Lucasfilm's Pablo Hidalgo celebrated "May The Fourth Eve" by chatting with Star Wars fans on Del Rey's Star Wars Books Facebook page. Here is a transcript of fans' questions and his responses.
Q: How did you get into publishing and into Star Wars publishing in general?
A: An important lesson here. I wrote back a snarky reply to a rejection letter, starting a conversation with that editor, and they changed their mind and hired me.
Q: Pablo, can you comment on how much impact the 'Save The Clone Wars' campaigns are having?
A: I will say that people are very deeply moved at how much the show meant to so many. It's inspiring to everyone, especially the dedicated team that is hard at work wrapping up the final pieces to the series. I recently saw some of the upcoming bonus episodes, and they are truly amazing.
Q: Since the EU is such a vast and expanding place, what would you recommend as a starting point for anyone wanting to get into it?
A: Honestly, my preference is to go in publication order, because that's how I'm wired. But another approach is to take the individual era/chapter breaks in the Reader's Companion, figure out which one is most appealing, and start at that chapter. So, not necessarily chapter 1. Eras feel like they have good starting-on points.
Q: From what we've been told so far, you were asked to give Disney a bit of info about the various SW characters, locations, ships, etc. when they were discussing the "deal". Was that in reference to just what Disney was buying? Or was it related to the sequels and one-shot movies?
A: Folks like Leland and myself do a lot of distillation and summaries for people who have questions -- so this is interaction that continues and will continue. That incident cited in the Bloomberg article, a lot of it had to do with tracking down where things originated from, so it was a clear picture of how LFL created a character, location, and concept. So it was a mix of behind-the-scenes history as well as in-universe context.
Q: So...what exactly is that blue stuff that we see coming up from the chasm into which the Emperor is thrown by Vader at the end of RotJ? We didn't see a body. Did Palps really die? I mean, Maul was even cut in half and fell down a chasm and he came back.
A: This is just my opinion as a fan, but given that the same blue-laser scan effect was used by ILM as a nimbus around the reactor core, I always took it to mean the phenomenon was related. And I always subscribed to the idea that he died. But I'm no coroner or reactor tech. How's that for a non-answer?
Q: Are you working currently on any SW related projects that weren't revealed yet?
A: I guess I can say yes to that. But that's always true. We've always got stuff cooking, mores so nowadays. Specific to publishing, there's at least one more fun young reader project that I don't think has been announced.
Q: I'm guessing when you wrote the Reader's Companion you had to have read all the books. What types of books would you like to see more of and why?
A: I love short stories. I think they're able to keep the quick pace of Star Wars a lot better than bigger books. So more of those please. (I've gone on about this elsewhere, but I lament the loss of the 180-page sci fi paperback).
Q: Are Sith Force ghosts canon? I'm thinking about Freedon Nadd, Exar Kun, etc. Some force ghosts have been in the Old Republic era.
A: I'd say you'd be very unlikely to see a Sith spirit in a cinematic story unless it had a very exceptional origin. The whole point is transcendence of death is a very, very rare and special thing.
Q: Over the years, is there a particular retcon you're proudest of (or at least a few that make the short list)? Thanks!
A: Not so much retcons, but just making connections where they wouldn't otherwise, and salvaging a few obscurities when it's fun. Like way back when I did Galaxy Guide 3, 2nd Ed., I put in a lot of Marvel and old Blackthorne stuff that wouldn't have been there otherwise.
Q: Can you share one of the wackier canon or continuity issues you've had to deal with?
A: Ewoks. It always comes down to Ewoks. Identifying individuals. Debating when the live action movies take place in comparison to the cartoons. A lot of impassioned Ewok debates here.
Q: How many Star Wars publications are from new authors? Is that common? Are authors required to have other publications under their belt?
A: All the authors are already published authors. No one's first novel is a Star Wars novel. (that sounds like a bummer, but it's important to have experience under your belt!)
Q: A while back, when Star Wars Hyperspace went away, the FAQ indicated that the exclusive written materials would eventually be made available in some form...Is there any chance we will be seeing the non-narrative Hyperspace works (things like Nathan O'keefe's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji" or Abel Peña's "Evil Never Dies: The Sith Dynasties") released in the near future, and if so, where we might expect to see them?
A: I am always trying to find a home for these things, but Hyperspace was such a unique proposition that its content doesn't always naturally transfer to other places. It was a lot like the old Adventure Journal in that way. I am still trying to find the best home for it.
Q: I really enjoyed the novel "Scourge", because I like when Luke's different Jedi and his Academy are given "screen time". Can we expect such standalone novels in the future? I'd really like one focusing on the Academy itself. Or the one on Dathomir.
A: I can't speak specific to the content, but I do know that standalones and shorter series are definitely more of a focus now than multi-parts. I especially enjoyed Scourge for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it came from an RPG source.
Q: Would you be interested in doing EpVII set diaries when the time comes, or is it too far outside your job description these days?
A: It is quite a bit removed from my current day-to-day, and to be honest, if that is an approach that's going to be taken going forward, I'd love for some new kid to get a big chance the way I was given a chance 10 years ago to be the on-set voice on Episode III. No matter what, I'm sure I will continue to be involved in spreading the word of the making of future Star Wars stories.
Q: What was it like interviewing Ian McDiarmid back in 2005 on StarWars.com prior to CIII about playing the role of Palpatine?
A: He was such a gentleman. Meeting him and seeing him perform was definitely such a highlight during Episode III. A very thoughtful and eloquent man. He had such a love of music, it was great just talking to him about the scoring sessions that were happening at the time of that interview.
Q: Who's your favorite alien in the cantina?
A: I've long been a Snaggletooth fan, no matter what jumpsuit he wears.
Q: What impact with social media play in driving the Star Wars story generation if any?
A: I think that's up to individual writers to comment on, but in general, I don't think it will. It definitely builds community and gives a way of connecting creators and audience, but I think story comes from someplace else entirely.
Q: Jaxxon or Jar Jar? Who should one choose?
A: Why choose? There's a buddy picture I'd go see.
Q: For budding Star Wars authors, how should they get involved at a nominal level? Something especially for the 13-to-17-year-old ages. Any sage advice?
A: If you're looking to write fiction, especially, write your own stories and your own characters first. And write every day, even if you end up throwing it out.
Q: Are the Ewok cartoons actually considered canon?
A: Not in the same way Clone Wars and the movies are. But we do consider everything to some degree.
Q: Is there any chance we'll ever see the fabulous Visual Guides again on SW.com (or another medium)?
A: I don't have any plans, but I would be up for it if a publisher expressed interest!
Q: Pablo, I think everyone will agree that we'd like you and Leland to set up a webcam in your office for us.
A: For unrelated reasons, I had a webcam just installed on my work computer. So that can definitely happen.
Q: Nothing to do with the books at all, but why wasnt there ever made a Jabba the Hut fatboy (chair)?
A: I think Bonnie Burton saw a need and filled it in her Star Wars Craft Book.
And in response to a question about the impact of the Sequel Trilogy on the Expanded Universe...
I think the EU will always continue to be part of the Star Wars experience, in that there are stories that are best suited for books, comics, games. etc.. The relationship between cinematic content and expanded universe content will continue to be what it is today and has been in the past. What happens on screen is one thing. What happens in the books is another. How they connect and interact is something I'm really eager to see.
Chat With LFL's Pablo Hidalgo On Facebook