Jeanne Cavelos Chat Transcript
Chat Date: 3 July 2001
Jeanne Cavelos participated in an online chat in the About Babylon 5 Fans chat room on 3 July 2001. Ms. Cavelos is the author of The Passing of the Techno-Mages, a Babylon 5 novel trilogy. The second volume, Summoning Light, was released on this same day.
This was a moderated chat. Questions were sent to me (Mike Helba) as the moderator, and I displayed them throughout the chat. They appear with my handle, <babylon5ADM>. The name that precedes each question is the handle of the person who asked it. Answers and comments from Ms. Cavelos appeared with her handle, <Jeanne>.
Ms. Cavelos answered a few questions before and after the moderated portion of the chat. They are included here. I have taken some liberties with the order of the comments to keep the answers with the questions.
I would like to thank Jeanne Cavelos for taking the time to participate in this chat. I would also like to thank the Babylon 5 webmasters who helped to publicize the chat and the participants who joined us.
<Ivanova> Hey, Jeanne!!!! :)
<JordanAlexander> I never did care much for the Technomages BUT...i'm learning to like them.
<JordanAlexander> Hello Jeanne.
<Jeanne> Hi. I was surprised Del Rey wanted me to write a whole trilogy about them.
<Ivanova> Funny thing, Galen magelanguage has given me a new appreciation of equations, which helps, especially because I'm taking two math classes this summer. One is finished, thank goodness.
<Jeanne> Have you learned the equation for fireballs yet?
<babylon5ADM> Glad you could make it.
<thrawn> hi Jeanne
<Jeanne> Happy to be here.
<thrawn> Has the new book come out yet? the schmuck at Border's told another two weeks
<Jeanne> Today was supposed to be the day. If the store ordered it ahead of time, they probably received books about a week ago, but weren't supposed to put them out until today. Some stores may be slow to put them out.
<MSU-Shadows> have you read her first one?
<thrawn> I have, it was very good
<Ivanova> I HIGHLY agree with Thrawn.
<Jeanne> :-) Thanks.
<WendyB> Jeanne, I loved Casting Shadows, the best B5 book ever
<JordanAlexander> The only thing I can think of is has she seen AI yet? *L*
<Jeanne> Thanks, Wendy. Jordan, don't remind me! Ug!
<babylon5ADM> I'd like to welcome Jeanne Cavelos to the About Babylon 5 Fans chat room and congratulate her on the release of SUMMONING LIGHT.
<WendyB> wooo hooo!
<babylon5ADM> I'll be putting the chat into moderated mode in a minute.
<babylon5ADM> If you have any questions prepared, go ahead and send them to me. I'll put them in the queue. To ask a question, send it privately to the moderator as follows: Highlight babylon5ADM in the user list, type your message in the text box, click and hold the send button until the popup menu appears, and click on Whisper to Member.
<babylon5ADM> Jeanne, would you like to make some opening comments?
<Jeanne> Sure. I loved working on the Passing of the Techno-mages and am happy to talk about any aspect of the books or the writing process that you'd like . . .
<Jeanne> or anything about B5, SF, or whatever. I did a lot of research as part of the writing process . . .
<Jeanne> and I could talk some about that if you're interested. Also happy to talk about writing within an established universe, working with Joe, . . .
<Jeanne> coming up with characters and themes, working with established characters, becoming completely obsessed with techno-mages . . .
<Jeanne> trying to write tie-in novels of quality that could be considered "real" books (hopefully), or whatever you want to talk about. . .
<Jeanne> I worked on the trilogy for about two years; finished writing book 3 in March, and am now suffering from mage withdrawal.
<babylon5ADM> Ivanova - Will you be making any appearances in Southern California during your book tour?
<Jeanne> I don't have any plans right now to go to California. I was in Northern CA in May. . .
<Jeanne> I post all my appearances on my website, so it's good to check in there periodically.
<Jeanne> That's http://www.sff.net/people/jcavelos
<babylon5ADM> SenatorHidoshi - What minor Babylon 5 character would you most like to write a book about that you feel has gotten short shift Carolyn Sykes, Laurel Takashima, Senator Hidoshi, Major Atumbe, etc.
<Jeanne> It's tough to pick. I am very intrigued by the senators and would like to know more about their lives . . .
<Jeanne> I wrote about a senator in SUMMONING LIGHT who turned out to be an interesting character . . . might be fun to do more with her . . .
<Jeanne> I'd still like to do more with Morden.
<babylon5ADM> Princess sends congratulations to Jeanne.
<Jeanne> Thanks, Princess. The senator I just mentioned, FYI, is one who appeared in an episode of B5 but was never named . . .
<Jeanne> I named her Senator Norman. I'm afraid I've forgotten which episode she was in now.
<babylon5ADM> SenatorHidoshi - How do you think the contributions of yourself and other authors have modified JMS' visions of his B5 universe?
<Jeanne> The B5 books and comics have added another dimension to JMS's universe, I think . . .
<Jeanne> Some inconsistencies have crept in, which is unfortunate, but I think we've also had the chance to see some of the characters we love . . .
<Jeanne> in new and different situations. I tried to be true to the show while at the same time adding something significant and new to the canon . . .
<Jeanne> I didn't want to just put the characters through another adventure, like a missing episode . . .
<Jeanne> The way Joe had structured the universe, it has a rich history, which allows other authors to take pieces of that history that haven't been explored and show them to us . . .
<Jeanne> One reason I've done the B5 novels I've done is that they've covered areas that haven't been explored on the show . . .
<Jeanne> which allowed me to contribute something of my own to the great universe Joe created.
<babylon5ADM> MSU-Shadows - I think readers should not get hung up on shared-world inconsistencies
<Jeanne> If they're minor, I agree. It's impossible to keep every tiny piece of information consistent with every other piece. Even within the TV episodes, there are a number of inconsistencies. . .
<Jeanne> I had to deal with a couple of those. I think it's more troubling to readers . . .
<Jeanne> or at least more troubling to me, when the characters don't seem to be acting like themselves. That makes it hard to believe the story.
<babylon5ADM> MSU-Shadows - What were primary sources of research?
<Jeanne> I did a lot of research into magicians--why people become magicians, what they get out of it . . .
<Jeanne> how they behave amongst each other, how various tricks are done, the history of magicians. A number of the mages in the book are named after real historical magicians . . .
<Jeanne> I also researched our current ability to create implants that can be controlled by our brains (which we've made some exciting progress with) . . .
<Jeanne> body language (since mages know how to read this), microelectronic devices (like the probes the mages use) . . .
<Jeanne> and how misdirection has been used in wartime (you're going to see some of this in book 2).
<babylon5ADM> SenatorHidoshi - Who are you? What do you want? Why are you here? Where are you going? Who do you serve? Who do you trust? (The Babylon 5 and Crusade questions)
<Jeanne> If I tell you all that, won't it kill the romance?
<Jeanne> Actually, I serve my iguana, Igmoe. But I don't trust him.
<babylon5ADM> thrawn - Do you have a theory as Morden's first name? We have an interest in B5Lr's chat room
<Jeanne> When I wrote THE SHADOW WITHIN, I wanted to give Morden a first name . . .
<Jeanne> I asked Joe if I could. This was actually the only thing he said no to . . .
<Jeanne> He said he'd always imagined Morden just as "Morden" with no first name . . .
<Jeanne> So I created this whole thing with the archaeologists on the Icarus . . .
<Jeanne> where they all called each other by their last names. Otherwise, I couldn't figure out how to get through the whole book . . .
<Jeanne> without saying it. I think it worked out okay that way. So I guess his first name is in the eye of the beholder. . .
<Jeanne> I did enjoy making him a graduate of Michigan State, though, which is my alma mater.
<babylon5ADM> MSU-Shadows - do you think there will be many more B5 books at this time, from yourself and others?
<Jeanne> As far as I know, Del Rey has no more signed up after my trilogy. . .
<Jeanne> I'm surprised I haven't heard anything about them signing up a book based on the LEGEND OF THE RANGERS movie . . .
<Jeanne> If that becomes a series, my guess would be they may sign up more books. . .
<Jeanne> Otherwise, I'm not sure. The B5 books clearly don't sell as well for them as Star Wars (which Del Rey also publishes) . . .
<Jeanne> so they probably look at those sales figures next to each other and think . . .
<Jeanne> it's not really worth while to publish the B5 books . . .
<Jeanne> If only the B5 fans would support them more, then I know Del Rey would publish more . . .
<Jeanne> The editor, Steve Saffel, has said as much a number of times . . .
<Jeanne> I think CASTING SHADOWS is doing pretty well for them, but I sort of feel as though they've moved on to other things at this point. . .
<Jeanne> Publishing tie-ins is expensive, since they need to pay both Warner and an author (not that the author gets much)
<babylon5ADM> Princess - What is your favorite B5 character?
<Jeanne> I ask people that all the time. It's a really hard question to answer, though . . .
<Jeanne> I love John Sheridan very much. But I also feel extremely close to Anna, Morden, Londo, and Galen. I guess those are my favorites, though I really love all the characters.
<Jeanne> And Elric.
<babylon5ADM> JordanAlexander - Who's your least fave B5 character then?
<Jeanne> I'll get knocked up one side and down the other for this, but . . .
<Jeanne> I'm not overly crazy about Marcus. He's okay, but for me, no more than that. . .
<Jeanne> Who's that actor who was in Logan's RUN--man, I'm going senile--I didn't really like his part when he thought he was King Arthur.
<babylon5ADM> thrawn - I was very interested in Anna's wandering about in a vessel, without giving too much away, will that be expanded upon?
<Jeanne> Yes. Anna has a bigger storyline in books 2 and 3--I think you'll be surprised at some of the things she does, and at how she and Galen meet.
<babylon5ADM> Several people have pointed out that the Logan's Run guy is Michael York.
<babylon5ADM> Ivanova - How much leeway did JMS give you in writing the books? Were you the one responsible for naming the characters (besides the ones that had previously appeared in episodes)? I really love all of the characters' names. :)
<Jeanne> Thanks. Joe gave me quite a bit of leeway in writing the trilogy . . .
<Jeanne> I had his outline, but it was pretty general, just establishing the overall arc of each book . . .
<Jeanne> and where he gave specifics, I sometimes changed things as I developed the plot further, . . .
<Jeanne> and when I showed him my detailed outline for the trilogy (200 pages long) . . .
<Jeanne> he liked the way I'd developed things and didn't object to any of the changes I made . . .
<Jeanne> I made them mainly to help me better tell the overall story he'd established . . .
<Jeanne> All the characters not from the shows I created and named . . .
<Jeanne> That was a lot of fun.
<babylon5ADM> Mo - Is there any chance you will come to the Pacific NW to do any book signings? (hint, hint)
<Jeanne> Thank you! I'm brain dead right now. In the middle of teaching Odyssey, a six-week SF/F writing workshop, and I'm getting only about 5 hours sleep a night. . .
<Jeanne> I'd be happy to come to the Pacific NW if someone wants to invite me and fly me out there (hint hint back at you). I haven't had any offers recently. If there was a big convention I might come.
<babylon5ADM> sassy_queen - Thank you for visiting ISN news forum and trying to visit WB Babylon 5 board. Do technomages wear boxers or briefs?
<Jeanne> You know, I got all tangled up in that issue, because I had a scene in SUMMONING LIGHT where . . .
<Jeanne> Galen was in his underwear. I just couldn't get past that eternal question . . .
<Jeanne> so I decided to put his pants back on. It was a sad day.
<babylon5ADM> Ivanova - If given the chance, would you want to write a story that focused on the Sheridan family (specifically Liz and her family and John's father and mother).
<Jeanne> That would be really interesting. I love Liz, and I also find John's father fascinating. . .
<Jeanne> If there was a way to tie it in to some galactic issues, that could be very cool.
<babylon5ADM> SenatorHidoshi - Would you like to write a non-fiction book which analyzes the B5 universe like Andy Lane's The Babylon File or the Season by Season Guides?
<Jeanne> I had pitched a "Dr. Franklin's Medical Journal" idea to Del Rey several years ago . . .
<Jeanne> I thought it would be fun to explore the scientific possibilities of aliens, have Franklins anatomical drawings and discussions about their physiology . . .
<Jeanne> but Del Rey wasn't interested. It could also be fun to do a "Science of B5" book. But I love writing the B5 fiction the most.
<babylon5ADM> MSU-Shadows - do you have an interest in writing episodes for a possible B5LR series?
<Jeanne> I'm mainly interested in writing books, because I like being in control, and an author has more control with a book than a screenplay . . .
<Jeanne> but I'd love to do a B5 screenplay. That would be great . . .
<Jeanne> I guess I'd have to see LR first before I'd know if I had something to contribute to that series.
<babylon5ADM> Mo - I am fascinated by your background and was curious to hear what inspired you to follow the career path that you did? (astrophysicist->publishing->author) It just seems that women with high-tech backgrounds are somewhat uncommon...
<Jeanne> Yes, I'm strange. My career goal was to become an astronaut just like Charlton Heston in PLANET OF THE APES . . .
<Jeanne> He was my role model. Considering that he blew up the planet and killed everyone in BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES . . .
<Jeanne> I'm not sure what that says about me. But I thought it would be a fun career. . .
<Jeanne> I wanted to boldly go where no man . . .
<Jeanne> I loved thinking about the big ideas--where did we come from, what's going to happen to the universe, how will we cope when the sun burns out, . . .
<Jeanne> As I worked as an astrophysicist at NASA, I found that I wasn't really able to explore these issues . . .
<Jeanne> We were focused on more practical considerations. I realized that I really loved exploring SF-type ideas . . .
<Jeanne> seeing if they could someday be possible, and coming up with stories about them . . .
<Jeanne> So I left science, got a master's degree in creative writing, and decided to work in publishing until I sold my first novel . . .
<Jeanne> Eight years later, publishing had taken over my life. I loved editing novels, but had no time for my own writing. So I decided to leave and devote myself to writing . . .
<Jeanne> That was about 6 years ago, and I sold THE SHADOW WITHIN some months after leaving publishing. So I guess that's who I am and what I want.
<babylon5ADM> MSU-Shadows - Is there another property you are dying to write tie-in related novels for?
<Jeanne> I'm hoping my next book will be in my own universe, not tied in to anything. I'm doing some research for that now. But I love movies and TV, and would enjoy having a career that alternates between my own universes and tie-in universes . . .
<Jeanne> That said, I'm not sure there's another universe I'd like to write for now, other than B5 . . .
<Jeanne> I like FARSCAPE a lot, but I'm not sure I can write the kind of crazy plots they have. Other franchises have too many restrictive rules--I think it makes it nearly impossible for an author . . .
<Jeanne> to write a good novel in those universes. (Or at least for me to do it--I like my freedom, and Joe has no rules, except that you are consistent and you satisfy him).
<babylon5ADM> Alexthecat - Isabelle was so interested in learning more about the "tech" will we learn more about it?
<Jeanne> Oh, yes . . . You're going to learn more than you can imagine about it.
<babylon5ADM> thrawn - What other things have you written besides the B5 books?
<Jeanne> I've written two other books--THE SCIENCE OF THE X-FILES and THE SCIENCE OF STAR WARS (both nonfiction) . . .
<Jeanne> and then lots of short stories and articles and reviews . . .
<Jeanne> I also have 2 1/2 unsold novels in my closet, but that's where they'll remain . . .
<Jeanne> and 1/2 a book about my iguana Igmoe, which may see the light of day at some point.
<Jeanne> I wrote a screenplay for ST:TNG some time back, which was considered fairly seriously, but never produced.
<babylon5ADM> JordanAlexander - What's your opinion on the whole controversy towards the Harry Potter books?
<Jeanne> I think it's ridiculous. I read the first book and it was quite nice and entertaining, but nothing startlingly new. She tells the story very well, but it's a familiar story . . .
<Jeanne> The people who are reacting are people who have never read fantasy and have no clue of all the books out there that cover similar material . . .
<Jeanne> I realized a few months ago that THE PASSING OF THE TECHNO-MAGES is in some weird way a kind of Harry Potter for adults.
<babylon5ADM> Ivanova - Of the characters that you created for the trilogy, which ones are you particular favorites?
<Jeanne> Oh, boy. I love all my characters. There's a special place in my heart for Blaylock, though, and Burrell, and G'Leel (and Bunny, who you will meet soon).
<Jeanne> Carvin, too.
<Jeanne> And Fed!
<Jeanne> Oh, don't make me pick between my children. It's like Sophie's Choice!
<babylon5ADM> thrawn - Where did the name Weirdon come from?
<Jeanne> It came out of my head. I wanted something that sounded alien (weird) and magical . . .
<Jeanne> I may or may not have been influenced by DUNE, when they talk about the weirding way (isn't that it? Or am I senile again?)
<Jeanne> I always thought that was cool.
<Jeanne> So not sure where it really came from. . .
<Jeanne> Djadjamonkh is one of the mages named after a real historical magician.
<babylon5ADM> JordanAlexander - Outside of science-fiction what other genres do you like or would like to explore thru writing?
<Jeanne> I've written a fair amount of horror and some unclassifiable weird stuff, which I guess might be called mainstream for lack of any other term . . .
<Jeanne> The first novel I wrote was set during the Civil War and involved two guys with a psychic connection . . .
<Jeanne> You can imagine how commercial it was, considering the large section in every Barnes & Noble of psychic Westerns . . .
<Jeanne> Right now I like writing in the SF/horror/science thriller area.
<babylon5ADM> Helene - Has there been any point where your vision of what a character would or wouldn't do or say has differed from what JMS's outline has instructed? And if so, how do you resolve that?
<Jeanne> Yes, there was some of that. For example, Joe had a love triangle in his outline for book 1 . . .
<Jeanne> between Isabelle, Galen, and another male mage. I just didn't think Isabelle would lead two guys on . . .
<Jeanne> and I think a love triangle with two guys and a girl requires some weakness in the girl--I didn't see that weakness in Isabelle. . .
<Jeanne> I also didn't think the love triangle added anything to the larger story of the trilogy . . .
<Jeanne> or to the themes I was trying to develop. So I took it out. In Joe's outline, the triangle led to a fight between Galen and the other guy . . .
<Jeanne> So I had them get into a fight for another reason, over secrets of power, which seemed to fit more with the overall trilogy . . .
<Jeanne> so similar events happened to what Joe had planned out, but for different reasons. . .
<Jeanne> I wanted him to see my insane 200-page outline to make sure he had no objection to the various changes I made, and he didn't, so it worked out okay. . .
<Jeanne> I also added lots of stuff that wasn't in Joe's outline, like storylines for Kosh and Anna Sheridan, and Galen's quest to understand the tech and himself.
<babylon5ADM> Maisis - Is there a bit of you in Isabelle's personality?
<Jeanne> There's a bit of me in all my major characters. I don't know how else to create them. . .
<Jeanne> I try to find some part of myself that can relate to some part of the character . . .
<Jeanne> It's sort of like acting, and sort of like schizophrenia . . .
<Jeanne> Someone asked me once about Galen and Isabelle's debates over God . . .
<Jeanne> The person wanted to know which character I agreed with . . .
<Jeanne> The answer is I agree with them both. I definitely relate to Isabelle's scientific curiosity . . .
<Jeanne> to her belief that science and religion aren't mutually exclusive, and to her attraction to Galen.
<babylon5ADM> thrawn - How many times did you have to watch the Crusade episode "The Path of Sorrows" to prepare for the novels?
<Jeanne> Wow--I didn't keep count, but I must have watched that one scene . . .
<Jeanne> about 35 times at least. Probably more. There were so many details to check . . .
<Jeanne> and I really wanted to get it right, down to the point of hand gestures and checking the script against what the actors actually said . . .
<Jeanne> It's a really interesting challenge to incorporate a scene from an episode into the novel . . .
<Jeanne> and try to make it all seem of a piece. I have stuff like that in each book, and sometimes you discover that what you thought happened in the episode isn't what actually happened at all. . .
<Jeanne> Techno-mages can be deceiving, after all.
<babylon5ADM> I'm afraid we're out of time...
<babylon5ADM> I'd like to thank Jeanne Cavelos for taking the time out of her Odyssey Writing Workshop to participate in this chat. Congratulations once again on the release of SUMMONING LIGHT. I'd also like to thank all the other Babylon 5 webmasters who helped to spread the word about this chat. Finally, thanks to everyone who came and participated. My apologies for any questions that we didn't get to. A transcript of this chat will be posted in a few days.
<Jeanne> Thanks, Mike and everyone. It was a lot of fun. Time to get a few hours sleep now.
<babylon5ADM> Have a good night, Jeanne.
<babylon5ADM> I'll be turning off the moderation now.
<Alexthecat> wow jeanne thanks !
<Darren> Thanks, Jeanne!
<MSU-Shadows> thanks jean!
<Mo> what a pleasure ... it was a honor ... thanks!
<sassy_queen> you are great jeanne
<JordanAlexander> Domo arigatom, Jeanne-sama.
<Darren> I've got Summoning Light right here on my desk ... looking forward to another great read
<MSU-Shadows> Remember, Jeanne: if you go to Z'ha'dum, you will die.
<thrawn> TY Jeanne
<babylon5ADM> Jeanne, I had lots of other compliments about your books that I didn't have time to pass on.
<JordanAlexander> Spaceba bolshoi, Jeanne.
<Ivanova> That was wonderful!!!
<starriderLMW> Looking forward to reading the book. thanks Jeanne
<WendyB> I just ordered the book (and the next one) from Amazon
<flarn> Thanks Jeanne!
<babylon5ADM> I've got the book sitting right in front of me now.
<Alexthecat> mine has been shipped! hehe
<thrawn> Speaking of Z'Ha'Dum, will we get anymore info or scenes there?
<thrawn> Because having been there I can tell you that the salad bars are excellent, and would make for a good story:)
<Jeanne> We will see Z'ha'dum. I won't say anymore.
<JordanAlexander> Jeanne: Small question - what did you used to do for NASA? I own my own commercial space company and I was just wondering...
<Jeanne> I worked at the Astronaut Training Division at the Johnson Space Center. We created different methods of training the astronauts to cope with various situations they might encounter.
<sassy_queen> jeanne, do you have children?
<Jeanne> No children, just Igmoe. He's all I can handle.
<Jeanne> Sorry, must go. Drop me an e-mail some time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
<Alexthecat> thanks jeanne
<Ivanova> Jeanne, I made this from being inspired by Casting Shadows: http://www.geocities.com/babylon5rpg/edits/casting.jpg
<Jeanne> Ivanova, I love that artwork! I have it printed out and hanging on my wall! That's so cool!
<Ivanova> Jeanne, *blushes* Wow!!!! Thanks!!!! :)
<Guest1944> JEANNE... Not giving away your plot will we see any link between the Drahk Plague in "A Call to Arms" and Elizar's alliance with the Shadows? A Crusade episode script "The Long Road" tipped me to the possible plot association.
<Jeanne> You will see some Drakh. I'll leave it at that.
<babylon5ADM> Goodbye, Jeanne.
<JordanAlexander> Dos'vedanya, Jeanne.
<babylon5ADM> Thanks to everyone for joining us tonight.
<Jeanne> Good night, all.