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Interviews with Star Wars
Expanded Universe Authors
With Doug McCausland
In this new department, we're going to feature
the interviews conducted by writer and Star Wars fan
McCausland. Unlike other interviewers, Doug draws from
his knowledge of the Star Wars expanded universe to ask the kinds of questions
that EU fans are interested in. The answers are often surprising and funny.
Kevin J. Anderson
The following interview was originally conducted
by writer Doug McCausland in 2014 for the twentieth anniversary of the classic
Legends (Expanded Universe) trilogy, Jedi Academy. You can reach Doug at
Timothy Zahn’s quintessential Thrawn trilogy is credited with kickstarting the
Expanded Universe, it was Kevin J. Anderson who really sent the Star Wars
mythology in a million new directions. In addition to co-penning the fan
favorite epic from Dark Horse Comics, Tales of the Jedi, KJA also wrote
1994’s Jedi Search, Dark Apprentice, and Champions of the Force
(making up the Jedi Academy trilogy), 1995’s Darksaber,
and the Young Jedi Knights series in the latter part of the decade.
Anderson is also an experienced editor, having edited three volumes of Star
Wars: Tales compilations.
recently had the chance to speak with Mr. Anderson as a delayed celebration of
the Jedi Academy Trilogy‘s 20th anniversary (the third installment was
released on October 1, 1994). During our half hour conversation, we had the
chance to speak about a multitude of topics, including long standing fan
controversies like the “superweapon of the week” trope of the mid-90’s, the
characters Kyp Durron and Admiral Daala, and the rebranding of the Expanded
Universe as non-canon “Legends”. Also read on to learn which fan favorite
Star Wars character nearly met his demise in the early 90’s…
really distanced the post-Return of the Jedi books from the influence of
Jedi itself, really throwing the characters into the next era of Star
Wars. Was this a conscious decision of your own, or was this really a
mandate from Lucasfilm?
thing about a 20th anniversary is me scratching my head and thinking, “Wow, that
was 20 years ago!” The main thing was when Dark Empire came out from Dark
Horse, and Tim Zahn was doing the Thrawn trilogy, those were almost experimental
shots. At the time, there was a great deal of resistance in the publishing
house. “Why do you wanna do more Star Wars? Star Wars is dead,
there’s no more movies. Why would you want to do this?” When the Dark Empire
comics and Tim’s books came out, they were sort of independent.
really knew whether Star Wars was gonna take off. Some of the people
behind the projects had great faith, obviously. Tim wrote a terrific trilogy,
and Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy did a terrific job with Dark Empire. They
made history and took off. Tim’s Heir to the Empire hit number one on the
New York Times Bestseller’s list. Star Wars fans supported it like crazy!
Then we were off to the races. Now it wasn’t just a one-shot, it wasn’t “let’s
make a Star Wars book and see what happens”. This was a real thing, like
the Star Trek books that were all over the place.
the second person asked to do a trilogy, and we sort of were in a position that
we knew it was going to go somewhere, it wasn’t just figuring out if people were
into Star Wars. Lucasfilm and Bantam Books had big plans. They realized
there were going to be a lot of books. All of us together made the conscious
choice. I was in a meeting at Skywalker Ranch when this was discussed, whether
the future Star Wars books would tell an ongoing story or standalone adventures
that you could just read one and not another. For the readers who don’t know,
the Star Trek books took the latter approach. You could pick up a book
and it was a Star Trek adventure; you didn’t have to read them in order
and know how one fit with the other.
Star Wars, we decided that this was a history. Each novel would take place in a
certain timeframe, what happened in previous books would have an effect on the
current one. Tim Zahn’s trilogy actually happened before Jedi Academy
started, building up a universe. Once we had that sort of premise, then we can
start mapping out the history. It seemed an obvious thing that if Luke was
trained as a Jedi Master and most of the Jedi Knights had been massacred, but
there were still people with potential to use the force, then he would try to
bring the Jedi Knights back. Of course, that was a game changer, and we had the
chance to introduce a lot of cool Jedi characters to use!
those characters was the young Jedi trainee turned Sith apprentice Kyp Durron,
controversial among both fans and in-universe characters for his extreme tactics
in stamping out the fragments of the Empire, stealing the Sun Crusher
superweapon and essentially going on a killing spree. However, seeing how he
arguably shortened the Galactic Civil War by several years, do you see Kyp as
sort of a “necessary evil”?
a necessary demonstration, because Luke had been warned of the potential of
falling to the dark side. Yoda tells him that training isn’t easy and he needs
to watch out for certain things about being exposed to that kind of power…
obviously, which we can see through Vader and Palpatine and everybody else. If
Luke was just suddenly willing to train a whole bunch of people, it seemed
necessary that he sees that he’s going overboard. Not everybody could handle the
power that he was giving them. Kyp Durron was a very interesting rise and fall,
rags to riches kind of thing. He was an underdog street kid from the lowest
levels of society. He had nothing going for him but his potential to use the
Somebody from that part of society being catapulted into a position of power and
influence, realizing he could do the necessary thing… some of us might think he
went a little too far. In that end, he’s a demonstration that the Jedi Knights
need to be checked and monitored, that they can’t just go and impose their power
and take over everything. And of course when you have a person with that much
potential in the force getting their hands on such a super-powerful weapon, the
Sun Crusher, that’s a very dangerous mix.
same time, who knows what would have happened if Kyp didn’t blow up the Cauldron
Nebula and wipe out Daala’s forces. She was preparing to go on a suicide run to
Coruscant with a kamikaze Star Destroyer.
guess you could look that he did good things, but he did a lot of damage. He
went to the dark side and got redeemed, and to me that’s a perfect character
arc, where you have a naïve, powerless person who gets his power, goes
overboard, and redeems himself. A lot of the Star Wars characters, not just Kyp,
have followed that path.
topic of Kyp and the Sun Crusher… a staple of 90’s Star Wars literature was the
“superweapon of the week” trope. Every year seemed to spawn a new, crazy weapon:
the World Devastators, Galaxy Gun, Sun Crusher, and Darksaber. Some fans think
it’s ridiculous in retrospect; however, the way I see it, you worked in a
government lab for 12 years…
worked in a lab where we did government stuff, we built nuclear weapons and
advanced technology… I know what that attitude is! If you’ve got the technology
of the Death Star, you keep building it! If you have a repressive government
like the Empire, they’re not gonna say, “well, we have enough weapons, we don’t
need any more!” They’re gonna keep designing them. But that’s kind of what some
of the fans were joking about, but they didn’t get it!
wrote in Darksaber was all about that: in Darksaber, the Hutts get
a hold of the Death Star plans and build their own. It’s not another
“superweapon of the week”, that novel is about the proliferation of nuclear
weapons. If you start building these things, what happens when Russian mobsters,
Middle Eastern terrorists get control of nuclear weapons?
back up. In the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union built these nuclear
weapons. What happened after that was they started getting loose, and any old
gangster/thug could get their hands on nuclear plans. That’s the point of
Darksaber: once you have these weapons, they start to proliferate and get
out. So it was based on something I was working on, something that’s realistic
in politics, not “let’s build a new toy that dominates the last big new toy!” I
think some readers just looked at it and said, “Oh boy, it’s just another Death
Star laser.” That wasn’t what the book was about.
Maw Installation employees like Bevel Lemelisk, Qui Xux, and Tol Sivron based on
your real life co-workers?
when you work for twelve years in the department of energy, department of
defense for 12 years, you’re working in a government research lab dealing with
these sort of people. You pick up certain personalities. I made fun of a few
things with red tape and bureaucracy, the fact that anything gets done. No
specific “this character is based on this guy I worked with”… however, the
Twi’lek guy, Tol Sivron…
Actually, the reason I asked is because of the scene where Tol is bickering with
his employees about missed paperwork and protocol as the New Republic fleet is
about to wipe them all out.
that was a specific reference to something that happened at my workplace. The
Maw Installation is being attacked, stuff is blowing up, and the guys on the
intercom are urging the employees to read the emergency plan and find out what
you’re supposed to do, as if they’re gonna dig up the file and read the plan! We
had something like that where I worked… we had this big earthquake disaster
plan. We were told if some earthquake happened and the building was collapsing,
we were supposed to take out our file and flip to the proper page and read the
paragraph to understand what we were supposed to do, and I remember reading that
thinking… “Well, what I’m supposed to do is get my ass out of here immediately!”
was a joke based on a real thing at my work; it made me slap my head that
bureaucrats were that clueless about what people in an emergency situation would
do. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I would do in that situation is
going through my bookshelf and pulling out my employee manual, flipping to the
disaster response pages, and reading the paragraph about how I’m supposed to run
out of the building…
everything is collapsing around you! Anyway, onto Daala. Jumping a bit forward
in the timeline for this question, books you didn’t write yourself. In your
trilogy, Daala is driven by bloodlust, not really motivated to do anything but
inflict as much damage on the New Republic as possible, killing the Dantooine
colony and thousands of Mon Calamari. However, EU writers decided that she would
become the Chief of State of the Galactic Alliance in more recent novels. Do you
think she actually has the mental capacity to have that kind of power?
books that I wrote, she was sort of a ruthless, desperate loose cannon. Fans
complained that she wasn’t as good of a tactician as Admiral Thrawn, but she’s
not. Not at all. She’s a loose cannon who shoots first asks questions later.
That means that she did a whole lot of tremendous things and doesn’t become the
statesmen until years later. After all of the ordeals that she went through and
the crisis she faced, she could certainly grow and learn her lesson. We have
certain politicians right now that seem to be hotheads and speaking before they
think… they go on to become better leaders.
have your own ending/fate in mind for Daala?
[laughs] Oddly enough, I had planned to kill her at the end of Dark
Apprentice! There’s a big explosion at the end where the Nebula catches fire
and wipes everything out. I thought she was going to be killed, and that’s how I
wrote it. I had a whole batch of test readers who had read Jedi Search… I
mapped the whole thing out, Lucasfilm approved of it, Daala was supposed to die
at the end of book two! But man, the test readers wanted to lock me into a room
until I rewrote it because they liked the character so much! We basically
brought her back from the dead and kept her going. Yes, I was going to kill her
in book two, so she’s already lived a lot longer than I ever imagined!
under the impression that you wanted to kill Mon Mothma in Champions of the
Force, but the idea was vetoed by Lucasfilm.
suggested Mon Mothma to be killed… we were writing these novels to show the
readers that things could change in this universe. This isn’t one of the things
where everything’s the same at the end of the book as it is in the beginning. We
were writing the history of the New Republic: characters change, people die. At
the time, they weren’t quite ready to kill off Mon Mothma, although when you
watch the movies, she has one little scene and line. However, she’s important to
the government of the New Republic. I proposed killing her, but they at the time
decided to let her get better, so I wrote it that way. Of course, my next book,
Darksaber, I killed off Crix Madine… thank goodness I didn’t suggest
killing off Chewbacca, though! [Read: Vector Prime, R.A. Salvatore, 2001]
[laughs] Did you have any other big ideas that were shot down by Lucasfilm?
a whole bunch of brainstorming… “how ‘bout we do this, how ‘bout we do that?” It
seemed that we would paint a target on Lando’s back, that we could get rid of
him… [Lucasfilm] decided not to get rid of Lando! I mean, from a writer’s
perspective, he was a character who had run his course. But we had done extra
things with him since then, so I’m glad he’s still around. I’m sure Billy Dee
Williams is glad he’s still around. [laughs]
all kinds of things, so many projects. I had a total of 54 Lucasfilm projects,
if you count all the Dark Horse comics, anthologies, Cantina pop up books… they
sure let me do so many things. I couldn’t remember if there were any instances
where I’d have a tantrum because they didn’t let me do something. [laughs] If I
suggest something, and they had a thumbs down, I would suggest something else!
have a lot of experience behind the scenes really putting this universe
time, we were all a team of authors. I was in contact with Dave Wolverton, Kathy
Tyers, Mike Stackpole, and Tim Zahn, along with Tom Veitch a great deal with
Tales of the Jedi comics. We were like a small team exchanging ideas. Tim
Zahn would plant something in The Last Command that I picked up on in
Jedi Search, and we did that sort of stuff. I’ve been out of the loop for a
while, I’m not sure if Lucasfilm writers do the same thing now, but we had a
great little team who were building the history of this universe. We were like
the worker bees building a foundation.
sure you know about the status of the EU now, right?
mean the whole “Legends” thing.
Did this news affect you at all, when it was announced?
know, that’s probably the question I get asked more than anything else from
Star Wars fans. A lot of them have righteous dignation and come to my
defense, or to everybody else’s defense, but it’s been twenty years, and I don’t
even know what printing we’re in? We’re fifty something printings into Jedi
imagined that if they made sequels to the movies, they would pick up on my
novels and film them. We were writing our own Expanded Universe books. If you
were JJ Abrams, you wouldn’t want to rely on the hundred something books that
have been written, you’d want to do your own thing! I’m perfectly content with
that. As a writer in the Star Wars universe, I’ve seen a lot of my ideas picked
up and seeded into The Clone Wars and Rebels cartoons. They put
some of [EU authors’] ideas in the Special Edition. That’s really cool.
you see Darth Maul, when he turns on his double lightsaber, I can point at it
and say, “Hey, that’s what we created in the Tales of the Jedi comics!”
That’s cool, from a writer’s perspective it makes me so excited to see that sort
of stuff. Lucasfilm owns all that stuff; we were writers for hire. Whatever we
did, they could do what they want with it. I certainly wouldn’t complain if they
wanted to do Jedi Search as a movie. But I never, ever expected it.
trades reported a while back that a solar-system destroying weapon and Yavin 4,
possibly the Jedi Academy, would be appearing in the sequels. We’ll have to see
would be cool! I would love that, but I’m not counting on it.
want to backtrack a little bit before we wind down, picking up on a line from
Dark Apprentice. Lando and Han are discussing the pharmaceutical uses of
glitterstim spice from Kessel, and Lando says to Han something along the lines
of, “I know you wouldn’t have smuggled spice if you didn’t know the benefits of
the substance.” Is Han really not as much of scoundrel as we were led to believe
in the original Star Wars?
was actually from some discussions with the Lucasfilm people. I was writing Han
going into the spice mines of Kessel, where he used to smuggle the spice out. I
was told by some politically correct people at Lucasfilm, “Spice can’t be a drug
because Han was smuggling it… that makes Han a drug dealer! You can’t have one
of our main characters be a drug dealer!” I said, “It’s spice, and he’s running
Imperial blockades, what did you think it was?” They said, “Well, it’s like a
food flavoring!” He’s not gonna be flying through Imperial blockades with a ship
full of oregano! [laughs] It was actually a discussion.
didn’t want Han Solo to be a guy smuggling drugs, because he’s one of our good
guys. I went, “You know he was a scoundrel, and he redeemed himself and joined
the Rebel Alliance?” It got to the point that we were butting heads enough that
we sent a letter to George Lucas to settle our conflict: was space a drug? A
food additive? Something else? George wrote back. I love this; he wrote back,
“Of course it’s a drug!” My compromise was to not make it something like crystal
meth that people were dying from; we had to make some decent aspects of it. Han
still is our main character, you don’t want him to be Walter White selling
you ever return to Star Wars if you were asked?
absolutely. I love Star Wars! It made my career, and I went to see Star Wars the
first week it came out. Yes, I’m that old. It’s a big influence on my life and
I’d love to do it. The real problem for me is twofold: I’m running a publishing
company, I’ve got a whole bunch of books under contract, I do seminars and
several trade shows a year, so fitting it into the schedule is tough. The
hardest part right now is getting up to speed again. When I was writing the
Jedi Academy trilogy, it was an unexplored landscape, and we could make up a
bunch of stuff. Right now, even when you take the old EU books and call them
Legends, there’s so many books I haven’t read, so much has happened, and it
would be hard for me to jump into it again. I’m sure we could figure out
something if they wanted me to write a Rebels episode…
would be a cool gig.
a lot of potential there that we could work on. We’ll see. I loved my time with
Star Wars, I’m pleased with what I did, and I’m amazed the fans are still around
after twenty years, people who come up to get their battered old books signed to
say it’s the first book they ever read. It makes me feel satisfied with the
I go, I’m going to ask you this on behalf of Jedi Council Forums member Unicus
to provide some much needed closure: Was the Sith Lord Ludo Kreshh’s name a pun
on the word “ludicrous”?!?
all. [laughs] Not at all, sorry! I think I got it from the movie Labyrinth,
that big, hairy, crusty creature was named Ludo, if I remember correctly. I
don’t know where Kressh came from. He’s just reading too much into it. [laughs]
BACK TO TOP
This interview with Dave Wolverton was
conducted by Doug McCausland on November 17. 2014, published in its entirety on
the Jedi Council Forums shortly thereafter. Wolverton’s Star Wars novel, The
Courtship of Princess Leia, had recently celebrated its twentieth anniversary.
Conducted in the back of my car on a cold
night in upstate New York, this interview features Dave touching on Han’s
characterization as a love crazed stalker, Prince Isolder’s status as “Space
Fabio”, and the effect of vocal minorities while dealing with such a franchise.
Lucasfilm later utilized elements of this
interview in Star Wars Icons: Han Solo, a hardcover book
chronicling the history of Han’s character development in both the Expanded
Universe & post-2014 canon.
What was the creative process of TCOPL like?
Did you have any influences?
What happened was Bantam came to me and asked,
“Are you interested in a Star Wars novel?” I said, “Sure, what about?” They said
I could pick anything I liked in a certain timeframe. Of course I had read a few
previous books, the Tim Zahn novels, and of course Han and Leia were married. I
thought, “It can’t be easy for those two fiery personalities!”
So I wanted to do something that was romantic and
would bring more women into the Star Wars universe. Really, the people in power
in the Star Wars universe tend to be men. I wanted to do something there; that’s
how I came up with the idea of the Witches of Dathomir. It was just fun.
I got together a bunch of screwy ideas and some
fans who were Star Wars fans, and I threw the ideas out there to see which made
people’s eyes sparkle, where they would get excited and go, “Oh, cool idea!”
They’d start throwing out their own ideas. It was a matter of being asked to do
it, getting the friends together, go the ideas out, turned it into an outline,
faxed it over to my editors, and it was pretty much approved! Very, very minor
We went through George Lucas and he signed off on
each point. When he got done, he wrote me a little note that said, “Great job, I
can’t wait to see it!” It was that easy to get through the approval process. Of
course, once you write the story, they read to make sure you wrote what you said
you would, and it’s up to their standards. Really, it was a painless process
that was pretty much all of my creation and I just felt lucky and grateful
George Lucas signed off on it!
Are you aware of how important the mythology
of Dathomir, your creation, ended up being to The Clone Wars TV series?
Yeah! I remember when I wrote it, I hoped that
other people who were writing the Star Wars universe and making future books,
movies, and games would make use of it. I’m glad to see that it was used for
video games and the TV series. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll see a
witch of Dathomir in an upcoming movie!
The Imperial Warlord Zsinj and his ship, the
Super Star Destroyer Iron Fist, was your creation originating in TCOPL.
However, Zsinj didn’t play much of a role in the story besides being the context
of the action. His backstory would later be fleshed out in Aaron Allston’s
Wraith Squadron novels. Did you give any input?
Not really! I wrote my Star Wars books and got
off on other things. I worked with Kevin Anderson and Kathy Tyers and some
others, but I haven’t had much contact with many of the later authors. I’m just
delighted people are picking up some pieces and using them in their own stories
in the Star Wars universe!
I thought a really interesting implication in
TCOPL was that Luke realized that Darth Vader and Palpatine never sought to kill
him, facing the full brunt of the dark side when the Nightsisters attack and
pretty much feeling completely helpless.
The “contagonist”, which is what Darth Vader is
called, there’s a person who works for an evil power, a dark lord, but has his
or her own agenda. It seemed obvious to me that Darth Vader looked at turning
Luke very early on. Luke had never felt the full force of what the dark side is,
at least in episodes 5 and 6. Vader was pulling his punches! That seemed pretty
obvious to me. The idea that, “Gosh, somebody who doesn’t care for me at all who
is with the dark side is trying to destroy me!” just seems sort of a logical
next step in Luke’s character arc.
A huge point of the novel is that Han goes
kind of “love crazy” after Prince Isolder enters his and Leia’s life, to the
point that many thought Han was acting out of character. At one point Han
decides to shoot Leia with a mind control weapon and shove her into the cargo
hold of the Millennium Falcon just to have his way. Chewbacca even offers
to beat Han up for Leia when he learns this!
At the time, I was a fairly new father with
several kids. I was very interested in the fact that when my children were
stressed out, they would regress! So I got to thinking about that and watching
to see if adults regress too. I can see many of us do when we’re put under heavy
stress. The idea of “what if Han was stressed?” kind of clicked with me. What
would he regress to? Having been somebody who was a drug dealer and things like
that… this kind of concerned me, because I knew I was taking him back to a dark
place that we really didn’t see too much of.
He starts off as an anti-hero. By that, what I
mean is that he’s a bad guy who joins the good guys. He has a lot of skills as a
gunman, as a criminal, that he brings to the Rebellion’s table. When I looked at
writing this novel, I really wanted to say, “If he regressed, and he regressed
back to that time, what would he do?” I just kind of looked at the crazy things
people do in relationships and really see what I could get away with. That was
my biggest concern when I outlined it, because I knew that there would be some
people who would be like, “Oh, no, that would never happen!” There are people
who don’t want to believe he was ever a criminal.
I got a little photo that has Harrison Ford
sitting by his mailbox saying “I shot first!” There’s that revisionist history
where people say, “oh no, he was just defending himself!” That’s not what he was
doing. He was defending himself, in advance. The whole point here is that he
came from a dark side, and I wanted to go back and explore what that might have
been like a little bit. Yeah, he is a little bit love crazy, he is a little bit
of a stalker, a criminal. It’s just kind of taking it back to that. There’s a
certain part of me that said you shouldn’t be able to always anticipate what a
character is gonna do, or why they’re gonna do it. I wanted to try to layer in
some motivations a little thicker and different from what people anticipated.
The Star Wars movies really have a lot of
humor in them. A lot of funny one liners, and stuff like that. I felt that the
novels weren’t really trying to capture that humor. I also wanted to do just
that with Han, too… it’s just something that lines up. [Doug’s note: What a man!
I was coincidentally going through some very
similar relationship problems at the time so I could totally understand/relate
to Han. Of course, I didn’t have a mind control spear! Anyway, the novel had two
covers: a bridal Leia with Prince Isolder, and a more action/adventure oriented
reprinting with Han holding his blaster amid the backdrop of a rancor. I know
you probably don’t have anything to do with the choice of cover, but was the
change in cover done out of concern to sell to young boys?
I didn’t have any say over the covers. When they
were gonna create the covers, my editor came to me and said, “What does Isolder
look like?” So I told her Fabio! The guy with all the muscles on all the cover
of all those romance novels. He was really getting hot right about that time.
She kind of just groaned and said, “I knew you were gonna say that!” I wanted a
hunk. Big, muscular, the perfect man. I think part of that came from just a
couple of years before that. I had a good friend, we were both pre-med students.
He was pretty intelligent, a wonderful singer, played the guitar, he was
athletic… every time I got into a room with a bunch of girls I saw the eyes go
to him. I just felt I couldn’t compete! I remember thinking, “The only way to
really compete is to get him married… or kill him.” [laughs]
I wanted Han to be in that kind of a
relationship. He felt he just couldn’t compete. Isolder’s richer, stronger, and
more handsome than him. A higher moral character… Isolder basically beat him in
every way. And that’s what love is about. Love is kind of crazy. It doesn’t
always make complete sense, and I wanted to show that side of it too. The idea
that Han and Leia had a history, and his belief that underneath it all she
really did love him, I wanted to bring that out. When you’re in love with
somebody, you really know just what’s going on in their head, and wat the
chemistry really is. I think I wanted Han to feel that in his gut and act on
that, despite whatever rationale Leia may throw at him.
Your other major addition to the Star Wars
canon was the Expanded Universe backstory of Dengar in the Tales of the
Bounty Hunters compilation. What was the process of being assigned different
characters for the anthology, and what was your inspiration for Dengar’s
personality (or lack thereof)?
The characters that we did already had a little
biographical information sketched out by the Star Wars sourcebooks. [Kevin J.
Anderson] had said, “Okay, here’s our characters and what we know about them.
Who do you want?” Of course, everybody grabbed the same person, more or less.
Dengar was probably my second choice. He’s sort of a somber character to me, and
I just wanted to capture that worn out feeling that he had in his life. That was
just a lot of fun.
I worked as a prison guard for a while in
college, and there were a number of killers. I wanted to try to capture the
inner deadness that some of them have. That sense that you are just a sociopath
and completely gone. In the Star Wars universe, he basically had his brain
altered and turned into that kind of person. However, I did choose someone else
over him, and I can’t really remember who it was…
I’m guessing everyone was trying to grab for
Yeah. Everybody wants Boba Fett.
You must have a busy schedule with all of your
other projects, but would you ever return to the Star Wars universe if you were
I would absolutely love to! All I’m doing is
waiting for someone to say, “Hey, that Dave Wolverton guy would be fun to work
with!” When it was announced that Disney was making the new Star Wars movies, my
very first thought was, “I hope they get somebody as good as JJ Abrams to come
in and work on it!” I was pleasantly surprised when JJ Abrams was the guy they
picked. I’m interested to see what he does artistically, with a new and updated
vision of what the Star Wars universe would look like, and story wise. So yeah,
I’d love to work on Star Wars again! Hopefully I won’t mess up Han Solo again.
Hey, I wasn’t knocking you when I asked that!
But it is true. That’s the one thing I got hit
with. You can’t judge fan reaction to a certain degree. I did get a fan letter
from George Lucas! You know that no matter what you write, if you take any
chances at all, you’re going to get criticism, and if you don’t take any
chances, you’ll also get criticism. It’s one of those things where you know
you’re gonna have somebody to disagree with you somewhere. There’s gotta be at
least a couple hundred million Star Wars fans, easily, and I think at least 10
of those will disagree with me!
BACK TO TOP
The following interview was conducted in
mid-2015. Though I have read or skimmed several X-Wing books as a child in the
90’s, I decided to binge the entire series as an adult after Lucasfilm’s
decision to render the Expanded Universe non-canon. Over the course of one
summer in 2014, I read all of Mike Stackpole’s installments in the series, plus
I, Jedi (and also turned 21, thus drinking plenty of newly legal booze in the
process) and followed that up with Aaron Allston’s Wraith Squadron novels, which
I finished up by January of 2015. Shortly before the interview was conducted,
and following my manic read through of the series, Rogue One was announced.
Excitement was high, but funnily enough, the end product bore more of a
resemblance to the heist-oriented Wraith Squadron books over Stackpole’s Rogue
July marks the 20th anniversary of one of the
most ambitious and beloved chapters of the Star Wars universe: the X-Wing
series of comics and novels. Originally planned as a spinoff of the critically
acclaimed LucasArts flight simulators X-Wing and TIE Fighter, the
project encompassed thirty five comic issues overseen by Michael Stackpole, six
adult novels by Stackpole (including the companion novel I, Jedi), and
five by the late, great Aaron Allston.
The series follows the exploits of the Rebel
Alliance following the defeat of the Empire during Return of the Jedi,
chronicling the group's transformation into the New Republic and its military
campaigns against the fragmented Imperial warlords, such as the menacing Ysanne
"Iceheart" Isard and the elusive Zsinj. The reader meets a huge ensemble cast of
ragtag New Republic fighter pilots and military officers, scheming Imperial
figureheads, shady denizens of the criminal underworld, and an ambiguously
fictitious Ewok fighter pilot named Lieutenant Kettch.
With Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One on the
horizon, as well as the twentieth anniversary of both the comic series and
novels coming in July and January, respectively, I thought it would be a good
time to look back on the franchise with Michael Stackpole, touching on some of
the more controversial points in the series as well as looking ahead to a
possible future of the franchise in film and television...
With the 20th anniversary of the original
X-wing comic coming up upon July 1st, do you have any thoughts about the
Everything from In The Empire's Service on
I wrote the scripts for, and before that I did the story treatments. By and
large the guys who scripted those early issues did a brilliant job. Jan Strnad
is great, and Darko Macan's story arc, The Phantom Affair, was absolutely
brilliant. It was great fun working with those guys and watching the project
come together. When I started scripting myself, that was some of the most fun
I've ever had writing.
Can you tell us a bit about how the
opportunity to write for the Star Wars franchise originally came about, and how
the classic 90's flight simulators factored into the original plan?
Bantam had been having great success with the
Star Wars novels, and Lucasfilm at the time was a little reluctant to extend
their contract. I think they were a little concerned about having too much stuff
out there. What Bantam asked is if they could take a subsidiary license and use
the X-wing computer game. Because I had done computer games in the past.
The editor called me up and asked if picking out a license for a computer game
was a good idea, then we discussed it without naming what the property was. I
was basically down on the idea.
At the end of the call she says, oh, too bad, we
were thinking about picking up the Star Wars license, and I said, "oh, Star
Wars?! Buy it!" About three months later, I get a waking call from my agent
informing me I was offered a four Star Wars book cycle... I said yeah. What they
wanted and what my mission was to write military science fiction in the Star
Wars universe. They suggested using Wedge Antilles, but other than that, it was
The protagonist of your books, Corran Horn,
his family, and the whole CorSec culture was probably your biggest original
contribution to the Star Wars canon. He's defined by two major character traits:
his tragic backstory, and his brash attitude as a former cop turned New Republic
fighter pilot. When you were creating the character, which came first?
I'd been researching about fighter pilots and
knew fighter pilots; the cockiness is just a parcel of being a fighter pilot.
Making him a Corellian and giving him a Jedi background... I knew that from the
very beginning I wanted him to be a contrast to Wedge and Han. The only
Corellians we knew had ties to smuggling. I really kind of hate the whole
science fiction “mono-culture”... the whole Corellian mono-culture was devil
haired smugglers! It struck me that you had to be smuggling because there was
law enforcement. Making him from a law enforcement family, it gave me a great
contrast and an inherent problem of joining the rebels. His father was dead, and
the guy who was essentially his mentor in the police force was gone. I needed
him in a crisis with no moral compass. For Corran, joining the Rebellion, he
sort of sees Wedge in that role. That really allows him to come into the whole
Corran's Corsec officer/Imperial liaison,
Kirtan Loor, seems to be a foil to his character, but also kind of makes a
transition from being a one note villain when we first meet him to being morally
gray and almost sympathetic by his last appearance.
He was Imperial. There were gonna be rivalry
between Corran and Loor for the same reason there's resentment in local law
enforcement when the FBI comes in. Same type of thing. Kirtan was of middle
competence when he's in Corsec, Suddenly, when the series starts, he has to
throw a bunch of people in the water and has to learn to swim better himself
with the greater issues he's dealing with. These issues are where the waters are
very murky and nasty. He was the country bumpkin who comes to the big city and
sees what life there is all about. He was a very human character on that side of
things. He was kind of necessary to have a character that the reader would have
some appreciation for when Isard decides that a person has outlived their
As you said before, you were setting out to
write a piece of military fiction. In fleshing out the military of the New
Republic, you introduced several military figures, such as General Cracken, and
you had the chance to mold Admiral Ackbar into much more of a well rounded
character. Did you draw from any real life military figures?
I tend not to model characters on historical
figures because when I'm reading and I figure out what the model was, I tend to
take issue with the author's characterization of that model. I studied military
history, I know a lot of military guys, I have brothers in the military, friends
who've attended military academies. Having a lot and knowing of these people's
experiences, I just brought that weight to these characters. The real conscious
model was that I had a sense of how the military functioned. What I tried to
bring to it was not Doug MacArthur or Patton, but an understanding of the
everyday military. I was well aware with the Battletech and X-wing
books that I was going to have military readers, so I wanted the books to
reflect their experience.
What really made the X-wing novels
special was, in addition to the exciting combat, we really got to see the
realities of a post-revolutionary government... making compromises, strained
resources and budget to keep the peace, and so on.
Here's the funny thing: when the X-wing
books were proposed I looked to set them two and a half years before Tim's
books. We weren't sure if anybody wanted to read them. I said to Lucasfilm,
"Look, at the end of ROTJ, the New Republic has killed the Emperor, but they
haven't taken over." In Tim's books, five years out, the Republic is already on
Coruscant. So I said, "let me tell the story of the takeover of the Imperial
homeworld, because one, it would be a great campaign, and two, if readers
weren't interested in the characters, at least they'd be interested in the
history of what went on. So that was the reason I did that.
It's sort of a smaller scale story in comparison
to some of the greater stuff Tim was doing, but it certainly fit with a more
intimate look at another group of characters. That plan fit with the way the
books were being written, so I was happy with it. Plus, the great thing is that
I really like writing politics, and the fall of the Imperial homeworld and
setting up the Republic is going to involve a lot of politics... that was my
I read The Krytos Trap while Ebola was making
headlines last year. Probably not a great idea.
[laughs] Yeah. The Krytos Virus was inspired by
Richard Preston's book, The Hot Zone. Rather, I proposed the virus, then
I read that as part of my research. It made it far more nasty.
At least there's nobody exploding into gory
messes in real life.
Well, that, and to me the fact that a character
turns his head and his skull moves inside his flesh, which I still remember now
sixteen years later. [laughs]
With the prequel trilogy on the horizon in
those days, how much input did you receive from Lucasfilm?
We really didn't have any input. Back then, we
were told that the Clone Wars happened 30-35 years before A New Hope.
That was the timeline we were working off of. If you go into I, Jedi and
timed out/measured out Corran's age, who is about the same as Luke, and Corran's
father and grandfather's age, that's way more a chronology than 30 years ago.
When Phantom Menace came, with the Clone Wars only 19 years in the past,
that was a major shift. Because they were numbers that get attached to this
stuff, measuring by generation and using hints and inference, it still sort of
There was a very controversial moment in I,
Jedi where Corran Horn really puts Luke into his place, so to speak, at the
Jedi Academy that has been hotly debated among fans.
Back when we were writing those books, there were
things being done in every era of the Luke timeline. Tim Zahn set Luke up in one
way, and in other books Luke really tended to be, for lack of a better term, a
little bit whiny. I knew that Tim and I were talking a good bit of I, Jedi, and
Tim was doing Specter of the Past and Vision of the Future. Those three books
came out six months apart and we knew they were form sort of an informal trilogy
that encapsulated the whiney Luke period. What we did, and what Lucasfilm
approved, was Corran pointing out to Luke that this was the way Corran would do
A memorable line from that was Corran saying if
not for the occasional Sith Lord, the Jedi Academy would be a summer camp.
Corran, coming from his background, having been trained in the military and
police academy, has an idea of how he'd see a Jedi being trained. He reads Luke
the riot act, saying "You gotta figure out what the hell is going on.'' If you
were to read the Bantam books in chronological order, what you would have is
Corran saying that, and Luke trying out all these different strategies trying to
figure out what the hell is going on. You get to Tim's Hand of Thrawn
books, Luke thinks, "You know, Corran wasn't wrong. We've really got to lock
this in." And Luke does.
I knew that it was going to be a problem, and in
the six months between I, Jedi and Vision coming out, I knew I was
going to take a lot of heat for that particular passage. But it set immediately
what happens in Vision. It was a deliberate way of setting things up that way.
If I take the heat for it, it's okay.
Characters like Tavira and Asyr had fates that
were sort of left completely up in the air which were never followed up on by
other Expanded Universe authors. Did you have any endgames in mind for them
before you departed the franchise?
When you're working a franchise, you work a
contract. The fact that they were alive and out there meant that I had those
cards in the deck if I ever wanted to use them. I tend not to project forward
into what I want to do before I have a contract. As a writer I have tons of
things to do, and it's easier for me to project in my own universes. It would be
a waste of my time to plan forward without a contract... the bank likes me
paying my mortgage. [laughs]
Well, I'll still ask you this since it's been
a controversial subject among Star Wars fans for the longest time: was Ysanne
Isard killed by Iella aboard the Lusankya in Isard's Revenge, or do you
think she really lived out the rest of her days in the bowels of the ship?
I sort of think of it as "Schrodinger's Villain".
Either alive or dead. But certainly that would be an interpretation that is
quite valid. If I was in a position to bring her back, that was the position she
would have been kept. If it makes people happy to think she's alive and could
escape and cause more trouble... if people think she's dead, knock themselves
What have you learned from your experience
with the franchise, and how has it affected your writing since your departure?
I learned a lot of things. The best finite series
of books in my career was the X-wing series. That was very valuable in
how you can set up a project and go through with it. In terms of visual style...
I was doing Onslaught, and during the first draft I got to go to a press
screening of The Phantom Menace. The fight at the end, that glorious
lightsaber fight... it was so beautiful in fluidity of motion that for a lot of
fight scenes now, I got back to that scene, and make it about action and not
just blocking and those sort of things. and it certainly reflected in the fight
scenes of my New Jedi Order books.
Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One
is releasing next year, and while it is set before any of your novels, it seems
like the militaristic storytelling and "morally grey" characterizations from
your novels will be influencing the film.
When Disney announced the EU is being decanonized
if you will, even if it was, what I hoped for just given the timing was that
most of the people who were working on the franchise were people who grew up
watching the movies on video tape and reading the Star Wars novels. If they
didn't use anything Tim, Aaron and I wrote, the fact that they read our books
meant they shaped their vision. I'm 100 percent certain people working on
Rogue One were not sitting down reading the X-wing books saying,
"let's use this...". They're creative individuals on their own. I know how much
it would bother me if I had to go through and do that. It could be annoying. If
they did read the books, the cool stuff is going to stick with them. Don't get
me wrong. If ABC Television decides they want to do a series and base it on the
X-wing novels, I'd be the happiest guy on the planet!
Literally last week I was in Russia at a
convention and a bunch of people wanted to know what I thought about the
Episode VII previews, and I said, "I haven't watched any of them!" I want to
go into the theater the way I did in 1977. I want my socks blown off. I don't
need any amp, any spoilers or buildup. I can't wait. I'll be one of the first
guys in line for Rogue One. Or hopefully I'll get a press pass to go see
a screening... hint hint. Whatever it is, I'm sure it will be a lot of fun. If
there's stuff in there, winks and nods to what I did, what Tim or Aaron or
anybody else did, that's great. If not, it's the universe we all grew up with
and I'm good with it.
I'm kind of hoping we see a "Commander
Allston" or something along those lines as a tribute to Aaron. What you guys did
together was unparalleled in the Star Wars expanded universe.
That would be great. I'm just not sure if the
writers have that level of awareness. What I would like in the future for any of
the films is to make us X-wing pilots! We can have our five seconds on the
screen and attend shows and cons. Autographed pictures are much lighter to carry
than books. That would be my dream.
All you gotta do is be the guy in the
background of that one scene in Star Wars and you're set for life.
Oh yeah! Back during the Star Wars Card Game,
they needed stand ins for Corran and Talon Karrde. Me and Tim did that! We
already have the experience being models, which is great fun, it would be kind
of cool. There would be people coming for autographs for the movie, and others
who are getting their books signed. Those are the ones in on the joke.
If Corran Horn was to appear in a future movie
under Disney, which actor do you think is capable of portraying him? Besides
you, of course.
[laughs] I'm a little far along now to play
Corran. I'm not one of those guys who cast their characters. I just never have.
What I would want is an actor who is interested in playing the character. He's
not an easy character. He's got quirks. He's got faults and makes mistakes, but
he's one of those guys that always flies. I think that there's any number of
actors that can embrace that role and that would be cool. The actor Kyle
MacLachlan, who played Paul in Dune, [editor’s note in 2020: Mr.
Jackpots?] I remember when the movie came out. He wanted so hard to play
that role because he read the book as a kid. If they do anything and Corran is
ever cast, maybe, just maybe the actor is someone who read the novels and
cherishes the part.
When I read the X-wing novels last
year, it was around the time Guardians of the Galaxy released. Thus,
Corran Horn was cast as Chris Pratt in my head the whole time.
Wow... [laughs] I actually think Chris Pratt
could do a hell of a job! I would not be against that casting at all.
BACK TO TOP
The following interview with James Luceno
happened in December of 2014 to promote the new Tarkin book. I was hardly
coherent the night I was speaking with James, due to previously working
overnight in a Toys R’ Us (RIP) and my mind being distracted by the recent
passing of a dear friend. And, to top it all off, the audio file was lost for
six months afterwards. I explained the entire situation to James and he was very
cool about it! After the interview was found again, it was published on
AlternativeNation.net the following June or so, but it has since been archived.
Just to avoid having to listen to my own voice at the time (guess I’m like Adam
Driver in that regard!), I just skipped over all my own questions upon playback
and transcribed it as a rapid fire trivia info sort of thing. Looking back now,
he sort of predicted JJ Abrams bringing back Palpatine in the sequel trilogy.
the initial pitch, research, and writing of Tarkin: “Tarkin
was pitched to me about a year ago. This was the fastest turnaround in my
experience with Star Wars publishing. I spoke to the Story Group last
October, and the book was released a year later. I didn’t research my previous
books the same way I did Tarkin. I grew up with the Hammer Horror Films,
and they were really imprinted on me. I pulled out a few of those films before I
did Tarkin just to give me a sense of Peter Cushing and a little about
the way he delivered his lines. I wanted to try and stay true to that, the
character that we will end up meeting in A New Hope.”
the re-canonized elements of his earlier Expanded Universe novels such as
Dark Lord and Darth Plagueis in the new canon:
write the book. I don’t want to be too constrained by [rebranded canon]. I wait
for the story group to pass judgment. If there’s a place they don’t want me to
go or mention, a species they think is problematic, they get back to me and ask
me to tweak this or change this. I didn’t let influence my storytelling. When I
met with them, I had a sense of what the game plan was. Not to rely so much on
the existing EU. I did a lot of editorial work myself, I wrote a first draft and
changed things that I myself thought might be problematic. However, they did ask
me to change the species of a couple of characters, there were some minor cuts,
but it wasn’t an intrusive process. And they didn’t really dictate to me where I
he given spoilers for Episode VII while writing Tarkin?
“No. And, I didn’t ask for anything. I’ve been with the franchise for fifteen
years now, and I had the majority of the prequels spoiled to me simply because I
was writing direct tie in novels. It’d be nice going into Ep VII knowing
the Jedi Temple, now called the Imperial Palace, being built on an ancient Sith
alter, as per Tarkin:
did come out of discussions with the Story Group, because I was given some
artwork that showed that the Palace, at least in the early era of the Galactic
Empire, five years after Palpatine proclaims himself emperor. He was going to be
using the form of the Jedi Temple, which has a line of structures going around
it. We began talking about the temple in general, and the notion that perhaps
the Jedi had built the temple over a Sith shrine. I just ran with that idea. I
don’t know where the idea is going to go, we didn’t discuss it really outside of
a setting in the Tarkin novel. Not sure whether there are plans to expand
on it in a book or movie.”
Sheev Palpatine desiring to become a god/immortal, and a potential new book:
“Ever since I started writing in the prequel era, I’ve been
dealing with Sidious and his grand schemes. I was going back to Cloak of
Deception, Labyrinth of Evil, Dark Lord, Darth Plagueis… it’s just something
I’ve been thinking about, and an idea that I really hope I’m going to be allowed
to carry forward at some point, it would have to be in a novel, set during the
classic era films. A New Hope, Empire, somewhere in that time
period. I haven’t been commissioned to write that yet, so I don’t know if I can
carry that forward. Since I don’t know what’s going on with the coming trilogy,
there may be elements in which JJ Abrams is doing that will render my idea
obsolete. I’m not sure! I know I’m still not done with the Emperor, and I hope I
get a crack at that.”
Sheev. What was the original name for Palpatine James had in mind when writing
one of those things when I was working on the story closely with Lucasfilm, it
just wasn’t deemed necessary. It never made it into the novel. Now, unless
Lucasfilm gives me the okay to use that name, I don’t really feel compelled to
reveal it! [Doug nags him] No! I don’t want to go there because there’s no
point. That’s something that would have to be approved by them before I reveal
the New Jedi Order series:
think the problem with a twenty book series… it was supposed to be even longer…
it had too many writers in the end. On a series like that, you need someone who
is equivalent to something of a story runner. The overseer of the TV series
whose judgment is final in terms of plot points and character development. Just
think that we had too many people. If I was ever in charge of the series, I
would NEVER use that many writers. I think that’s why the series moved away from
some of the planning. It’s a tricky situation to plot out that many books and
expect every writer to stick with the program. Nothing else in the Star Wars
universe has been done to that extent where you are telling one long story, a
story spread over five years.”
any other subjects he’d like to tackle in the Star Wars universe:
“One era that interests me is The Old Republic. There are plenty of good stories
in that era. I don’t have a character in mind or a sense of where I can go,
there’s some interesting things that can be done with the early Jedi, plot
points leading up to the Republic. [The Story Group] could end up rewriting the
history of the Old Republic we’ve grown accustomed to in the EU.”
BACK TO TOP
This email interview with Christie Golden was conducted in 2015
to promote Dark Disciple, based on unproduced arcs of The Clone Wars. This
essentially makes Dark Disciple one of the only George Lucas influenced novels
of the new canon. It stars Asajj Ventress and Quinlan Vos in a star-crossed love
story, pitted against Count Dooku. Christopher Lee had recently passed away. I
did try to ask her about her plans for Sword of the Jedi, which would have
starred Jaina Solo, but the question was presumably vetoed by Lucasfilm.
Having based this novel on unproduced Clone Wars scripts, how
much did you get to play around with your own contributions? Did you make any
changes to things such as character species and such for the novel?
Novelizations are interesting projects on the media spectrum.
Unlike tie-in novels, they are assuredly direct adaptations of an existing
project, not original stories, but they have a so much more room for the
novelizer to take the story. My goal was to remain faithful to the feel of the
original as well as using a great amount of the dialogue as written, and keeping
the key events. I did get to introduce new characters and new arcs (the
ill-fated Mahran are mine, as is Lassa Rhayme), which is always fun. There were
also some references or lines that were brief in the scripts, but I thought
warranted a much deeper treatment. Also, some things work beautifully on the
screen, but not so well in the written medium, and vice versa. I've done this
type of work before, and the decisions as to what to develop, what to leave as
is, and what to rework are calls the author must make.
You essentially took scripts aimed at the 13 year old boys and
added adult themes to them, and the novel was previously marketed as being
skewered to an adult audience, which was impossible on Cartoon Network. How did
you know just how much innuendo and, eh, "full on gambits" to include?
Ha! ;) You'd be a little surprised at how much of that was
actually in the scripts. A lot of flirting was already there, including the
term"full-on gambit." What I got to do was bring the potential at least of a
physical consummation of a very profound passion. I strove to leave exactly how
far things went up to the individual reader, but this is obviously something
deep and strong, not a mild flirtation. It's a fine line to walk, and there was
a bit of back and forth at how much was appropriate to spell out directly. I
hoped to capture the intensity of their connection without anything explicit.
How different was it writing Dark Disciple than your earlier, pre
Canon works, now with the Lucasfilm Story Group in place? Did you get to meet
with Katie Lucas and Dave Filoni/The Clone Wars team?
Alas, that was not to be! I had a few conference calls with the
usual suspects (Shelly Shapiro, Jen Heddle, Pablo Hidalgo), and there were
definitely things we made sure Dave Filoni was on board with. Via email, he
often answered questions or offered his take on how to work something
differently. I did have the great pleasure of meeting him at Celebration, and
was so pleased to hear how much he (and others at Lucasfilm) had enjoyed my
treatment of their work.
In Dark Disciple, you bring the film canon version of Quinlan
Vos this much closer to his Legends counterpart. How much did you draw from the
original source material? Some people who have already reviewed the book likened
the appearances of Tholme and Vos to how some aspects of the Marvel Comics
universe can be adapted to the Avengers movies.
Since we were doing a reboot of canon, I wanted to make sure that
everything I drew from was actually there, in canon form. As you say, it's
obvious that the goal was to bring in some of that Legends "feel" to Vos. Many
readers had expressed concern that Vos was sort of a "surfer dude" in TCW, but
let's remember, that was only one episode. And while that playful aspect is
certainly a key part of his personality in "Dark Disciple," it was clear to me
as I read the scripts that the goal was to take him to some very dark places.
The initial flirtations between Ventress and Vos are similar to
that of Han and Leia, yet their relationship really takes on its own warped
identity. How did you approach this relationship when you were filling in the
nuances that were obviously absent in the original TV scripts?
I was so fortunate to be tapped for this project as it really
played to my strengths: character, dialogue, and that whole "what makes good
people go bad" thing that, along with the "triumph of the human spirit," is a
theme I am constantly wanting to explore. I watched and rewatched the Ventress
episodes till I knew her very deeply--I could "see" all her reactions, hear her
gravelly but silky voice, and anticipate her body language. With Vos, I watched
"Hunt for Ziro" and also paid close attention to the animatics of the first four
episodes I was given. I felt they really had chemistry and it was easy to sort
of fall into step beside them.
I believe there was artwork of Quinlan Vos (presumably as
Admiral Enigma) facing off with Darth Maul. That led me to wonder: would Vos's
turn to the dark side have been a status quo change on The Clone Wars that stuck
for a time? Did you condense a story arc that was broken up over the course of a
season or two with Dark Disciple?
There were indications of time passing between certain episodes,
so I am fairly certain this was intended to be a long-playing arc that
interspersed with other storylines.
Ventress has a very different fate from that of her Legends
counterpart's conclusion in the Dark Horse comic Obsession.
As I said earlier, I really wanted this story to be pure canon
per the reboot, so I actually tried not to read up on what had happened in the
Are there any canon subjects in the Star Wars universe you'd like
to take on in the future with Dark Disciple ready for release?
I had a dream come true when I met Mark Hamill at Celebration. I
had the chance to tell him I had been 13 in 1977 and grew up to write SWs books,
and that his performance in the trilogy truly changed my life and set me on my
path. He asked if I were still writing, obviously addressing the new canon. I
was delighted to reply "yes," So honestly? Anything to do with Luke Skywalker
makes me go back to the summer of '77 and would make me outrageously happy and
How did you perceive the fan reception of the Fate of the Jedi
novels? It seems like Fate of the Jedi and Legacy of the Force fans are knocked
by the more hardcore fans for their length.
If by "length" you mean 9 books by 3 authors, I think it was
something that Del Rey wanted to try in an effort to get big stories out there
to the fans in a reasonable amount of time. It was without question the most
challenging thing I've done in my career. I had to get up to speed on 40 years
of history of dozens of beloved characters, and write the middle chunks of a
long story, picking up where one author (Aaron) left off and the other (Troy)
picked up. Whew! xD
Sadly, we recently lost Christopher Lee.
Although honestly, our time in life is finite, and how marvelous
to have lived an exciting and meaningful personal life, to have created timeless
characters that will live on for those not even born yet to see them, and to be
healthy and pursuing work one loves all the way up to one's 90s. When I got to
write Dooku, I had that lovely, rich voice in my head, Christopher's expressions
and body language, to draw from. (There's one scene I wrote where I had Dooku
do Something Really Awful, something cruel and subtle and dripping with cultured
malice, and I was reminded all over again that Christopher Lee was Dooku,
and he was a total badass.) I'm so sad, but he lived his life magnificently,
and we are all richer for it. RIP.
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Though [Truce at Bakura] is kind of pigeonholed by taking place
right after ROTJ and before other Bantam-era Star
Wars novels, did you have any “big” or “controversial” ideas that were
vetoed by LucasFilm?
In the first version of my synopsis, which was vetted by Lucas
Licensing before I started actually writing the book, I had Luke using the Force
in a way that they nixed. They thought it was seriously over-the-top, and they
asked me to dial things back a bit. Apparently moving a starship using the Force
is rather a bigger deal than raising an X-wing out of a swamp, as Yoda did. So
apparently size DOES matter.
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