Two weeks after the release of his first Star Wars novel, Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void, author Tim Lebbon took some time to answer questions from fans on Del Rey's Star Wars Books Facebook page. Lebbon discussed Into the Void, the Before the Republic era he helped pioneer, and his other work. Below is a transcript of fans' questions and Lebbon's responses.
Q: Please, please, please write more Lanoree Brock stories!
A: I'd love to! We'll see.
Q: Do you think you will write more Star Wars books in the future?
A: Difficult to see the future is.
Q: Is this a multi book contract?
A: Just this book for now, but I'd love to write more about Lanoree and her adventures.
Q: How does it feel to write Star Wars prehistory? Is it still science fiction, or more fantasy-like?
A: It's a great honour, very exciting. For me Star Wars has always been more fantasy than SF (it's not our future, it's another galaxy's past).
Q: Was it daunting when you were first offered the job?
A: A little daunting to begin with, but I soon got so engrossed in the story that I set that aside and wrote for myself (always the best way).
Q: In what ways was writing in this new era of the Star Wars universe challenging? Are there other eras or characters you'd love to write?
A: The era attracted me partly because it's relatively unplumbed, and also because of the difference in how the Force is used and perceived. Balance, rather than just light or dark. I like that in my characters -- shades of grey. And I also LOVE origin stories, and the whole DoTJ era is the ultimate!
Q (from yours truly): You've mentioned that Lanoree's name is an anagram of your daughter's name. Did you take any inspiration from her behavior, personality, conversation style, etc. as you wrote the flashback scenes?
A: Not really to be honest, I just used her name to create Lanoree (and my son Daniel is ... Dalien! He was most pleased to discover he was the 'bad' guy).
Q: Bravo by the way for the tenacity to write about an era we really no nothing about.
A: It was the task LucasBooks gave me, and it excited me a lot. A challenge, but I like that in my writing.
Q: Which would you rather take part in –– the battle on Hoth or the attack on the Death Star?
A: Oh, the Death Star battle, of course. I don't like the cold. And there's the whole ends-better-for-the-rebels thing, too.
Q: I also want to add a non-Star Wars comment: The island is one of my favorite novels ever!
A: Hey, thanks Will! It's writing dark fantasy like that that helped me write the SW novel.
Q: In the book you depict the actual training that Je'daii go through on Tython; how much creative freedom did you have with those sequences?
A: Quite a lot, actually. My editor was keen to see some of the training in the Je'daii Temples, and as I developed the story I found that it fed in VERY nicely to Lanoree and Dalien's background and what went wrong between them in the past. The temples themselves were already established by John and Jan, but the training they go through and a lots of the geographical details, etc, are all my own. That was a GREAT part of writing the novel ... and there are other Temples I didn't get to visit.
Q: I love the “dark EU” books. And I love the life philosophy that the books and movies express. Since starting to read them, my outlooks on life have changed immensely. Did you find the philosophical part challenging?
A: Perhaps challenging a little, but for me it's stuff like that that really makes a book, fleshes out the characters, gives them conflicts and challenges, and makes them three dimensional. Delving into the philosophies and beliefs gives a story like this soul.
Q: Are you doing any signings,?
A: I'm in the UK so doubtful for the USA. Although I am at a Star Wars weekend at the UK's National Space Centre in September.
Q: Did continuity with the rest of the Star Wars EU make you have to change any of your original ideas for the story?
A: Not hugely, mainly because this is set so far back in the EU timeline (20,000 years earlier than any other book, I believe). I had to liaise with John [Ostrander, DOTJ comic writer] and Jan [Duursema, DOTJ penciller] in great detail –– I couldn't, for instance, blow up a city they wanted to use in their later comic arcs -- but there was a lot of creative freedom. Actually I loved the interlinking of my novel with their comics .... hope the readers do too.
Q: Do you ever sell signed copies via your website perhaps? Would love a signed copy, great story and very cool cover art.
A: I have limited copies I'm afraid, but ALWAYS happy to sign a book if you send it & return postage. Contact me through my website and we'll sort something out (I usually throw in a surprise extra).
Q: Do you hope/plan on continuing with the timeline that you started in the EU novelization? Also, why did you choose to have a female Je'daii? Why not a male and if it had been a male would it have changed the story arc at all?
A: First question: I'd like to. Second: it seemed to suit the story well. I love writing strong female characters -- have always done so, esp in my fantasy novels. And I think if the brother/sister relationship had been the other way around it would have felt like a veyr different novel.
Q: Do you have any recommendations on where to start in reading some of your original work? Like specific novels or starting points?
A: For dark fantasy I'd recommend Fallen or Echo City, or horror Coldbrook, or short stories & novellas Nothing as it Seems. Hope you like what you find!
Q: A non-Star Wars question - any chance of a return to Noreela, or Echo City?
A: I'd like to -- I almost wrote a zombie novella set in Noreela (might still). Echo City, I fear, will remain a stand-alone novel.
I always loved Noreela, and plan to return one day.
Q: What was it like to take some of the ideas introduced in the Dawn of the Jedi world and developing them further? Did you use John as a reference?
A: Yeah, John, Jan and I talked a lot, but the meat of the story in the novel is all my own. I wanted to write something large scale (dare I say epic?) whilst steering clear of the main action of the comics. So it takes places at the same time as the Force Storm arc, but the story and action is (mostly) independent.
Q: I saw that issue #2 of the Dawn of the Jedi comics is in the center of your book. Is it there specifically to show the two story's timeline or just at random?
A: It's actually issue 2 of the second arc, not sure why specifically it was chosen...
Q: Are there any other eras or characters in the EU you are interested in writing?
A: Boba Fett, but I'm sure he's had his share of adventures. And I've always been interested in the EU's far future ... probably because of "..a long time ago...'
Q: Tim, how was writing in the Star Wars Expanded Universe different than other shared worlds you've written in?
A: I've written Hellboy novels and 30 Days of Night novels, and have just finished an Alien novel ... but Star Wars is such a MASSIVE universe, with so much established fact etc that in some ways the whole EU feels more like a real history, similar in some ways to Tolkien. So with that as the main difference, in many ways it helped -- the universe was there, the readers would already have a handle on the background -- and in some ways it made it more challenging, because although it's set so far in the past, I can't do anything that would affect the established history. Probably one of the most enjoyable writing experiences of my career, whether it be a tie-in novel or one of the 30-plus novels I've written of my own.
Q: I'm about half way thought the audiobook and I noticed that the language is a little harsher than I'm used to in Star Wars. Did you get the okay or is this the direction the franchise is going in (more "edgy")?
A: My editor agreed it was in context. I'm told it's darker, grittier than most SW books, that's the way I write I guess. Some grim, dark stuff goes on in the novel, and I think characters' reactions and language should be allowed to reflect this.