It actually posted - and the whole thing in one entry! Color me amazed. *squints at LJ*
Here's the account of the meeting with Karen Traviss:
Mandy, Bri, oba, and I went to the food court to meet Traci for lunch, and when I got there she grabbed my arm and said, "Do you want to meet Karen Traviss? She's right over here behind you." I said, "No, thank you. I couldn't be polite." Trace said, "No, you don't understand. She's not what we thought. You have to come talk to her." So I followed Trace to the next table where Karen was sitting with her back to us.
Trace said, "Karen, here's another Mara fan for you to meet." Karen looked up at me, looked back down at the table, and said, "Yes, I've been noticing all the red hair. I was trying to hide." But she was very gracious and shook my hand and said it was nice to meet me. I asked her if the rumors about Sacrifice were true. She asked me if I was spoiled for the book, and I said yes, totally, and she said, yes, they were true.
I forget the absolute order of the conversation from there, but here's the basic content:
I told Karen that some fans had asked Timothy Zahn a few months ago if he'd heard anything about Mara's fate in Sacrifice, and he'd said no. Did Karen know if he had been informed and just had a good poker face, or had he really not known that Mara was going to be killed? Karen said that as far as she knew, no one had informed Tim, but that he always took these things like a pro, and that it was one of the risks of writing for hire; but that said, she knew that characters were like one's children, and she'd certainly be upset if someone else killed off one of hers, because you always felt that if your character had to die, you should be the one to write the death scene. She said she'd meet with him in a couple of months and buy him a drink and apologize.
She said that before the decision to kill Mara was made, she was flown in to meet with Denning and Allston and some more Lucasfilm/Del Rey people, and she thought, wow, it must be important for them to spring for her flying in from the UK. So they were discussing where the pivot point for the Legacy series would be, and what would, in Karen's words, "punch the Sith card for Jacen, so that he'd be 100% Sith bastard". It was Karen's own idea that Mara should be the one to die, and she said that having made the suggestion, she felt a moral obligation to be the one to follow through on it and write that scene. She's actually a big Mara fan herself, and says that too many people forget Mara's past. She says that Mara's not a supermodel in a catsuit and not just a passive Jedi; Mara's a warrior. She always has been and always will be, and Karen wanted to write her that way. (Trace and I were ever so pleased to hear that last.)
Trace and I said that we couldn't pretend that we were happy about Mara dying, but if she had to, we wanted it to have meaning. We didn't just want her mindlessly sacrificed for some nebulous plot point. Karen said she agreed completely, and that she'd done her best to do exactly that, to give Mara's death great meaning. She said that she actually cried writing Mara's death and Luke and Ben's reactions - and I swear to you, the woman had tears in her eyes as she discussed it. She said that if you didn't have that reaction yourself during the writing, and you couldn't create that reaction in the readers, then you hadn't done your job properly. I said that she was currently surrounded by fanficcers, and that we completely understood that reaction; that I myself had written scenes that had me weeping at the computer; the difference being that when we fanficcers killed a character, we could bring them back to life in the next story but when the profic people killed them, they were gone for good, which just wasn't fair. And she truly didn't bat an eye at that. There was no flicker of contempt or disrespect at all for us amateur writers. It was more of a "you see where I'm coming from, then" reaction on her part, and she was that way through the entire conversation. I greatly appreciated that measure of respect.
She says that she sees Mara as a mother who would do anything at all for her son, and that's really what she does in the novel, goes to hell and back for Ben's sake, and that concern for and willingness to protect Ben was what led to her death. We discussed Luke's reaction to her death, which I had not heard of before that. Trace had, and told Karen that she thought it was brilliant how she handled it, that most of Luke's worst reaction was off camera, so to speak, which Trace said was far better because we could all imagine it better than any written description could say. Karen agreed that the worst really had to be in private, and it was the little things that counted - and I have read the L/M sections of the book by now, and I have to agree with Karen and Trace's assessment; it was beautifully done. Once I finish writing this post, I can type up those sections of the book for you if you want.
She said some more about the Mandalorians (about which I still honestly don't care) and Obi-Wan and the Jedi and Vader and Jacen. She's a big Vader fan, can't stand Obi-Wan, and thinks that the Jedi had lost touch with reality to such an extent that they really deserved to be wiped out. (I completely disagree with her there, btw; just reporting.) She says that she understands Jacen's way of thinking and his fall to Sithdom and all that, but that Jacen was a pale imitation of his grandfather. Apparently Boba Fett says that at some point in the books, but I missed it.
I had to break out of the discussion somewhere around there, because my sister and Bri and oba were waiting for me so we could go on to the last attractions (there was only about two hours left in the last day at that point), so I excused myself for interrupting, but said that I really appreciated Karen's time, and that while it killed me that Mara had to die, she was my heart in the EU and it made it easier for me to handle those developments knowing that Karen had really cared about Mara and how her death was handled, and that she put so much emotion and effort into it. Karen hugged me and said she really had, and to please write her when I finished the book and tell her what I thought of it, and if I felt she'd gotten Mara's characterization right. Which BLEW ME AWAY.
So overall, I was deeply impressed. I still disagree with some of Karen's writing style, I still don't care about the Mandalorians and don't see what purpose their inclusion in Legacy serves, I still disagree that Mara had to die (and having read the scene now, do not feel that Jacen's last trick against her would actually have worked), and do not feel that Karen really nailed Mara's characterization in her previous book, Bloodlines. But Karen was so very gracious and accessible and respectful, and so willing to chat at great length with all of us when she was A) away from her "professional" stature at the moment and just eating lunch, and B) surrounded by avid fans of the character she'd just killed off. She never gave any indication that our writing of fanfic was disagreeable to her, or that our thoughts on writing were worth less than hers. She was polite and friendly and actually asked for our opinion on her work, and she really did care about Mara and her portrayal. And every last bit of that is so much more than I expected from her that my opinion of her has really done a 180. It was definitely one of the highlights for me.
I'll almost certainly still rant about Sacrifice once I finish my more thorough reading, though. It's making me crazy. :p