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An Interview With...
Darth Ishtar
Can you give a little background information about yourself?

I'm Ish, I was born in the...overrated state of Texas in 1980, but thankfully became a Yankee a few years later and am from Boston, Massachusetts. I have two sisters and one brother. My older sister has a son, so that's the world's cutest nephew and his name is Jordan. Me and my two younger siblings have all been missionaries--three different kids, three different continents, three different languages. I myself learned Spanish and worked in California. I'm 5'2", have red curly hair and green eyes, so if anyone wants a stunt double for Rela, I could do it. I'm studying English at Brigham Young University and want to be a children's librarian.

What was the first Star Wars film you saw at the theatre/cinema?

I saw all three in one day in 1994 when Burlington, MA opened its first movie theater and showed the trilogy. I had never heard of Star Wars, but knew what ROTJ was because it's what I could have watched one day instead of reading the Memoirs of Robert E. Lee. Even at 7, I was a bookworm. In 1993, I dressed up as Princess Leia, but had no idea who she was. I just had long hair.

Now that you have seen them all, which is your fave Star Wars film out of the six and why?

Still will always be
The Empire Strikes Back. I am a sucker for unconventional romances and unhappy endings. I also fell in love with Yoda at first sight and found everything he said to be stunningly profound to my 13-year-old mind. I mean, heck, when I was in the Missionary Training Center, I had a teacher who would use clips of Empire Strikes Back to teach principles of faith, endurance, etc.

Do you feel the Prequels have lived up to your expectations?

Individually, no, but once the whole thing is seen, with the buildups finding their resolution so powerfully, I'd have to say I'm overall thrilled by the prequels. I just want more Qui-Gon and I wish that Sexy Dexy would show up once in a while.

Is there anything you would have changed about the Prequels?

I would have broken the scriptwriters' habit of being name-droppers. They just had to get in every random tie that you could find to the OT and I think it detracted from the overall experience.

Would you be interested in watching a film/TV show of the New Jedi Order period? Or an Old Republic film/TV show?

I would be interested, if certain authors of the NJO weren't asked to write them. But I would love to see an OR film/TV show.

Which of the canon characters do you most empathise with? Why?

I empathize a lot with Leia. I have a very strong will, but a lot of tragedies and I have serious issues with forgiveness, like she does sometimes.

Do you have a fave character from the Prequels and the OT?

My fave character in the prequels will forever be Obi-Wan and it's all Ewan's fault! He made the conflict so believable and powerful that almost all of my memorable moments from all of the movies are his lines or facial expressions. In the OT, if you're talking main characters, Yoda, of course, but I have a very strong fondness for General Rieekan. I've kind of taken him to a hugely involved level in fanfic.

Are there any characters in the films that you loathed?

I absolutely hated Boss Nass. Jar-Jar I forgave eventually, but I could never stand Nass! And pardon me for saying so, but I don't like the Ewoks much.

If you had to pick a fave original character that you have written, which would it be? Why?

If anyone here's read my stuff from pre-2002, they'll recognize Adren Schilian. I created him pre-AOTC as a member of the Council who is the Master of Anakin's best friend. He seems to be my quintessential voice of reason, but has his own faults and therefore has a lot more empathy than many of the Council members. I hated the idea that only Sith deal in absolutes, because we know that the Jedi are just as guilty of it, so I wanted a character who was more flexible.

Who would you cast as your original characters if they were ever in a film?

Ana would be played by Angelique Scarpa (no, you shouldn't have heard of her, she's the one I based Ana on). Yrin would be played by a grown-up Daniel Radcliffe because I like his mannerisms and acting style for that character. Li would be played by Trini Alvarado. Fione would be played by Dipika O'Neill Joti (Depa Billaba actress).

Which of the canon Star Wars characters do you find the easiest to write and why?

Definitely Leia. It's very easy to get into a character's head if you have the same mindset.

Which of the canon Star Wars characters do you find the most difficult to write and why?

Obi-Wan. I love the character, but it takes a lot of work for me to think like him. In the Ani/Obi relationship, I empathize more with Anakin.

How do you rate the Lucas sanctioned novels? Which are your faves?

Some are good. My faves are Shatterpoint, The New Rebellion, X-Wing: Solo Command, and the ROTS novelization.

What are your fave non-Star Wars books and authors? My favorite non-SW books... Okay, for children, it's
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. For teenagers, it's Second Star to the Right by Deborah Hautzig. For adults, I love Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck. I also am a fan of Mark Twain. I love the Iliad, especially in the original Greek and I'm of the Shakespearean comedies and Henry V, Winter's Tale, and Macbeth. My favorite play is Eurydice by Jean Anouilh.

Which was your fave story to write? Why?

I think the series with Yrin/Ana falling in love and then up to them dying in ROTS was my favorite. I loved taking things in stages, referencing private jokes and standing relationships. And I just love Ana and Yrin as a rule. They were the first Jedi I ever tried to write, back in 1999, and I put a lot of thought into them.

Which Round Robin was your fave?

I've only been in one--Swings and Roundabouts--and I had way too much fun with Ty-Gon Jinn and getting our characters into all sorts of trouble! As for ones I've read, I still laugh uncontrollably at A Night to (almost) Remember.

Which story arcs in the Jem Chronicles have you found the most affecting?

The ones involving Jemmy/Obi after Qui-Gon's death. Probably the one that hit me the hardest was the one where Obi-Wan gives one final message to Jemmy.

What would you like to see in a Jem Chronicles AU?

Obi and Jemmy raising Han.

Are there any character deaths that you are interested in reading about?

I'd like to see how, exactly, Toms went out in a blaze of glory. And I want to see Sal-fina bite the dust.

Are there any characters, canon or original that you would like to see more background stories for?

I'd love to see background for Leona. I'm writing "Where Faith Is" and that deals with the daughter she thought dead and I'd love to see the backstory to that.

Do you have a fave scene that you have written in any of your fics?

My favorite in JeChr would have to be
In Song and Story, when Bal's going through the 'survivors' of Geonosis and he talks about how there's nothing glorious about warfare. In any of my fics, my favorite scene would be the cross-examination of Darth Vader during his childrens' war crimes trial in The Other Half: Burden of Choice.

Do you have a fave scene written by somebody else?

In JeChr, the scene where Mace has to tell Dex that Kryztan is no longer his Padawan. Outside of that, in Ophelia's
The First Four Days, there's a scene where Obi-Wan comes home to find 9-year-old Anakin has fixed the double-bladed lightsaber and he instinctively takes a swing at him. He panics when he realizes what he's done and goes to Keme, his "big" sister (Qui-Gon's first Padawan) and has pretty much a breakdown because he has no idea how he can ever train Anakin. It reverts to them talking about Qui-Gon and finally coming to terms with their grief and the scene ends with them holding each other under the scar of a lightsaber burn on the ceiling.

Which Jemmiah Chronicles planet, word, object or character would you like to have seen in one of the films?

I would have loved to see An-Paj with Anakin at Geonosis.

When did you first take up writing and do you ever see it developing into something more than a hobby?

I took up writing regularly when I was about 7 and started writing mini-books with my best friend Kara. I very much plan to see it taken as more than a hobby. I've been published several times, mostly as non-fiction, though I got one historical fiction vignette published in a magazine. I'm currently working on
The Penitence Cycle, which is a very unconventional fantasy story in which the wizards are stripped of their powers because they have been abusing them, but the war is still going on, so the ordinary people have to learn to be the heroes when they're the ones who have been degraded and pushed into the background for centuries.

How much of an influence does real life events have on your writing?

A lot. I'm currently writing Ever the Same, which is an AU of ROTS in which Anakin is abusive and Padme flees to Alderaan, but comes back to save him from turning to the Dark Side. I've been planning a fic like that since I wrote Anakin beating Padme in my first version of Episode III (All the Wrong Places in 2001), but I got married last year and had to leave my marriage because I was being beaten so much. As a result, a lot of the patterns of behavior for both Anakin and Padme are based on me and my ex-husband and it's cathartic because I get to write the happy ending that I never had.

How much of yourself do you put into your original characters?

I put a lot of myself into Ana philosophically, but Li, the timid but quirky librarian, is entirely my sense of humor. Yrin is a lot like me in terms of paranoia.

Do you ever worry about your characters being seen as 'Mary Sues/Gary Stus?

They tend to not have very many special powers at all, so I usually don't have to worry about that. They're the least likely to save the galaxy.

How easy is it to kill off a character you have invented?

Too easy, as any of my readers can tell you. Until July 12, 2006, not one character will die in my stories, but I feel that loss and transition are things that I write best, so I have killed just about everyone you can think of at one time or another.

What is the most difficult subject you have ever tackled in a fic?

Probably domestic abuse, because when I first wrote it, it was repulsive to me, but an indication of Anakin's standing on the Dark Side. Then, in February, I left my own home to hide in Virginia and at that time, I had been about to write a scene for a fic in which Vader telepathically, telekinetically, and physically abuses Leia to drive her to the Dark Side. It took me three weeks of hiding from that story to be able to write that scene and I still bawled through the entire thing. Writing
Ever the Same has been cathartic, but makes me want to be sick every time I sit down to it.

Are there any helpful tricks you employ whilst you are writing?

Put on non-lyrics music that fits the character you're writing. When I'm writing humor, I play a lot of Bach Brandenburg Concertos. Angst always is Beethoven Sonatas. I grew up as a violinist, so I have a strong emotional feedback from the music I listen to. As for writing any kind of action, I always advise standing up and walking yourself through it. THat can be romance OR angst.

Do you have a preference between writing snapshots/viggies or longer fics?

I love longer fics, but I enjoy writing snapshots because it's a very big challenge to get the same kind of emotional punch in a few pages that you can do in 200.

Do you find it easier to write drama, romance or comedy?

Drama, definitely drama.

Are there any subjects you wouldn't want to write about?


How easy do you find writing characters who are children?

I feel like a child a lot, so I can do their actions easily, but writing their dialogue is hard because I have such an extensive vocabulary and very distinct dialectical styles for certain characters.

Do you enjoy writing villains? Do you find it easy to make them three-dimensional?

I love villains, especially ones that you don't expect. Making them three-dimensional, for me, comes down to one line: "I feel the conflict within you."

What, if any, tips to you have for combating Darth Writer's Block?

Write viggies about something unrelated to the story you have DWB on.

How do you think you have changed as an author over the years?

I've become very cynical and bitter about romance, but with the help of a writer, I'm coming back from that, thankfully. I also learned focus at the age of 17 and have been forever grateful to the teacher that made me write a 10-page paper on a 5-minute scene in a movie.

What is it about fan fiction that you like most?

The endless possibilities.