Production notes and trivia from my experiences on comic books, fiction, and games including
Star Wars: A New DawnStar Wars: Kenobi Star Wars: Knight Errant
Star Wars: Knights of the Old RepublicStar Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith
Star TrekMass Effect Overdraft Iron Man & more!

Order the Star Trek Prey trilogy here!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Midsouthcon schedule -- and C2E2 in review

Immediate business first: I just finished a spot on Good Morning Memphis on the local Fox station for Midsouthcon, which runs this weekend at the Hilton at Poplar and I-240; I now have my programming schedule, as well:

Friday, Mar. 25, 5 p.m.: 
Web Comics panel with me, Chris Haley, Curt Franklin, Rhonda Platania, and Rob Balder (Promenade)

Saturday, Mar. 26, 11 a.m.: 
Worlds of Adventure panel with me, Kurt Busiek, and Nicki Howe (TN Ballroom C)

Saturday, Mar. 26, 7 p.m.:
Star Wars Knight Errant panel with me, Lin Workman, Martheus Wade, and Traci Brown (Promenade)

Erich Schoenweiss, Paul S. Kemp, and me
at C2E2's Star Wars fiction panel
I will also be signing at various times. I know of one collective signing time at 5 p.m. Saturday, but there may be others.

It has been a busy week. Wednesday I spoke to several assemblies at St. Benedict's at Auburndale, the successor school to my old high school; that was a lot of fun. And then before that was C2E2, where I participated on several panels and signings for Dark Horse and Del Rey — and tried hard on Friday not to keel over, as I was probably sicker than I've ever been at a convention. (Something I ate, I think -- all better now!) At C2E2 I also ran into a friend from the Auburndale days -- Chris Hardwick, now of and TV fame. Hadn't seen him in years -- goot to catch up with him again!

A day recuperating in Oak Park on Saturday helped get me back to full power for Sunday, where we had the panel for the Dark Horse Star Wars comics. We discussed Deluge, the next storyline for Star Wars: Knight Errant there -- and you can read more about it here.

Hope to see everyone this weekend at Midsouthcon!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My C2E2 Panel and Signing Schedule

Here's my schedule for the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo:

11:30-12:30: Signing at the Del Rey booth with Paul S. Kemp, author of Star Wars: The Old Republic: Deceived
3:00-4:00: Del Rey panel with Paul and Erich Schoenweiss
6:00-7:00: Video Games and Comics panel with Mass Effect editor David Marshall

4:00-5:00: Signing at the Del Rey booth
5:00-6:00: Signing at the Dark Horse booth

11:30-12:30: Star Wars Comics panel
2:00-3:00: Signing at the Dark Horse booth

See you there!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Congrats to Pat Rothfuss!

The Wise Man's Fear (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2)The Wise Man's Fear, the second book in the Kingkiller Chronicles by Pat Rothfuss, debuted at #1 this week on The New York Times hardcover bestseller list. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy — who I met, of all places, a few years ago at the comics shop we both frequent here in Wisconsin.

It's one of those unlikely stories you remember for a long time: I was doing my Free Comic Book Day appearance at the comics shop we both frequent, when Pat stopped in during the final hour and bought some comics. Talking with him about writing, I learned he had just published a novel — and outside, he handed me a first printing of The Name of the Wind from the trunk of his car.  (Now I wish I'd given him the comics for free!)

Pat stopped by the Krause Picnic-con later that year, and by that time, it was clear that his novel was a Really Big Deal. I've appreciated his advice on the business of writing, and encourage everyone to check out the newest release!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Knight Errant novel answers, Part II

Star Wars: Knight ErrantHere's the rest of the responses to reader questions on the Star Wars: Knight Errant novel. As before, I can't get into anything specific that's coming up in the upcoming comics — and I caution readers who have not read the novel not to go further without considering a Spoiler Warning attached, although these should be pretty safe.

Todd Selby asks: Is there an individual who considers him/herself absolute Dark Lord of the Sith or are the Sith too disjointed at this time?

I think it's clear in the stories that they all think they're the one that should have that title; we just haven't seen anyone who actually says the term. And Daiman and Odion aspire to titles even more grandiose!

Keith "Nar" Kappel asks: In creating all these different Sith Empire cultures for the various enclaves, and the eccentric Sith Lord personalities that rule them, how much was influenced by research into other real-world empires, such as the Roman Empire, Alexander the Great's Greek Empire, Napoleon's French Empire, or other researched areas, and how much of it was just created from your own interest in things to see in the Star Wars Galaxy?

There's a strong Alexander element with Daiman; my initial thinking for the look of the realm was a lot of Greco-Roman themes. Daiman thinks he's living his own myth. In initial conception, Odion had more of a techno-barbarian feel, which made for a nice contrast with the Daimanate. Arkadia clearly drew on more Nordic themes -- an Asgardian Athena, for want of a better term -- with the idea of a structured, command economy built on top of it. So, yes, I'm always mashing up tidbits from here and there, and then fusing them with story opportunities that could only exist in Star Wars.

Loren Bickford asks: "Did any individual, real or fictional, influence the creation of Kerra Holt? Thank you for your time"

Well, Dark Horse editor Randy Stradley came up with the idea of a "lone female Jedi!" But I guess you mean a model for her character. There isn't a single influence. I did some reading on Joan of Arc -- as well as on spies and partisans who worked underground. Some of that obviously also influenced Narsk -- in a sense, they're in the same business of trying not to be seen doing what they're doing.

Robert "Bob" Messing asks: "How on Earth did you come up with such a delightfully bizarre character as Vilia Calimondra?"

I get into a bit of that in the notes for the novel. Suffice it to say that this was a character that I had in mind from very early on -- everything is built on the foundation she created.

Hirogen Hunter asks: "Not exactly Knight Errant but I have to ask. Were the Moomo Brothers inspired by the Venithon twins?"

Since there's an incredibly tangential connection to the novel -- see the notes -- it fits here. No, they were created completely independently; I hadn't read the guide with the Venithons. Someone first mentioned that connection a few years ago, I think. Just a weird coincidence!

Jim Haley asks: "When Narsk is looking back and forth between Arkadia and Kerra (around their first meeting), I was wondering if he was seeing some family resemblance? With all the Sith blood running around this part of the galaxy and Kerra having hailed from here, was there any thought to her being related to Vilia as well?"

No -- it's a pretty big sector. And if you think about it in light of what we learn in the novel, I think you'd agree that that would be overkill!

Nehemoth asks: "Of course there are years between Knight Errant and the rise of Kaan but will we see some of the characters featured in Bane: Path of destruction, such as Qordis or Kopecz? Same for Kerra : is she alive in Bane area? Hundreds, even thousands of sith lords filled up the galaxy : what happened to them in the following years : we only see about twenty sith lords aligned with Kaan. Will we see more of the other Sith Lords such as Lioko and Malakite in "Deluge"?

These are all great questions, but as I noted at the start, I can't speak to anything beyond what's already appeared. There will be more news about the next comics series, Deluge, soon -- watch for it.

OK, there are a few questions left that relate to the end of "Aflame," so I'll address those when I post the notes for #5. Hopefully very soon!

Again, thanks to everyone for their questions, and all the great feedback on the novel. Be sure to spread the word on the bookstore sites where you got the novel!

Novel copies are now on sale at all booksellers and at the following links:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Knight Errant novel answers, Part I -- and Comics Series II!

I have here the first set of responses to reader questions on the Knight Errant novel, but first, there's news in Star Wars Insider #124 on the next Knight Errant comics series. You'll have to pick it up to find out more, but as the name is in circulation, I can say you'll be hearing more about Deluge in the near future.

Now, following the posting of the Knight Errant novel notes earlier this week — and preparatory to my getting notes online for the final "Aflame" issue and some other things — I have the first batch of answers to reader questions below. As it turns out, I am not able to hide text under a jump on my current blog template, so I caution readers who have not read the novel not to go further without considering a Spoiler Warning attached. (Even so, in a couple of places I have reworded questions to protect the names of the guilty Sith.)

Todd Selby asks: "Hey John, I loved the book and am enjoying the comics, as well as your eBook series. One question I have is whether or not Kerra will travel beyond the Grumani sector? There's a lot of story potential in the outer rim where tons of Sith roam unchecked."

There's a lot of potential stories built into the sector map already — but I can say that we will get a sense of what's going on elsewhere in the comics ahead.

Star Wars: The Essential AtlasKeith "Nar" Kappel asks: "Is there any chance we'll get an Essential Atlas-style update for Sith Space with the various Sith Lord sectors for the Knight Errant era? With all the different Sith Lords and planets you are creating, each with their own territory, it'd be nice to help follow the action."

Anything's possible, The trick with this is that, as readers have already found with the "starter map" mentioned above, the territories keep changing. The map of what things really looked like at the start of the novel differs from what they look like at the end of the novel — and if that pattern continues in the upcoming comics, we'd need more than one update!

Joshua Wilson asks: "Is the title 'Darth' not used during this era? I haven't read the Darth Bane books in a while, but obviously Bane uses it. Was he the one to bring that into exclusive use along with the Rule of Two? If not, did some Sith lords use it while others did not, for some reason?"

Star Wars: Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil: A Novel of the Old Republic (Star Wars (Del Rey))I can only say that I have not used it, at least so far; this does not speak to whether it is or isn't in use elsewhere in this time.

As a practical matter, while some of the names (like Daiman and Odion) do have a nice ring with the title, we had a pretty large slate of Sith to deal with, and if some Lords were using aliases for Darths and others, not, things could get complicated pretty quickly. Again, that doesn't say that's the in-universe reason the characters aren't using it, or that we won't see someone who does. I just had plenty of names to juggle as it was!

Basilews asks: "Kerra says that since Chelloa she brought 63,000 refugees to the frontier. Did she mean those Chelloan miners? Or some other people, which means the novel isn't a direct continuation of the first comic arc? If so, what was Kerra doing between these stories?"

She's including the Chelloans in her accounting — she really means "since leaving Chelloa," so they would be a part of that. We also know she was in action on Nilash, although there may have been more stops we haven't seen. The novel is a continuation of the story from the comics, but there are some weeks in there that she describes, during which she was making her way to Darkknell.

Karl asks: "My question is about the Dyarchy. How long was Quillan controlling Dromika for? Did she once have a distinct personality, or was it Quillan using her as a vessel, so to speak?

The novel suggests that he had been using her as his connection to the outside universe for a very long time: the simple request for food indicates that very early on, this was how they were getting their basic needs met. The nanny droids take care of a lot, but when they need something else, that requires the manipulation of an organic mind — and only she could do that. I won't speculate on whether that stretched all the way back to the nursery, but it had been going on for a long time, and as you might expect, there would have been a severe impact on Dromika's psychological development.

Hirogen Hunter asked: "Where does the idea of a crystalline flagship comes from? Are all Arkadianate ships like that? Do these ships have shields or class designations?"

Arkadia's vessels, including the New Crucible, were imagined to tie in thematically to her overall ice-kingdom visual. We've seen crystalline structures in ships from other milieus, but I would expect that, while a different configuration, they'd still have a look that felt like Star Wars ships. We haven't seen her ships depicted by an artist yet, of course.

Jim Haley asked: "While reading about the Sith twins in the Dyarchy, I was curious if the thought came to you that perhaps this is what could have happened to Luke and Leia if they had been found by Sidious — it seemed a very interesting/different take on what the power of Force-wielding twins could mean."

I don't know that I thought of Luke and Leia specifically, but clearly, I was very interested in the idea of a caretaker exploiting the Force talents of his charges. I was also pretty sure that was a situation that could go very wrong for the caretaker as well — resulting in what we see happening to Calician.

Bly asked: "Question about the ranks in Rusher's Brigade: is Brigadier its own standalone rank like in the modern-day British Army, or short for Brigadier General? Likewise Master: short for something, like Master Gunner, or likewise its own standalone rank?"

Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide (Star Wars Roleplaying Game)I brought this question into my notes for the issue. Rusher said that he had adopted his force's ranks from an ancient time — and here, he was referring specifically to the Mandalorian Wars-era ranks outlined in the Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide. Brigadiers led brigades, which were defined as four to nine battalions plus a headquarters unit — overall force ranging in size from 1,000 to 5,000 beings; majors led the battalions.

"Master" in Dackett's case was a shortening of the Shipmaster term from that era, being the highest-ranking naval non-commissioned officer aboard a vessel. This underlines the degree to which Rusher was just making things up on the fly, as Kerra said, mixing his services in arriving at his ranks — but it's safe to say that Dackett was the #2 ranked person in Diligence.

Robert Messing asks: "Who's your favorite character to write in Knight Errant? It's just such a huge cast of memorable characters... I imagine it's probably hard to pick one favorite!"

Jarrow Rusher was probably the most fun to write in the novel — he has his moods, but generally, it was easy to climb into his thoughts and his world. And then, generally, Daiman and Odion are a blast to write — they can be so over-the-top it's fun to show how that plays out in the world around them.

Splinter of the Mind's Eye (Star Wars)Loren Bickford asks: "Have you read many of the Star Wars novels, and if so, did any in particular inspire you to create the never-before-seen era of Knight Errant?"

I go all the way back to Splinter of the Mind's Eye, Loren — I have most of the novels in one of the bookcases here in my office. (I have the comics, games, and other sourcebooks in the other.) As to specific inspirations, I did study up on the Bane novels and, obviously, Jedi Vs. Sith, in figuring out what the future looked like; I worked backward from there.

Darth Cronos asks: "Are there any other Sith lords out there that have the rank and power that [the mystery figure] has, or is she the only one really pulling all the strings?"

We've only seen who we've seen. Arkadia tells us that the people involved aren't a majority of the Sith Lords in the area by any stretch, so there could well be alternate power bases we don't know about.

That's it for this batch, folks — more to come later. While the contest that's mentioned is done, you can still post questions over on the question thread.

Novel copies are now on sale at all booksellers and at the following links:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Knight Errant: The novel notes

A few weeks have passed since the release of the Star Wars: Knight Errant novel, and I am pleased to publish the production notes for the novel. Read up on the making of the story, including the challenges of getting into the head of a character that doesn't want to let anyone near. Dig ye the novel's odd and arduous connections to everything from Barbarians at the Gate to I, Claudius — plus the origin of Kerra's name!  This is a first pass; there are trivial bits I'm sure I'll remember later on as I'm asked about them. You can find the notes here.

I plan to answer the questions for the Ask-Me-Anything in a series of posts here over the next few days (I still have to get the notes for #5 online, too) — but as promised, I did the drawing for the signed copies of both the novel and Aflame #1-5. The winners are Robert "Bob" Messing and Loren Bickford! As I'm familiar with both your names from TFN and Facebook, I'll message you directly for mailing information. So keep checking back for those answers — I'd have had them today, but the notes page was pretty sizable.

Meanwhile, there are not one, but two podcasts out tonight in which I discuss various things including Star Wars. First on Star Wars Action News, we get into Star Wars collecting; then on the Functional Nerds podcast, we really range all over, getting into comics history and my own useless super-power, being able to recite all the cover-price changes in comics history. And also Knight Errant and Lost Tribe, of course.

My panel schedule for C2E2 in Chicago and Midsouthcon in Memphis is taking shape; I hope to have updates for you soon on those. Stay tuned...
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