Dan Wallace Taps the Dark Side for STAR WARS: BOOK OF SITH
Dan Wallace Taps the Dark Side
Scroll down to the bottom to see the Sith Holocron in action and peek inside Book of Sith!All you potential Imperials or students at the Academy at Dromund Kaas, prepare yourself for an all-new collection of secrets and artifacts to help you achieve the power you crave. Following up on the successful The Jedi Path book that was the "first artifact from within the Star Wars universe," as it was marketed, this year Lucasfilm has teamed with becker&mayer! books for Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side.
Harnessing the powers of the Dark Side and combing through the texts of six dark lords was no easy task, and the team turned once again to writer Daniel Wallace. After studying the ways of the light side of the force, he took a very different approach for this dark side manual. We talked with Wallace about the unique challenges (and fun) of the Dark Side, what Sith are involved, and some of what makes Star Wars so enduring.
Newsarama: Dan, The Jedi Path was quite the undertaking, and the first of its kind, an actual artifact from within the Star Wars universe. How soon after that did you begin work on Book of Sith? Was it "easier" to do having done one similar before?
Daniel Wallace: I don't think we really knew what to expect with the Jedi Path. It wasn't until fans really started to respond positively to it that we decided to explore ideas for a sequel. The obvious thing to do with a follow-up was to go to the dark side, but we weren't sure what Lucasfilm wanted to do so we actually prepared several alternate ideas and luckily we got approval to go with our first choice, a Sith project.
I'd say it was easier for me as a writer to have had the Jedi Path experience under my belt. But the two projects are very different. The Jedi Path was a textbook with students writing in the margins, so on some level there was a mischievous schoolkid vibe to it that was lighthearted and fun. There's nothing lighthearted about Book of Sith, which gets really heavy and evil in some places. Though that was fun in its own way!
Nrama: You "pulled" this info from the texts of six major players in the Dark Side. How were these six Dark Lords chosen, and what makes each of them uniquely important?
Wallace: The Sith have changed a lot. If you're a gamer who likes the Knights of the Old Republic and The Old Republic franchises, the Sith are more like an all-powerful army. In the movies they're much rarer, "always two there are" as Yoda puts it. So when we selected six authors we wanted them to come from different eras and have different things to say.
Sorzus Syn is one of the Jedi Exiles who are banished to Korriban; she's a spellcaster and alchemist. Darth Malgus is one of the main characters in The Old Republic and is basically a Napoleonic military commander. Darth Bane is the one who created the Rule of Two and is obsessed with personal combat. Mother Talzin is a Nightsister shaman who worships nature's balance. Darth Plagueis is the Emperor's master, and is fixated on the midi-chlorians in a kind of twisted mix of scientific skepticism and Dr. Frankenstein experimentation. And the final author is Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious, who basically sums up all the ways in which the other guys don't know what they're talking about.
Nrama: Mother Talzin is an especially unique character to be included; while she's a force user, and arguably dark side-centric, she's not truly Sith; did that change the way you approached her section?
Wallace: On some level we knew we wanted a character from the Clone Wars animated series. But including Count Dooku, for example, wouldn't have offered anything new that Emperor Palpatine couldn't already do. Mother Talzin gave us the opportunity to have a full-on nature shaman, someone who fully believes in the powers of animal spirits and is interpreting the dark side through a very specific religious lens.
Nrama: What sorts of research did you have to do to find the voice of each Sith? What kind of support did you receive from LucasFilm?
Wallace: Darth Malgus, Mother Talzin, and Darth Plagueis are all involved in current media projects like games, television, and novels, so luckily Lucasfilm was able to provide me with pre-release information on all those projects. But I did a lot of original research too, studying shamanism for Mother Talzin and trying to channel some Leonardo da Vinci for Darth Plagueis. Hopefully they all read as if they have distinct voices, and the book packaging also gives them unique paper styles and cuts, plus unique typefaces and illustration styles.
Nrama: One of the things people really loved about Jedi Path were the additional artifacts within. Tell us a bit about the artifacts we'll find inside the Sith Holocron.
Wallace: Within the pyramidal holocron case are two items -- a Sith talisman resembling the one given to Savage Opress by Mother Talzin in the Clone Wars TV series, and a crimson Sith lightsaber crystal. Tucked into the pages of the book you'll find other goodies like a scrap of an ancient Sith burial shroud with Sith lettering on it, a propaganda poster from Palpatine's new Empire, a battle map for Darth Malgus' assault on the Jedi Temple, and an overview of Palpatine's master plan for the Clone Wars.
Nrama: We have Jedi and Sith covered; do you have any desire and/or plans to do some behind the scenes work with any other groups? Say the Mandalorians for example? (please?)
Wallace: I'd love to! We're still looking into things, but I personally think the Mandalorians would be an awesome idea, or Boba Fett in particular. But the Star Wars galaxy is a big place and there are a lot of other points of view that could be included. Imperial stomtroopers, for example, or smugglers, or X-wing pilots!
Nrama: What do you think of the way the Star Wars franchise continues to expand through things like this book and Star Wars: The Old Republic? Is there a limit to the reach of this behemoth franchise?
Wallace: Don't ask me! I'm always surprised by how Star Wars continues to reinvent itself. I would have expected it to have hit a point of decline long ago, but when I do Star Wars appearances at libraries and bookstores the number of five, eight, eleven-year olds in attendance is just overwhelming. And for them Star Wars is Anakin, Ahsoka, and the clone troopers.
Nrama: Finally, Dan, what was your favorite part of this particular tome to research and write? Was one of the Sith Lords easier to get into than the others perhaps?
Wallace: All of them were fun to write for, but I think I had the most fun with Mother Talzin and Darth Plagueis, who couldn't be farther apart from each other. They both wield magic powers, but Plagueis is a scientific rationalist and Talzin is a spiritual true believer. It was fun getting into each of their heads.
Nrama: Any other final teases or things you'd like to talk about that I didn't touch on?
Wallace: Apart from the Star Wars universe, I'm just finishing up work on Batman: The World of the Dark Knight, which will be out later this year from DK Publishing. It's an overview of pretty much everything Batman, a character whose profile might be raised a wee bit this summer with The Dark Knight Rises.