Recently I was very fortunate enough to interview science fiction author Steven Barnes. Steven has been writing for over 30 years and during that time he has written two Star Wars novels, ‘The Cestus Deception’ and ‘The Hive’. I wanted to ask him a few questions about ‘The Cestus Deception’ and here’s what I got.
How did you get into writing?
I’ve written since I was a child. Started submitting stories for publication when I was about 25.
How did you get involved with Star Wars novels?
Editor Betsy Mitchell asked me if I’d write one.
You worked on ‘The Cestus Deception’ which focused primarily on Jedi’s Kit Fisto and Obi-Wan Kenobi, were you provided with any information on the characters developing stories before you started writing, or were you left to find out stuff by yourself and build a story from what you had found?
I pretty much had to do my own research.
What is your writing process?
I go from core idea to outline, researching and working on the outline until it all flows. Then I’ll write the first draft, usually as quickly as possible. Then re-write and polish.
With regards to the ‘The Cestus Deception’ how did it feel expanding on the Stories of such beloved Characters like Kit Fisto and Obi-Wan Kenobi and what are some of your favourite scenes from the book?
My favourite scenes actually deal with the storm troopers–I wanted to ask questions about their humanity, something that had been ignored. I also really enjoyed the amoeboid robots, which was actually an image from a story I wrote in 6th grade!
Does writing for Star Wars bring any added pressure considering how big the franchise is and how passionate the fans are?
Not really. I cared more because of the weight of the franchise, but less because I wasn’t dealing with issues and images of primary importance to me personally. It evened out.
What do you think makes your stories stand out?
I try to write from my own perspective on humanity and reality. And am happy that there are people who find this appealing.
What sort of books do you read?
Mostly nonfiction these days. Various mixtures of science, history, and psychology.
When it comes to writing about Star Wars where do you draw your inspiration from?
The films, which I enjoy greatly.
What are some of your thoughts on the Star Wars films?
George Lucas touched a real nerve, and melded heroic fantasy to science fiction imagery in a way that set people on fire.
Do you have any favourite characters from the franchise, if so, who are they and why?
Obi Wan interests me, because of his strength as both warrior and teacher.
Are there any restrictions when it comes to writing, in terms of character development and plot lines, or do you have a lot of creative freedom?
There were definitely limitations. A billion-dollar franchise protects itself.
When writing Star Wars books, did you have to look into what other authors were also doing and see how you could tie that into your story? (For example, books such as ‘Shatterpoint’ by Matthew Stover and ‘Legacy of the Jedi’ by Judy Blundell that tie into the Clone Wars stories.
I read some of the short stories, but that was it.
What are some of your fondest memories of working on this book?
Traveling to Skywalker Ranch and visiting with the folks at Lucasfilm. They were great!
I would like to say a BIG thank you to Steven for giving me these answers. If you haven’t read the book before, I would definitely recommend it, and also check out some of Steven’s other work.
Stay tuned for more stories coming your way very soon, and may the force be with you all!