Michael A. Stackpole on the Conan novelization

As a follow-up to yesterdays interview with Sean Hood, we have another interview courtesy of Beirla on the Official Robert E. Howard Forums: this time with Michael A. Stackpole, who is indeed writing the novelization of Conan the Barbarian (2011)

As noted before, Stackpole cites Robert E. Howard as an influence and author whose work he enjoys on his personal website. In addition, his work in the Star Wars universe shows he isn’t averse to exploring other creator’s worlds. What does the author of DragonCrown War, Age of Discovery, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, and Battletech have to say?

Fantasy.fr was kind enough to provide an English translation of the original article on the same page:

Fantasy.fr : Why did you accept this job?
Michael A. Stackpole : A number of years ago I made the decision that I would only write fantasy novels in universes of my own creation—with two exceptions. One was the work of Robert E. Howard. At the time I had no idea there was a movie in the future, and no contacts with anyone connected with Howard. So, years later, when they began making inquiries, I was very happy. As I had seen with Star Wars®, when offered the chance to work with an iconic character, saying “No,” is not really a reasonable option.

Fantasy.fr : Who is Conan, for you? Is he represent something special?
Michael A. Stackpole : I was thirteen years old when I discovered Conan through the Lancer paperback. The Frazetta covers just drew the eye. I loved the stories—lines in them still resonate with me today, forty years later. Conan, as I see him, is the wolf at the edge of the campfire light. He might be there to eat you, or he might be there to help fight what ever is beyond in the darkness. That contrast, combined with the exciting nature of the adventures, makes Conan very special. The stories also have a unique sense of youth and the frontier in a world that is clearly unforgivably old. That contrast, and the ability to pull it off, has always impressed me.

Fantasy.fr : Some extra scenes or deleted scenes will be included on the book?
Michael A. Stackpole : The folks at Paradox Entertainment have been very generous and open to the possibility of both things. While the book has been written based on the final shooting script, last-minute editing may leave some scenes out of the film. Likewise, some things that work in a movie don’t always work in a novel—a movie usually contains a novella’s-worth of material whereas a novel needs a bit more. Plus, in a novel, there’s the opportunity to get inside a character’s head. That ability to layer depth into the characters means that even if the novel and movie match up shot for shot, the novel will provide some insights into characters that won’t be obvious on the screen.

Conan the Barbarian, by Michael A. Stackpole, will be released on July 5, 2011.

I have to wonder what the other exception to Stackpole’s rule was, assuming he doesn’t consider Star Wars to be fantasy? Stackpole’s description of Conan is very apt and appropriate, evocative of the Cimmerian’s role in “Beyond the Black River” and “The People of the Black Circle” especially. It’s great that the book has been based on the final shooting script: although I haven’t had the pleasure of discovering a leaked copy, it can’t be worse than what we know of the first two drafts. It just can’t. Also, notice how Stackpole said most films contain a novella’s-worth of material, and how many of the best Conan stories are novellas?

Well, we’ll find out on 5th of July, a full month before the film’s due to hit theatres.