The year was 1987. It was the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school and my Spanish class was taking a week long trip to Mexico. It was an amazing experience. Seeing the Mayan pyramids of Chitzen Itza and Uxmal. The food. The culture. And a little paperback novel I picked up at the airport on the way there. The novel was called “The Man Who Never Missed” by Steve Perry (no, not THAT Steve Perry…I bet if our featured author today had a nickel for every time he was asked if he was with Journey, he’d be Donald Trump rich! lol). At the time, I wasn’t much of a reader…but a guy has to find something to do sitting in airports and on long flights, so I thought reading a book might be just what the doctor ordered. The book actually changed my life (well, that might be exaggeration…but not much). This cool novel, featuring an evil cooler hero, sparked an interest in me to continue reading…which led to a deeper passion for writing.
The story followed a ruthless soldier named Emile Khadaji, who waged a one-man war against the evil Confederation. His plan…to create a legend so great, it would inspire others to join in a rebellion to throw off the reigns of a tyrannical government and embrace freedom. Skilled in an ancient martial art of Sumito and armed with a way cool wrist mounted poison dart gun, Khadaji uses brains, wit, and ruthless ferocity to get the job done. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the first book of an entire series that has been entitled the Matadora series. You can find them all on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.com.
But Steve’s incredible writing career didn’t stop with the Legend of Khadaji. He went on to write a number of other books and contributed to some of the biggest pre-established universes in pop culture: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Conan, and Tom Clancy’s NetForce!
A few years back, before the Star Wars prequels came out, there was a huge surge in Star Wars novels (there still is actually). I remember when it was announced that a novel would soon be written that takes place between the Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi and I was almost giddy with anticipation. Soon, the book was out and I was pleasantly surprised to see that my old friend Steve Perry had been tapped for writing it. And it didn’t disappoint (if you ever wondered what Luke did to become a Jedi between those two iconic movies, this book’s for you!). Besides Shadow of the Empire, Steve has written quite a few other Star Wars novels as well…so check them out!
I could go on and on about Steve Perry and his books, but I always like letting the authors speak for themselves. So, recently, I had an opportunity to ask Steve some questions about his writing career, his passions, and the worlds he’s created. Here’s what he had to say:
1) You have had a very long writing career with a number of books under your belt. You’ve contributed to a number of different series from Star Wars to Indiana Jones to Tom Clancy. And of course, you have your own original series. My question is…which do you prefer to write? Your own original series or contributing to a pre-existing universe with rich histories and characters? Why do you prefer it?
Interesting question. I like writing both, but if everything was equal, I’d prefer my own stuff — no limits save those of my skill to tell the story. When you work in somebody else’s universe, you have to follow their guidelines. Usually this isn’t terribly restrictive, but now and then, you can’t write something you’d like to write because of the constraints. It’s their toy, and you can try to convince them your way is better, but in the end, they get to say.
2) As mentioned in my introduction to you, my first encounter with you was “The Man Who Never Missed” which was the first book in your Matador series. Tell us about this series. What should a reader know before they start reading this series? What is the over arching theme? Where did you get the inspiration for this rich universe?
TMWNM came out of an argument over breakfast one morning with my wife about violence. I have a martial arts background, and the idea of doing a series about folks who were experts in hand-to-hand combat and with weapons seemed a good fit. I wanted them to use a legend to help overthrow the wicked Confed, so Khadaji set out to create one.
The chronology of the books is different than the sequence in which I wrote them. There are nine novels, working on the tenth, and if you start with the first book in the time sequence, you go back to a distant prequel, The Musashi Flex; then I think it’s the 97th Step, The Omega Cage, the original trilogy TMWNM, Matadora, The Machiavelli Interface, then the second trilogy — The Albino Knife, so the final book is Brother Death.
The one in progress, The Siblings of the Shroud, fall just after Flex. If I do another one, it will be set after Black Steel.
Theme? It’s good guys versus bad, and a cross between Seven Samurai and Star Wars.
3) What is “sumito” or the 97 Steps? What gave you the inspiration for that?
Sumito — “the sum of it all” is my ultimate, made-up marital art. Years later, when I came across pentjak silat, I saw a lot of the stuff I thought I’d created already existed — which is why I started studying that one.
4) Are there any new books or projects you’re currently working on? What should we be looking for in the near future?
I’m halfway through the draft of Siblings of the Shroud. Have a few other projects on various burners, ranging from a spec movie script I can’t talk about to a work-for-hire novel I can’t talk about …
5) Finally, I try to ask this of all the authors I talk to…for those aspring writers out there, what is the one piece of advice you could give them?
Advice. Let me split that one into practical and inspirational: First, get a copy of The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White. Best how-to-write book out there for my money, and I re-read my copy every year or two.
The certain way to fail as a writer is to give up and not-write. Lot of folks who made it took a long road to get there. Gone With the Wind was rejected repeatedly, so was Dune. The Beatles couldn’t read music, any of them, but they did all right for a bar band. Success and failure aren’t measured by how many times you get knocked down; they are measured by how many times you get back up …
Thanks Steve, for taking the time to answer my questions. And readers, I hope you’ll be sure to check out Steve’s books for yourselves. Just to let you know…I re-ordered a copy of “The Man Who Never Missed” last night and can’t wait to re-read it!!
You can find out more about Steve here: http://www.themanwhonevermissed.blogspot.com/
And check out his Amazon author page (complete with all his books!) here: http://www.amazon.com/Steve-Perry/e/B000APYMJ0/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0