Del Rey Panel, TFA Novelization, Sampler Thoughts (SWCA 2015)

The Del Rey Panel

Del Rey, the wonderful folks who have been making Star Wars adult fiction novels for quite a number of years now, held a panel talking about the present and future of their works, including tidbits on the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” initiative and the surprise TFA novelization author. They also handed out a Sampler to attendees with excerpts from a few current and upcoming works and my thoughts on that content and the panel are below.

Del Rey PanelistsOn the panel where Shelly Shapiro, Jen Heddle, John Jackson Miller, James Luceno, Christie Golden, and later joined by Alan Dean Foster in a surprise guest appearance. They started out covering each of the currently released novels, as John Jackson Miller talked about the genesis of A New Dawn (something I heard at the novel launch party), the Star Wars Rebels tie-in novel, but he did reveal his favorite character to write was Rae Sloane, a female Imperial officer who is basically a new breed since she’s growing up in an a galaxy dominated by the Empire instead of the Republic. Jen Heddle talked about how JJM had no animation from Rebels to go off of and that even Vanessa Marshall, who plays Hera Syndulla on the show, used his writing to help her voice the character.

James Luceno got to talk briefly about his Tarkin novel, saying he felt like Tarkin was, “…a true dark-sider without the Force,” and was very happy to write about this backstory. He also shared that it was purely from his imagination that he dreamed up how conversations Tarkin had with Vader, Palpatine, and Dooku would go. Shelly then touched on Heir to the Jedi, but the less spent on that the better. And without Paul S. Kemp there, they brought up the concept behind his soon to be released Lords of the Sith (UPDATED: here’s the review!), which was basically them wanting to see Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine kick major ass (which they do).

Rise of the EmpireThings switched to the more distant upcoming novels like Dark Disciple and Aftermath. For Dark Disciple, Jen Heddle was in on a long talk with Dave Filoni who went off on a tangent about the unproduced series of episodes staring Asajj Ventress and Quinlan Vos and how character driven they were, which Heddle snatched up the idea pronto. Chrisite went on to talk about the character focus as well. Regarding Aftermath, they didn’t go into much detail, but they reiterated how the JTTFA series of works (6-7 are actually novels out of the 20 or so announced) will hold important clues and hints about the upcoming film, but they won’t be explaining or detailing what exactly the hints are, as they are up to us to figure out. Also, everything in the JTTFA initiative releases on the same day, September 4 (it’s going to be crazy for reviewers and readers alike!). The Rise of the Empire novel combines Tarkin and A New Dawn together into one big paperback and is out October 6. It’ll included 3 new short stories, where 2 of them link the novels together while 1 of them ties into Aftermath.

The Force Awakens NovelizationIn another of the (attempts to be) funny jokes they played in several panels, the Q&A session started with a gentleman asking if he could write TFA’s novelization and they basically gave the guy a job on the spot…until we all realized he was actually Alan Dean Foster. In a nice bit of symmetry, the ghostwriter of the original novelization is back to write the new one for the start of the next era of SW (and he also wrote Splinter of the Mind’s Eye and The Approaching Storm). Of course someone had to ask him how it ended, which he replied with, “A big The End flashes across the screen,” but he did at least say the word that comes to his mind regarding TFA is, “Fun.” He also regaled us with stories of his visits to them shooting A New Hope with all the miniature sets to put together the special effects sequences. TFA novelization will release as an eBook first on December 18 and as a hardcover sometime in January, with no Advance Reader Copies scheduled (it’d be the only one I’d say no to).

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Out at Del Rey’s booth on the exhibit floor, they gave out 2015 Samplers, which included excerpts from AND, Tarkin, HttJ, Dark Disciple (here are my thoughts on that excerpt), LotS, Battlefront: Twilight Company, but disappointingly no Aftermath. Having read all the previous novels, and already read DD‘s excerpt, the Twilight Company one was the only one of interest to me. It’s supposed to give a good taste of what it’s like to be a solider on the ground and a very contained story. From the excerpt, I can agree on all points: Alexander Freed, it’s author, has a great knack for writing action sequences, as never once in the excerpt did I feel confused about what was happening. On top of that, the descriptions of the location the characters are in was easy to visualize in my mind and the characters were easy to get a grasp of right away. However, this is meant to be a little contained story and it already reads as something I’d likely enjoy, but probably never read again after finishing it. It releases November 3.

Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth. You can follow the website @MynockManor.

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Lords of the Sith
Dark Disciple
A New Dawn
Heir to the Jedi