Friday, June 28, 2013

Interview with Ian Doescher, author of William Shakespeare's Star Wars® - June 28, 2013

Please welcome Ian Doescher to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. William Shakespeare's Star Wars® will be published on July 2, 2013 by Quirk Books.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Ian:  Thank you so much.

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Ian:  When I was in college, I was in a class with my roommate Ethan and our English professor compared my writing unfavorably with Ethan's -- I think the phrase was, "You're not exactly the writer Ethan is." Ouch. So, after college, I got serious about writing both by reading obsessively and by learning what makes good writing good from Larry Rothe, the Publications Director at the San Francisco Symphony (where I worked from 1999-2001). I've been writing casually and professionally ever since, most recently as the Creative Director and primary copywriter for Pivot Group, the marketing agency I work at in Portland. But I've also written a dissertation and worked as a pastor, so I figured if I ever wrote a book it would be an academic book. Imagine my surprise...

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Ian:  Undoubtedly it's that I'm the weirdo who likes writing in iambic pentameter. Also, I'm a compulsive saver -- I'll work on a manuscript for a while and then email both the file and just the text to myself (the poor man's version of cloud computing). I'm a little neurotic about it. But I've also never lost a manuscript (fingers crossed).

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Ian:  At this point in my life, because I work a full-time job and am the parent of two boys, the most challenging thing is finding the time to write. I wrote William Shakespeare's Star Wars® in two- and three-hour chunks late in the evening, while my kids were asleep and my wife was immersed in a British murder mystery series.

TQ:  What is iambic pentameter?

Ian:  Iambic pentameter is a line of poetry with a very specific syllabic pattern. An “iamb” has two syllables—the first is unstressed and the second is stressed. An iamb sounds like da-DUM. "Pentameter" means there should be five iambs in a line, so iambic pentameter is a line of ten syllables: da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM. Simon and Garfunkel have a great line of iambic pentameter in one of their songs: "I'd rather be a hammer than a nail." Shakespeare used iambic pentameter as the meter for his plays, to the chagrin of high school students everywhere. But he also broke the ten-syllable rule as often as he kept it.

TQ:  What inspired you to write William Shakespeare's Star Wars®?

Ian:  Last year, I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, watched the Star Wars trilogy for the millionth time and attended the Oregon Shakespeare Festival with my family. At the Festival, my wife and I saw the funny, gay-marriage-themed, modern adaptation The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa by Alison Carey. So I had mashups, Star Wars, and Shakespeare on my mind, and the morning after seeing The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa I had the idea for William Shakespeare’s Star Wars®.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for William Shakespeare's Star Wars®?

Ian:  Most of the research for the book took place long before I knew I would write it. I read through all of Shakespeare's plays and poems in 1999 and grew up watching Star Wars, so I know it backward and forward. That was my primary research. As I wrote the manuscript, I also got to talk with Lucasfilm about some of the particulars of what is and is not okay within the Star Wars universe. For example, I had written a soliloquy for Darth Vader in which he questions whether the Empire should be killing innocent people. Lucasfilm asked me to cut it, because as of A New Hope Vader has no remorse, period. That was a fascinating process for me as both a writer and a Star Wars fan. I also got a sheet with the official transliterated speech of the Jawas, Greedo and Jabba the Hutt. Fun stuff.

TQ:  Which was the most difficult scene to write?

Ian:  It wasn't difficult scenes so much as difficult lines. I felt a lot of pressure around how I would handle certain famous lines. The one that dogged me the most was Luke's line, "But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!" My original attempt at it was "But Tosche Station wish I to go to, / And there obtain some pow'r converters. Fie!" The first line was just so awkward. I hated it, but couldn't seem to come up with another way to say it. It wasn't until the second proof of the book -- just before it went to press, in other words -- that inspiration hit: "But unto Tosche Station would I go, / And there obtain some pow'r converters. Fie!" Much better.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in William Shakespeare's Star Wars®?

Ian:  My favorite scene in the book is the only truly new scene, which is a dialogue between the two stormtroopers who keep watch outside the Millennium Falcon once it has been taken into the Death Star. I had a lot of fun with that dialogue... I won't give away too much, but it makes clear one of the unspoken rules of Star Wars: for the events of the movie to take place as they do, the Empire and its minions have to be just plain stupid at times.

TQ:  What's next?

Ian:  There are several ideas in play right now, and one manuscript in process. I'd love to write other adaptations in verse, maybe more Shakespearean parodies or something in the style of Dr. Seuss. Of course, it would be great fun to write The Empire Striketh Back...

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Ian:  Thank you. And may the Force be with thee e'er, TQ!

About William Shakespeare's Star Wars®

William Shakespeare's Star Wars®
Publisher:  Quirk Books, July 2, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 176 pages
Price:  $14.95 (print)
Genre:  MashUp / Science Fiction (print)
ISBN:  9781594746376

Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearstome stormtroopers, signifying...pretty much everything.

Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter—and complete with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations--William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the book you’re looking for.

About Ian

IAN DOESCHER has loved Shakespeare since eighth grade and was born 45 days after Star Wars Episode IV was released. He has a B.A. in Music from Yale University, a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in Ethics from Union Theological Seminary. Ian lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two sons. This is his first book.

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  1. Love the cover, Loved the interview, love the concept! Will keep an eye out for it July 2nd!!!