Interview: Writer DREW KARPYSHYN

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Video game writer and novelist, Drew Karpyshyn has had a hand in crafting stories in two iconic universes. In a galaxy far, far away, Starburst was able to speak with this scribe of sci-fi to discuss his work. Activate the hyper drives and configure the mass relay! We are a go!

Starburst: In the spirit of Starburst, what are your favourite pieces of sc-fi, fantasy and horror?

Drew Karpyshyn: Wow - that's a big question. For sci-fi, I think my favourite piece is the original Alien movie; I'm also a big fan of the novel Snowcrash. For fantasy, I have pretty classic tastes, but I'm going to pull out a novel called Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay as a great stand-alone fantasy work. And for horror, it would probably be something by Stephen King... let's say Salem's Lot.

When was it you knew writing is what you wanted to do as a career?

I've been writing for as long as I can remember. My mom actually saved a story I wrote when I was in the third grade; it's obviously terrible and childish, but it shows that I've been writing almost as long as I could read.

Was it fuelled by what you studied in school/college or was it learned by yourself in your own time?

I did take some creative writing courses in university, and I think they helped me learn my craft. But as a writer, you really need to find your own way. Read as much as you can, and write as much as you can, in a wide variety of genres. That's the only way to really build up your own skillset.

Did you become a writer for a studio first or did you begin writing books?

I sold my first novel to Wizards of the Coast a few months before I was hired by BioWare. The novel didn't actually come out until after my first game credits. So technically the book came first, but both careers sort of took off at the same time.

When did you first see Star Wars and what was your reaction?

I was seven when I saw it, in the theatre. I loved it so much that I went as a jawa for Halloween the next three years.

You have written books of Mass Effect and Star Wars. Both are universes with a variety of races, locations and cultures. How did you find writing these books? Was it overwhelming or did you enjoy the challenge?

I always enjoy anything I write. If I didn't I couldn't sit down and do the work. Of course, when you're working in a shared universe like Star Wars or Mass Effect you have to do your research and you have to make sure everything fits, but I never really found that to be a burden.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

Tough to say; I think I like taking a raw, rough idea and polishing it up into something that I as a reader would want to read myself. It's hard work, and it's easy to find excuses not to write, but once you're done there's a great feeling of accomplishment.

How do you write? Do you write for long periods of time or spread out the workload?

I try to spread the workload out; I can only write for 2-3 hours at a time before my mind gets a little bit fuzzy. Of course, sometimes deadlines creep up on me and I end up having to push things more than I want to. I think that's pretty common for most writers.

What can we expect from you in 2013 and beyond that?

Right now I'm working on an original fantasy trilogy. The first novel, Children of Fire, will be coming out in 2013, though we haven't locked down a date yet. The book is a classic fantasy tale, and I think the style shows the influence of writers I enjoy, like George R.R. Martin, Guy Gavriel Kay and Terry Brooks. Like most of my novels, there will be multiple characters, some murky morality and lots of action... I like to keep the story moving.

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