have finally gotten online the production notes and trivia for Star Trek Titan: Absent Enemies online here, so you can check those out after you've read that. (You can obtain that novella here.)

Also, I missed the chance to make a post on it last week when it came out, but my Conan story has been reprinted in Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword Vol. 2 from Dark Horse. I'll add notes on that one to the site when time allows.

Read more...

Star Trek: Takedown, beaming soon to a shelf near you!

Friday, January 16, 2015

We're just a short few days as I write this from the release of my first full-length Star Trek novel: Star Trek: The Next Generation - Takedown! 

http://bit.ly/STTakedownTakedown is a fun romp of a novel, a true interstellar naval yarn in the Star Trek tradition. From the description:

When renegade starships begin wreaking destruction across the quadrant, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise are shocked to discover that the mastermind behind this sudden threat is none other than Picard’s protégé and friend: Admiral William T. Riker. The newly minted admiral is on board the U.S.S. Aventine as part of a special assignment, even as the mystery deepens behind his involvement in the growing crisis. 

But the Aventine is helmed by Captain Ezri Dax—someone who is no stranger to breaking Starfleet regulations—and her starship is by far the faster vessel…and Riker cannot yield, even to his former mentor. It’s a battle of tactical geniuses and a race against time as Picard struggles to find answers before the quadrant’s great powers violently retaliate against the Federation…

There's mystery and adventure — and as I realized after the book was completed, the characters never set foot on a planet. It's all starship adventure, as you like it. Takedown goes on sale Tuesday, Jan. 27 at your local bookseller  — and you can also obtain it at these outlets:


In the meantime, some other news of Trek note: I have finally gotten online the production notes and trivia for Star Trek Titan: Absent Enemies. So I'm caught up through... er, last winter. But that's progress. I could use time-warping capabilities...

Read more...

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