In this week’s Fangirl Speaks Up blog, one of the main talking points was editorial control. Interestingly enough, Sue Rostoni, chief fiction editor at Lucas Books made a post in the official Expanded Universe VIPs thread on the StarWars.com forums that highlights exactly why fans should be concerned with the vision of those guiding Star Wars books. This thread, currently in its third incarnation, has long been a venue through which Ms. Rostoni and others on the official side of the EU product lines have communicated directly with the fans about many topics.
The complete post is as follows:
Sue Rostoni[Q:] Sue, both the Conviction blurb and the back cover mention Daala gettin[g] overthrown. As of the end of Vortex, that hadn’t happened. So are we allowed to know- does Daala’s overthrowing happen in-between books, or in the beginning on Conviction? [A:] Yes, it happens within the pages of one of the books. I can’t think of which one — they all run together for me.
Mar 21, 2011 1:19 PM
There are really only two possible explanations for an answer like this. Either Ms. Rostoni is being glib or she’s being painfully honest. Neither explanation is even close to acceptable for a person in her position in response to a customer inquiry.
Perhaps Ms. Rostoni thinks her reply is lighthearted and humorous. Sadly, it is not. A client does not find it funny when a lawyer says, “Sorry I can’t remember the details of your case, my client matters all run together for me,” or when a consultant says, “I can’t remember which set of design plans that was, they all run together for me.” As professionals our job is to know each one of our client projects and be able to answer questions about them, even when the question is spontaneous and unanticipated. Even if Ms. Rostoni did not already remember the answer to this particular question, which is bad enough, she clearly had time to look up the answer before giving a reply. To instead crack wise, if that’s what she intended, is very poor customer relations – and in fact borders on insulting.
Worse, though, Ms. Rostoni’s response actually could be genuine. If that is true, it is a sad statement about the state of affairs at Lucas Books. The fans of the EU novels care about the characters and the stories very deeply; many of us re-read our favorite novels repeatedly. Speaking for myself, I read the first and third Fate of the Jedi novels twice each, and the other four novels once each, and based off of that alone I can pretty easily recall and keep track of what happened in the respective books. And I only read the books for fun; it is Ms. Rostoni’s job to manage the story design and editing of the novels on behalf of Lucas Books. If it weren’t for the recent quality-control issues and the downturn in fan enthusiasm for the flagship series, it would be unimaginable that a managing editorial director wouldn’t have a firm grasp on what’s next.
Anyone who has watched Dave Filoni’s episode commentaries for The Clone Wars can see and hear his passion for his work. I find it inconceivable that Mr. Filoni would respond to a question about an upcoming TCW episode by saying, “I don’t remember what’s happening in that one, the next couple all run together for me.” The managing editor on the Lucas Books side needs to bring the same passion to her work that Mr. Filoni dedicates to TCW, and that the fans – the paying customers – of the EU novels devote to their commitment to this slice of the franchise.
If the Powers That Be can’t be bothered, how can they possibly think the fans should?
B.J. has served as editor of FANgirl Blog from its inception, as well as contributing reviews and posts on a range of topics. He edited Tricia’s novel Wynde, and is collaborating with her on several future projects set in that original universe.
Currently a tenured law professor in Florida, B.J. has been a practicing lawyer in Washington, D.C., a law clerk to a federal appeals court judge, and a law journal editor-in-chief. He is also a proud geek dad whose son who is a big fan of Star Wars and The Clone Wars.