'The force was with him' when attorney took up writing

By Kurt Anthony Krug

Legal News

When he was in law school at the University of Michigan, New York Times best-selling novelist Paul S. Kemp realized he hated it.

"So I decided that I might have to give some thought into doing something else," said Kemp, 42.

"The funny thing about this is while I hated law school, I liked being a lawyer," he added, laughing.

Kemp is the in-house counsel for Caretech Solutions, a Troy-based technology company. A 1995 alumnus of U-M Dearborn and a 2000 alumnus of U-M Law School, he currently lives in Grosse Pointe Park with his wife Jennifer and their 6-year-old twin sons.

"I read a lot when I was a kid: mostly fantasy, sword and sorcery, science-fiction, speculative fiction, that kind of thing. I always wanted to try my hand at it, so when I went to law school - with all the free time I had there - I started pursuing a writing career then," he said.

Kemp broke into print by having some of his short fiction published at various online magazines in the late 1990s.

From there, Wizards of the Coast - which publishes novels based on its popular "Dungeons and Dragons" role-playing game - had an open submissions policy, where writers could send in a sample of their work.

Editors would evaluate it and assign a novel if the writers met their standards.

Kemp made the cut and was assigned to write a novella called "Resurrection" in "The Halls of Stormweather."

This was the first installment in the "Sembia" series that introduced his protagonist, Erevis Cale, who has been the star of seven novels. Kemp plans to return to Erevis in 2012 with a new trilogy.

He has also written two "Star Wars" novels: "Crosscurrent" (Del Rey, $7.99) and "The Old Republic: Deceived" (Del Rey, $27). A third novel, "Riptide," is scheduled to be released in October.

Based on the popular movie franchise starring Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), all "Star Wars" novels are considered gospel, not fill-in stories, and are approved by "Star Wars" creator/auteur George Lucas in some form or another.

The novels are referred to as the "expanded universe." In the novels,

Han is married to Princess Leia (played by Carrie Fisher in the original trilogy) and they have three children.

"When I signed a deal to do the 'Star Wars' novels, I asked (the editors at Del Rey, the subsidiary of Random House that publishes "Star Wars" novels) to get them to allow me and tell a bit of a side story that doesn't feature any of the main characters.

Normally, what Del Rey does is they have a large meta-plot story going on that tends to center around the Skywalkers and Solos or their kids," he explained.

"There are lots of other bad guys who didn't feature in the movies and have appeared only in the expanded universe... It gave me a lot of creative freedom."

"Deceived," which recently debuted and currently is on The New York Times best-seller list, occurs 3,500 years before the events of 1977's "Star Wars: A New Hope," the movie that started it all.

It is a tie-in to the upcoming "Deceived" massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), where the villainous Darth Malgus leads an assault on the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.

This scene is featured prominently in the trailer to the MMORPG.

Kemp was blown away by the quality of the animation and worked the trailer into his novel.

"It's visually stunning," he said.

During the raid on the temple, Malgus slaughters an old Jedi Master, whose protégé - a Jedi Knight named Aryn Leneer - senses this. She makes it her mission to track down Malgus.

"The broad conflict involves this Jedi pursuing Malgus, while Malgus is attempting to reconcile his view of the Force and what the Empire at the time should be doing instead of what they're actually doing," explained Kemp.

"He runs afoul of his Sith superiors in the course of the novel in the same way Aryn runs afoul of her own belief system. The structure of the novel is about both of these characters... dealing with the failure of the institutions that have been integral to their lives up to that point."

One question Kemp is asked a lot is if he'll ever write a novel featuring Luke, Han, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, Darth Vader, C3-PO, R2-D2, and the other "Star Wars" mainstays from the movies.

"I don't think so," he said.

"Writers bring certain things to the table as part of the craft. Some are very good at plotting, some are gifted at prose, I think where I excel naturally is developing interesting, conflicted characters. To do that, I need a lot of room.

"It's hard to do that with characters with so much history already behind them. It's difficult for me to tell the kind of story I'd like to tell and have it star Luke, Han, Lando, and Leia, and their kids."

Published: Thu, Aug 11, 2011


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