Star Wars New Jedi Order: Round Robin Interview (Part 10)
DR: Were you ever concerned with the possibility that you were creating a threat far greater than Palpatine and Vader—an enemy more evil and hence, in a way, minimizing the heroism of the original series after the fact?
SR: We needed something that really strained the resources of the New Republic and could have dire consequences for the galaxy. Something that caused a rift in the Jedi Order, something overpowering. But I don’t believe it minimizes the heroism of the original series at all. It expands it and shows the Jedi reacting to this enemy force in ways they never had to in the time of Palpatine.
LW: I was more worried that fans wouldn’t find our alien invasion original or interesting. I’ve been happy to find that this isn’t the case.
SS: I don’t feel that the Vong are a greater threat than the Emperor and Darth Vader. Different, yes, but not more evil—in fact, it can be argued that the Yuuzhan Vong are less evil, because they are acting from some kind of moral stance, even though it’s not a morality we agree with. The Emperor, on the other hand, was acting thoroughly without morals—out for his own ambition alone.
DR: Would you agree that the NJO series is Jacen’s story— the tale of his coming of age, and the passing of the Jedi crown, as it were, from Luke to Jacen?
SR: Absolutely. It was our intention from the beginning to make this Jacen’s story, ultimately.
LW: Jacen is the focus of the NJO, but I don’t think that makes it his story exactly. Or not only his story. Just as the films are about Anakin’s rise, fall, and redemption through his son, so, too, we wanted the books to be multigenerational, with a strong role for both the original cast from the films and the children of Han and Leia—who are, after all, the future.
SS: I would add that Jacen isn’t taking the “crown” from Luke. If anything, he is serving as a catalyst to help Luke grow into his next level of leadership.
JL: To me, the NJO is about the evolution of the Jedis’ perception of the Force and the rise of a new generation of Jedi Knights to be the vanguard in allying themselves with a more inclusive, more unifying vision of the Force.
DR: Looking ahead to the upcoming Clone Wars series, what are the lessons you’ve learned from NJO that will help make Clone Wars an even better experience for editors, writers, and, most of all, readers?
LW: We learned that collaboration is good. And we learned that it’s a good idea to keep doing things that are unexpected in order to keep fans interested. But that said, Clone Wars is not going to be a rerun of the NJO—we are doing something new. Where NJO was a story that appeared only in Ballantine novels, with the Clone Wars we are coordinating a variety of stories that will be published in adult and middle-grade books, comics, and short fiction. We are also looking at great war literature for ideas and themes and are telling Clone Wars stories from different points of view—some lighthearted, some introspective, some battle-oriented, et cetera. So rather than tell one sequential story line, they will be published as a broad mix of stand-alone, but sequential, stories that reflect various facets of what war is about.
SR: The Clone Wars series is awesome! Readers will get to know the characters from the films in more depth, adding to their enjoyment of Episode III. The comics will have one-shot issues focusing on Jedi Masters and their place as generals in the war, as well as a monthly series going into the war in more detail. The games, eBooks, Cartoon Network animated shorts—all will tell tales set in the Clone Wars era, adding color and dimension to the characters.
LW: Star Wars has always been a blurring of film with print publishing, video games, toys, and a variety of other platforms from which the saga has unfolded. We can all thank George Lucas for creating a world with such depth and then allowing us to play in it! I also thank the great group of talent I have been lucky enough to have worked with, who have expanded the original Star Wars stories into multiple product categories and formats in such brilliant ways.
SS: Fans who experience all aspects of these projects should get the widest experience of the Clone Wars saga, but people who only like to read books, or play video games, or surf the Web will also get satisfying experiences. You won’t be lost if you pick up a book but haven’t played the video game!
It’s going to be a huge challenge, though. How do we set all these stories during/against the Clone Wars without being relentlessly about war, which I suspect people are even less interested in now that we’ve had a real one going on? On the other hand, I think people look to art and entertainment not just to escape the events of the real world, but to help them process those events in a safer setting. That’s our challenge and our responsibility—to be sensitive to the needs of our audience.