Lucky readers, today we get to chat with Bonnie Burton who some of you may know as the Senior Editor and Online Content Manager for Lucasfilm or simply the lady covered in googly eyes and glitter.
MandyB: Bonnie, welcome to TFN's interview series. I'm so glad you agreed to participate! Firstly, let's address your connection to Star Wars. When were you first exposed to the franchise, and what element made such a lasting impression on you?
Bonnie Burton: I first saw Star Wars at a drive-in theater along with Smokey & the Bandit! For the longest time I thought Burt Reynolds was Han Solo! Of course, as soon as I saw Star Wars I was hooked. My brother and I went from playing cowboys & Indians with the neighbor kids to Jedi vs Stormtroopers. I also loved Princess Leia. She was sassy, in charge, fearless and had the best one-liners. Even as a kid I knew great insults when I heard them. I called my brother Laserbrain for years.
MB: You are my link queen on twitter. How in the world do you stumble across such gems? (I am, of course, referring to the one legged snake among others…) (I named him Steve.)
BB: Star Wars fans are the most creative fans in the galaxy. And they often use Twitter to show off their talents as Star Wars cake chefs, craftsters, fan filmmakers, costume designers, artists and so on. So every time I check our @starwars mentions feed on Twitter, the gems pop up over and over again thanks to fans.
MB: If I were to say, “and that's why I don't like cricket,” what would be your first response?
BB: Bob Fossil is a genius for inventing the Pocket Cup! Always nice to meet another Mighty Boosh fan!
MB: You're a noted Bettie Page fan. Do you have a favorite anecdote you'd like to share?
BB: Ha! About me or Bettie Page? She was a huge inspiration to me in college. She wasn't afraid to be one of a kind, and I'd like to think that I'm the same way in that respect.
MB: Though it's a well-known fact, you pretty much have the coolest job in the world. How did you end up as Senior Editor and Online Content Manager for Lucasfilm?
BB: I answered a job listing in Craig's List. I thought my chances were pretty slim in getting the job (think Death Star trench run slim) but I managed to impress the right people with my writing while also remaining calm during the interviewing process. Luck was on my side too. I feel very lucky to be part of a group with so many talented and creative people.
MB: Describe an average Bonnie Burton Day ™ for the readers.
BB: Hit snooze button 5 times. Wake up, brush my teeth, tweet, shower, walk the dog, get dressed, and drink my morning coffee (not necessarily in that order). Once I'm at work, I answer emails and voicemails, interview an actor or celeb fan or transcribe an interview, post on the official Star Warsblog, go to meetings, edit a drawing tutorial, work on a Star Wars craft, tweet some more, post articles on our Facebook page, rinse, repeat. I also go to either Starbucks or our in-house coffee hangout Javva the Hutt about 3 times a day.
MB: Tell us about your new book, The Star Wars Craft Book. How long has this been in production? What were the inspirations behind certain crafts?
BB: I've been working on the book for 3 years, but I've been making Star Wars crafts since I was a kid. Crafting is in my blood. Perhaps I have crafting midichlorians? I've always made my own dolls and toys since I was a little kid. My mom was a children's librarian, so she used to bring home kids magazines that had craft tutorials inside. I used to make all the crafts I could find in magazines like Ranger Rick, Highlights, Cricket and so on. My parents would buy me cheap art supplies and I would make puppets from old wooden spoons and paper bags. I think I fancied myself as a young, female Jim Henson!
So whenever I think of crafts for StarWars.com or The Star Wars Craft Book, I would think back to the kinds of crafts I made as a kid. I used to make papier-maché pinatas. Or I would reuse jam jars for snow globes, peanut butter jars for vases, cardboard tubes for lightsabers, and so on. In 4-H, us kids would make apple dolls (which is an old folk art craft) so I made Emperor Appletine for the book. When you start crafting on a regular basis you start to see projects form just by looking at objects differently. When I look at a wooden spoon, I see a Bith shape. When I see a pile of pillows, I think it looks like Jabba the Hutt. When I see a pile of sticks, I always think of Ewoks. So Star Wars craft ideas always pop into my head regularly. I consider myself lucky!
MB: Do you have a favorite craft (self-made, fan-made, etc.)?
BB: The Jabba the Hutt Body Pillow has a special place in my heart just because he's so cute and cuddly. In fact, my dog has sort of adopted him and she loves to nap on him. I also love all the Star Wars puppets I've made over the years. Growing up watching not only Star Wars, but also Sesame Street, The Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock, it's easy to see why I can't imagine a world without puppets.
I'm also continually impressed by fan-made crafts so I made sure my faves like the Millennium Falcon bed, the R2-D2 crocheted beanie hat and amigurumi dolls were featured in The Star Wars Craft Book as well.
Of course, I'm also awe-struck by the extreme crafting that goes into building working astromechs and immaculate stormtrooper armor. Everyday I'm in awe of the creativity that flows through so many Star Wars fans.
MB: You're the host of the popular Ask Bonnie Vlog Series. What was the inspiration behind the vlog? Also, most outrageous topic.
BB: I shot the Ask Bonnie vlog ages ago as a supplement to Web Waste - special channel on @Home Network that featured bizarre and unusual content online. In the Ask Bonnie video series I would pick a topic like Beauty Pageants or Condiments or Arm Wresting and ask viewers to email me their questions for me to answer about that topic. Sometimes to mix it up, I would host the show with a sock puppet I made called @Sock. The most outrageous topic was one of the first vlogs I shot about bizarre cuisine. A viewer asked for rattlesnake recipes and I found some. Luckily, I didn't have to try them out first. Your readers can check out all my Ask Bonnie and Ask @Sock videos on Youtube now.
MB: You are doing such an awesome job with the official Star Wars site. What else can fans look forward to seeing on the site?
BB: We have a lot of cool, new things in store for fans. I can't talk about all the fun stuff around the corner, but I think everyone is in for a real treat!
MB: With the popularity of twitter and other social media, how has this changed the interaction between Lucasfilm and Star Wars fans?
BB: I think it's shown that we care about our fans and how they express their fandom in creative ways. We've encouraged fans to make fan films for the annual Fan Movie Challenge that we then honor nominees at San Diego Comic-Con. But with Twitter we can acknowledge fans and their creativity daily by retweeting them, or by writing about them on our official Star Wars Blog. Whenever we retweet a fan, it really makes their day.
MB: You've collaborated on several Star Wars books (You Can Draw Star Wars, Draw Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the upcoming Generation Star Wars: A Celebration of Fandom, and your new craft book!), but many folks may not know that you've authored a wonderful teenage self-help book, Girls Against Girls. Are there any other upcoming books that you can discuss?
BB: I wrote 2 books last year while promoting 2 other books that just published, so I was a bit book-crazed for 12 months. Now I'm just concentrating on getting the word out about my newest book - The Star Wars Craft Book, which is really a project I've been looking forward to for a long time. I love this book so much and I hope crafty Star Wars fans will too! I can't wait to see what everyone makes!
I'd like to do more books for our Star Wars brand, but I would also love to branch out to other brands as well -- so fingers crossed that you'll see more craft and drawing books from me in the near future. I also really enjoyed writing my teen advice book Girls Against Girls about how to deal with mean girls. I hope it helps a lot of girls out there who feel like they're the only ones this kind of bullying happens to. I'd love to write more advice books. Maybe I could combine the two and write advice books for Jedi or would-be Sith Lords.
MB: I'm glad we had the opportunity to talk with you, Bonnie. Thanks so much for stopping by!
For those who haven't already purchased a copy of The Star Wars Craft Book, you can find copies here, or at your local book retailer. For the enterprising soul that is still on the fence about crafting, a handy TFN review is available.