We are honored to present to you a conversation with the prolific science fiction novelist Timothy Zahn! Among his other notable works, he is widely known to Star Wars fans as the man who invigorated the franchise with the spectacular Thrawn trilogy, and has continued that success with such novels as Outbound Flight, Allegiance, and Choices of One.
Many of the characters he’s introduced to the Expanded Universe have become fan favorites, including Mara Jade, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Talon Karrde, and Gilad Pellaeon.
His latest novel, Scoundrels, features Han Solo, Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian in an all new adventure that promises to be fraught with danger, yet fun to read. Along with the familiar characters mentioned above, there is a host of new ones with all sorts of attributes needed to take on an impossible heist.
Mr. Zahn took a break from planning his upcoming Scoundrels book tour to answer some of our questions. Read on for a brief, non-spoiler glimpse into the novel!
Hi Tim! I was pleased to be able to meet you at Star Wars Celebration VI, where you had quite a busy schedule. How was Celebration VI for you, and what do you like most about conventions in general?
CVI was great fun. My main purpose in going to conventions is to meet and interact with the fans; to get feedback on past books, to update them on current work, and to hear about the various directions they’d like to see me go with future books.
I think it’s also useful for readers to be able to match up the author and the book, and doing conventions and other appearances allows me to do that. I think of it as a sort of retro Facebook…
Your next highly anticipated novel is Star Wars: Scoundrels, which features an Ocean’s 11-style heist. Other than hoping they’ll enjoy it, what do you want your readers to take away from this novel?
In all honesty, I wasn’t intending to put any deep philosophical messages into Scoundrels, as there’ve been in some of my other books. My goal here was to simply write a book that would be fun to read, with interesting characters, a knotty problem, a twisty but mostly logical scheme, tension and suspense where appropriate, an occasional plot twist to stir things up, and a satisfying ending.
Without spoiling it, of course, can you describe Scoundrels compared to the subject matter of your other Star Wars novels?
It’s really just as the tag line says: “Star Wars meets Ocean’s 11.” Han, Chewie, and Lando are going to assemble eight other scoundrels and hit up a Black Sun sector chief’s supposedly impregnable vault.
One thing that made Ocean’s 11 so popular was the roster of well-known, and dare I say, handsome actors. I remember it being mentioned in one of the film’s documentaries that nearly every scene featured a gorgeous person to look at. Obviously with a book, you don’t have the advantage of such a visual medium. Did that at all present a challenge to you during the development of Scoundrels?
Actually, the goal here wasn’t really to reproduce any of the Ocean’s 11 movies, either in plot or in the glamour of the stars. (Though it does have Han and Lando in it, so I think we can give Danny Ocean and his crew a run for their money.) Rather, I was hoping to match the movies’ tone, in that our crew is working together as a team, with no one scheming to betray the others and no expectation of anyone collecting a knife in the back when it’s all over.
In my (admittedly limited) knowledge of heist/con movies, the two that come closest to this tone are Ocean’s 11 and The Sting.
And since I already had a cast of eleven…
Which minor character(s) would you like to explore in more detail?
I think all of the new characters could be explored, but for me the most interesting are the sisters Bink and Tavia and the Imperial agent Dayja. I could easily see those three in particular showing up in future books.
Let’s just say it: Scoundrels contains one of the most surprising plot twists of all time. It alone is worth the price of the book, in my opinion. Did you have it in mind all along, or was there a meeting at some point to find a way to knock readers off their feet?
Most of the plot twists in the book were my invention, but the one you’re referring to actually came from Shelly Shapiro and the gang at Del Rey. They brainstormed it out together and suggested it to me, and it was indeed so cool that I grabbed it and ran. I’m hoping the fans will get a kick out of it.
Thanks to Timothy Zahn and Del Rey for this interview! If you want to learn more about Scoundrels, read our review and news links below. Then go buy Scoundrels today!
Megan Sits Down With Timothy Zahn
Novel Review: Scoundrels by Bry Dean
Megan’s Review: Scoundrels
38 Pages of Star Wars: Scoundrels Now Online
Star Wars: Winner Lose All: A Lando Calrissian Tale
Star Wars: Scoundrels Cover Blurb
Star Wars: Scoundrels Full Cover Art
Star Wars: Scoundrels Excerpt!
Star Wars: Scoundrels
Untitled Star Wars Stand-Alone by Timothy Zahn Blurb