Interview with Steve Perry
(Original posting: February 8, 1998)

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Steve Perry, author of Shadows of the Empire, was the first author to pen a Star Wars novel that took place between two original trilogy films: The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Most of the books that came out since Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire in 1991 were set after the theatrical trilogy’s finale. Shadows of the Empire is a fantastic piece of work and accurately reflects the action, adventure, and excitement of the original trilogy. It was launched as part of a huge multimedia extravaganza including a CD soundtrack, video game, action figures and toys, comics, and more. Some aspects of the project were even referenced in the Star Wars: A New Hope Special Edition. Steve was kind enough to answer a few quick questions about his work. (Original posting: February 8, 1998)

Shadows of the Empire was the first novel to take place between two films. How did that happen?
Lucasfilm wanted to work in this area, so that was the deal from the start.

Did you meet George Lucas? Did you get any feedback from him?
Nope, he was gone the day I went to Skywalker Ranch. I got a note from him in the book he autographed for me, thanking me for the great work.

When you submitted your outline, was there anything specific that Lucasfilm rejected?
They didn’t want the droids flying the Millennium Falcon scene, but I asked them to let me try it. They grudgingly agreed, then liked it enough to ask me to make it longer. I had one other scene involving a gag where Luke and Lando pull the Falcon into what is essentially a gas station to use the phone, and they didn’t think it was funny, so that went away.

How early on did you know about the scope of the marketing and what kind of pressure did that put on you?
I knew from the word ”Go.” It did make me want to to a good job, knowing how much was riding on it. My editor convinced me I could do it, and not to worry. I knew about the inclusion of things in the Special Edition of A New Hope from the beginning, and it was quite a rush. I had very little control over the look of the merchandising materials. They used my character descriptions and that was about it. I saw the Nintendo 64 game and played it a little, but don’t have one. Looks terrific to me.

How did you like the action figures and toys? 
What I saw looked okay, though Luke had more muscle than he should. I didn’t talk to any of the companies who make ’em.

Have you heard the audio book?
Yes, and it was quite well done. A lot was left out, and I’d rather have had it unabridged, but when you do a condensed version, that’s how it goes.

SOTE was one of the few books to have its own musical soundtrack. What did you think of the the music?
I liked the music a lot, and I also liked the artwork.

Were you always a big Star Wars fan?
Yep. Saw the first movie first week it was out. Loved it. I think The Empire Strikes Back is the best of the three, but I like them all. Got to have them all or the series doesn’t work. A New Hope is the most complete.

Who is your favorite SW character?
I can’t pin that one down. I like all the major characters in the movies, and in SOTE, and all of them are necessary.

How do you come up with character names?
Fertile imagination. I tried in the Star Wars stuff to use names that would sound right in the universe. Lucy Wilson at Lucasfilm actually came up with the name Xizor. It’s pronounced “Shee-zor.” There are all kinds of familiar references and inside jokes in my character names, but I don’t want to give too many of them away. The jewel thief Luke thinks about at one point is one, and the traitor in the sewer is another.

Steve PerryIs Dash Rendar dead and gone after the explosion at the end of the book?
Nope. He’s alive and well.

If you had to cast a SOTE film, who would you put in the main roles?
Since I couldn’t use the original actors for their parts in live action—they’d have to be twenty years younger—I would rather see it as an animated feature so all the originals could play themselves. Voice actors are easier to cast than live action. I wouldn’t much like the job of director. It’s too much work.

Who are your biggest influences as a writer?
Hard to say. I like a lot of writers in a lot of different genres. In science fiction, I like Harlan Ellison and Roger Zelazny, also Harry Harrison. In mysteries, I like John D. MacDonald. Overall, I think John Locke is the best writer in the English language.

What’s a typical day for Steve Perry like?
Weekdays, I get up about 9 a.m., have a cup of coffee, turn on my word processor in my office and do mail or work for a couple of hours. Take the dogs for a walk, have lunch, get back to work until 3 or 4 in the afternoon. I generally work out (yoga, weights, pentjak silat), fix dinner for myself and my wife who gets home around 6pm. We watch the news, a little TV, read. I walk the dogs late, and generally go to bed around 2 a.m.

When will we see another Steve Perry novel?
The paperback version of Leonard Nimoy’s Primortals will be out in April. Isaac Asimov’s I-Bots: Time Was with Gary Braunbeck will be out in June. The first of five issues of the comic series Shadows of the Empire: Evolution are coming soon, After the Fall will be out later this month (February, 1998). I have a couple of spec novels in collaboration with Michael Reaves and K.W. Jeter, thrillers. And a near-future SF novel series I’m ghostwriting for a Big Name Writer. Can’t say who. An animated TV show I can’t talk about yet. I’d like to write the movie tie-ins for the new [Star Wars] movies. Me and everybody else who owns a word processor or a pen.

What’s the last good book you’ve read?
Most recent is Steve Barnes’ horror novel, Iron Shadows.

Will any of your characters be referenced in any upcoming novels? Are authors required to reference other characters and plotlines?
Yes. I wasn’t, I dunno about the other writers in general. The rules are that you do Star Wars material as best you can. Lucasfilm has final approval. It’s their universe.

What is the worst complaint you’ve heard about one of your books?
I wrote a novel called The Trinity Vector. A reader wrote and said he hated it a lot because he didn’t like the ending. In SOTE, the worst complaints are about the Leia/Xizor seduction scene. A lot of fans don’t like the idea that there is sex in the Star Wars universe.

As a rule, being involved in Star Wars generally changes one’s life. How did it change yours?
It allowed me to put the characters through their paces. It got me a lot of fan recognition. It made me a little money. And it made me into a New York Times Bestselling Author, and got me more job offers.

What’s the best advice you can give some of the aspiring Star Wars authors out there?
Write something else first. If you want to write Star Wars professionally, you have to be invited. Only way to get invited is to have a record as a good writer doing similar material. They can pick and choose, and they do.


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This interview has been slightly modified from its original form.

(Original posting: February 8, 1998)

2 thoughts to “Interview with Steve Perry
(Original posting: February 8, 1998)”

  1. Podcast Interview with Steve Perry, Author of Shadows of the Empire from the
    Expanded Universe –

    Interviewer – ‘So what are your thoughts about your book and all the ones that
    came other than this last year are no longer part of the Official Star Wars
    Canon ever since Disney took over?

    Steve Perry – “Ohh they never were! Nothing was ever canon other than the
    movies.”

    The Ritual Misery Podcast with hosts Amos and Kent, 2015

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2569&v=opbMcVJolSA&feature=emb_logo

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