Between 1999 and 2009 Lightsabre.co.uk brought news, fanfic, podcasts and much, much more to the masses. Our fifty-second guest contributed to the official Star Wars site’s Databank through the What’s The Story feature of Hyperspace – Arthur Papadam.
Lightsabre – Arthur, welcome to Lightsabre.
AP – Cool, thanks for having me!
Lightsabre – Star Wars has had a profound effect on all of us – it’s why we’re here talking about it, but what was it that started you off on your Star Wars journey?
AP – I fell in love with the saga with my very first viewing of Episode IV, which was probably around 1983-84. I have my parents to thank for that, who were big fans at the time of its initial cinematic release. They sat me down to watch it on video, in an attempt to indict me into Star Wars fandom. They succeeded. It wasn’t entirely smooth sailing though. Just the site of Darth Vader boarding the Tantive IV had me literally running out of the room; scary stuff for a mere 4 year old.
Lightsabre – You’re involved in Star Wars fandom through a number of outlets, including the fast-growing Wookieepedia, your entries into the official Databank and your presence on both the Force.net boards and blogs.starwars. How does it feel to have carved yourself a niche in the Star Wars fan community?
AP – It’s a lot of fun being involved in a community which is so passionate about Star Wars. I think it’s really cool how some fans find their own ways to express their love of the saga, be it through making fan web-sites, fan art, fan films, fan fiction, contributing to Wookieepedia and even the official Databank, or just blogging. I’ve always wanted to make a contribution to Star Wars fandom in some way, and Wookieepedia provided an easy way to do that. I would never have thought that I’d be able to contribute to Star Wars in an official capacity, but thanks to Hyperspace, it happened, and I’m ecstatic 😀 It’s really quite an exciting time for Star Wars fandom at the moment, and it feels great to be a part of that.
Lightsabre – Which of the six episodes stands out as your favourite?
AP – The Empire Strikes Back, easily. That film is a flawless representation of everything that is good about Star Wars. I love it above all others.
Lightsabre – To have an entry of your own submitted and accepted as established Star Wars canon must have been indescribably thrilling. Tell us how the process worked and how you felt when your ideas for Leektar the Ewok and the world of Bal’demnic were accepted?
AP – To know that I have contributed to Star Wars canon is the best feeling ever, if not unbelievable. It’s quite a lengthy yet fun process. Half the time is spent on researching; checking what is already known about the subject, and studying the themes of the entry. Wookieepedia and CUSWE are an excellent starting point for doing this. Then I turn to the primary sources (if they’re available) for the finer, more accurate details. I usually ponder over the subject for a few days, collecting ideas, taking notes. It’s not until late in the process when I begin to write my actual submission. Keeping within the 2,000 character limit is the most difficult task.
Seeing my name published under Leektar’s entry was quite a surprise really. To be honest, it felt like a fluke more than anything else. At first, it seemed that not much of my text had actually been published. It appeared to be mostly the work of the other author – Hecko Tenton aka Andrew Gilbertson. Andrew emailed me about a month later, and we compared our original submissions. As it turned out, our contributions were pretty much 50:50, with the editors at StarWars.com making their own minor changes. So that was a pleasing revelation. Andrew and I then collaborated to write a blog entry about the making of Leektar, which was quite a unique experience.
After being partially published, it inspired me to put more time and effort into writing my entries. I was on a road-trip with my girlfriend and family in New Zealand at the time of writing my Bal’demnic entry (which coincidentally for me, was the same week I learned that Leektar had been published). I let my girlfriend have some input into my submission by asking her to name Bal’demnic’s planetary system – the Bak’rofsen system. She’s not much of a Star Wars fan, often calling me a nerd and such. I figured that giving her a tiny role in fandom might finally put an end to that. I was wrong. I really wanted to include Jedi Knight Halagad Ventor into my Bal’demnic story – a character that has really intrigued me of late. I even contacted author Abel G. Peña to check that my idea for Halagad would not interfere with any future plans for the character. Abel has greatly inspired me to take my fandom seriously; he is the ultimate example of a “fanboy” becoming an author, and I dedicate my Bal’demnic entry to him. My excitement at seeing the word “Bal’demnic” in the StarWars.com font could not be contained. I was jumping around the house like a lunatic for a good half hour. It was nothing short of a dream come true. As pre-Jedi Anakin Skywalker might have said. Yippee!!! God, can’t believe I just said that.
AP – I guess lining up to see the Episode I midnight premiere would be the most memorable, um, memory. In my local cinema in Australia we had to turn up 12 hours before the movie began in order to be first in the queue. Alas, I arrived only 10 hours before, and someone had beat me to it. I challenged him to a lightsaber duel! I lost. I look back now at the photos from that event – and cringe. You see, I was having a “bad hair year” at that time. Then again, when am I not having bad hair? Fortunately, I learnt from my previous error, and I was first in line to see Episodes II and III. Though I am still a lousy swordsman.
Lightsabre – Which of the many Star Wars characters are you closest to?
AP – Tough question. Not sure that I have ever really identified with one particular character, but I have many favourites which often change. Perhaps Boba Fett. He always intrigued me in the films, but it was not until I read Tales from Jabba’s Palace and Tales of the bounty hunters that he became one of my favourites. Fett, Palpatine, Kyle Katarn and Thrawn would rank high up there. Oh and Greedo.
Lightsabre – What would you change about Star Wars if you could go back in time and make alterations?
AP – I would change nothing. Hooray for the recently-announced original versions on DVD coming in September. I do enjoy the odd retcon though 😉
Lightsabre – Wookieepedia has sprouted from a Star Wars wiki into the fastest growing wiki city on the net. As an administrator it must have been thrilling to watch it grow as swiftly as it did. What exactly does an administrator do on the Wookieepedia?
AP – It’s been amazing watching it grow to its current size. Chad Barbry and Steven Greenwood have done a great job in founding the site, and since then a number of “Wookieepedians” have done an equally impressive job in continuing to build on the project. What does an administrator do? Pretty much the same as regular contributors, and not too much more really. All decisions for the site are made through the consensus of all contributors rather than just the administrators. Admins have restrictions lifted on certain functions such as suspending or banning accounts or IP addresses, and deleting articles, which is handy for the War Against Vandalism and FanonT. But the real work has little to do with being an administrator. It’s the content submitted by the entire community that counts.
AP – After the next two mini-series. I can’t hazard a guess. I’m confident that there will always be some major project in the works, in addition to the continuous release of novels, comics and games. My main hope is that keeping consistent continuity across all new media will continue to be a priority among the powers that be.
Lightsabre – What do you foresee for yourself in the future?
AP – With any luck, I’d love to be involved with Star Wars in a more official capacity. Perhaps a writer for Star Wars Insider – here I go dreaming again. For now, I’m working on a new online fandom project, which will hopefully be ready to launch in the very near future. It would be great to give up the old day job and somehow pursue a career in Star Wars. And Banthas might fly, right?
Lightsabre – A quick question about our site, Lightsabre. Any comments?
AP – I like it. I downloaded some of the Setnin radio episodes, which are cool. I love the British accent 😉 I also really enjoy Setnin Select – I’m a sucker for good fanart involving original characters and locations. I really admire fan sites and communities that have been around for as long as yours. Keep up the great work!
Lightsabre – It’s been a great interview, and thanks for being our guest on Lightsabre. Just one final question. Bal’demnic has been chosen to be the secret location for a conference attended by a number of groups. Representing the Ewok nation is Leektar, alongside a representative of the Kon’me and finally Jedi Master Mace Windu. It’s swelteringly hot, the sun is beating down and all three are sweating buckets. Which one finds the quickest and most polite way to cool down?
AP – They all cool down in the same manner, though Leektar is the least offensive in doing so. The Kon’me delegate reveals that skinny-dipping is the ritual usually performed at the conclusion of such summits. One by one, the representatives peel off their sweaty garments. Leektar removes his bandolier; no harm done. Mace Windu gracefully throws off several layers of Jedi robes in one swift movement, much to the dismay and embarrassment of the other male delegates present. And the Kon’me. Oh, now that’s just weird. Thanks guys! – Arf
This interview was originally posted on lightsabre.co.uk on 10th September 2006.