Author, screenwriter, and video game designer Jordan Mechner talks to us about his 480-page, full-color graphic novel, "Templar."
Charlie Chang: What interested you and what started you on the journey of this project?
Jordan Mechner: Well I started out making video games with games like Prince of Persia and “Templar” really began with that. I think the Knights Templar is something that I feel like I knew about as a kid but didn’t really know who they were. The Knights Templar appear in The Maltese Falcon, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Da Vinci Code, and Assassin’s Creed but usually they’re a third act reveal. There’s usually some mysterious conspiracy tracing it all back to the Knights Templar and I love that kind of stuff but I got interested in who they were and I found out that the actual story of the knights and what happened to them in the 14th century was more fascinating and stranger to me than any of the invented pseudo-history. So that was the story I wanted to read so I had to write it.
CC: Very cool, how would you describe “Templar” to readers and what can you tell us about the story?
JM: “Templar” is fictional story; it’s a swash-buckling, romantic, action-adventure about ordinary rank and file knights who escape when the King of France arrests all of the Knights Templar on charges of heresy and witchcraft. The main characters aren’t the great leaders of the order; one of the guys escapes because he was drunk when he was actually supposed to be in the barracks. These are the guys who will need to stop the villain, the King’s minister, who is the second most powerful man in France. I like describing the book as a medieval Ocean’s Eleven.
CC: What can you tell us about the artists that you worked with on this project?
JM: Well I worked with the husband and wife team of illustrators, LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland who are just fantastic. Alex actually speaks French and it took me a year to write the script but for four years they steeped themselves in the historical research and the work they’ve done is just incredible. I should mention that once “Templar” was done and published, LeUyen, Alex, and I had a series of Skype conversations about our process of making the book where we interviewed each other and we collected all of that into an 86 page ebook that is available for free.
CC: I’d imagine that there is a lot to research on a topic like the Knights Templar, where did you begin your research?
JM: I love research, it’s one of my favorite parts, even with the video games I worked on. I could spend months doing just the research if I didn’t actually have to sit down and write. If you check out the free ebook I mentioned earlier, “The Making of Templar,” there are a lot of sketches, we discuss how we did the research, we talk about some books that were really indispensable, like one called “The Atlas of Medieval Paris” that had information about what buildings were located where in Paris in 1307 so we could be accurate in that way. Also the history of the trial, you know, amazingly for something that happened 700 years ago we have the actual transcripts of the trial. Even though “Templar” is a fictional work, the fiction is woven into historical events in the manner of Alexander Dumas who is one of my idols. This book is fiction, the main characters are fictional, but the villain is real and all the events of the trial are real. We tried to be careful not to violate what is known so that the reader can imagine that this story really might have happened.
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