November 9th, 2007, 07:31 AM
I don't know what sets me off. I try very hard to avoid repeating myself, if only because the act of writing is boring and depressing enough as is (it's an awful lot like being an office drone: a great deal of time is spent in a room alone, staring at a computer). Writing the Same Damn Thing over again would be intolerable.
March 20th, 2008, 10:44 PM
I've got kind of a random purely Star Wars question I've been wanting to ask, but to truly understand what I'm asking I have to provide a little background(shouldn't be too much). The first book of yours I read was Traitor and it is my favorite book, I've read it so many times that I can no longer read it because I can go over it so much faster in my head. The unfortunate side effect of it being so good was that it made the rest of the NJO less good by comparison, especially in relation to Jacen and Vergere, in fact I thought there were two of each: the real version(the one created in Traitor) and the other version(the one present in all the other books). After that when I read the other books I would classify things each character did as something the real one would do, or as something the other one would do. Most of NJO went okay, but I had a few problems in the Dark Nest trilogy with Jacen. In Legacy of the Force those problems got worse, I couldn't finish the series because I felt that the Jacen in that series was doing things that the "real" Jacen would never do, namely falling to the dark side(I've read Traitor enough to know that the dark side is just a name, and I could easily see Jacen taking on that name to do what he feels is right, but I felt he was doing things that that student/gardener at the end of Traitor would never do). My basic question comes down to: to what degree do you agree with me, and why? If anything I said is unclear, or if you don't follow what happens in the LotF, let me know.
March 21st, 2008, 08:42 AM
I am familiar, in broad outline, with the events of the Dark Nest and Legacy series. Haven't read 'em because I've been too busy with the Prequel and OT eras.
As to the specifics of your question, however, I can't give a satisfactory answer. Part of this is due to the simple fact that neither Jacen nor Vergere was originally my character (in fact, the only characters in TRAITOR who were original to that work were the World Brain and Ch'Gang Hool, the Shaper Master -- who was basically just a walk-on, anyway -- and the various extras). Vergere was the creation of Jim Luceno, I believe, and Jacen's roots go so far back into the EU that he was already well-established by the time KJA picked him up for the Young Jedi Knights.
In the Literature forum over at TheForce.Net, there are several lengthy threads discussing the validity of the choices made for Jacen and Vergere. There is really nothing I can add to the discussion, largely because my opinion is exactly that: my opinion, no more. When you come right down to it, on this point I'm exactly on the same level as all of you: a reader trying to assess someone else's story.
But due to my privileged position as a Star Wars novelist, my opinion would be given more weight by the fans than it actually deserves -- it would tend to tip the perceptions of, at least, my particular fans, and even others would be tempted to end arguments with "Well, Matt Stover says . . ." I've decided I just have to keep it to myself.
Sorry for a lengthy reply that doesn't end up saying much. It is what is is.
Last edited by MWStover; March 21st, 2008 at 08:43 AM.
Reason: so my lack of grammar skilz don't make me look like an idiot
March 21st, 2008, 10:32 AM
well, hey I'm just glad you came all the way out here to answer a single question from some random guy.
But I see your point, I guess everything related to novels comes down to opinions, because(as you have stated a time or two on your blog) we all have completely different perceptions of the events and characters. But now I feel fully justified in thinking that LotF is BS, so thanks for that.
May 5th, 2008, 10:03 PM
A question for Mr. Stover
First of all, I'd just like to say that your work has been very important to me for on a year now, and every time I think of reading Caine Black Knife (as you describe it "a gallon of barrel-proof bourbon") I get a welcoming chill of anticipation.
My question is this: as a writer, when working on a project, how and when do you know that previous work you've done for that project is going to have to be deleted and reimagined to make the project follow your new idea? I don't necessarily mean merely erasing old words, I mean more when you can look at things you had seen as set-in-stone elements of plot and character that will need to be completely reworked. I direct this question at you because A) I like your writing, and B) Blade of Tyshalle seemed like a novel that could have easily escaped your grasp and demanded serious revision.
Thank you for your time in looking at this, and let me say that I know the obvious answer is "When the story doesn't work as it is." But how much do you care about preserving your original vision, and how much do you accept the onslaught of new ideas?
May 11th, 2008, 10:11 AM
Replying to this question with an honest degree of emphasis would require me to use words that this site does not encourage.
Blade of Tyshalle is 300,000(!) words long. The reason it is so long is that it did fly out of control, and it did indeed require extensive revision (much of which was done without benefit of editorial input, in the simple process of trying to beat the damned thing into a coherent narrative before I delivered it). There is a whole 'nother book of equal length, or maybe more, that consists of scenes and chapters I cut out of that book because I just couldn't make them work. It is the same with Caine Black Knife -- the material that didn't make the final cut is longer than the book itself.
Now, with CBK, some of the deleted scenes will be resurrected for the follow-up, His Father's Fist; the stuff I cut out of BLADE is just gone forever, and it should be. It was cut for good reason.
See, the problem is that as my narrative skills have developed, it's become ever more possible for me to beat a [crummy] sequence into something that works, at least more or less. Sometimes a sequence is just [bloody] AWESOME . . . like my original version of the introduction of a certain major character in CBK (and HFF), which contained the single coolest fight scene I've ever written, and which I had to cut because as the story developed, the scene just didn't make any [damned] sense.
See, the answer to your question is that there is no answer to your question. Sometimes you can tell when material has to be discarded, because it's premised on plot points you've also had to discard. Sometimes it has to be discarded for more nebulous, intuitive reasons.
For example, there was an entire chapter of BoT that consisted of Caine manipulating Studio politics to get himself transferred to Overworld to find Deliann and bring him back to Earth . . . which culminated in Deliann and Duncan and Tan'elKoth playing a three-way Angel on My Shoulder sequence as each tries to talk Hari into following different strategies for dealing with HRVP.
This had to be cut for two reasons:
The minor reason: It brought the action to a screeching halt, and would force the reader to sit through fifty pages of Guys Arguing About What To Do Next (which, btw, over the course of a month or so of tinkering, I managed to make pretty engaging nonetheless -- see that line about the development of my narrative skills above)
The major reason: by this time in the story, everybody's aching to see Hari be Caine again, crippled or not; to have him go to Overworld then come back to Earth, only turn around and go again . . .
It just felt wrong. When he finally went to Overworld, he needed to go full-commitment, [gonads]-to-the-wall, no turning back. Because that's who he is.
Sometimes you have to throw stuff out because you just have to throw it out. In the words of one of my mentors, Perry Glasser: "You have to learn to be ruthless with your own writing."
And that's the only answer there is.
Last edited by MWStover; May 11th, 2008 at 10:18 AM.
May 11th, 2008, 10:16 AM
Oh, and on the new ideas thing?
I don't have onslaughts of new ideas. I have, if I'm lucky, a trickle of ideas. An occasional dribble.
Basically, I ignore all ideas that don't advance the narrative toward its (sometimes vague) climax -- but it's rarely an issue. My problem is coming up with enough ideas, not being bewildered by too many.
May 11th, 2008, 04:39 PM
Thanks a lot for answering my question. And I'm still in that stage of my career (hah) where there seem to be untold thousands of high concepts flooding against the gates of my awareness, and I want to write about all of them. But I remind myself, ideas are not marketable, only work.
August 13th, 2008, 02:40 PM
\m/ BEER \m/
Saw a rumor that you are tweaking the Barra books. Will Roc be reissuing those are have the rights been reverted back to you?
Also saw something about a non-SW media tie in. Can you give any hints?
Actually re-read BoT and the duality between Caine and Hari and who the real one is resonates a lot for me with Bruce Wayne and Batman, and I'm sure this has been remarked upon in the past. Is there any connection between that and my previous question or is that just wishful thinking?
August 13th, 2008, 05:02 PM
The Barra book rights are mine. Nobody else is really interested in reprinting them right now, though I suppose that could change if I could produce a new book or two.
The tie-in is a video-game narrative that should be pretty easy for me to produce (it kinda plays to my strengths, I believe) and it pays very well. Not STAR WARS-size well, but it's also not going to be a STAR WARS-size headache to produce.
The first person to remark on Caine's debt to Batman was, I believe, Scott Lynch, in a memorable review on RPG.net long before he was a Heap Big Mondo World-Famous Author. Frankly, it had never really struck me. I approached Hari's relationship with Caine from the standpoint of my career as an actor, and as a gamer: how characters you play sometimes reflect more of the truth of who you are than you realize. But when Scottie referred to Caine as a "fantasy Batman," I had to admit he had a point.
August 13th, 2008, 09:18 PM
\m/ BEER \m/
Barra & Co. - I've got the old paperbacks to tide me over.
Video Game? Interesting. I'll be ponying up for whatever it is.
Scott made the connection then? I must have seen it in his RPG.net review as you say. Then again, there is that certain little independent flick in theaters right now. It has only made a few bucks, but it's tough to stop thinking about that movie.
BTW, just finished Blade a few minutes ago and I've gotta say I was rooting Ma'elKoth a little more than Caine in some spots.
Off to Caine Black Knife!
August 14th, 2008, 06:34 PM
*In Napoleon Dynamite voice* Lucky!
Originally Posted by Rob B
January 16th, 2009, 11:42 AM
Hi, Matt. I noticed your post about e-book purchases being much better for you than used copy purchases in another thread, which makes a lot of sense, and it got me wondering. Just for my own curiosity's sake, how do the Science Fiction Book Club sales factor in on the royalty scale? Is it the same as buying a Real Deal First Edition from Amazon or my local Borders? I'm only asking because I bought my copy of Mindor through the SFBC. Thanks and take care!
P.S. I miss deadcities!
December 15th, 2009, 09:40 PM
Alright, not a lot of activity out here in this corner, but I know that MWS is around from time to time, so I shall inquire.
In scouring the internet and picking up the Acts of Caine books, I was stunned to find that there are more books projected in this series. I've been all over the web trying to discover when the next Caine novel is projected for release and......nuthin'. Anybody know?
December 16th, 2009, 06:33 AM
I went looking a couple of months ago after a re-read of Black Knife and sometime in early 2011 was the only estimate I found. I think Mr Stover works it around his bill-paying work, Star Wars etc, but I imagine more exact details will be on his blog nearer the time.
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