Keith R.A. DeCandido (kradical) wrote,
Keith R.A. DeCandido

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Labor Day Tie-in Writer Guets Blog #8: Diana Botsford

Back in 2007, when the Nebula Awards were in New York City, I had the privilege of doing a panel on writing in other people's universes with Diana Dru Botsford. Diana—who's written for television and comics as well as prose—was a magnificent co-panelist, and we've become friends since. She's a wonderful and nifty person who has an excellent day for her birthday (18 April, same as me *grin*), and she and I might be working on a project together soon. Diana's recently dived into the wacky world of tie-in novels with her first (but far from her last) Stargate SG1 novel, which just came out, and here she is to talk all about it.

It's All About Yu
by Diana Botsford

Someone once asked me:

What's the hardest thing about writing for Stargate? And what's the best thing about writing for Stargate?

In both cases, my answer was the same: Staying true to the characters and their world.

Yep—I'm an unapologetic Stargate fan, which makes writing the novels even more fun...and yet, even more daunting. So since Keith's kindly invited me to blog a bit (oooh, the alliterations—clearly, I've had too much coffee this morning!), I thought I should share some background about my latest Stargate SG1 book, Four Dragons.

The book takes place early in the series' seventh season—a fan favorite. Shortly after Daniel Jackson returns from his time among the ascended Ancients, the team babysits an archaeological survey of Chinese ruins on P3Y-702. Accidentally activating a Goa'uld transport ring, Daniel finds himself the prisoner of the System Lord Yu. Blaming himself for Daniel's capture, Jack O'Neill wants to go after him, but gets hampered by a representative of the Chinese government with an agenda of his own to follow—and a deep secret to hide. Obviously, this doesn't sit very well with Jack who vows to go to any lengths to get Daniel back—even if it means taking matters into his own hands.

Lord Yu has always been a bit of a puzzle for SG1...and for fans of the show. At times, he's down right cooperative. Four Dragons explores why Yu is the way he is. What makes him tick? How did a Chinese emperor end up a Goa'uld, and more importantly, why does his First Prime Oshu follow him so devotedly—far beyond the normal Jaffa/Goa'uld dynamic. What's behind that relationship?

Daniel Jackson and Jack O'Neill are clearly key characters in this story. The book takes place just after the seventh season episode "Orpheus." Daniel has his human memories back, but still only has a few flashes from his time in Ascension. That said, he wants to get back to his roots as an archaeologist and explorer of cultures. Of course, Jack isn't completely convinced Daniel's ready for the other pressures that are building out there in the galaxy—namely, Anubis. For Jack, Four Dragons is an exploration of what makes him tick under the surface, and of course, his sense of humor. I had fun playing with language for his quips. More importantly, I feel that Jack has a profound depth to him, a drive and passion that deserved more attention, and I delve into that in the book.

Memories are a theme in the book—what they mean to us, getting back lost memories, exploring the past. A recurring memory throughout the book is Jack's. I establish at the top that when Skaara died/ascended in the Season six episode "Full Circle," Jack acted on impulse and retrieved his old Zippo. For what reason, he's still not sure and an underlying subplot of the book is Jack trying to figure out why the heck he did that. He's always been the first to admit he's not a sentimental guy, yet here he's holding on to an old, beat up Zippo like it's a lifeline.

One of the other areas delved into in the book is what Lord Yu is doing with Daniel once he's captured. The old System Lord forces Daniel to play an ancient Chinese game called Weiqi—we know the game today by its Japanese name: Go. In doing that I took a look back at ancient Chinese history, and Lord Yu's place in it. While playing the game, Lord Yu interrogates Daniel about his memories gained after he ascended, trying to eke out information.

And, as I mentioned earlier, we also look at why Lord Yu has been so cooperative with SG1, even though he's a Goa'uld. I suspect the real reasons will surprise readers—or at least, I hope so! Everyone makes an appearance in Four Dragons—SG1, of course, but also General Hammond, Jacob Carter, Bra'tac, Dr. Frasier, Sergeants Harriman and Siler, Colonel Dixon and SG13...even Lieutenant Simmons.

As a bonus for those readers who are familiar with the game of black and white stones—or who want to learn it—I've posted information and links on my website to various computer and iPhone apps where you'll be able to play just like Daniel and Lord Yu do in Four Dragons.

I hope you'll enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed writing it. I'm a nut for research and there's plenty to learn within Four Dragons about Ancient China and Lord Yu's place in it. I'm now working on the sequel, The Drift, which takes place in Antarctica and yep! That's requiring an entirely different sort of research. In other words, a trip to the bottom of the world this winter. More on that to come if you visit my website.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Keith for allowing me to post. He's a great guy (how could he not be? We share the same birthday!) and I'm a fan of his work. I'm looking forward to his guest blogging over at my site and I hope you'll visit to make him feel at home.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Stargate SG1: Four Dragons by Diana Botsford is on sale now from Fandemonium.
Read Diana's blog.
Follow Diana on Twitter.
Follow Diana on Facebook.

Next up: Dayton Ward.

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