LHR: This is your first Star Wars novel. How did writing it come about? What was your first reaction on learning that you were writing a Star Wars novel?
LucasBooks contacted my agent and asked if I’d like to write a Star Wars novel. I took half a second to decide that … er, hell yes! I’d worked with the editor at LucasBooks a few years ago on an original Hellboy novel (at another publisher). With this new Dawn of the Jedi novel they wanted more of a dark fantasy feel, and I’m absolutely thrilled they came to me. It’s been a real adventure!
LHR: Did you grow up as a Star Wars fan? Do you have a favorite memory you’d like to share?
I saw the first movie when it first came out. I was eight years old and I fell in love with it there and then. My mum took me to see it, and she came out of the cinema unimpressed. Which upset me a bit, because I thought it was magnificent. Then, when it was on TV a few years later, she watched it again … and loved it! One of my favorite memories is returning to the cinema when the Special Edition came out (maybe ten years ago?). My wife and I sat there through the opening, and when the Star Destroyer appeared above us … and just kept on coming! … I had a huge smile on my face. For those few moments I was eight years old again.
LHR: Your book is dedicated to your family. How did they respond to your writing a Star Wars novel?
They’re really excited. My two children love the movies, and my wife’s a big fan too. It’s interesting hearing people’s reaction. Probably more than anything I’ve ever worked on, I get a lot of, “Oh that’s awesome!” comments. It’s nice.
LHR: You’ve written in other shared universes. Was writing in the Star Wars Expanded Universe different?
Yes, quite different, for two reasons. First, it really is an expanded universe. There’s just so much material that’s been written (and drawn) over the years that that far away galaxy really does have a life – a geography and history – its own. I was quite lucky in that my novel is the earliest novel in the whole Star Wars timeline, so I didn’t have to read everything that came before. But there’s still that very deep, dense history and background that I had to be au fait with. Or at least, I had to know where to look!
And secondly, I feel there’s a much greater weight of expectation. That didn’t trouble me unduly, but now – I’m answering these question a week before release date – I’m starting to really realize what a huge fan base there is, and what an event a new novel launch can be. It’s so exciting, and I feel very lucky.
LHR: How do you maintain your unique writing voice while remaining harmonious to a shared universe?
This is very much a Tim Lebbon novel set in the Star Wars universe. My characters (apart from a few that cross over from the Dawn of the Jedi comics), my storyline, and the tone and feel of the novel reflect very much the sort of stuff I like writing about. So for me it did feel very much like writing another one of my own novels … except, of course, there were parameters already set by the new comics, and the established EU histories.
LHR: Dawn of the Jedi is set 25,793 years before A New Hope, not a familiar time period for most EU readers. What was challenging or liberating writing Dawn of the Jedi in this time period?
As I mentioned above, it made it easier simply because I was working in a era whose history is still being documented. I didn’t have to read 20 other Star Wars novels to make sure I had geographies, societies, and religions correct. It was quite liberating in that way, and just occasionally I was struck with the thought, I’m creating EU history with every word I write! That gave me a couple of nervous moments, but it’s also an honor, and a challenge. And I like confronting challenges in my writing.
LHR: Lanoree is accompanied by an interesting companion, the Twi’lek Tre Sana. Who or what inspired him?
I was quite keen for Lanoree to have a companion on her journey. Without wanting to give too much away, she does quite a bit of travelling during the course of the book. And I wanted her companion to be someone with whom she’d be in conflict. I like Tre’s ambiguity, the fact that he’s not a Force-sensitive, his shady history. What really excites me about the whole DotJ era is that the Force is treated somewhat differently, in that Je’daii seek balance in the Force – living in harmony with both light and dark side – rather than seeking purely the light (or the dark) as happens in later eras. And that balance between light and dark is something that always interests me in the characters I write. Lanoree is already conflicted, so it interested me for her to have someone like Tre Sana close by.
LHR: Your book Dawn starts with a character named Lenora; Dawn of the Jedi starts with a character named Lanoree. Is there any significance to the similarities of the names?
Wow, well spotted! No significance between the two. Actually, I’ll let you into a secret about my character names. Lanoree is an anagram of Eleanor (my daughter), and Dalien is an anagram of Daniel (my son).
LHR: What can we look forward to from you in the upcoming year?
My YA Toxic City trilogy will see completion with release of the third book, Contagion, later this year. That’s also in development with ABC Studios as a TV series. I’m writing a new novel called The Silence for Titan Books in the UK and USA. And December sees the release of a brand new, official novel set in the Alien universe, Out of the Darkness. It’s the first of three originals (the other writers are Christopher Golden and James A. Moore), which form a whole new, fascinating strand to the Alien landscape. I also have a thriller that I’m working on, and there are a few other screenplays and novels ticking over. Oh, and I’m also doing my first Ironman race in August!