The Star Wars movies are rarity when it comes to sci-fi; not only do they appeal to the hardcore geeks of the world, they've also managed to make hardcore fans out of many a skeptic (myself among them) through their combination of strong stories, powerful visuals, and a romantic sense of adventure.
In the creative industry, however, the Star Wars films offer something more. Science fiction authors from around the world struggle for the honor of contributing to the Star Wars Expanded Universe; and those who work in the games industry try to leave their own mark, often creating critically acclaimed, best-selling games in the process - which brings us to Drew Karpyshyn.
For those unaware of Karpyshyn's rather spectacular résumé, he's the Lead Writer at Canadian gaming giant BioWare and has worked on every BioWare release since Baldur's Gate 2, including Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. If being a primary contributor to an award-winning developer wasn't enough, Karpyshyn is also an accomplished novelist, having written books based off BioWare properties, in the Forgotten Realms fantasy setting and, of course, his two Star Wars novels: Darth Bane: Path of Destruction and Darth Bane: Rule of Two. Not a bad effort for someone that didn't really know where his career was headed.
"Honestly, I was looking at becoming a university professor," Karpyshyn tells me during a recent interview. "I had tried a number of different careers, and nothing really interested me. I wanted to be a writer, but I figured I needed a 'real' job to fall back on, so I went back to school to continue my education. However, the only things that interested me were English and other Fine Arts programs ... not the best ways to make a living, unless you're willing to teach. It wasn't my ideal career, but I didn't see any other options at the time."
That other option came about thanks to a fluke case of being in the right place at the right time: "I was working on my master's degree in English at the University of Alberta when I noticed a small ad in the English Department newsletter. All it said was 'Edmonton-based videogame developer looking for writers to work on Forgotten Realms (Dungeons and Dragons) roleplaying game.' At the time I hadn't heard of BioWare, but I had played videogames and Dungeons and Dragons during my younger years, so it sounded like an interesting opportunity. I was also under contract to write a Forgotten Realms setting novel for Wizards of the Coast, so it seemed like a natural fit."