YS.COM: Lets start from the very beginning: when was the first time you saw Star Wars, and what did you think about it?

S.P.: It was on a Tuesday afternoon, the first week it opened. Tuesdays were my days off from work. The theater was at the Bon Marche Shopping Center, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I loved the movie. When I saw Darth Vader's X-wing go spinning off after the rebel attack on the Death Star, I said "Sequel, yes!" to myself.

YS.COM: How did you first involve with writing Star Wars books?

Aliens versus Predator: PreyS.P.: I had written a movie novelization for Tom Dupree at Bantam -- The Mask. He had been in a hurry, the money wasn't very good, and he felt as if he owed me a favor, so he offered Shadows to me. Because I had done some the first Aliens novelizations, Mike Richardson at Dark Horse liked my work, so he told his connections at Lucasfilm that I would be a good choice.

YS.COM: As a multi-media project, Shadows Of the Empire had many contributors. Your novel told part of the story, while the comic book and the video game filled in the other blanks. What did it take to intertwine all these story points flawlessly and without contradicting the works of the other contributors?

S.P.: I flew to San Francisco and drove to Skywalker Ranch, where I met with most of the principal players on the project. We sat at a big table and hammered out the story line. I took notes, went home, wrote a detailed outline, and that became the template for everything that followed.

I also spoke to other people via phone or by email during the writing, to make sure we weren't geting our wires crossed.

YS.COM: At the conclusion of the comic book Shadows Of the Empire: Evolution, also written by you, we see Dash Rendar and Guri teaming up. Their following adventures have only been hinted at. What do you think the direction the lives of these two characters take might be? Would you be interested in writing a final chapter for them?

Shadows of the Empire: EvolutionS.P.: I would be interested in doing so. My sometime-collaborator Michael Reaves and I have pitched an idea to Del Rey/Lucasfilm that would allow us to use Dash. So far, no word on whether they want to go ahead with that.

YS.COM: The premise of Shadows Of the Empire was that Prince Xizor, leader of the galaxy-wide Black Sun criminal organisation, was the third most powerful being in the galaxy (after the Emperor and Darth Vader), even though many of the galactic residents were not even aware of his existence. How did this idea develop?

Prens XizorS.P.: Lucasfilm had a title, and they had the name Xizor when I joined the project. The idea was to do something with the criminal underworlds in the SW's universe, When we sat down in '94, I think, to hash it all out, we developed a backstory for Xizor and and came up with the name Black Sun. I had used this term in an earlier book for a kind of mafia, and it had a nice ring to it.

We wanted Xizor to be a kind of godfather-character who stayed in the shadows.

YS.COM:  Shadows takes place in a period in which Han Solo is unavailable as a character due to being frozen in carbonite. The Corellian smuggler Dash Rendar takes his place in the adventure by teaming up with Luke, Leia, Lando and Chewie. Some readers have accused him of being a Han Solo clone, which was perhaps inevitable. What do you think about this? Was it a problem during the developing and writing process?

Dash RendarS.P.: We knew some readers would look at Dash as if he were Han's little brother, and that's more or less who he is. We needed Han, or somebody like him. He adds something to the story, and since we couldn't have him, we came up with Dash. I'd love to write a story wherein Han and Dash get together and have an adventure.

YS.COM: Guri was perhaps the most memorable character that was introduced in the Shadows project. There have been other HRDs in earlier Star Wars works, but Guri was the first of her kind in the "modern EU". Were you inspired by something when you came up with the HRD idea? Blade Runner, perhaps or any other thing?

GuriS.P.: I wanted to have a beautiful woman who would be the deadliest of characters, to, as the say in the movies, play against type. And I wanted to deal a little with the idea of slavery, which is touched up on the SW's universe, but seldom explored. There are three kinds of slaves in SW's -- people, droids, and clones, and I thought it would be interesting to deal with somebody who was property, as Guri was.

YS.COM: Between ESB and ROTJ, Luke is in a very precarious position: He has learned that Vader is his father, his faith in the Force and Obi-Wan Kenobi is shaken, he has lost his right hand... He's not a full Jedi, but his Force powers and abilities are considerably advanced. How was your approach to a Luke Skywalker whose character was in transition?

S.P.: That was exactly it -- I wanted to show how he got from being a whining boy at the end of Episode IV, to being a Jedi when he showed up at Jabba's in Episode V.

YS.COM: You've collaborated with Michael Reaves on two Star Wars projects now: 2004's Medstar Duology of Clone Wars-era books (Battle Surgeons and Jedi Healer), and the "Death Star" novel that was released this fall. How did this partnership began, how did you work it out, and what were the pros and cons? Was each author responsible for specific chapters, or did you work as a team on each and every sentence?

Michael ReavesS.P.: We met nearly thirty years ago at a science fiction conference. Later, we attended a writing seminar outside Los Angeles, and we hit it off. He had an idea for a "hard" science fiction novel, but thought he might need some help, so we wrote that together. (Hellstar). We did a sequel (Dome), and then he dragged me into writing animation for television. After a bunch of that, we moved into other projects.

The collaborations have been varied. We would get together, work out ideas, do an outline. On some, I have written a first draft entirely, and then he had rewritten it. On others, we went back and forth, usually chapter-by-chapter, or sometimes taking particular characters or sequences we wanted to do. I wrote most of the fight scenes. With some of the characters, like the droid I-5, Michael wrote most of those scenes.

YS.COM: In both the Medstar Duology and the Death Star, emphasis has been given on the smaller, non-movie, everyday-characters; like Jos Vondar, Den Dhur or Nova Stihl, rather than the big movie names. This seems to have been well receieved by the fans, as it's easy to forget sometimes that other than the Skywalkers, Solos, Palpatine or the Jedi, trillions of regular people also inhabit the galaxy. What is your take on this? Was it a challange to take these never-heard of before people and develop them as characters that the readers genuinely cared about?

Death StarS.P.: Well, you can't mess to much with the movie characters -- they have defined arcs, and you have to follow them. With characters we create, we can do anything we want with them. In Death Star, some of the fans loved the stuff with the original crew, Luke, Leia, Han, Chewy, Obi-wan. Other readers did not like that.

We wanted to see how they behaved from viewpoints other than their own.

YS.COM: In the Death Star novel, we run across some new information about the midi-chlorians, such as the number that an ordinary being could carry in his/her cells. What is your opinion about this whole midi-chlorian concept? Does it contribute to our understanding of the Force, or does it just spoil its mysticism by moving it into a more "physical" realm?

S.P.: I thought the idea of midi-chlorians was less than inspired. I wouldn't have done it, but it wasn't my toy, and once it was put forth, we had to deal with it.

YS.COM: You are one of the few authors who has written Star Wars material under both Bantam and Del Rey licences. What can you say about the similarities and differences between the two licencees regarding your professional relationship with them and the editors' approach to the EU?

S.P.: We have been blessed with really good editors at both houses and at Lucasfilm. Everybody wants to make the books the best they can be, and we all work to that end. All of the editors with whom I've worked -- Tom, Lucy, Sue, Shelly, Leland -- have been reasonable, bright, and good at their jobs. We don't always agree on everything, and there are some built-in constraints -- the books have to be rated G or PG, so no bad language or sex -- but it has been a very good work experience.

When Shadows hit the bestseller lists, Bantam sent me a copy of it, bound in leather and embossed in gold leaf. I thought that was a nice perk.

YS.COM: Are you interested in the EU generally? Do you read other Star Wars books or comics? If you do, what is your opinion of the current Legacy of the Force novel series which take place 40 years after the Battle of Yavin? Do you like the new adventures of the Big Three (Luke, Han, Leia) and the direction the post-Endor EU has taken in recent years?

S.P.: I confess I don't read much in the EU. Now and then I'll read a novel by somebody I know, or the comics, but mostly, I have enough to do that I can't keep up.

YS.COM: Who is your favorite Star Wars author (except Michael Reaves, of course :) )?

S.P.: Since I know a lot of them, I hesitate to pick one out. Generally, I enjoy the writers who come closest to evoking the tone of the movies.

Coruscant Nights: Jedi TwilightYS.COM: We know that Mr. Reaves is still working on his Coruscant Nights trilogy, of which the first book will be published in Summer 2008. Do you have any future Star Wars projects? Which era would you like to explore this time?

S.P.: Nothing on the front burner at the moment, but Reaves and I have, as I mentioned earlier, pitched a new idea for a novel. We'll see what happens on that.

YS.COM: Do you attend to book signing sessions? How are your relations with the fans?

S.P.: Yes, I do signings. Mostly at science fiction conventions. Sometimes at bookstores, and I enjoy meeting fans and talking to them. My people -- without them, I don't have a job.

YS.COM: Neither Shadows nor the Death Star books are released in Turkish yet, but when they are, it would be great to have you in Turkey for a book signing session.

S.P.: I think that would be very interesting. I have never been to Turkey.

YS.COM: Finally, what is your message to the Turkish Star Wars fans?

S.P.: I am pleased and honored to have been asked to speak here to them, and of course, my wish would be for the Force to be with them.

YS.COM: Thank you very much for your time and concern!

S.P.: You are welcome. Thank you for the opportunity.

Thanks to Cem Egit (Nom Anor) and Erman Cetin (Aaron Vinrie) for all their help and support on this interview.