During my stay at Comic-Con International, I got the opportunity to chat with writer extraordinaire John Jackson Miller, author of the new book Star Wars: A New Dawn.
UTF: Can you give me a basic summary of what your new book is about?
Miller: Star Wars: A New Dawn is set several years after Star Wars Episode Three. The Empire has taken over, and they’re establishing control of the galaxy. They’ve really got to rev up all of the Republic’s industries so that they can get the Star Destroyer fleet going and get everything taken over. In the middle of this, there is this character Kanan, who is the star of Star Wars: Rebels, and he is somebody who was a Jedi student that didn’t actually get to become a Jedi. When Order 66 happened, he got cut loose. So, he has basically been hitchhiking the galaxy for the last several years, taking odd jobs, hanging out, trying to decide what he’s going to do with his life.
[In fact] he just happens to be doing a job on this planet where he’s hauling high explosives in his spaceship and he crosses paths with Hera, who is the wannabe rebel leader from the TV series. And it kind of goes from there, because he is the reluctant hero. He does not want to get involved. He does not want anything to do with this, and yet clearly everything around is being corrupted. Life is terrible for people. He doesn’t intend to get involved, but we make it happen.
UTF: How was it writing a character who was once sort of a Jedi but then decided to quit? Usually most Jedis are depicted as these ‘gung-ho, ready to fight and die for their beliefs’ types. But this guy seems more like, “Okay, I want to be a Jedi, but now it’s hard, so now I’m going to run.” He basically becomes kind of like Han Solo. He just runs off and just cares about his own survival.
Miller: Well, I wrote a comic book series called [Star Wars] Knights of the Old Republic, and that ran about five, six years. That was about a Jedi student who got accused of a crime he didn’t commit before they made him a Jedi Knight. He ended up becoming a fugitive and a con artist and all sorts of other things, and he was still a hero. I also wrote Kenobi, which was about Obi Wan Kenobi when the Republic is gone and the Jedi Order is gone and he’s living alone. Writing about Jedi who are either cut loose from the Order, not part of it, or are alone is something I’ve done quite a lot of. So, here it was fairly easy to get into his mindset. Unlike some of the characters I’ve done in the past, he was not driven to go out and be this freelance super hero. He just wants to go to the bar. He just wants to go have a drink. He wants to have fun. He has seen the enemy, and he does not want anything to do with it.
UTF: Very nice. Now, in terms of books, this is the first Star Wars novel created in collaboration with the Lucasfilm Story Group. How does it feel to just be able to play in the new continuity of Star Wars?
Miller: I’ve done books for the original continuity, what’s now called the Legends line, and I’ve done this. This was fun, because I got to work with the executive producers of the Rebels TV series. They let me know sort of what they had coming up and who their characters were. We had conversations, e-mail and teleconference, on the direction that we should take with these characters. All the whole new era means is that we are working together on these things in advance so there’s not a chance of what we’re doing conflicting with what they’re doing in the TV shows or anything like that.
It is very difficult to try to coordinate these different media while they’re going on, because everybody has different production schedules. It takes longer to do a TV series. It takes longer to do a movie. What we want to do is up front make sure that there aren’t problems such as, you wouldn’t want me writing the novel and then calling the TV guys saying, “Okay, guys, your main character, he’s got an eye patch now. Can you go put an eye patch on him in every single episode?” They can’t do that. So, we’re going to make these decisions up front.
UTF: For any of the new Star Wars fans, do you feel like this book would be a good starting point for them?
Miller:It is the best starting point there’s ever been. It really is, because this is designed to be the first Star Wars novel people read. Obviously, the real starting point is the movies [and] the TV shows. But, absolutely, if somebody is to say, “Hey, can I pick this book up and understand it?” Yeah, they can do it. I wrote it so that they could.
There it is fanboys and fangirls! Be sure to pick up Star Wars: A New Dawn when its released this September! I want to thank John Jackson Miller for chatting with me. Anyone who wants to find out more about his upcoming projects, check out his website FarawayPress.com or hit up @jjmfaraway on Twitter.