MATTHEW STOVER INTERVIEW
Best-selling author Matthew Stover recently took time to answer a few of our questions. Stover wrote the critically acclaimed New Jedi Order paperback, Traitor, and well as the recently released Clone Wars novel, Shatterpoint.
MS: Yes and no. Both Traitor and Shatterpoint are, on one level, about dealing with uncertainty -- with situations where it's impossible to know whether you're doing the right thing. Jacen is looking for absolute answers, and has to deal with learning that absolute answers are beyond the mortal mind. Mace already understands the limits of his knowledge; it's his honor -- the Jedi Code itself -- that is under attack.
TUCWS: You're also writing in two different times, decades apart. Between that time, The Empire has risen, the Jedi have been destroyed, a rebellion has over thrown the Empire, a New Republic has been formed and then disintegrated with the Yuuzhan Vong invasion. Is there a big difference in the Jedi's views of the Force in Shatterpoint and Jacen Solo's views?
MS: Of course. Mace is the product of a 25,000-year tradition; he has trained in the way of the Force since he was less than a year old. Jacen knows of the Force only through his own experience, and what he has learned from Luke -- whose Jedi training lasted only months, and was specifically designed to mold him into a human weapon to bring down the Emperor (plus minor lessons from various darksider agents of cloned Emperors, and an old-time master-in-stasis, and that kind of thing). Mace's relationship with the Force isn't the same as Luke's -- but why should it be? He's not Luke. It's also not exactly the same as Yoda's, or Vergere's, or Qui-Gon's. The Force is greater than any words we can use to describe it; it's also greater than any one Jedi's experience of it.
TUCWS: You've said that Shatterpoint is very similar to Joseph Conrad's book, Heart of Darkness, and the movie Apocalyspe Now, mainly similar in themes. In Heart of Darkness, Marlow goes into the African jungle to find Kurtz, and ends up finding out a lot about the human mind. Is this similar to what happens in Shatterpoint?
MS: Shatterpoint was directly inspired by Heart of Darkness; both books are about sane, mature, supremely moral men who find themselves too far beyond the bounds of civilization -- a journey into a jungle that becomes a both a metaphor and a character in its own right. That, however, is about as far as the similarities go; Heart of Darkness is not an action/adventure novel, which Shatterpoint certainly is.
TUCWS: Would it be helpful for the reader to read Heart of Darkness after Shatterpoint?
MS: Everyone should read Heart of Darkness. Period. After Shatterpoint. Or before. During. Even instead of. It's a classic of world literature. And a great introduction to one of the most important novelists in the English language.
TUCWS: By Shatterpoint, the Clone War is well underway. This is very new territory for Star Wars writers, and you're kind of the 'guiding torch' into these dark times. Is this one of the reasons Shatterpoint has been described as fairly dark? Or is that looking too much into it?
MS: Shatterpoint has been described as fairly dark because it *is* fairly dark. It's a war story. War is an ugly business.
TUCWS: How has it been being the first writer to write a Clone Wars novel? There's little reference in the original trilogy, a little in some of the books, and obviously Attack of the Clones, but little in the way of reference while you were writing this. Was that difficult? What did you have to draw on?
MS: All I had to go on was what you've all seen, and a dribble of inside information about how long the Clone Wars will last. For the rest, I and the other writers are having to feel our way through it, just like you are.
TUCWS: Being the first novel, and now that Del Rey and LucasBooks have had experience with long story lines, how, if it does, does this book tie in with future novels? Are there references in Shatterpoint that give us clues on the future of the Clone Wars?
MS: I can't go there. Let me put it this way: I assume that future Clone Wars authors will draw on some of the elements that were created for Shatterpoint, the same way we all draw on previous works -- look at the way Shatterpoint uses the akk dogs from Emissaries to Malastare. Beyond that, deponent respondeth not.
TUCWS: A while back, there was going to be an e-book that tied in with Shatterpoint. Can you tell us about it or what it was about? Will it come out someday?
MS: No, I can't. It was cancelled because Shatterpoint took me so long to write that there just wasn't time for me to pull the e-story together. There's still a chance it could see print some day, and until then . . . well, you know how I feel about spoilers.
TUCWS: What do you think of Mace Windu now? We saw him in Attack of the Clones as a leader of the Jedi Council, as well as a warrior. Has he grown because of the onset of war, or will this book do that to him?
MS: I hope that Shatterpoint will add some dimension to the fans' appreciation of Mace; that's the best I can do. Whether he grows, and how much, is entirely up to Mr. Lucas.
MS: I'm afraid that's just a rumor. I'd LIKE to talk with Mr. Jackson -- I'd love to know if he's read Shatterpoint, and what he thinks of it. And no, the depiction of Mace in the novel is based entirely on published Star Wars materials. Though it's possible some of the SW background stuff might have been influenced by his other work; take his description in the New Essential Guide To Characters, for example...
TUCWS: Interrogation's almost over. Is there anything you can tell us about the future of the Clone Wars project that's going on? Will we be seeing you in the near future sometime?
MS: I can't tell you anything, of course. Mostly because I don't know much, and what I do know is covered by my confidentiality agreement with Del Rey and LFL. While I have no objections to returning to the GFFA (I'm developing a short story right now, in fact), it'll probably be a while before I return at novel length. I have a Caine novel or two that I need to write, first. And then, of course, Del Rey and LFL have to invite me back.
Conducted by Andrew Liptak, June 2003.
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