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Posted: 24th June  2010

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[ Interviews ]
Tom Taylor

[ Tom Taylor ]

Born in Melbourne, Australia, Tom Taylor is an award-winning writer of theatre, television, radio, musicals, film, magazines, satirical news, sketch comedy and comic books. He is the author of several Star Wars comic stories from Dark Horse Comics including the ongoing Invasion series (set during the devastating Yuuzhan Vong invasion of The New Jedi Order) as well as the graphic novella Star Wars Adventures: Luke Skywalker and the Treasure of the Dragonsnakes. Tom is also the author of the recently announced Jango and Boba Fett four-part comic book series, Blood Ties: A Tale of Jango and Boba Fett and Star Wars Adventures: The Will of Darth Vader graphic novella, both due in August this year.

Star Wars Books are pleased that Tom has taken time out of his busy schedule to participate in this interview.

Tom, welcome to Star Wars Books.
If you like, could we begin with a short description of your work to date?
Sure. In the comics world I'm currently the writer of Star Wars: Invasion for Dark Horse Comics which is illustrated by all-round genius, Colin Wilson, and I'm also the writer of the DC Comics / Wildstorm title, The Authority
In no real order, my other published works include, Star Wars Adventures: Luke Skywalker and the Treasure of the Dragonsnakes, The Example, Rombies and Flinch. The Example and Rombies will actually be solicited through Diamond for the first time in August or September.
Other announced works include Star Wars Adventures: The Will of Darth Vader - set to rock your world in August, A Rombies series (Roman zombies), Brief Cases and The Deep (a creator-owned series about a multicultural family of aquanauts who live in a submarine). 
As a playwright, my plays have been produced across four continents (it's hard to get a gig in Antarctica). I've written for a bit of TV, radio and Film too. 

How did you get involved in comic book writing and what have been your influences?
I've always wanted to be a comic book writer. Seriously, it doesn't get any better than this. I made my break into comics when Colin Wilson helped me adapt my play 'The Example' into a comic book, I've never looked back.
My major comics-writing influences are probably Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Mark Millar, Neil Gaiman, Bendis… actually this list keeps going. There are a number of theatre, film, novel and TV writers who have also had a big influence on me.

What would Tom Taylor's advice be to budding comic book story writers?
Write. Write always. If you can't write something, write something else. Don't write what you hope other people will like, write what you like. The chances are other people will like what you like… unless you're a true freak. Don't be too stressed about finding an artist. Write a great story, draw it with stick figures and stick it on the internet. The internet will be big one day (you heard it here first).

What is a typical day for Tom Taylor like?
My day generally begins when I am kneed in the chest by the full force of a four-year-old jumping on me while screaming 'time to hop up, dad!'. I wrestle with him for a while and then I wander down my hallway and press the power button on my computer. I keep walking to the coffee maker. Sometimes my wife will already have it on, because she's wonderful. I take my coffee back to my computer where I check my emails, Facebook, new comic pages and other art, internet forum chatter about my work, Skype messages from editors and I generally update my website if there's something worth mentioning. Then, once all of that is done, and if I'm heading out of the house to work or heading to Colin Wilson's house for coffee, I will put on pants. 
I often work from a friend's house when they're at work (Hi Kym). Kym is a very close friend and also my 'reader'. She looks at almost everything I write and has stopped some very bad ideas appearing in my work while also inputting some very good ideas of her own. She is a champion. She doesn't get enough credit.
I will spend a few hours writing at Kym's house, or at home if my family is out and about (in which case I won't put on pants), I'll then do regular family things - go to the park, watch TV, eat dinner and hunt neighbor's cats. Once the family is all tucked up, I go to work again. I generally write until quite late, when there are fewer distractions in the world, although I'm often still up when the questions begin from editors across the other side of the world and I do end up doing a lot of correspondence in the wee hours. Then I fall into bed and I am kneed in the chest by the full force of a four-year-old jumping on me while screaming 'time to hop up, dad!'.

What is it like playing in George Lucas's sandpit and what is the appeal of it to you as a writer?
I've raved about how amazing it is to get this gig all over the internet but I will say it again, this is incredible. Do you remember playing with your Star Wars toys? Do you remember the scenarios you created in your head and in your hands? Do you remember the adventures you had in your bedroom or your backyard? 
The appeal is obvious.
I get to do that all over again.

As a contributor, what would you say is the enduring popularity of the Star Wars mythos?
Just look at what it's made up of - Adventure, big emotions and black and white characters, good versus evil, peace versus war, people versus power, swords, spaceships, humour, love, and lying over all of it… magic! How could it not endure?

Congratulations on achieving #5 in February's 'Top Ten' selling graphic novels for Luke Skywalker and the Treasure of the Dragonsnakes and #9 last month for the collated trade paperback of your first Invasion story arc, Volume 1: Refugees. How pleased are you with these sales numbers?
It's not really the sales that please me, although they hopefully make Dark Horse happy. What makes me happy is that this, more than reviews or forums, tells me that people like the work enough to invest in it. I used to be a professional juggler, so I have a weird need to know my audience are happy… probably because, once upon a time, an unhappy audience meant no coins in my hat. 

You maintain a constant online presence through your website www.tomtaylormade.com[External site - opens in a new window/tab] and you contribute to Dark Horse Comics' own Message Boards. How important to you as a writer, is this 'instant' contact with fans?
I do post occasionally in forums but I'm a little wary of them to tell you the truth. I'm always worried something I'll say will be taken out of context or used against me. I do think it's important to keep up a dialogue though, and a fair few fans email me or comment on my website. The website is very important to me. It makes it easy for people to find me and to know what I'm doing, and it also acts as a kind of journal for me to go back and say "Oh yeah, I did that."

In recent times, both John Jackson Miller's Knights of the Old Republic and John Ostrander's Legacy comic book series have each concluded with fifty published issues, can we expect a similar number for Invasion? Or to put it another way, how much of Invasion's story has been planned out?
It's planned a looooooongg way. But, in comics, you never know how far you'll get.

Your Invasion story is set during The New Jedi Order era, how much has your choice of stories or events been restricted by the foretold events of the published nineteen novels of The New Jedi Order?
I don't think I have been restricted. Sure, we can't use the core characters too often but, by realizing this early on, we've found a way to tell our own story that won't be hampered by anything that's come before. Knowing this has forced us another way and, in so doing, has probably freed us creatively. 

The Galfridian family, Caled, Nina, Finn and Kaye are your own creation, but as with any post-Return of the Jedi story it must include, or at least acknowledge for some form of story grounding, some of the established characters (any one or all of the 'Big Three') and/or characters from the Expanded Universe, such as the Solo siblings. As such, do you find it easier writing for your own original creations or for those characters with pre-established personalities?
Strangely enough, despite identifying with Luke the most, Han was the most natural established character to write. I think his speech and his mannerisms were burned into my brain from a very young age so, when it came time to write him, it just flowed out. However, my characters, as they've developed as characters, have really developed their own voices. Kaye, especially, just smacks me around and tells me how to write her.

Although many fans have focused their attention on Finn, his Jedi training and possible future role as a Jedi Knight, it is at this early point in Invasion's story that Finn's sister, Kaye, is arguably the stronger of the two siblings, even of the whole family. There are also distinct parallels between Kaye, Princess Leia (in A New Hope) and Queen Amidala (in The Phantom Menace), was there a conscious effort on your part to create Kaye as another royal heroine and if so, why?
Strong women have been a theme of Star Wars from the beginning and also a theme of my life - I was raised by a single mother. I also have the toughest Grandma in the world. Kaye is the stronger character and the stronger person. She would kick Finn's ass in a fight. I don't know why everybody assumes Finn is the main character, for me, this is a book with two main characters. Kaye's role will grow a lot in Rescues

The New Jedi Order novels document the schism created within Luke Skywalker's Jedi Order by the Yuuzhan Vong invasion, will we be witness to the consequences of the schism in Finn's story?
Yes… but maybe not in the way you think.

So far, Invasion's characters have shown great fortitude and resilience in the face of enduring hardship and danger, but is there scope for some lesser will in these characters or even weaker characters in this story?
Absolutely. I don't think Finn is the strongest of characters but he will grow. Nina has already been shown to be quite flawed. Kaye will really be put through the ringer by the events of Rescues. Caled has a traitor in his midst… who knows if he'll even survive this?

Invasion comics returned at the end of May with Invasion: Rescues issue #1, the start of the second story arc, what tidbits can you offer the fans?
The books can't tell the whole story. The Galaxy is huge. The Invasion is huge. Something big can occur without Luke Skywalker even knowing about it…

As well as Invasion, you are also busy writing at least four stand-alone graphic novella stories as part of Dark Horse's Star Wars Adventures series (your first, Luke Skywalker and the Treasure of the Dragonsnakes is available now; the second, The Will of Darth Vader, will be released in August; while the third and fourth have yet to be announced), is there any other Star Wars stories/series that you would like to be involved in?
I'm writing four? Okay… cool.
I seriously love writing Star Wars. No matter what I'm doing or how busy I get, if Dark Horse will have me, I will always be happy writing something in this universe. 
And speaking of which… just announced is the miniseries Blood Ties: A Tale of Jango and Boba Fett - which will feature fully painted art by Chris Scalf. I'm really having a fantastic time writing this and the story has a lot more layers to it than you would expect from a standard four part series. Issue one ends with a hell of a cliffhanger.

Finally, if you could meet face-to-face with any fictional person and could only ask them one question, who would that person be and what would you ask them?
Wow. That's a really good question… but I'm tired and it's getting close to that time when I get kneed in the chest.
So, I'll just say Superman. And I wouldn't ask a question. I'd be lost for words.

Thank you Tom for your time, it has been a pleasure and wish you every success in the future. Our thanks go to Tom Taylor for participating in this interview and to Jim Gibbons at Dark Horse Comics for arranging it.



Invasion Volume 1: Refugees, the graphic novel collating the first Invasion story arc, is available now from Dark Horse Books in the US and Titan Books in the UK (you can read Star Wars Books' review of it here), while the second story arc, Rescues, has just begun its comic book release with issue #1 available now and issue #2 out on June 30th.
You can also follow Tom's writings on his website at
www.tomtaylormade.com[External site - opens in a new window/tab].

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