Behind The Mask: The Drew Karpyshyn Interview
Greetings Old Republic Radio faithful! Yes I know it has been a while since last I wrote for you and I apologize for the delay. I really wanted to make it up to all of you with something truly special and exciting for me personally. I had a chance to sit and ask Drew Karpyshyn about some of his work and here is the result of that interview. Please enjoy!
Kelindel: First off I want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to sit down with us here. For those of our readers who may not be familiar with who you are, can you give us some background?
Karpyshyn: I’m a writer, and I’ve written numerous science fiction and fantasy novels. I was the author of the first three Mass Effect novels, and I have four published Star Wars novels – the Darth Bane trilogy and Revan. My newest novel, Star Wars: Annihilation, comes out on November 13, 2012. I’m also working on my own original fantasy series, Children of Fire, which will be published in 2014.
For twelve years I was also a writer for the video game company BioWare. I was the lead writer for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, the first Mass Effect game and a co-lead writer on Mass Effect 2. I was also a writer on several other BioWare titles: Baldur’s Gate 2: Throne of Bhaal, Neverwinter Nights, Jade Empire and Star Wars, the Old Republic. I left Bioware in February of 2012 to focus on my novels.
Kelindel: I would be remiss if I didn’t ask this, but it is clear from your involvement with writing so extensively in the Star Wars universe that you are a fan. What is your favorite of the Star Wars movies?
Karpyshyn: I like Empire the best – it feels like all the actors had a better understanding of their characters, and there are a lot of great moments. I also really like the original, which I saw in theaters when I was very young.
Kelindel: The original Knights of the Old Republic takes place well before the movies and much of the expanded universe’s focus. What went into choosing this era for the backdrop for the Old Republic Games?
Karpyshyn: We wanted a setting that would give us the freedom to tell our own story without having to worry about the story from the films getting in the way. It just felt like the Old Republic era gave us that freedom while still feeling like Star Wars.
Kelindel: What were some of the challenges and benefits of writing in this era?
Karpyshyn: The biggest benefit, as I mentioned before, was the freedom the era gave us. One of the biggest challenges was making sure the era still felt like Star Wars. We wanted to capture the spirit of the films and the setting, but put our own spin on it.
Kelindel: You are often credited with the creation of Revan, one of the most iconic characters in the Old Republic era. How did the character develop as you were writing him? Did you imagine Revan becoming what he is when you began?
Karpyshyn: It’s hard to pin down the evolution of a character. KOTOR was written by a team of writers over a two year period, so the evolution of the character was very gradual and organic – it’s not something I can point to and say “we did X, Y and Z”. And at the time, we were only focused on Revan as he (or she) would appear in our game – we weren’t thinking about how this character would be viewed beyond the scope of the story we were telling. It’s nice to know that Revan has become one of the most popular Expanded Universe characters, but it wasn’t something we were really expecting.
Kelindel: You have since left Bioware and have stated on your website that you are done with video games. Will this be the last we have heard from Revan? Or might his story continue in some other fashion?
Karpyshyn: Revan’s story does continue in Star Wars: The Old Republic, the online MMO. He isn’t the focus of the game, but there is a continuation of the events from the Revan novel. As for what else might happen, I can’t really say at this time. As far as I know there is nothing in the works right now, but I never thought we’d do a Revan novel either, so who can say what might happen down the road.
Kelindel: You have a new Star Wars novel coming out soon. What can you tell our readers about this novel and how it is different from what you’ve already written?
Karpyshyn: Star Wars: Annihilation focuses on Theron Shan, an agent for Republic Strategic Information Services. Theron isn’t a Jedi – he’s basically a spy – so the novel has a very different feel than my Bane or Revan books. It was fun looking at the Star Wars universe through the eyes of a non-Force user, though I wouldn’t call Theron an “average” person – even though he’s not a Jedi, he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve and he knows how to handle himself.
Kelindel: Will you be writing anything more in the Star Wars universe after Star Wars Annihilation?
Karpyshyn: There’s nothing on my schedule right now – for the next couple years I’ll be focusing on Children of Fire, my original fantasy trilogy. The first book in the series, also called Children of Fire, will come out in 2014. But I do enjoy Star Wars, so you never know what the future holds.
Kelindel: You are also working on your own original fantasy trilogy. Can you give our readers a little background on it?
Karpyshyn: Children of Fire is a “sword and sorcery” fantasy series. Here’s a summary from my website:
The Old Gods are dead, sacrificing themselves to create the Legacy: a magical barrier to protect the mortal world from the fires of Chaos and the legions of Slayer, the once mortal champion who dared to rebel against them. Now, after seven centuries, the Legacy is slowly crumbling. The Order, fanatically devoted servants of the Old Gods, seek to preserve the Legacy and thwart Slayer’s return by brutally stamping out the forces of magic and Chaos that seep into the mortal world. But Chaos cannot be controlled or contained. Across the scattered corners of the land four children are born of suffering and strife, each touched by one aspect of Slayer himself – wizard, warrior, prophet, king. Unaware of their true nature, the Children of Fire are hunted by both the religious zealots of the Order and the minions of Slayer. Cursed by their bloody, violent births, each must each do whatever it takes to survive, unaware that one of them holds the key to restoring the Legacy… or to tearing it down.
Like most of my novels, it will feature multiple points of view, giving readers a feel for all the important characters. Also like my other novels, the emphasis is on action and pacing. I love fantasy, but some novels bog down in description or scenes with characters reciting poetry around a fire. That’s not my style – I believe in interesting characters taking action, and I prefer to have constant conflict driving the story.
Kelindel: What was the inspiration for your new trilogy?
Karpyshyn: I never really know what to say when people ask me about inspiration or where my ideas come from. They’re just there, hovering around me all the time. I’ve been working on Children of Fire sporadically for the last decade or so – basically whenever I wasn’t working on a deadline for my other projects. But I was always so busy I didn’t really have the chance to focus on it; that’s one of the reasons I retired from BioWare and video games.
Kelindel: Anything that you can share about the upcoming novels to whet our readers appetites?
Karpyshyn: Star Wars: Annihilation is a great stand alone novel set in the Old Republic setting of the SWTOR MMO. It takes place right after the events of the character story arcs in the game, and it introduces characters and locations that will be featured in the upcoming expansions for the game.
Kelindel: Before we go is there anything else that you have down the pipeline or that you are involved in that you might like to share with us?
Karpyshyn: I’d love to talk more about Children of Fire, but I don’t want to spoil things yet. As we get closer to publication I’m sure I’ll have more to say.
Kelindel: Thank you so much for your time, it has been a pleasure. We wish you luck with the future and are eagerly awaiting the publication of your next novel.
To learn more about Drew Karpyshyn’s current and future work, be sure to check out his website at: http://drewkarpyshyn.com/ or follow his twitter: @DrewKarpyshyn