Bantam Spectra Wavelength Interview With Barbara Hambly - Spring, 1995
In yellow are the questions, then Ms. Hambly's answers are in white (at least, that's how I designed it to look...)
1. Was any single one of your previous works a preparation or departure point for your writing a Star Wars story??
Possibly my first published work, The Time of the Dark, a trilogy, comes closest to the "feel" of a Star Wars story in terms of action and mythic quality, but I would not call it in any way a "preparation" or a "precursor." I have written a good deal of fantasy, which is - I think more than science fiction - a literature of self-discovery, of character development. This was a good foundation, particularly for Luke's part of the story.
I have for a long time wanted to work with Luke Skywalker as a character, and in particular with Luke at this stage of his life: someone who is going to be a wise and powerful master later on, but who is just learning to be wise, and hasn't gotten the "powerful" part quite in line yet, wither - the halfway stage, which is the hardest part of learning.
What trepidations, if any, did you have walking into someone else's universe - a universe already intimately familiar to millions of readers?
I didn't worry so much about fan reaction, since all of the novels are, in a sense, personal interpretations. having read the other Star wars novels, I understand that some writers comes closer to my personal vision of the characters and universe, [while] other don't come so close to mine but are closer to someone else's vision. Part of the fun of multi-author series is seeing how "Author X"'s take on Han and Leia differs from "Author Y"'s portrayal. My chief worries about working in an already-established universe were about unwittingly violating some personal taboo of the series' creator. Both other "shared universes" that I've worked in - Star Trek and Beauthy and the Beast - were, like the Star Wars universe, personal visions of a single individual, and in both of them, there were things that the creator would rather writers stayed away from.
Fortunately, the Star Wars universe is extensively "mapped out" in the gaming field, and I was able to take planet names, alien races, technology and details from the West End Games materials.
I read the other novels for continuity, but re-watched all three films for the important stuff: the way the characters reacted to one another, the "look" of the universe, the pacing, and the way in which the story was put together, and - what is most important to me - the speech-patters of the characters, the sound of their voices. If I'm writing Han Solo's dialogue, I want my readers to be able to hear Harrison Ford's voice.
How would you characterize current SF literature to readers unfamiliar with the genre, or to who have predisposed ideas about what an SF novel is?
It's difficult to characterize science fiction literature because there are several major currents, ranging from highly literary and intellectual speculation to roller-coaster spaceoperas to moody "film-noir"-style cyberpunk, and all of them contain both marvelous entertainment and junk. Chiefly, [SF is] a literature of logical extrapolation: "what if...?"