I am writing from Coral Gables, Florida! My brother is getting married on Saturday, which means I’m going to miss out on watching the playoff games. But I have something better: an interview with New York Times Top-Ten Best Selling author Drew Karpyshyn!
Drew’s latest novel in the Star Wars universe is called The Old Republic – Revan. The Warren Peace NFL Report knows him best for his brilliant Darth Bane trilogy, and its official opinion is that these should form the basis for the next Star Wars movie trilogy. He also works for the video game company BioWare on the Mass Effect series and MSNBC’s Game of the Year Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Part I, with hip-hop MC Sage Francis, can be found here.
Part II with cracked.com’s John Cheese is here.
Thanks again, Drew, for agreeing to do this with me. Your website’s bio says you’re a San Diego Chargers fan. How did you become a Chargers fan? What do you expect to see from them moving forward?
Growing up in Canada, I didn’t really get into the NFL until I started
going to university. This was in the early 90’s, right around the time
Junior Seau was starting to make a name for himself. For some reason I
latched onto the Chargers and they became “my team”. There were some lean
years for a while (and I even “switched” to Tampa Bay during the Warren
Sapp glory years), but when Drew Brees, Tomlinson and Gates were worked
into the mix things started looking up. But the front office made some
questionable decisions, and now I think they need to take a step back
before they can move forward again.
They still strike me as one of the more talented teams in the league, but
I think they lack discipline and focus. That comes from the coaching
staff, and I’m not a big fan of Norv Turner. I think letting
Schottenheimer go after his 14-2 season was a travesty – it was like
resetting the franchise. Everything he had built in the previous five
years was tossed away, and instead of being patient and paying their dues,
the front office panicked. Losing to the Pats in the playoffs could have
been an important learning experience for the franchise if they’d kept
Marty and his system, and I can’t help but wonder how things would have
played out if they’d stayed the course.
The Norv Turner era has been – in my opinion – a disaster. Year after year
of unfulfilled promise and failure to meet expectations. It’s hard to
cheer for a team that always underperforms; they’re like the opposite of
my other favorite sports franchise, the San Antonio Spurs (who always seem
to get the most out of what they’ve got). Hopefully they can get back on
track with a new coach next season.
Philip Rivers, or Drew Brees?
I was a huge Brees fran (and not just because we were bothed named Drew)
and I thought the way he was shipped out was classless and low rent. So I
started out hating Rivers… but he grew on me. Yes, he’s an asshole to
his own teammates, but he plays hurt, he makes plays and he wins games. I
don’t put the Charger failures of the past few seasons on him, and I think
he has the ability to lead them to the Super Bowl. He had some trouble
this year, but that was partly due to injuries to the O-line, and I think
he’ll bounce back strong.
Having said that, I’m still a huge Drew Brees fan. New Orleans become my
favorite NFC team, and I fully jumped on the bandwagon for their Super
Bowl win. When they signed Sproles this year it made it even easier to
cheer for them. Go, Saints!
Most people wouldn’t assume that a guy who writes science fiction and fantasy for a living would be a sports fan. What is it that you see in the NFL, and in sports in general, that makes them interesting to you?
I’ve always been into sports. I grew up playing hockey and soccer, and I
even tried out for the high school football team. (They wanted me on the
O-line, and I wanted to be a fullback or linebacker, so it didn’t work
out.) I’m drawn to the competition and unpredictability of sports. As a
writer, I can usually see how most movies and TV shows will end long
before it happens, so the randomness of sports is exciting to me.
I’m also a degenerate gambler, and if you want to bet on sports the NFL is
the way to go. The point spread was developed for football, and the number
of games that come down to a final play to see who covers the spread is
amazing – it makes even blowouts and terrible matchups exciting when you
have a small wager on the line.
Both Star Wars fans and football fans are known for dressing up in crazy costumes to attend conventions and games. Which fan group is more hardcore? Which has better costumes?
Wow – tough call. I think the hardcore Star Wars fans are tough to beat.
You might see NFL fans in crazy outfits at a game, but if you go to a Star
Wars convention you see costumes that took months and and thousands of
dollars to make. Also, I’m probably biased because the Star Wars fans help
me earn a living, and the NFL fans don’t. (Especially this year, when my
NFL picks have been terrible.)
Do you know any other people in the writing and video game development fields that are also football fans?
Well, I don’t know him personally but I’ve heard George R. R. Martin, the
writer behind Game of Thrones, is a huge NFL fan. (ed.- this is true) The videogame industry
is, as you’d expect, dominated by geeks and nerds (of which I am one, so I
can say that). Most of them aren’t that into sports. But there’s a small
subsection of us that take our football seriously. Brad Prince, the lead
world designer on the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO is a crazy Steelers
fan, for example. We’ve got some Pats fans and Eagles fans kicking around,
and a few NY transplants that cheer for the Jets or Giants. But we’re
definitely in the minority.
Which NFL player, coach, or owner would be the most likely to follow the ways of the Sith, if they were transplanted to the Star Wars universe? Who would be the most likely to become a Jedi master?
The Sith is an easy call – Bill Belichick. Stealing signals in the Super
Bowl? Total Sith move. The guy is always looking for every advantage; he’s
cunning and crafty and amoral. That may sound like an insult, but I’d love
to have him coaching the Chargers.
Jedi Master is tougher. Maybe Peyton Manning. The guy always seems calm,
cool and collected. He follows the Jedi mantra of “there is no emotion,
only peace”. But he’s still an incredible player – when he’s on the field
the Colts are a contender. When he’s not… well, we saw what happend this
year. Obviously he must be using the Force to get it done, right?
Is Tim Tebow the real-life Sith’ari?
Ah, Tebow. I like unconventional players, so I enjoy the success he’s had
on the field. I don’t like him off the field, however. Anyone who wants to
press their religious beliefs on others scares me. He says all the right
things, and I think he’s sincere in his beliefs, but I don’t subscribe to
his way of thinking, and I don’t want others to be lured in, either.
But does this make him the Chosen One who will bring balance to the Force?
I’m going to say no. I think Tebow is a player with unusual talents
benefitting from a great defense and the conservative mentality of
opposing NFL coaches. They don’t like things that fall outside their
traditional view, so they don’t know how to deal with Tebow. Give them a
chance to study game film and develop a plan in the offseason and you
might see Tebow’s effectiveness drop next year.
Was it weirder to be an American football fan living in Edmonton, Alberta, or to be a Star Wars/science fiction fan living in Austin, Texas?
Neither one was weird, actually. We get all the American TV feeds up in
Canada, so you can’t help but be innundated with US culture, and the NFL
is a huge part of US culture. There were plenty of NFL fans up there.
And Austin, despite being in Texas, is a very nerd-friendly city. Because
of the University, it’s a very young city. There’s a huge tech industry
here. Austin takes pride in being alternative – the official city motto is
“Keep Austin Weird”. So between the hippies and geeks and nerds, I never
feel like I’m out of place.
On your website, you write that you love to tell stories, whether they’re novels, video games, or screenplays. Can you think of any stories centered around the NFL that particularly intrigue you?
As I mentioned before, the great thing about sport is how unpredictable it
is. When you try to take that element and make it into a story, the author
imposes order and purpose on the chaos and random. Most sports movies
aren’t very entertaining for me: they’re always by-the-numbers and very
cliche. They also don’t capture the subtle nuances of sports that I would
find interesting, they go for broad strokes to appeal to a mass audience.
Because of that, I don’t really see a lot of potential in the NFL story
lines for the type of stories I want to tell.
Oddly, though, baseball has some interesting films. I loved Bull Durham
and Money Ball far more than any football film I’ve ever seen. (Though the
original “The Longest Yard” wasn’t half bad.)
I love the story of the creation of the character HK-47, named after a competitive billiards team you were once a part of. The NFL is packed full of interesting and strange names. What players have the most potential to be turned into a character in one of your works in the future?
Well, I can’t take credit for this, but my friend Brad Prince – a coworker
at BioWare – used to call some of his video game characters “Ebenezer
Ekuban”. He said it was the perfect name for an evil wizard. I was also a
fan of Alge Crumpler’s name – it sounds like some kind of monster crawling
up from the depths of a mystical swamp. (Ah – look out! It’s the Alge
Is it okay if I write that you’re a fan of Sage Francis, the subject of the first interview in the series? How did you get into underground hip-hop? Do you prefer to write with music on, or do you need silence?
To be honest, the only song of his I’m familiar with is The Best of Times.
I heard it on one of the radio stations here in Austin and was blown away,
so I scooped it off i-tunes. I’m normally not into hip-hop at all. But you
can mention that I’m a fan of the song.
My musical tastes lean more to what I call “mainstream alternative” – Foo
Fighters, Green Day. But I often have single songs from artists on my
ipod. I love i-tunes because I can grab a good song without having to get
an entire album from an artist I might not enjoy. Case in point – Rolling
in the Deep from Adele. I love the song, but the rest of the album puts me
When I write, I don’t have any music playing. I like to write at night,
when it’s dark out, in a room with dim lighting so I can imagine the
outside world falling away. It helps me get lost in the world I’m
Check out Drew’s website at drewkarpyshyn.com, it’s worth a read, and the news section makes it worth more than one.