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  • Matt Wilkins

Star Wars New Jedi Order: Round Robin Interview (Part 11)

DR: Are there any plans to take up the saga again from where NJO leaves off?

LW: Unclear the future is.

SS: We’re toying with the idea, but we haven’t come to any definite conclusions yet. There are still lots of possibilities for tales within the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

DR: What was your favorite experience in working on this project?

SR: I have so many—I absolutely adore working with Shelly Shapiro! She is a rare individual, and I treasure our working relationship. I’ve had fun with brainstorming book titles. I think overall my best feelings came from seeing the books in print and holding them in my hand, remembering conversations with authors and coworkers, et cetera. The journey is the goal, and I really enjoyed the journey!

LW: Collaboration is exciting, fun, and what it is all about. The overwhelming fan response has been the icing on the cake.

SS: I’d say getting to actually do creative brainstorming was my favorite experience. Getting to know some new authors and becoming part of the Lucasfilm team with Sue Rostoni came awfully close, though.

JL: I’m with Shelly on this one—the brainstorming sessions with editors and authors, and getting to know and work with Shelly, Sue, Lucy, Howard, Kathleen, Mike, Bob, Greg Bear, Greg Keyes, Kathy, Aaron, Troy, Matt, Walter, Elaine, Sean, and Shane. The story conferences at Skywalker Ranch, where so much creative activity was being poured into the prequel films. The challenge of helping to coordinate such a vast undertaking. Attending Celebration II . . .

DR: What was your least favorite?

SR: My least favorite experience was reading the letters we received from the fans reacting to Chewie’s death, and then talking with Bob Salvatore, trying to help him cope with the fans’vehemence while he was in the middle of profound grief over his brother’s passing. I surely didn’t know that our readers could be so ugly and brutal about anything, let alone the heroic death of a fictional character.

LW: Absolutely. The attacks on Bob for the death of Chewie are something I wouldn’t want anyone to go through again.

SS: Dealing with nasty fan mail and watching my authors get bashed on various Internet boards because some fans didn’t agree with the direction their favorite universe was taking. Definitely not my favorite part of the job.

JL: I’m coming at this from a different angle, although I certainly agree about Bob. Committee control can present problems for a writer: what one person might applaud, another might deride. Sometimes it seemed as if there were too many cooks in the kitchen, too many viewpoints, often at odds with one another. As you grow close to a project, there’s a tendency to want to exert control. But with a series like the NJO, you can’t afford the luxury of becoming too attached to your characters, your dialogue, or story lines, because you’re essentially playing in someone else’s backyard, where a strict set of rules apply.

I wish that there had been more time for direct contact among the authors, to ensure that characterizations remained as consistent as possible. With so many writers working at the same time—often under the gun—and the need for manuscripts to be read and approved by people at Del Rey and Lucasfilm, it was difficult to keep everyone apprised of last-minute changes.

I also wish that some of the readers had exercised more patience and trust in what we were attempting to do. Every series, whether literary or televised, may seem to have weak or unfocused installments, but that’s sometimes the result of a roll of the dice when everyone is working to honor a larger design.

But these are petty complaints. On the whole, the NJO was a grand adventure.

SR: You know, we had some doubts at the outset of the NJO, considering the size of the project we were taking on and everything. Would readers stick with us over nineteen books? Would the editorial team lose their minds? I’m very happy that the readers have enjoyed the books and have been so enthusiastic.

End of Interview

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