Author Tim Lebbon's first Star Wars novel, Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void, was released on May 7th. After reading the book, I had a lot of questions for Mr. Lebbon. Check out our interview below, but as always, beware of spoilers.
Let's start by helping our readers get to know you as a Star Wars fan. What do you remember of your first experience watching a Star Wars movie, and which movie is currently your favorite?
I saw Star Wars when I was eight years old when it was first released. It made a big impression on me then, and it remains my favourite to this day. Part of that is nostalgia, I guess, but I also think it (A New Hope) is as close to perfect as any film can get.
Were you approached by Del Rey to write the first novel in this new era, or did you pitch that idea to them?
I was approached by them. I'd worked with the editor at Lucas Books on another project (a Hellboy novel) when she worked at a different publisher, and when they were looking for a dark fantasy writer to tackle the Dawn of the Jedi era, I was thrilled when they thought of me. It's a great honour and a challenge, but I like challenges in my writing.
Because this was the first novel in the new "Before the Republic" publishing era, it laid the foundation for future prose set in that era. Did you feel a sense of pressure because your work would give cues to all future authors in this era? Did the special status of this book change how you approached writing it?
I did feel the pressure a little, but it never really affected me that much. I didn't want any pressure to get out of hand and interrupt what I was trying to do, which was to tell a good story. So though I was always aware of what I was doing and how much of an honour it was, my actual process of writing didn't change. And to be honest I get wrapped up in telling the story. I'm always aware that the audience is there, but when I'm deep in the writing zone, I'm really writing for myself.
One of the major themes in your book is the idea of exploring. For the Je'daii, the idea of leaving the system seems to be a taboo. Lanoree can't think of any reason to want to leave their home system when there's so much left to explore there. But in deviating from his society, Dal expresses a more imaginative fascination with the wider galaxy, and he's actually angry at being brought to Tython. Do you see this theme as a central conflict that the Je'daii have to face during this time?
I think so. It's this constrained existence that made the era so interesting for me. They're existing in this star system to which they were taken ten thousand years before my book takes place, and although everyone knows that their ancestors originated from out in the galaxy, they can't travel there. No FTL travel, no starships. They've sent sleeper ships out, but none have ever returned. That gave the background a whole different feel, and that's why I built my story around this whole idea of trying to reach the stars again. Are the Je'daii really as forward-thinking, and open-minded as they like to think? It's an interesting problem.
While Lanoree doesn't want to follow in her brothers footsteps, she admits to staring out at the stars on her ship like Dal did from Tython's surface. She also says that she likes adventure like Dal does, and at the end of the novel, she spends a lot of time sitting and staring at the Gree device that Dal was going to use. Do you think she had a change of heart regarding exploring beyond the Tython system?
I don't want to say too much that might be spoiler-ish. But Lanoree is a complex character, and I discovered that the more I wrote.
I have to ask you about the follow passage from Lanoree's dream toward the end of the book: "There is a figure. Tall, cloaked, armored, an unmarked helmet hiding its features. In its hand is a weapon the like of which she has never seen before. A sword, but strange, with pure Force as its blade." Can you say anything about your (or LucasBooks') intentions in including this passage in your book?
This is an image from the comics, one that many Je'daii all across Tython see at the same time. I won't say any more unless it spoils your reading of the comics. But it grounds the novel very much in the FORCE STORM arc, and that's something I wanted comic readers to enjoy.
Lanoree seemed to grow more comfortable with being around people. When she talked to a comatose Tre at the end of the book, she enjoyed "no longer talking to herself." What do you think is important about this change in Lanoree?
Any character has to change through the course of a story, I think, and this is also true of Lanoree. She does learn to trust and even like Tre, and that is very revealing of her character. She starts off a bit of a loner, but comes to value interaction with other people more than she did before.
After writing this book, do you find yourself wanting to write more in this era or move on to another time period in Star Wars?
I'd love to write a trilogy featuring Lanoree Brock through the Dawn of the Jedi era.
Thanks to Tim Lebbon for talk to me about his book Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void. The book is on sale now.