Coming Soon: Supernatural Encounters!
I got to chat with Joe and ask him a few questions about his upcoming novel.
Matt: How did "Supernatural Encounters" first come about?
Joe: It began with my long-time desire to see the old Star Wars Marvel series better represented in modern continuity. The early '90s were a different era in which you didn't have everything accessible in digital and physical formats. The Marvel series was out-of-print and very few remembered the exclusive Marvel UK stories, let alone Pizzazz magazine (which--in pre-Ebay days--took me years to track down). So, when Rich Handley and I got the opportunity to write for Star Wars Gamer, that was going to be the focus.
While our first article was a more general look at various alien species from that series, Cult Encounters and Supernatural Encounters was going to go down a much more esoteric lane in order to make sense of the incredible work that Alan Moore (and others) had done, specifically the deities and demigods that he brought forth in his stories. Rich had other projects to work on, so he left the bulk of Cult Encounters and the entirety of Supernatural Encounters to run with. My job--as I saw it--was to reconcile these seemingly anomalous stories with Lucas' express vision and the bulk of the Expanded Universe.
Gamer was canceled before Cults could be published, so in 2007-8, I contacted Pablo Hidalgo at LFL to gauge his interest. With his thumbs up, I rewrote and submitted Cults and proceeded to write Supernatural Encounters--or, rather, it wrote itself in a very bizarre nonstop, 'round-the-clock fashion over the course of a few days (by which I mean only bathroom breaks and a two-or-so-hour sleep period as the story poured out of me unto the screen). That's never happened before or since, but given its subject, I suppose it's appropriate!
I then took the next few months polishing and adding to it, while sending different versions to Pablo, who said he'd release it chunks of 2-3000 words on Hyperspace. I signed a W9 and a CA-587 form and continued working on it. Unfortunately, Hyperspace was taken down by new management at LFL before the two stories and Abel Pena's Skyewalkers could be published.
In 2013, I contacted LFL again. They said I could follow in the footsteps of Abel and publish it on my site with a link to it from the Star Wars Blog. They just wanted an introduction and clarification that this was Legends material. No problem. I wrote and submitted it, as I continued working on it. Unfortunately, around this time, I discovered that LFL's focus turned exclusively to the sequel trilogy and "canon"-only material. Once again, the story wasn't canceled; it was just put on indefinite hold.
Feeling a bit frustrated, I released the short version online (which you and several others proofread) with the promise to finally get the real version edited and released with illustrations and endnotes. So, that's what's coming in the summer.
Matt: What's changed since the initial release of the story from a few years back?
Joe: A lot! For one thing, it's four times longer. For another, it's got illustrations from two amazing artists, Chris Cold and Guillaume Ducos! While the basic story is intact, a lot of the very ancient history of the galaxy was still being brought to shape when Hyperspace was ended. I'm a working writer, so I didn't have time to complete that process in 2009 or 2013. Continuity and quality is paramount for me. But they take time to do right. That's why, for the last two-plus years, I've put aside that time, along with five editors and proofreaders who've gone over everything with a fine-tooth comb. These guys are not only serious fans, but they're at the top of their game--and super-nice! I've had a blast working with them! They made quarantine fly by.
Matt: For all the EU fans out there, can you tell them what Supernatural Encounters is all about?
Joe: The story is about a historian and his droid who are looking for the ancient origins of the galaxy and follow a trail into Otherspace, a hidden, dark realm where "there be dragons," but also answers. The story is framed by a debate in the Historical Council about the merits of this historian's findings as he submitted in a manuscript--as it appears outlandish to many of them. During this, it's decided to read aloud the manuscript--which reveals the most ancient period of time in the galaxy and the Cosmic Wars that took place during it.
Matt: When and where can we expect a release?
Joe: As with Heart of the Jedi, it will be made available for free on my site. Physical copies will be produced strictly for contributors at a certain level. Email me for the perks list. Assuming the artwork and my own editing is complete, I'm anticipating a late summer release for the physical copies, with the free online version to follow.
Matt: You currently have a team translating the Hungarian Han Solo books. Do you have a date for when those will be released as well?
Joe: I don't yet have a release date for the English translations of the Hungarian Han Solo books. But they are happening. My translators, led by Matthew Smith, are both talented and dedicated. The first book is complete and the second is being worked on. Once Supernatural Encounters is complete, I'll turn my attention to editing the four books in the series.
Matt: What can you tell us about the Ewoks stories that you're also currently translating from German. How did those get discovered?
Joe: My friend Thomas Rathausky discovered them and realized that there were no English translations of them--and, in fact, very few people knew they even existed. Another great guy and serious fan, he's translated all but one at this point. I've edited them. They're great! They actually maintain continuity with the comics; at least two of them are direct sequels; and there's more Morag, which is always welcome (since the animated series killed her off far too soon). Another serious fan and good guy, Max Wild, is helping translate some additional German Ewoks material. I expect to release a PDF of all of them sometime after Supernatural Encounters is done.
Matt: Any other upcoming "lost" stories we can look forward to coming out soon?
Joe: Well, starwarstimeline.net has become a repository to archive material that would otherwise disappear. The reality is that stories that aren't published vanish into oblivion--and that's a terrible thing. Already, we've lost Margaret Weiss' Legacy of the Force, Leigh Brackett's Leia novel, and John Whitman's YA novellas. The tragic part is that it's preventable. The problem is that many authors just don't understand contracts. They don't realize that if a book goes unpublished by the publisher, they're no longer bound to the terms of the contract. So long as they don't profit from the material, they can release it to the public. So, there's at least three authors I'm aware of who have completed manuscripts that I'd like to speak to again so that we don't lose their stories to a hard-drive crash, a move, or any number of factors that would see these stories disappear forever.