Author Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff will always be special to Knights Archive because she was our first VIP to accept an interview, back when we were a little blog. We are once again pleased to welcome her to our site! This time, we’ll talk about her latest book: Star Wars: Shadow Games, which is another collaborative work with author Michael Reaves.
Maya, it’s been about 3 months since the release of Shadow Games. What kind of fan reaction have you seen?
Well, the week it came out I screwed up my courage and went and looked at the early reader reviews. They were good. I was especially happy to see people talking about how unexpectedly three-dimensional the characters were and how pleasantly surprised they were with the Javul Charn character. I saw especially positive responses from Dash Rendar fans. It was also on the New York Times top 100 bestsellers list at #25, so we were happy to see that, too.
I’ve gotten some fun tweets from fans who want us to do another Dash book and a couple of people have begged for us to bring back Eaden Vrill (missing and presumed dead.)
The cover art for Shadow Games really does stand out from all the other Star Wars novels in the bookstore. How do you feel every time you see that cover?
I love that cover. The movement, the color, the eye-catching, dramatic quality of it. I like that it’s not too specific to the story, which means it doesn’t give away any of the plot. I hope we get the same artist for the next book (Dear Editor—hint, hint) And of course, there’s just a thrill of seeing it on the new releases table and in the stacks. My friend Seanan McGuire had a release in the same time period, and I took an iPhone shot of the two books sitting together on the “new science fiction/fantasy” shelf at a local Barnes and Noble.
You and Michael have truly provided a much needed break for Expanded Universe fans from all the galaxy-altering events or Jedi vs. Sith struggles we’re accustomed to reading. Was that your intention before and during the creation of Shadow Games?
It was definitely our publisher’s intention. They pay close attention to the fan base and saw, I think, that a number of fans were begging for something that was Jedi-free. Dash Rendar was a pretty undeveloped character as EU characters go, and I think Michael was ready to take a break from the Jedi-Sith conflict. Of course, with the next book, we’re right back in it again. ;=)
Dash Rendar is quite the concerned and responsible bodyguard in this novel. How does that mesh with the preconceived notion that, for the most part, all smugglers are scoundrels?
Yep, but then so is the way that Han Solo goes out of his way for Leia. The thing with Dash is that he’s not a career scoundrel. He was an academy-trained pilot with a rosy future. The scion of a well-placed and solid family with parents and siblings that he loved until it was all taken away by Prince Xizor. (Nothing personal, just business, as the Prince would say.) Dash’s impulse to empathize with victims of injustice and greed lies under a very thin veneer. Underneath the care he takes with Javul Charn is the painful recollection that there was no one to stand up for his family when Xizor made it a useful pawn in his own vendetta against the Emperor.
Speaking of scoundrels… Han Solo. Even though he’s in the back ground in Shadow Games and clearly in it for himself, he ends up playing a major role and comes through for the cause, foreshadowing, perhaps, what he see of him in the Original Trilogy. I’m guessing this was the author’s intention.
Yes, again. That was one of the delightful things about writing Han. We knew how he turned out, so it was fun riffing on the “you’d never see me acting like that over a woman.” Han’s soft spot (not the one in his head), has a different genesis than Dash’s. He’s a veteran loner, but not by choice. He was cheated out of family relationships by a series of people. Ultimately, Han gravitates toward helping Javul precisely because his own life was so manipulated by uncaring forces. There’s a point in the book where we paint that pretty clearly—the reader gets to see “the moment” in which Han decides he’s had enough of being herded by the Empire.
The holostar, Javul Charn, turns out to be quite an individual; much more than meets the eye. Can you tell us about the development of this new and exciting character?
With Javul, the question was always—for me, at least—how can she raise the stakes? What’s her real story and how can it be a big enough story to intersect with THE story of this time period in the GFFA. We wanted her to deke the reader just as she did Dash. Once we decided what her story arc was, I just set about writing her as if she was a real person with certain goals (hidden, of course) that she was willing to do anything to reach. All the time, of course, she had to look to the reader like a loose cannon or a ditz—until the veils start coming off. It’s too bad that I can’t really experience her the way the reader does, because I KNEW her secret the whole time and could only pretend I didn’t.
Has there been any discussion of possible future stories featuring Dash Rendar or Javul Charn?
We’ve pitched an idea to our editors and they haven’t ruled out the possibility. Of course, if fans were to make it known that they’d like to see another Dash and/or Javul book, from Michael and me, we’d be happy to write it.
Moving on to Coruscant Nights IV… Any development on what the final title will be? Jedi Dawn, The Last Jedi, or something else? Where are you in production? Can you tell us anything about the plot at this point?
We are just doing our first round of editorial changes to the manuscript. No definite word on the title, though I note that Jedi Dawn has already been used. And the plot is classified :=)
Do you have other, non-Star Wars projects in the works?
I’ve got a ton of stuff in the works and wish I could clone myself so I could work on all of ‘em. They run the gamut of science fiction to detective fiction to magical realism, but nothing immediately forthcoming, though Michael and I are plotting a non-Star Wars collaboration …. Most recently Book View Café released an anthology of twisted fairy tales entitled “Beyond Grimm” in which I have a couple of stories—as do Vonda N. McIntyre, Irene Radford. and Laura Anne Gilman among others.
Maya, thank you again for visiting with us!
Talking The Last Jedi with Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Knights Archive Exclusive: Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Review: SHADOW GAMES