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TFN Interview: Kenobi Author John Jackson Miller
Posted by Eric on August 27, 2013 at 10:00 AM CST |
Star Wars: Kenobi, which was released today, has already been earning rave reviews from many fans and bloggers. Its author, John Jackson Miller, is well-known to comic fans for his work on the Knights of the Old Republic, Knight Errant, and Lost Tribe of the Sith series. In Kenobi, his second EU novel, Miller moves into the Dark Times era and explores the first part of Obi-Wan's hermitage on Tatooine. He uses brand-new characters in a frontier community to show us how Obi-Wan begins dealing with his new role as a solitary guardian.

"He's here acting as Clark Kent, not acting as Superman," Miller explained in my interview with him. "He's still doing heroic things; he's just doing it in such a way that we don't immediately look and say, 'Aha! Lightsaber! Jedi!'"

Below, check out a lightly-edited transcript of my interview with Miller -- but beware of Kenobi spoilers!

***

When did you first conceive of the idea that became this book?

I think it was 2006. I had been working on Knights of the Old Republic, was writing stories for its second year, over at Dark Horse, and I was working with Jeremy Barlow, my comics editor over there, looking at a number of possible other projects that I could do. This was getting close to the period where I was going to quit to write full-time, so I was looking to get some more projects in there. One of the things that we talked about is some original graphic novel ideas and I came up with two or three of those. There was a Boba Fett one. There was this Ben Kenobi idea. This really sprang from our mutual love of old Westerns. It occurred to both of us that really, Tatooine is very much a frontier Western setting. Obi-Wan, as the stranger wandering into town, fits very comfortably into what is a familiar archetype.

I worked up several drafts of that. Each one got successively longer as I added more and more to the book. It soon became obvious that it was not going to fit in a comic book and it really was better designed for a prose presentation. Secondly, we weren't really sure whether we could get near this part of Obi-Wan's continuity because we had things like the Star Wars live-action TV series being discussed at the time. That was potentially out there. My editor ended up transferring to the Indiana Jones line and he offered me the chance to write the adaptation for the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull movie for [the] comics. That filled the spot that would have been the Kenobi story.

At the time it was called "Ben" because it was about how Kenobi turns into "Old Ben." I put that on the shelf for several years. I mentioned it once to Shelly Shapiro at Del Rey after I had done Knight Errant. We didn't think it was the right time just then for it, but once we got to 2012 and I suggested it again, now we were in a phase where they were looking for more material on these iconic original characters. It no longer looked like some of the concerns that we'd had in the past about continuity were in place.

It was great to get to do it. It is a different kind of book. It is told mostly from the point of view of people whose lives Obi-Wan affects. He's certainly got his point of view in there too, but the scale of this book is certainly much different from your usual planet-destroying threat-of-the-week kind of stories. This is more personal. This is about Obi-Wan dealing with his new situation and dealing with his grief over the past.

Why Obi-Wan? What do you think makes him such a popular character?

We'd just gone through the Prequel movies, and the Prequel movies were in part about establishing the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker 末 his tragic fall. It struck me that the circumstances that Obi-Wan faced were equally tragic if not more so, because he retained his values and yet had to live with all of the consequences of his inaction or his inability to see and understand what Anakin was turning into. Our first chapter, or rather the prologue, takes place during Episode III, while Obi-Wan is delivering Luke Skywalker to the Lars family.

The wounds that he's dealing with are very fresh. The shock that he's dealing with is very fresh. He has lost the Republic. He has lost the Jedi Order, all the friends that he's ever had. He's not only lost, in Anakin, his brother, but he believes at this point that he killed him. He does not know about Darth Vader yet. There's very definitely room for elaboration on his state and how he starts the process. This is what this book really, I think, does. He starts the process of learning to live in isolation and not [being] overcome with grief over having to go back [to Coruscant] and undo all the wrongs that are being done right this second.

This book clearly has a "Western frontier" feel to it. Did you look to any specific Westerns for inspiration?

I think we were just capturing the feeling. Obviously the one movie that everybody remembers from the 1950s is Shane, with Alan Ladd as the gunfighter who is running away from his past and trying to hang up the six-shooter and gets wrapped into a range war, because his natural inclination is to help people, to defend people against what he sees as bad men. That's one of them, but there certainly are a lot of other Westerns out there with the loner who's mysterious and rides into town.

The other thing that I tried to evoke as well is ... Larry McMurtry, who wrote the Lonesome Dove stories, really tried to present a complete world. We're not just seeing the gunfighters; we're not just seeing the rangers. We're seeing the people around them: the cooks and the people who make up their world. It's very much an environment. That's what I wanted to present with this book. We have these three point-of-view characters 末 a merchant, a farmer and landowner; and a Tusken Raider 末 all of whom see Obi-Wan through the lens of their particular lives on Tatooine.

But we also give you quite a bit about their lives to show you what it's like to live in the fringes of galactic society, as this is. That's the sort of thing that we've seen readers ask for quite a lot: "We'd like to see the regular Joe and what they're going through." The problem with doing that was always finding a way to do that and have it have some impact on the greater storyline of Star Wars. It just so happens, though, that Obi-Wan living in isolation gives us the opportunity to take some time and do that. Because he's going to be in this place an awful long time. He's got to learn to live in isolation. He needs to see some other people who have survived out here.

Was it always your goal to not actually include standard point-of-view passages for Obi-Wan?

That was really always in the story. He was always going to be this stranger that had come in from wherever. Initially, in the comic book design, the meditations did not exist at all. There was a meditation in the story where we hear him talking, and people who read the story will see which one of those it is, because it is a plot point 末 the fact that he's talking to Qui-Gon. The idea of putting them throughout the entire story came along when we got into the prose part of the process. It was Jennifer Heddle at Lucasfilm who suggested, "It would be cool to see what his take is on these situations," and certainly as I got farther into it, I realized that the only way we were going to find out anything about what was happening with Anakin and the Empire and all of these other things was through Obi-Wan.

Because nobody else knew. We're way far away from any Internet connections out in the Oasis. [laughs] And the Tuskens certainly don't have it. So if we want to elaborate on Obi-Wan's feelings in connection with these things, he has to have a voice. I put that in there and it just worked completely naturally. It did not interfere with the way that I wanted to do the rest of the story, which was to show him acting in a way where the readers would know he's acting as a Jedi, but the other people wouldn't know that. He's here acting as Clark Kent, not acting as Superman. He's still doing heroic things; he's just doing it in such a way that we don't immediately look and say, "Aha! Lightsaber! Jedi!"

The nickname of Annileen, one of the main characters, is Annie. There's a line that she says to Obi-Wan that I have to mention, because it's so perfect: "You think poor little Annie gets bored with Tatooine, and the first time a stranger from off-world comes along, it's off to the races?" Why did you want to include these kinds of little reminders of Obi-Wan's past?

Well, I purposefully did quite a few of those. I didn't want it to be overly cute, but as many times as possibly, [I wanted to] give him a pang of remorse or regret or some sort of reminder that would take him out of where he is and remind us that he's always walking around and living with these memories. Certainly, the whole Annie nickname thing was intentional in the beginning. I have to say, that particular line is what they call "refrigerator genius." It's something that I didn't intend to come out that way, and then I looked at it, and it's like, "Wow!" In particular, the off-to-the-races connection with young Anakin, and the stranger coming in from off-world.

It was originally just going to be a matter-of-fact comment that Annileen made, because it really does connect to her storyline, which is that she's trying to escape the prism that she's been in for twenty years. That's the common thing between the two of them, and it's why, I think, she's an important person in his life. Anybody who reads and says, "Well, this is just a storekeeper, why do we care?" is, I think, not looking at some of the subtext.

The two of them are both prisoners, in a sense, to a situation they did not entirely cause. They both feel responsible for people besides themselves. In her case, she felt that she could not let her late husband's business go down the tubes. She felt she could not abandon it [or] walk away from the community that relies on her. The two of them are in an equivalent place. Where the drama comes from in the story is that, where her natural reaction is to say, "Let's while away these years together," his situation is a lot more complicated. He's got a lot more going on that she doesn't know about.

A major theme in this book is Obi-Wan trying to prevent the people in this small community he visits from succumbing to the darkness that brought down Anakin. The way he counsels Annileen and Orrin makes it clear that he has learned specific lessons from his failure with Anakin, including certain behavioral signs to watch for. Tell me about your goals in terms of bringing out that reflection and recognition within Obi-Wan.

Well, Obi-Wan is always thinking. He's always looking to see how he could have prevented the previous situation. But he's not about wallowing in remorse or regret. That's one of the reasons why I didn't want to tell the story with him as one of the point-of-view characters, because that would be a danger, with him constantly second-guessing himself and thinking out loud, "Ah, I need to turn this young man away from a path of darkness," or "I need to put right what I once did wrong." I didn't want that to be so overt, but certainly it is the case that I intended, with some of the other characters that he's meeting here, that he's building relationships that are very similar to the relationship that he formed with Anakin. He's certainly trying to keep both eyes open and make sure that, if there's anything he can do to turn away somebody who is on the road to ruin 末 to get them to "Turn back now," which is one of the lines in the book 末 he's going to give that person every chance.

He also has to learn 末 and I think he does learn in this story 末 the point at which it's no longer his fault. Once you've given somebody every possible opportunity ... he does not take that on his conscience anymore. That is one of the big moments that he has here. What he's going through is a process. This is only the first step in the process. I've said before [that] this entire novel, with the exception of the prologue, takes place during one sentence of The Life and Legend of Obi-Wan Kenobi by Ryder Windham. This is a part of his story 末 but I think it's a critical part of his story.

You mentioned that Obi-Wan learns that there's a point where something is no longer his fault. That seemed to come during a moment when Annileen said to Obi-Wan (about another character), "There's still good in him." In response, Obi-Wan firmly tells her that that can only be used as an excuse for so long.

I don't want to get too far into what happens to individual characters, but one of the things that I wanted to explore was ... The Empire can only come to power 末 and can only do what it does 末 with the complicity of particular individual people. We always hear the stories of Nazi Germany and people asking, "How could this happen 末 one madman taking over this country?" Well, a number of people had to have been complicit in what happened. One of the things that I realized while doing Lost Tribe of the Sith was that it's very difficult for an individual following the Sith philosophy to get a lot of other people to buy into his ruling the galaxy. The whole Sith philosophy [is] about the elevation of the individual and the suppression of everybody else. It's hard to get other people to go along with you.

Of course, what the Emperor did was he hijacked an existing power structure. That's the conclusion that the characters in Lost Tribe of the Sith came to, that that's what you would have to do, you would have to find something that was already out there already. But taking over the Republic was not enough. It required people in the Republic or outside the Republic to go along for their own advancement, to be complicit or to help out.

I think we see, with one of [Kenobi]'s characters, that he could very comfortably transition into the mode where his persuasion, his voice, could be given over to advancing the Empire. There are always those characters, when a totalitarian state takes over, [who], for their own advancement or for whatever other reasons, are able to see the advantage in becoming one of their useful tools. It really doesn't matter whether you're a baron living on Coruscant or just a local power broker out on the frontier. There is that potential, for everybody in the galaxy right now, to have to make this decision [about] whether they're going to become complicit in what's going on with the Empire taking over. Obi-Wan is confronted, here on Tatooine, with a very small, microcosmic moment that he knows is being repeated all across the galaxy. Other people are being tested and other people 末 both powerful and not 末 are in danger of becoming tools of the Empire.

You also have Obi-Wan refer indirectly Darth Sidious' grand deception in a conversation with Annileen toward the end of the book. He also tells her, "There's nothing worse than losing a home you've known for years." Do you think Obi-Wan blames himself for failing to see that coming like he failed to save Anakin?

I think he's asking himself about that in the story: Whether there was something in their traditions, in the way that they handled situations, that might have had something to do with this. I think he's only beginning to ask these questions, and he's going to be asking them for the next nineteen years. He definitely broaches the issue here. One of the things that he talks about is, was it [the Jedi Order's] rigidity on the issue of not having love or significant others ... that helped to set up the conflict that Anakin was facing? It may well be that it was just an excuse for Anakin 末 that if it wasn't this particular conflict, it would have been something else that he was going to run into 末 but he is questioning and wondering, "Was the fault in ourselves?" It's one of the things that he's out here trying to work out.

Where do you come down on that question of attachment, families, and love? Was the Jedi policy a problem? Could it even be the reason Anakin fell?

I think it is very strange, and Obi-Wan voices this: On the one hand, the Jedi have this understanding that attachments cause problems; they cause you to divert your attention from the Force. And yet we also have this other situation where ... parents that have the ability to use the Force tend to have children who have [that ability]. Obi-Wan asks himself, "Does the Force really know what it wants?" Because otherwise 末 with the exception of Force powers spontaneously generating in people, which may happen 末 you would wonder, "Why are there as many Jedi as there are?" I believe that this was a rule that was always being debated. It was always in flux out there.

This issue is discussed in the Knights of the Old Republic comics, because I was told that, right at the beginning in 3,968 BBY, there was no rule that Jedi couldn't date. There was a movement that was looking at what had happened in the Sith War in 4,000 BBY and wondering, "Maybe we should change the rules [and] block off as many possible off-ramps that [we] could possibly face which would make [Jedi] fall to the Dark Side." As the story takes off, I'm not sure that the Knights of the Old Republic characters entirely agree 末 that it's just naturally a trip to the Dark Side to fall in love.

The rules are different in [the Prequel] era. They're established. But Obi-Wan is able to look at his own choices. I think he believes he made the right choices, but he's also beginning to look at everything and say, "Was this particular obstacle really necessary?"

This book is definitely Tusken-heavy, and you do a great job exploring the anxieties of A'Yark's Tusken community living on the outskirts of civilization. At one point you reference the overnight disappearance of a powerful Tusken camp, which we know was wiped out by Anakin. What appealed to you about writing Tuskens? Were they hard to give voice to, given how alien the movies make them out to be?

It was something that, as I began to get into it, I got a lot more comfortable with. I realized what I wanted their defining characteristic to be. Yes, I wanted them to be alien and different, and I wanted to avoid the more common native storytelling devices that you'll see in these kinds of stories. I really felt that the key to their existence was the feeling that they were under a bond to Tatooine, a bond to the land, that forced them to live in what they themselves recognize is a miserable state. They believe that they're under a curse and that they will never get out from under it 末 at least, this particular clan does. I made it very plain that there may be other groups of Tuskens that view life differently, because I don't want to block off any avenues for other writers.

But it seemed to me that they had an understanding of their role in the universe and they also had an understanding that the role of the settlers was to be their victims. They're not nice people; I didn't want them to come off as sympathetic. They come off more pathetic. They have their own story, and as they see their place in the story right now, they think they're close to the end of the line. The events which you referred to 末 Anakin's slaughter 末 have crushed the spirit of all of the Tuskens around. They know that something supernatural happened. At the beginning, we find them in close to an apocalyptic end-times situation.

It ties in really well to Obi-Wan's situation, because for one part, Obi-Wan represents something that they've seen before: the Jedi who has come to join them and bring them out of a time of trouble. That, of course, happened with Sharad Hett back in the backstory to Outlander, the Dark Horse comic years earlier. There's that thing going on, and then there's the fact that Obi-Wan still does not know what happened [with] Anakin and the Sand People that sort of precipitates his fall in Episode II. He is still figuring this stuff out a bit at a time. The fact that he doesn't know yet was already established, because I had other benchmarks that were already out there, mileposts that were already in the continuity. But there was nothing wrong with having Obi-Wan start to put the pieces together and realize that these Tuskens are a victim of what Anakin did, but so too is the rest of the Republic.

What was your goal with the lead Tusken, A'Yark?

I wanted to set up that A'Yark was a parent and someone who had responsibility for a much larger group of people, just the same way that all other the characters in the story have. Every other major character in the story is a parent and also a leader, or has a community that relies on them. Annileen, Orren, Obi-Wan. They all have those strings pulling on them.

Also, I wanted to show that, at this point, for this particular clan, all of the old rules are falling by the wayside. All the old traditions are falling away. It's because their situation is dire enough that it is causing them, not rethink things, but to continue to go forward. The person who has the strength to lead is going to lead if they're going to survive. Whatever previous rules about who the leader could be 末 that's got to go. A'Yark has an arc [leading to] that realization that "I might actually be the strong person that this clan needs."

There's a moment where Annileen mentions to Obi-Wan that she remembers a desert hermit who lived out in the Jundland Wastes, didn't wear a hood, and showed up in town "looking twenty years older." Later you show Obi-Wan removing his hood and staring up at the suns. Is this your attempt to explain why Alec Guinness' Obi-Wan looks so much older than Ewan McGregor's?

Well, if that's what you read, that's what I meant. [laughs] Yeah, yeah, that is ... That is a problem! I mean, it's nineteen years. I wanted to put that out as a possibility. There might be other reasons. ... What is Obi-Wan concerned about at this time? He's concerned about being recognized. He's hooded through a lot of this story, but certainly the faster that he can begin to look like somebody who lives around here 末 and has lived around here for a long time 末 the better. Remember: Right now, he has no idea how long he's going to be on this planet, but he's ready to be here for quite a long time.

When Annileen learns Obi-Wan's last name, she says that she recalls several customers with various spellings of "Kenobi" coming to her shop. Was that your attempt to explain why Obi-Wan's surname wouldn't give him away, even in hiding?

Just go to Wookieepedia and there's, like, nine guys with the same first or last name, because there's only so many different ways you can go! It occurred to me that there almost certainly must be other names that sound like "Kenobi." I certainly wasn't trying to throw out there that this name is Smith in the Star Wars universe, because we really haven't seen the name that many places. But we don't have to have seen the name that many places; somebody on Tatooine, in the Oasis, has to have seen the name 末 a similar person with that name 末 and react to it. That's really all it takes. The other thing is that they live so far out on the fringe that they are not watching the exploits of these Jedi Knights on HoloNet News. That's just a whole different world to them. There are not a lot of Jedi who are household names [out there].

When Obi-Wan and Annileen spot a stormtrooper in Bestine, Obi-Wan compares him to a clone trooper with slightly different armor. Obviously he was pretending to be less worldly than he actually was, but I've been wondering, could this actually be the first time he's seen an Imperial stormtrooper?

Well, it may well be, once we get into the timeline, but the problem is, I don't know and I'm not trying to establish when the uniforms switch over. We know that the uniforms switch over at some point; we assume that it's going to be a gradual process. But [Obi-Wan] also encounters clone troopers in the "Incognito" story which we did for Star Wars Insider #143. I tried not to get into too much detail, except that you would imagine that a clone trooper who's going to go visit Tatooine is going to change up the outfit 末 if it isn't already beginning to change on the Imperial side of things.

Again, we're not specific as to exactly when these events take place. They are, though, in that very early period when he's there; certainly within the first year, definitely within the first month or two. We do convey that a lot of time has passed in between his visits to the Oasis sometimes, but also a lot of the events in the story take place within a very short timeframe. The last third of the book takes place over thirty-six hours. It was never the intention to show, from young Ben to old Ben, every moment in there. No, this is about the earliest moment.

About halfway through the novel, Obi-Wan reflects on the fact that "for many people, the smaller struggles are just as important to them as our larger ones are to us [the Jedi]." How do you think that living on Tatooine has affected Obi-Wan's view of the galaxy at this point in his hermitage?

Well, the conflict is there in Jedi teachings: It's the Living Force versus the Unifying Force. As I understand it, the Living Force is about the people who are around us today, and the Unifying Force is about eternity, everything, and here on into the future. The Unifying Force is what Yoda was teaching Obi-Wan, and we hear Qui-Gon telling Obi-Wan to become more in tune with the Living Force. It is that conflict, I think, that is central to ... all the big events in Star Wars relating to the Jedi. It does get into this [question of] bringing into balance these two different things.

Luke is told by Yoda and Obi-Wan, "If you go to save your friends, you may destroy the cause you're fighting for." That is what they teach him. But if Luke had not gone to try to save his friends, he would never have confronted Darth Vader [and] he never would have gotten his hand lopped off. And when he finally did have his confrontation with Vader, he would not have had that moment where he comes back from the brink of falling to the Dark Side by looking at his own gloved hand. He made the right decision before; that, I think, is the Living Force at work.

That was one of the conflicts that I try to play on in Knights of the Old Republic. It was Zayne [Carrick] who was about "people who are around me now, my friends, my schoolmates," versus the Covenant Masters, who were Unifying Force times ten. They were so worried about the Sith taking over that they were willing to victimize people who were alive today and were innocent.

This is very much something where Obi-Wan is trying to reconcile these things. If he had paid more attention to Anakin the individual, would that have profited the Jedi in the bigger picture overall? He's definitely worried about both of these things.

What he says is a truism anyway, that for these individuals, their problems are as big to them as these larger problems in the galaxy are to "we Jedi." I did want to throw in there another opportunity for him to think about how, "We really need to make sure that what we do as Jedi for the future still is in service to the individual people living today."

I love your little references to the movies in this book. There are so many moments that make the reader smile because of their meta-knowledge of the Star Wars saga. There's the exchange between Annileen and Obi-Wan about Obi-Wan's bantha that mirrors the one between Han and Lando about C-3PO in TESB. There's also the moment where Annileen says, "The planets still existed, for sure; she doubted Chancellor Palpa-whoosit or anyone he was fighting had the power to change that," which is obviously a wink at the Death Star. I just wanted to thank you for throwing in those little Easter eggs.

Kenobi, more than any other work that I've ever done, is aimed at the movie viewer. It's aimed not just at the EU reader, but at the person who has never read anything else in the EU before. I figured that they would appreciate these little connection moments like this. You never want to have it be cute, and we have a general policy of never using flat-out [movie] lines just to echo the films, but moments like this, I don't have any problem doing.

There are also lines that speak to the important continuity in Star Wars. One is when Obi-Wan tells Annileen that he'll call on his allies to help him face a particular challenge. He doesn't say who his allies are, but it seemed to me that he was referring to the Force the way Yoda did ("My ally is the Force"). That nod seemed to be getting at the idea that there are common ways for Jedi to refer to their relationship with the Force.

One of the things that I was taught when I started working on Star Wars at Dark Horse ... my first story was a Darth Vader story, and [Star Wars editor] Randy Stradley recommended that I have Darth Vader speak as little as possible, to give every line that he says weight. You can have too much of a good thing, and you can make it more commonplace by having that character speak too often. Obi-Wan does not say a lot here, in part because he doesn't want to give away too much about himself. I really tried to make sure that, when he does speak, there's something behind those words that the reader can study more closely and interpret.

This was only your second Star Wars novel (not counting the Lost Tribe of the Sith collection). How are you finding the novel-writing process different from the comic-writing process?

There are the obvious ways: I'm having to come up with what the characters and the settings look like in their entirety.

It's nice that I'm able to get into some more of the inner workings of these characters' minds, talking about their hopes and fears in ways that can be conveyed other than by only using their actions. With both comics and prose, you want to show and not tell, but you have a few more opportunities for quieter moments in a novel where you can get inside a character's head and see what they're really thinking. We don't really use the thought balloon that much anymore for the comics world.

I'm enjoying the opportunity to be able to elaborate on some things that, in the past, would have been relegated to the Campaign Guide for the Knights of the Old Republic roleplaying game, or the inside back pages, the letters pages [of the comics]: the wonkier stuff about how the vaporators worked and that sort of thing. You wouldn't want to stop anything on a comics page to do that, and we try to not stop the action here in prose either, but certainly you can do some things that you probably wouldn't do quite the same way in a comic.

Do you have ideas for other Star Wars novels you'd like to write?

Oh yeah. One of the things that I was never even considering when I was working on this was doing anything further with Kenobi. I thought that this story was 末 and it is 末 a standalone piece, but as I got to the end of it, I realized that it opens up a number of questions about some of the characters that are in it that could be addressed later on. There are also other lessons that are out there for Ben Kenobi to be able to learn about Tatooine and about himself and about what's happened in the rest of the galaxy. I would definitely welcome the opportunity to return to this world again. It was a great place to stay.

Of course we have the sequel trilogy coming along and I certainly would enjoy the opportunity to work on some piece of that. Then there are all the other possible stories that are out there in Star Wars that I'd like to be able to do. I've sort of parked the Knights of the Old Republic characters at a certain point, but they are ready to go whenever the call comes. I look at Aaron Allston 末 I think, what was it, eleven years in between X-wing novels? [Ed. Note: It was thirteen years, between Starfighters of Adumar in 1999 and Mercy Kill in 2012.] But he was able to come right back to those characters. I should hope it wouldn't take so long to get back to some of these other guys. But if it makes sense for everybody, it would be an absolute blast to do that.

You've written in the Old Republic era with Knight Errant and now the edge of the Rise of the Empire era with Kenobi. Are there other eras that you want to explore?

Well, I'm pretty interested in what's happening with the sequel era. I don't know whether it is a benefit or a handicap, but I have the curious situation of having worked in this realm for a lot of years, but I've never touched anything after Return of the Jedi. I did one story which was set between Star Wars and Empire, and that was that very first story, that issue of Star Wars: Empire. The Kenobi story is set in the very, very early Dark Times. I also did a supplement for the roleplaying game, Sword of the Empire, that was set during this period. But that's as far as it goes. I do come at the later period fresh, to a degree, without a whole lot of continuity already established that I would be looking at, trying to work in. That could be interesting.

[With] Knight Errant, there are certainly more stories to be told there too. It's just a matter of whenever it makes.

Another interesting Kenobi-related movie tidbit that recently surfaced was the rumor that Ewan McGregor is interested in a spinoff film. As a devoted student of Kenobi, do you have any thoughts on when an Obi-Wan spinoff film should take place and what events or conflicts it should cover?

I think it'd be really interesting. A lot of people have been saying, "Use the Kenobi novel!" I think it would be much different in a lot of ways. The formats are different. You can do a lot of things in the "mind space" of a novel, [whereas] on a bigger screen you would want to have a different tempo [and] different kinds of action pieces. I do think, however, that the basic elements would be there in both [books and movies] anyway because of the situation. He's going to be dealing with the same past that he's trying to live down. He's got the same limitations that are on him.

I really hope that we don't have a situation where the character gets to leave Tatooine frequently. If he leaves frequently, that makes the sacrifice of staying much less poignant 末 if he's able to get out of jail and go on vacation. While that's interesting and I can see some ways that it would be done ... I really think that his role, as he understands it, is to stay on this planet protecting this child and to stay in the shadows. Whatever would happen, he would have to remain in the shadows. He would certainly have to be very concerned with what's going on with Luke.

I think there's also an inclination to not have Tatooine be Grand Central Station, where there's a whole lot of characters coming to the planet. You run into the danger of the place turning into Gilligan's Island, where everybody comes to Obi-Wan but he can never leave. There's plenty of dangers on the planet already. It will be touched by the Empire; we know it is touched by the Empire at some point in the future. So you have those things out there.

Again, this is just me spit-balling about the possibilities that anybody writing the movie would face. It would certainly be a lot of fun to see and to be involved with, but I don't have any more information about what's going on than anybody else right now.

What are you working on right now?

I have a few things coming out. Just released is the Overdraft: The Orion Offensive, which people can find on Amazon. It's going to start showing up in regular bookstore chains pretty soon. It's a science-fiction novel that I did immediately after writing Kenobi. That thing was a blast. It's set in our universe in the twenty-second century. Aliens and armored mercenaries take on Wall Street. It's the first time I've done anything that's in my own sandbox as opposed to somebody else's [universe].

I've been trying out some other sandboxes for a change of pace. I've got a Conan story coming out in the anthology that Dark Horse does, Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword #6. It is the first time I've been teamed up with Philip Tan, the artist that worked on my Iron Man run almost ten years. I've seen the art on that and that's really wonderful. It's just solid fun to get to work on something like that.

And a really fun change of pace for me is [that] I have a Star Trek novella that I just finished. This is in the Star Trek: Titan series, which follows the adventures of Captain William Riker who gets the Starship Titan after the end of Star Trek: Nemesis. He's the commanding officer, and we also have Deanna Troi, his wife, on that ship. As his foil [and] sidekick in these stories, we have Tuvok, from the Star Trek: Voyager series. There's a real Kirk-Spock dynamic that we get from Riker, who is such a fun character, and Tuvok. He, again, is the guy to be right there with the exact Vulcan saying at the right time. I really enjoyed doing that. It's a novella. It's going to be an eBook release with Pocket Books. We don't have the actual date on that yet.

I'm open to doing more, but all of these things have to fit in with the schedule and where I think I'm going. I want to continue to do licensed fiction and Star Wars. I'm also just making sure that I remember to do something that's my own every so often.


Big thanks to John Jackson Miller for taking so much time to talk to me. Star Wars: Kenobi is on sale now, and in my opinion, it's a must-read.
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