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Exclusive interview with Kristine Kathryn Rusch

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It's already 22 years ago that The New Rebellion, One Star Wars book by the American writer Kristine Kathryn Rusch, appeared. During her long career she also wrote for franchises like Star Trek en Alien and she won a HUGO Award.

I recently talked to her about her contribution to the 'Expanded Universe' and she had a fascinating revelation about a canceled Star Wars project ...

Interview with Kristine Kathryn Rusch

When and where was your first encounter with Star Wars? And what did you think of it?

I saw Star Wars: A New Hope the night it premiered. I was in high school, and we went to the movies with no idea what we were going to see. I was hooked from that moment forward.

What was your inspiration while writing The New Rebellion, and what directions did you get from Lucasfilm? How did you come up with the story for The New Rebellion?

I was not that fond of the way that the previous books had gone. I hated what the male writers had done to Leia, and so I just went back to the first three films, which I really, really loved. I worked as well as I could within the framework of the previous novels, ignoring as much of them as possible, and restoring as much of what I loved about Star Wars as possible. Lucasfilm was very supportive. They gave me pages or detailed notes when I was done, but they were mostly terminology nits, not actual changes.

Which existing Star Wars character you enjoyed the most writing about?

Han Solo. He is, by far, my favorite.

Could you explain why?

Han? The ultimate bad boy with a heart of gold? The true hero of the piece? The one who actually rescues people? Has a sense of humor? Fights despite his cynicism, even though he has no dog in the hunt? That Han? Yep. That's why I like him.

Which Star Wars character is your favorite?

I never have a favorite among characters.

Although you did not write a Star Wars trivia book, The New Rebellion was unfortunately your only Star Wars novel. What was the reason for this?

The Science Fiction Writers of America -which I did not belong to war with Lucasfilm about royalties. I strongly disagreed with SFWA and told them so. I was working hand-in-glove with Lucasfilm on a bible for the books ... when SFWA sent Lucasfilm a cease-and-desist letter about their royalties and- without my permission -signed my name to it. They signed a number of Star Wars writers' names to the petition, without permission. Lucasfilm did not believe me when I told them I was not involved (I do not blame them). I really should have sued SFWA. They cost me about $ 100,000 with that action. And they cost me the chance to work in a series I loved.

You just are working on. What kind of book was that? Something like 2012's Essential Readers Companion; a book with descriptions of every Star Wars story?

In TV, in particular, and in film sometimes, the people who produce the show develop a "bible" which allows anyone to know what to do next. Kevin J. Anderson and I were doing a great job together in the next few years. It is more complicated than what you have described, and we would have done a great deal of work. We just had the preliminary meetings when SFWA nuked everything.

In 2014, Disney declared the Expanded Universe was no longer a canon. It became 'Legends'. What do you think of this, seeing all of your work suddenly become non-canon?

It does not bother me at all. I did work-for-hire, so that is what they want with it. I knew that when I signed on.

You have written books for other Sci-Fi franchises like Alien, Quantum Leap and Star Trek. In which ways was writing for these franchises different? And what is it -according to you- that makes Star Wars so unique?

The smaller franchises (Alien, Quantum Leap) really did not get involved in the books. We could have anything, and no one would have cared. Star Trek and Paramount are very involved, and the same with Lucasfilm back in the day. I prefer that. I liked being part of the organization.

Final question: How do you look back at your Star Wars work?

I think I was lucky to have the chance to play in that universe. My 16-year-old self would be very proud.


More unique interviews can be found on: Star Wars Interviews - 'Mem-Wars' from a galaxy far, far away ...

Star Wars Interviews

Author of the 'Star Wars Interviews' series of books for which he interviewed 175 + cast and crew members. In the credits of the books The Making of Return of the Jedi, Stormtroopers: Beyond the Armor, The Star Wars Historical Sourcebook and Star Wars Icons: Han Solo. Born when the recordings of A New Hope started. George Lucas cultist and supporter of Legends (1976-2012). Former assistant of Anthony Daniels. Father of 2 Padawans.

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Interviews

Exclusive interview with Rusty Goffe (Kabe, GONK droid, Jawa)

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The British actor Rusty Goffe played three roles in the very first Star Wars film from 1977. He was on Tatooine to see as Jawa, GONK and the juri-juice addicted Chadra-Fan named Kabe!

Rusty recently attended a special event in the Netherlands Harry Potter-day (another franchise in which he was shown) in the Lemistore in Almere. Dennis spoke to him afterwards Star Wars experiences!

Interview with Rusty Goffe

How did you get cast for the first Star Wars movie?

Way back in the 70s there were not many dwarf actors. You had Kenny Baker who played R2-D2 and his partner Jack Purvis who was the chief Jawa and there was me! They tried me out for R2-D2 in case Kenny could not cope inside the droid. Luckily he was alright so they cast me as a Jawa and it followed on from there.

One day I went into the studio and the special effects guy said "bend over and touch your toes", which I did and they put some suit over me. They called George Lucas and said "George, how is this for a character?" George said "I love it, and we'll call that a GONK". So, that's how the GONK droid happened.

The third character I played was Kabe in the Mos Eisley cantina. She was originally played by an elderly lady called Gilda. The costume was absolutely horrendous like every other costume and she was collapsed and fainted. She could not continue George Lucas said "Rusty, get in the dress". That was it! I played three characters!

You mentioned the GONK. The most famous scene of him is in the sandcrawler making the legendary GONK noise. That's you!

Yeah, that's me! And then you'll see a Jawa, that's Jack Purvis. Right after that you see the GONK again with a Jawa, but this time Jack is the GONK and I am the Jawa, we switched roles and it was hysterical.

Were you in Tunisia to film Jawa scenes?

No, I was only filming at the Elstree Studios.

So, all your Jawa scenes are the interior shots.

Yes, and also in the cantina when Luke comes down the stairs with Obi-Wan you see a Jawa rushing around them that's me as well!

What was the funniest thing that happened on the set?

That was when Sir Alec Guinness was coming with Luke in the cantina. George Lucas instructed me to rush towards them. Before it was 'action' the first assistant director said "pass Sir Alec on the right". That was the last direction I got, but no one told Sir Alec that, so I nearly knocked him over. I thought I was going left but I went right. I said "sorry" and then George Lucas said "what the hell you are doing, you should have left" but luckily the assistant director said he told me. So, I was exonerated. So in short: the funniest thing I had been killed the star of the show. (laughs)

(Laughs)

Without a lightsaber.

What you can do on your own Star Wars?

No one knew what we were doing. It was fantastic to film and I would do it all over again if I could go back. George Lucas and Gary Kurtz were like two young college guys making a movie with all these lovely actors. We did not know how big it was going to be. It goes from a cheap budget movie to 48 billion dollars later!

When did you see Star Wars for the first time?

That was two months after it opened. I sat in the cinema and loved it when those spaceships came from behind us. I was "wow, this is it". The clever bit was, which I did not realize then, the way John Williams wrote the Star Wars theme. The first note of the Star Wars theme is the same as 20th Century Fox theme. (Starts humming the Fox theme) So, the brain did not have to think. It flows if you know what I mean.

Now that's some cool trivia.

Everyone at the cinema was happy. It had spaceships, swashbuckling pirates, swordfights. It's what the world needed. Well done George Lucas.

You did not return The Empire Strikes Back. How come?

Because I was doing other movies at the time like History of the World Part I with Mel Brooks, a movie I wanted to do. It was fantastic with those guys. I can proudly say I was in the first Star Wars, the baby of the franchise.

One of your characters, Kabe, got her name and backstory in the late 80s and mid 90s. Have you ever read this short story in the anthology book Tales of the Moss Eisley cantina?

No, I have not. I was not aware of that.

Well, I can not really recommend it as a great story.

I will definitely look for that! As I said that costume was so hot. You could not breathe in it and it was so claustrophobic. It was not something for every person. Still, it was an unbelievable time.

You were in your twenties back then right?

I was very young, yes. I'm still young now. (laughs)

(Laughs). That's a great way to end this interview. Thanks!

Thanks to Casper and Lemistore for making this interview possible!


More unique interviews can be found on: Star Wars Interviews - 'Mem-Wars' from a galaxy far, far away ...

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Exclusive interview with Daniel Keys Moran

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In the mid-nineties 90 it was the American author Daniel Keys Moran who gave Boba Fett 'new life'. For the short stories bundles Tales from the Bounty Hunters en Tales from Jabba's Palace he wrote how Fett escaped from the Sarlacc and continued his career as a bounty hunter, while also giving a story to Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina has worn.

Since it is buzzing with rumors about a Boba Fett movie, it was high time to interview him for this site!

Interview with Daniel Keys Moran

I'd like to start at the very beginning: what did you get into writing and how did your career take off?

I can not remember ever wanting to be a writer. Wrote my first novel at 8 "Third Degree Magic," the main two characters were me and my friend Steve. The bad guy was named "Diablo."

Sent my first story to 13, "A Day in the Life of a Telephone Pole." Wrote my first real novel at 15, an alien invasion western novel. Finally sold a story to Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, at 18. Few years after that sold my first novel to Amy Stout at Bantam Doubleday, we are now married and have five children together.

When and where was your first encounter with Star Wars? And what did you think of it?

My high school debate team won a pretty big debate and as a reward we were offered the obscure movie called Star Wars at the Chinese Theater on opening day. I do not think we were at the first showing I was back at the school pretty late in the day but maybe the second or third showing. Pretty good chance David Gerrold (the writer of "Star Trek: The Trouble with Tribbles," Chtorr, "The Man Who Folded Himself") who later got to be a great friend, was in the theater with me when we watched it. He was also there for an early showing, that first day.

I was blown away. It was the first SF movie that managed the sorts of things I saw in my head when I read Edgar Rice Burroughs.

You wrote two short stories about Fett (called A Barve Like That and The Last One Standing), creating a lot of background for the character, who was especially back then a huge fan favorite. How did you approach this massive task?

It was not a massive task. It was a short story and a novelty, and while I put a lot of skull sweat into them, most of what I've ever written is a heavy lift. They were fun to write with Lucasfilm. I put a pseudonym on "A Barve Like That" because I was cranky with Lucasfilm; they were mad about that. So it was a surprise to me when they had me write "The Last One Standing" I was pretty blunt by that point. Star Wars. Wrote them an outline, told them they could not have it but I was writing what was in the outline, and they said yes. So that was a surprise. Then they tried to excise what was probably my favorite scene in that story; Kevin J. Anderson stopped them, and I'm grateful for that. It was published as written, minus a few word changes here or there.

It's one of my favorite stories. It came from Harrison Ford's desire to see Han Solo coming in Return of the Jedi "He's got no Mama, he's got no Papa, he's got no story." So I took that and ran with it. I did the first "Old Han" story as well as the first real Boba Fett story, taking them into the future and dealing with the loss of their youth.

You also wrote the tale of Kardue'sai'Malloc, the devaronian seen in the Cantina. What was your inspiration to write his story?

That was a pure "I want to write Star Wars"Thing. Kathy Tyers had written an excellent story about the Modal Nodes, the band that plays during the Cantina scene I wrote a story about that hers, about Kardue / Labria, who always had a great time in the bar that day . Turned him into a music collector who was moderated by the Modal Nodes, and had a fun story about how to play them at the bar that day.

One of your Boba Fett stories and the Devaronian's tale were heavily edited. In fact, the Fett story was published under your pseudonym JD Montgomery. What was exactly edited, and what was the reason?

Devaronian's Tale was not edited that much. Mostly they would not let me swear, or mention whores. I was not thrilled with the changes, but they were minor.

I did not know what happened with "A Barve Like That." I agreed to do it, then they told me I could not write my outline where Fett spent years down in the Sarlacc; he could only be there for a day or two. So I wrote that story. Then they told me that the Sarlacc could not be intelligent, which was the actual center of the weakened story, so I took all the Sarlacc's contribution to the story and gave it to one of Fett's fellow prisoners "Susejo," or O Jesus backwards. I've had people write me telling me they loved that story, and OK, but man, it was only a shadow of what it should have. In its final form Fett falls into the Sarlacc, argues with a fellow prisoner, and climbs back out again. Eh.

How did you respond to the news your stories were published and published on a pseudonym?

I behaved with forthright and reasonable bluntness. Later on I with one of the ladies who worked at Lucasfilm, and upon hearing my name, she took two steps backwards. So maybe my perception is not the whole of the story.

I always thought that back in the 90's Lucasfilm did not work for authors to write about the pre-A New Hope era because they were making the prequel trilogy. However, they let you write about Boba Fett in his younger days. Do you know why they approved that?

No idea.

A couple of years after your Fett stories the movie Attack of the Clones showed the origins of Fett, contradicting your stories. How did you feel about this and which version do you prefer?

I prefer mine, or course. But it did not particularly annoy me. I do not care much about canon, and my stories are still out there for anyone who wants to read them. And frankly, even within the universe of commercial fiction, Lucas was utterly contemptuous or his own early writing, when it came time to make the prequels. The idea that I should get annoyed about him ignoring mine? No.

In your stories Fett's real name was Jaster Mereel, something that was later retconned and Jaster became another Mandalorian. Did you know about these retorts and do you like them?

I have not succeeded with anything except the televised & movie material. Shout out to Star Wars Rebels, there was a fine piece of work. Watched it with my youngest boy, start to finish.

There are rumors about a Fett spinoff. Any advice for Lucasfilm? You're the expert!

I've had a guy at Disney email me a couple times over the years regarding Lucasfilm adapting "Last One Standing" into a Fett movie. I do not know that they were thinking about it. So that was child. But after Solo stiffed, apparently there is some question about the Fett movie being made.

As to advice for Disney? I thought The Last Jedi was brilliant, the first Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back I thought it was a complete success on its own terms. Then I thought Solo was perfectly adequate and inoffensive, and as much as I love Star Wars, that's a little sad. So for advice? Get the creative team behind The Last Jedi on your Fett movie, rather than the team behind Solo.


More unique interviews can be found on: Star Wars Interviews - 'Mem-Wars' from a galaxy far, far away ...

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Exclusive interview with Rick Stanley (Cutthroat hunter)

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In the autumn of 2017 I got a message from England: Rick Stanley, an American Star Wars friend of mine who lives there, reported that he had succeeded: he was cast for the role of Cutthroat Hunter in Solo: A Star Wars Story. I know Rick for years, he has me as the founder of Sci-Fi Signers often helped and even before I could ask, he said he would like to tell his story.

He is in the interview below Star Wars story: from getting married with a British actress from The Empire Strikes Back to a site for Star Wars setting up actors to be cast themselves for Solo!

Interview with Rick Stanley

I've been with you so many years ago and we have helped me with a lot of interviews. You're in a Star Wars movie! How does that feel?

It's a real pleasure Dennis knowing you all this time and it's an honor helping you out! You have done an excellent job with Star Wars Interviews about the years with many fascinating interviews you have conducted! It is strange because I never thought I would work on a Star Wars film and have the great honor of being interviewed by you! To say I was over the moon and when I found that I was booked for one is a solid understatement! It is unbelievable how hard it is to get on anything with the Star Wars name and I consider myself very, very fortunate!

When and where did you see a Star Wars do you become a fan right at that moment?

Well that's kind of a long story. I was almost 20 years old when A New Hope did not see it until it was broadcast on HBO. In 1977 being the age that I was all I could think about were all the B science fiction films that were in abundance as I was growing up! I know it sounds sacrileges to say but I just thought the nameStar Wars'when I first heard of it sounded cheesy! All I could think of was pie plates on fishing lines. All of the hype and hope did not influence me and there was plenty of it at that time! I'm from Orlando, Florida and what turned me around was in 1980 I was going to work in West Palm Beach for a company that was vice president of mine. I only worked the week and I would like to offer myself back home or reimburse me for my petrol if I wanted to drive. Well one weekend I did not want to spend it back home so I just hung out and saw that The Empire Strikes Back was playing at the theaters. I have seen it all over the world and have been completely happy with it ever since! I still regret not seeing this day A New Hope when it was fresh in the theaters!

Your wife (Stephanie English) was in The Empire Strikes Back 38 years ago. What took you so long to get cast for a Star Wars movie? Seriously: how did you manage it?

Yes, it's hard to believe that I saw my future wife Stephanie English in that movie theater so many years ago in West Palm Beach! She portrayed a Hoth Rebel Technician at Echo Base. She has been working in the film business for 42 years. We just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary actually on the other Star Wars day May 25th. We did not plan to have it on that day which was amazing it happened that way! Stephanie got me into film work shortly after we got married and I moved to London. The way it happened is Stephanie got an email from one of her agencies that she is asking if she knew anybody who had an American vehicle. She responded saying her husband 'me' had a pickup truck. I brought my Ford Ranger pickup truck with me when I moved to London. I ended it in the Ridley Scott movie The Counselor and that was my first movie work gig. Since then I have been working on quite a few productions, mainly background but some of the stuff I'm really proud of is a National Geographic movie documentary called The Jesus Mysteries where I played a part as the apostle James the Elder alongside Nick Simmons who portrayed Jesus. Nick is the son of the founder and bass guitarist of the rock group KISS Gene Simmons. With getting on a Star Wars I think it's even harder because of the popularity of it Star Wars and the same with films like the Harry Potter prequels. It's mainly about your looks and what they are looking for. I was put up for Rogue One which I would have loved to have got on but to no avail! Now with Solo I was put up for 4 times and the fourth time was the charm! I was very happy when I heard that I was going to be included in that "hive of scum and villainy"!

You run a great website called Sci-Fi Signers United where convention organizers can book actors from Star Wars and many other franchises. For the people who do not know this site: what was the reason you started it?

Thank you for those child words! Well actually a mutual acquaintance of mine and my wife started what was called the Sci-Fi Convention Signs Co-Operative and I managed to do it with him until he decided to disband it. After that I started the Sci-Fi Signers United from scratch and kept the same spirit there! It's a site where organizers can contact the actors and film professionals directly for shows and autographs without having to go through an agent. I do not make any money from it. I offer it as a free service for the signers to help them out. A lot of them are mutual friends that Stephanie has worked with over the years and I have worked with other productions.

Since you're Star Wars character now I was wondering if you're about to enter the signing / convention circuit yourself now?

No, it would not be my cup of tea to do it. I really enjoyed going home with Stephanie when she was signing at shows but she is retired from me. I will consign it to good memories of fun times! We both want to concentrate on the film and I'm content just keeping the Sci-Fi Signers United running!

Back to Solo: please tell everything about the character you played in which scenes you were in.

To start off when I went for my fitting I was playing a reprobate a 'cutthroat hunter'. I said well that sounds pretty cool! I was wearing a dark beret, a blueish gray long sleeved shirt, a dark suede coat that came down underneath my knees and it was left open with a wide belt wrapped around it with a large rectangle silver belt buckle and I had a leather ammo pouch attached to the belt. My trousers were baggy and black almost like cossack trousers. I also wore tall brown boots with greyish colored boot guards wrapped around them. To top it off I had an orange neck scarf that the wardrobe lady would make a point tying it in a French knot. She called me little Frenchman every time I would go to change in to costume! From the day I got to my last day on it I got French resistance comments and I was happy to have fun! I have a lot of Che Guevera comments because I guess I kind of looked like him with the beard and beret. I had a prosthetic scar on the left side of my face. It was a really cool getup! I was there for the Sabacc table scenes, the droid arena scenes and several bar area scenes! I would say that 80% of my time on set. Some films you can spend in the green room or in the area before you are in the world. I felt lucky when I was able to get outside of a cigarette break I was on it and 12 / 13 hour days each day. I was exhausted but man it was worth it! Also one of the days I was there and I did an 3-D scan on me in costume and also I did an action photo shoot doing various poses.

You are on the subject of Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover. How were all those stars on the set and behind the scenes?

All of them were absolutely awesome and what an honor it was for me with many people who were there with me too! Man I'm still pinching myself to make sure it was not all a dream! They all have brilliantly and it was a part of it all!

Could you share some good anecdotes regarding your time working on Solo? The more the better of course!

Well, let's see ... there was one time when we were waiting for it to be ready for the rest of my life. I was sitting backwards to the table with both my elbows propped on the table with my legs stretched out and crossed in front of me. The only thing that was in the room was Therm Scissorpunch and his alien buddies! Another time I was waiting for a shot and I was sitting on the stairs facing Joonas Suotamo directly in front of me and had his Chewbacca mask in her hands but she was holding it behind her talking to somebody in front of her. She backed up a little too close to me and it started brushing me in the face so I had to move and find a different spot! My wife Stephanie dropped me off at Pinewood Studios every morning in the morning and picked me up when we wrapped up in the car. The second day I was really tired because I had not had much sleep before and before the night. I just want to get home, take a shower, get something to eat, go to bed and start it all over the next day! I completely remove my scar after I derigged. When I was sitting on the bench also. After a while I asked me if I was a stunt man. I said no why? Then she said how did you get that scar? At that moment I realized that I forgot to have it removed. I told her I was working on a film and it was not real. She then asked me what movie I was working on and I told her I could not say! I thought that was pretty funny!

You joined Solo after Phil Lord and Chris Miller were replaced by Ron Howard, a real veteran director. How was he to work with and how does he distinguish himself from other directors?

Wow !!! What an honor it was to be directed by the legend who is Ron Howard! I would call him a director's director! It was a pleasure to see him and his magic! He is a very hands-on director and knows exactly what he wants! He is also the first Oscar winning director to direct a Star Wars movie! I grew up watching him on the Andy Griffith show and when I was a teenager watching him on Happy Days and the George Lucas masterpiece film which is American Graffiti!

What are the chances we will see a Rick Stanley action figure in the future?

Hahaha !!! Well they do have the scans and photos so they have the tools to make it possible! A person can only hope !!!


More unique interviews can be found on: Star Wars Interviews - 'Mem-Wars' from a galaxy far, far away ...

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Exclusive interview with Kathy Tyers

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Her bestseller The Truce at Bakura was once the direct sequel to it Return of the Jedi, she wrote short stories about Oola, Bossk and the Cantina band, was long one of the authors who wrote for the Adventure Journals of West End Games and Balance Point (from which the cover can be seen above) from the New Jedi Order series is her own. Of course I'm talking about the American writer Kathy Tyers who is in the 'Star Wars renaissance years' in the years 90 with her books and short stories has greatly contributed to the construction of the Expanded Universe. Recently I spoke to this very friendly woman (who is a real fan) about her Star Wars period…

Interview with Kathy Tyers

I read that in the summer of 1977 you were such a big Star Wars fans that for two weeks, every day you have a friend to see the movie. What was it that you liked so much about Star Wars?

The story was uplifting. The music was fabulous. The visuals were amazing, especially for the era. Most of all, I loved watching their faces when the Millennium Falcon went into hyperspace. That was an amazing visual effect in 1977!

You once said that you have got your first Star Wars novel your handprints were on the ceiling. Are they still there?

You certainly did do your homework! I do not live in that duplex anymore, so I have no idea. But it would be fun to go back and see.

Your best known Star Wars book is of course The Truce at Bakura, which takes places almost directly after Return of the Jedi. What was your inspiration while writing this book, and what directions did you get from Lucasfilm?

When I got the call from my editor at Bantam Books, Janna Silverstein (shout out to Janna!), She asked for 4-5. The idea that would not let me go was that somewhere in the Galaxy Far, Far Away, our heroes would end up fighting alongside Imperial troops for just a little while. What, I wondered, could that happen? And once the threat was neutralized, would they turn on each other ... or would there be any other respect for the other side?

My directions were as many main characters as possible, to set the story immediately after Return of the JediNothing in my novel contradicted anything that was shown to be roughly five years later, in the books that Tim Zahn had already contributed to the series.

Fortunately, the Powers That Be liked my favorite idea. I was asked to develop a longer version of the book, and since I wrote an overview, that was a familiar pleasure. I felt that I knew the characters well, and it was not hard to imagine what they might do next. The good people Lollywood offered a book! They also had a final OK, or course.

For the three 'Tales of anthology books you wrote the stories about the Cantina band, Oola and Bossk. Did you get to choose the characters? And what makes you pick exactly these characters?

I have been able to write about the Cantina band, since I was a musician and played wedding gigs for years. It was a little bit tricky about how difficult this can be! Kevin J. Anderson, who coordinates the anthologies, also let me choose Oola - again, because I have a bit of experience dancing (long ago ...). But he told me rather sternly that I would not get a first pick on the Bounty Hunters anthology. Fortunately, I had a great time writing Bossk.

You said that writing for Star Wars was a bright spot during a dark time in your life. I fully understand if you do not want to talk about the negative part Star Wars so bright for you.

The exciting story lines - the smart, creative people I have worked with, and at least for a few years. And I really did love the Galaxy Far, Far Away. I love the "space opera" genre and have written my own five-book space opera series, starting with Firebird.

Most of your Star Wars work was in the period 1993-1996. Five years later you returned to write Balance Point for the New Jedi Order series. What made you leave in 1996 ... and what made you return in 2001?

Back in the 1990s, the Star Wars novels were being written by invitation (they might still be; I do not know). It was an honor and a privilege to be asked. I was asked to write for the Adventure Journalbut sadly, they stopped publishing. And my personal life got pretty complicated in the late 1990s, so I focused on other projects. In 2001, once again I received an invitation to write a Star Wars novel-from Shelly Shapiro at Del Rey Books, this time (shout out to Shelly!). Once again I was delighted and deeply honored.

When you returned for Balance Point in 2001 the Star Wars universe had changed a lot since you left it in 1996. How did you prepare for this novel? Since it was part of a series, you did read the previous New Jedi Order novels?

I definitely had catching up to do! By 2001, the Star Wars Role-Playing Game had become a major part of Star Wars fandom, and the good people at Del Rey sent me a crate of reference materials, sourcebooks, etc. I had the almost-unbelievable privilege of being flown to Skywalker Ranch for a planning session (at which I had sat quietly, since I had just leg brought on board!). Those of us working on New Jedi Order novels cooperated closely with the authors whose novels came just before or just after ours. I had the privilege of reading several New Jedi Order novels in manuscript form, so I would be able to pick up the story right where the previous authors left it. I was expected to do the same thing, and I provided manuscripts to those who came after! Kudos to Del Rey and Lucasfilm for coordinating a series with such a rapid succession of release dates.

Which existing Star Wars character you enjoyed the most writing about?

Maybe it sounds a little cliché, but I really enjoyed writing about Luke Skywalker. He was so endearingly earnest, so determined what the cost him. So horrified to learn he was descended from evil (since I'm a Christian, this speaks loudly about our fallen nature and our need for redemption!). He truly loved his friends, and he was his all to his cause. The most delightful compliment I was ever paid, regarding my Star Wars novels, came from people at Lucasfilm who told me that I "really got Luke." Wow.

Which Star Wars character created by you is your favorite?

I liked Gaeriel. Like me, she's a woman of faith and she struggles with what that means in her life. I was not allowed to let her return Luke's affection (Tim Zahn had already created Mara Jade!), But at least I could show this earnest man struggling with his own highest priorities. Showing each of them as a result of a potential relationship, because a higher calling ... that was important to me.

In 2014, Disney declared the Expanded Universe was no longer a canon. It became 'Legends'. What do you think of this, seeing all of your work suddenly become non-canon?

Those of us writing the EU were always told, all along, from the very beginning (have I stressed that strongly enough?), "Only the Movies are Canon." Sure, it was disappointing. And I hope that the books are not out of print, because many of them are outstanding explorations of all that Star Wars means to the fans. And fun to read, besides!

I agree. To be honest, I think the old EU is far, far superior to the new canon!

You have a degree in Christianity and the Arts The Lord of the Rings. Suppose you would do that about Star Wars.... what would you talk about?

Lord of the Rings It was written by a devout Catholic who had a great deal to say about friendship, sacrifice, loss, and loyalty-from an understanding of the human metanarrative that was grounded in God's revealing himself to one nation and then through one man. Star Wars is grounded in a more universalist worldview, and many things like friendship, sacrifice, loss, loyalty, etc. Although sometimes it shows characters coming up with the same answers (if there are really deep truths, we would expect that!), sometimes their answers seem quite different from the answers I think Tolkien would have shown. So, I think I would spend time talking about the differences in the way the different authors' understanding of truth is SHOWN (another saying among writers is "show me, do not tell me" -and this is a huge part of the power of story).

A Bossk's backstory: Bossk's story for Bossk's story for Bossk's story for Bossk's story for Tales of Jabba's Palace Bossk's ship (the Hounds Tooth) was visualized. Was it the way you envisioned the ship?

I enjoyed what they did with the Hound's Tooth. I am such a strongly character-driven writer that I can see my characters (and especially listen in on their conversations!) Pretty easily, I like that, and I do not need to sit down and draw pictures. I love it when people take the ideas that come out in my stories and expand on them.


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