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article imageKevin Shinick talks 'Star Wars Force Collector' book, digital age Special

By Markos Papadatos     Nov 6, 2019 in Entertainment
Emmy award-winning writer Kevin Shinick chatted with Digital Journal about his new "Star Wars Force Collector" book that comes out on November 19 for Disney and Lucas film.
"I've had the privilege of working in the Star Wars universe for some time now. (Metaphorically speaking, of course, especially since the rents in Coruscant are through the roof," he said. "I’ve worked in the more adult space with the Robot Chicken Star Wars specials, in the family space with the animated sitcom Star Wars: Detours (which has yet to air, so stop looking) and in the children’s space with my Star Wars picture book Chewie and the Porgs."
"Lucasfilm publishing asked me if I wanted to do that last one about two years ago, and I said yes, but also asked if they would consider me for novels. They said, 'Of course. We didn’t know you were interested.' Which is like saying you didn’t know a man in the desert would be interested in water. But at San Diego Comic-Con that following summer I finally had a moment to sit down with the amazing Michael Siglain, my publisher on Chewie and the Porgs, and we discussed what he was looking for in a novel," he said.
"Then, no joke, I left him, boarded the train back to Los Angeles and when I got off the train three hours later, I emailed him the entire outline. It literally poured out of me once I knew what I was free to do and where I could explore. Now, obviously a lot has changed from that original outline to the current novel, but the themes and ideas behind Force Collector have always been the same. In fact, I pitched it as Star Wars meets Stephen King's 'The Dead Zone' and that still rings true," he said.
"Then, after about six months, Michael called me and said it was officially greenlit, but that he would essentially need it overnight. (Not literally, but in publishing terms it was pretty quick). In fact, I literally gasped before blurting out, 'You’re asking the impossible' Forgetting, of course, that was exactly what Luke said to Yoda when they were training. And when I made that realization, I laughed to myself thinking that the universe was putting me to the test to see if I truly believed all the lessons that I had learned from Star Wars."
"And so I set out to craft Force Collector, which is a coming of age story about a teen named Karr who gets these horrifying headaches when he touches certain objects, but they also show him visions. His family thinks he might have a brain tumor or something, but his grandmother believes he might have the Force, and that he just doesn’t know how to use it yet. This is all news to Karr because he has never heard of the Jedi or the Force," he said.
He continued, "So when he finds out the Jedi are apparently all dead, he realizes that his only hope of getting proper training is to find objects the Jedi might’ve touched so that he can learn from the visions. Basically, life becomes his master as he sets out to find not only how to become a Jedi, but also his place in the Force. It’s really two stories in one because while Karr’s journey is an original tale, his visions always show us flashbacks to some of the great Star Wars moments from either the movies, the cartoons or even the comic books."
 Star Wars Force Collector  by Kevin Shinick
'Star Wars Force Collector' by Kevin Shinick
Courtesy of Disney/Lucasfilm Press
On his writing inspirations, he said, "As odd as it may sound, what inspires me sometimes is when I take my eye OFF the ball. There are many stages of writing, obviously, and one of those stages is research. I love doing research. That’s the fun part. In fact, I have to check myself occasionally and ask, I am still researching or am I being self-indulgent because I enjoy this world so much?"
"But once that’s done, I like to give my mind a break and do something completely different: Go for a walk, attend a sports event, indulge in a hobby, because that’s when I get inspired," he said. "That’s when I start to pull things in from real life that I feel will make my characters more three-dimensional or my situations more realistic. It’s almost like writing with my peripheral vision because I’m not staring at the subject head-on, I'm looking elsewhere and finding things to not only inspire me but also inspire my characters."
On being an artist and a writer in this digital age, he said, "It’s pretty amazing to have so many great resources at your fingertips. And let me just say that I contribute a nice some of the money to Wikipedia each year because of how often I use them. It’s an invaluable resource no matter what you’re writing about. And it makes the research part I talked about even easier. Plus, being in the digital age, your work has the opportunity to get to its audience a lot quicker than it used to, and there are more chances for your work to be seen, which is nice."
For young and aspiring actors, producers and writers, he said, "The business is always changing so it’s tough to give a definitive answer, but I find the directive is always the same: Get your work out there. If you’re a writer, write. If you’re an actor, put stuff on YouTube or someplace online where someone can see it. If you’re a producer, then you’re the puppet master. It’s your job to gather all those things under one banner."
"It just so happens that we’re living in a time when that is easy to do," he said. "Of course, that also means there might be four times as much competition, but my feeling is that it only makes you better. Use the tools at your disposal, but most importantly have the work to back it up. The time will come when opportunity and hard work will cross paths and you want to be prepared for it. The last thing I always add is, be someone people want to work with."
"This business is made up of long hours and intense sessions, and while we always look for great talent, we also ask ourselves, 'Do I want to be trapped in a room with this person for fourteen hours at a time?' So be reliable, be consistent, but also be a good person," he added.
He is drawn to the Star Wars franchise since it's "relatable to all ages." "I loved it as a kid and I love it now because it hooks into that sense of adventure and mythology that we all love. Everybody has an opinion about the prequels or the originals or the Disney films, but I defy you to find a world that has been expanded upon or enriched as much as Star Wars has," he said.
"When I think of all the backstory and worldbuilding that George Lucas did, I’m always amazed, because I think we take it for granted. It’s massive. I was reminded just how massive as I researched my own book and tried to link some of Star Wars’ greatest moments. There was a lot to choose from. It was like going down a rabbit hole. Or a Sarlacc pit, if you prefer. But the scope of that universe only strengthens the stories," he said.
He is the recipient of an Emmy Award. "That felt pretty good," he said. "The whole month was a magical time for me that year because my daughter was born, my show 'MAD' had just premiered and I won an Emmy for writing on 'Robot Chicken,' so something must've been in the stars for me that month."
He defined the word success as follows: "Accomplishing something I set out to do. If you get your kids to school on time, that's a success. If you leave each day a little better than it was when you woke up, that’s a success. The only thing I deem a failure is if you don’t even attempt to do something because you’re afraid of what the outcome will be or what people will say. Even though I just pointed out all the pros of the digital age, the definite cons include the fact that certain people find it so easy to judge and criticize from the comfort of their own anonymous couches. When I set out to do something, the biggest critic I have is myself and if I feel I have accomplished what I set out to do then I consider it a success."
He concluded about his new Star Wars Force Collector book, "Even though I've written a tale that takes place in a galaxy far, far away, I'd love for it to stir things up here at home. It's basically a story about history and heritage and the importance of knowing the differences between facts and fables. And with any luck, this book will get readers interested in their own history. It's not so difficult to use Star Wars history to get excited about our own history."
To learn more about Emmy award-winning writer Kevin Shinick, check out his official website.
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