This interview was originally published on Korpil.net in April 27th, 2010.
Joe Schreiber is a horror writer, who has published “Chasing the dead”, “Eat the dark” and recently the excellent “No doors, no windows”. With a fluid style, easy to devour, he creates realistic worlds that begin to fall apart little by little. Another novel is due soon, “Supernatural: The Unholy Cause”, based on the popular television show. Schreiber is known to Star Wars fans for penning the first ever horror novel, “Death Troopers”.
Hello Joe, thanks for accepting this interview.
Could you tell us something about you? When and how did you became a Star Wars fan?
Been a fan since I was seven. Saw the first one on the big screen and loved it.
If the horror genre is based on our fear of the unknown, what are your favorite topics of personal interest, and which ones do you think are the most interesting to explore on a novel?
Horror or not, my main interest lies in telling stories with compelling, familiar characters in dynamic conflict with one another and themselves. Everything else — plot, atmosphere, suspense, action, emotion — should grow organically out of that. If it doesn’t, as a writer, then I’m sunk.
Which is your favorite horror novel or movie? Which one scared you the most?
The Shining, both the book and the movie, scared me silly. Also some of the more exploitative 70s anti-drug movies, as a kid, really freaked me out. I remember Robby Benson in THE DEATH OF RICHIE really making me sick with fear.
Are there any plans to translate any of your novels to Spanish?
I hope so!
Are you working on a new non-franchise novel? How about one starring Old Vincent? A guy with such good taste for reading deserves a novel of his own.
You liked that, huh? Bartenders make great characters. My next book is about a foreign exchange student who’s really a sexy international assassin. It’s called Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick.
How did you get the opportunity to write a Star Wars novel? Were they looking for a horror novel or did you pitched it to them?
Lucasfilm came to me, which proves, I guess, that fate can be kind. I didn’t hesitate to say yes.
Did you receive advice or assistance of other Star Wars writers, or directly from Lucas Licensing?
I mainly worked with my editor at Del Rey Books, Shelly Shapiro, and her counterpart at Lucasfilm, a very nice woman named Sue Rostoni.
What kind of research did you do in order to write the novel?
I used the Star Wars Essential Guides — droids, ships, weapons, aliens, planets — throughout the writing process. I also watched the movies again so I could get the sound effects right.
Why was the title changed from “Deathtroopers” to “Death Troopers”?
They thought Deathtroopers looked like Deathpoopers. So they broke it up and moved a blood-stain from the t and the r. Then it didn’t look like Deathpoopers anymore.
Han and Chewie have seen (and survived to) such bizarre events that it even if I was surprised upon reading “Death Troopers”, it seemed logical. Which character or characters from the prequels would seem better suited for a horror event?
I really don’t know. The Rancor? Salacious Crumb? I think stormtroopers make great characters. They’re human inside those buckets, after all.
If you are able to speak a bit about “Black Orchid”, your next Star Wars novel, can you clarify if it is a sequel, prequel or has no relation to “Death Troopers”? [Note from the editor: the novel changed its name to “Red Harvest”]
It’s a prequel. It explains the Sith origins of the Blackwing virus.
Why an orchid? Was it necessary to maintain a name that we can immediately relate to a real-world flower? [See note above]
I like orchids. I liked the movie Adaptation too. Lots of orchids in that one.
Have you ever been in Mexico, or another Latin American country? If you’ve been in Mexico, did you try chalupas?
I’ve been to Mexico several times, and I love Mexican food. In fact, if I had to choose one ethnicity of food to eat for the rest of my life, it would be Mexican. No doubt about it.
And now, some questions from the fans.
Lupe, from Monterrey, and Lord Tuetanus from Durango, both ask if you consider yourself influenced by George Romero, was any scene in the novel that could relate directly to his work?
I love Romero’s work. Especially the first Night of the Living Dead, which is so stark and cheap and industrial that it looks like a sixties documentary gone horribly wrong. It’s beautiful.
El Webonauta, from Mexico City asks, which are your favorite Expanded Universe works? Do you have any advice for us aspiring writers?
I don’t really read the expanded universe books. My advice to aspiring writers is to read as much as you can possibly get your hands on, and not just the stuff you want to write. Read poetry, nonfiction, literature, mystery, all of it. And don’t stop writing. I published my first novel at 23 and it took me almost fifteen years to sell the next one. If you love it, and you stick with it, you’ll succeed eventually.
Anwar Vázquez from Córdoba, the book is presented as a Star Wars story but with little connection to other story arcs, why was it decided that this adventure had no repercussions to the rest of the Expanded Universe? He also mentions that some scenes read as if intended for a mature audience, was this a conscious decision? Or was it only what the plot needed?
Lucasfilm said they wanted a George Romero story in a George Lucas universe, so when I cut loose with the gore, nobody had a problem with it. It is true that I set out to write exactly the kind of Star Wars novel that I, as a horror fan, would most want to read. I’m not particularly attached to the Expanded Universe storylines, and I certainly don’t feel as passionately about them as I do about telling a gripping story and including what I love most about the original trilogy of SW films — the tenderness and familiarity of family, the ambivalent notion of technology as both amazing and scary, the sense of what it’s like to be young and far from home. As far as the book itself, I put in all the scenes that I love most about horror/sf classics like Alien and The Thing, and I did everything in my power to supercharge the results.
Héctor Camacho asks, why did you decide to include Han and Chewie? Is this novel part of the Expanded Universe? And if not, why?
I don’t know if it’s part of the Expanded Universe or not. I included Han and Chewie because it was just too tempting of an opportunity, and I’ve never been particularly good at resisting temptation.