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Interview: Ian Doescher, Writer of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

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Ian Doescher is the brilliant mind behind Quirk Book’s recent release, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. The Geek Girl Project caught up with Ian Doescher between signings to ask him a few questions about his writing and love of Shakespeare and Starwars.

GGP: Which character was the hardest verbalize into iambic pentameter?

Ian Doescher: I wouldn’t say it was a single character who was hardest so much as particular lines.  The lines that are most famous—the Han/Greedo scene, for example, or lines like “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope”—those were the hardest because I knew people would be watching carefully to see how they were handled.

GGP: You tweak several famous Shakespearean lines, including the famous “Alas Poor Yorick.” What is your favorite play of the Bard’s and why?

Ian Doescher: Not coincidentally, my favorite play is Hamlet.  It was my first love when it comes to Shakespeare, and I’ve read it and seen it performed more than just about every other Shakespeare play.  I’ve had the “To be or not to be” monologue memorized since I was 15, and it’s just really close to my heart.  Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest are close seconds.

GGP: How many watchings of Star Wars: A New Hope did you find yourself having to do to get everything just right?

Ian Doescher: The method to my madness was to watch a few seconds at a time to catch a piece of dialogue, and check it with the script online if needed.  Then I would put that into iambic pentameter, or stop and think about whether the scene needed something added (like an aside or a soliloquy).  It wasn’t so much repeated watchings as really detailed, moment-by-moment watching.

GGP: Is there a favorite Star Wars line that you converted?

Ian Doescher: Probably Luke saying to Wedge “It’s not impossible. I used to bull’s-eye womp rats in my T-sixteen back home. They’re not much bigger than two meters.”  I took that and turned it into a long monologue by Luke where he’s encouraging the rebels in a very Henry V-like way not to lose heart.  That was a fun one.

GGP: What is your favorite film of the Star Wars franchise?

Ian Doescher: Return of the Jedi, and I know that makes me a little weird (Empire being the common choice).  I have a soft spot in my heart for the Jabba scene.  Also, when I was a kid we had the making of Return of the Jedi on VHS, so that probably has something to do with it.

GGP: Are you planning to convert the rest of Star Wars with your special brand of Shakespeare?

Ian Doescher: It would be great fun to write the sequels, but nothing is certain yet.  I think there is more to be explored there… how the Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader relationship unfolds in a Shakespearean context, what Lando might soliloquize about, and so on.  Also, what does Yoda sound like in a setting where everyone’s word order is a little unusual?

GGP: Are there any other franchises that you would like to tackle?

Ian Doescher: There are a lot of movies out there with Shakespearean-like themes.  It would be fun to tackle Star Trek (not a huge leap from what I’ve done), something epic like Avatar, or something fun like When Harry Met Sally.  The key is that it has to be something I know really well, and I think it doesn’t work if there’s already a well-loved written version (like The Hobbit—why read my take on it when you can just read Tolkien?).

GGP: Do you write everyday?

Ian Doescher: Yes, for work if nothing else—I do a lot of writing in my capacity as the creative director for a marketing agency.  These days, though, I’m trying to write a little bit most evenings just to keep the creative juices flowing.

GGP: Do you have any special rituals for when you are writing?

Ian Doescher: No, except that my children need to be in bed or somewhere quiet and happy.  Trying to write while I’m distracted definitely doesn’t work for me.  I’m also a compulsive saver of my files, so every writing session ends with me emailing what I’ve written to myself, just in case… (so far so good!).

GGP: What other projects do you have in the works you’d like to tell our readers about?

Ian Doescher: I’m developing a children’s book with a friend of mine who is an illustrator, and looking forward the next Shakespearean adaptation (whatever it may be).
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is available from Amazon.com and all fine bookstores.

You can follow Ian Doescher on his Twitter Page @iandoescher  or via his website http://www.iandoescher.com/

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