Here is a recap of some of the qestions and answers from today’s Facebook chat with Star Wars author John Jackson Miller
John Jackson Miller Hi, folks — glad to be here. Big month and a big day… LOST TRIBE OF THE SITH – THE COLLECTED STORIES is out, and today has the first issue of LOST TRIBE OF THE SITH – SPIRAL from Dark Horse Comics, as well as KNIGHT ERRANT – ESCAPE #3.
Zenzi Mulder How do you like writing for the SW EU? Is it difficult to keep in canon?
John Jackson Miller It’s easy to keep in canon when you’re working with a team like we’ve got at Dark Horse, Del Rey, and Lucasfilm — they help keep everything straight.
Christopher Godin With Knight Errant ending as a comic series, any chance of it continuing in novel format?
John Jackson Miller About Knight Errant Yes, it’s true that I didn’t formally propose a fourth Kerra Holt comics series for 2013. Dark Horse is changing its lineup some for the year — and I’ve had some other things percolating, about which more here: http://blog.farawaypress.com/2012/08/the-summer-of-george-and-some-novel-news.html But let me say — without giving anything away — that I’m thrilled with how Knight Errant – Escape ends — it’s our best story ever, and I like how it leaves things. And as for the future, well, KOTOR #50 wasn’t the last we saw of Zayne Carrick, nor Return of the Jedi the last of Luke, Leia, and Han. Always in motion is the future — and full of possibilities, too.
Miriam Clarke Phillips Who is your favorite character to write for? Anyone you haven’t yet written for?
John Jackson Miller In KOTOR, Gryph is really my favorite character to write for — he’s a blast. In Knight Errant, the insane Sith Lords are always fun, especially Daiman, who is comically twisted. And in Lost Tribe of the Sith, I’ve really enjoyed writing Varner Hilts — who we see again in the comics. Actually, today’s comic book includes his Secret Testament, referred to in the prose book.
Leighton Smith what is your favorite thing about the sith, and do you think they’re misunderstood?
John Jackson Miller I think the thing we often miss is that they have a believe system that is still evolving, and so there’s the same kind of disagreement you see with the Jedi Council… times a thousand. That’s a fun thing about both Lost Tribe and Knight Errant — it highlights those disagreements.
And in fact the Lost Tribe of the Sith – Spiral comics take us into a serious conflict over what it means to be Sith. Someone thinks the Tribe isn’t truly Sith, and is willing to do something about it!
Aaron Church how do you draw your inspiration when writing in the star wars universe?
John Jackson Miller I draw inspiration from a lot of things. My office is full of Star Wars books and references, yes, but also history books of all kinds. I enjoy bringing some new twists to things.
Eric Harzer If you could choose one time period in the Star Wars timeline to write in (and you can’t choose any periods you’ve already written in) which would it be?
John Jackson Miller If I could choose one time period in the Star Wars timeline to write in…? I’ve really had fun with whatever’s been put in front of me — there are story opportunities everywhere. Certainly, though, the original characters would be fun — my only original trilogy story was my very first one.
Timothy Neal What was your reaction when you got permission to dabble in the Star Wars Universe?
John Jackson Miller Absolutely, it was a lot of fun getting invited to play in the sandbox — my first grown-up comic book was Star Wars #1, years ago. Actually, that EMPIRE link a bit above talks about my getting the job — and then other notes pages talk about the development of KOTOR, etc.
Brandon Borzelli Any plans to branch out KOTOR for something that focuses on Jarael or Gryph or some of the others?
John Jackson Miller Those sound like great ideas that I’d love to do. I’m always talking with the licensees, so like I always say, “always in motion is the future.” I think the new angle is simply that, as the above link says, I’m also splitting time with my own projects a lot more this year. (But if you dig my Star Wars work, I think you’ll like those, too.)
Ryan Bloch do you know when lost tribe of the sith paperback is going to come out? i was hooked after book 1
John Jackson Miller The Lost Tribe of the Sith book is already out now in the US and UK. There was some confusion over the listings on a couple of sites, because it was changed from a paperback to a bigger trade paperback. There is no mass market paperback version in the U.S. and UK as far as I know.
Christopher Carroll Was the Lost Tribe of the Sith your personal original idea that was integrated into the Fate of the Jedi series? Or- was it someone else’s idea that you were assigned to create?
John Jackson Miller Good question. The Lost Tribe of the Sith was created by Aaron Allston, Christie Golden, and Troy Denning for the Fate of the Jedi novels. They created a working document on what the Tribe was like and how they got there. I was asked to use that as a basis and fill in the 5000+ years in between. There are more details on how that got started here — and more notes on later chapters, too: http://www.farawaypress.com/fiction/ebooks/sw-losttribeofthesith1.html
By the way, I’ll be using some of the questions here to flesh out the final production notes page for the book, which I will compile soon.
Alexander Ward Whats you opinion on how Lucas in the past twenty years has managed the series, and do you think he actually cares about the creditability of a series that allows authors to create cannon fiction but can easily claim any Lucas Arts material no matter how ridiculous to the series to be cannon and override the material presented by said authors?
John Jackson Miller George Lucas created Star Wars, and it is absolutely in every way his to do whatever he wants with. I’m pleased to be able to work in his playground. Yes, there are a lot of moving parts to the universe, but when you compare it to some of the franchises out there, I think it works really well. Remember, for most of the history of publishing, novels and comics based on TV shows and movies had no status whatsoever in the larger scheme of things. They were just one more licensed product, interchangeable with T-shirts. Here, we’re getting to add on, and I thank Mr. Lucas and his team for that.
James Floyd Varnor Hilts really is a different type of grand lord – who did you channel into his character?
John Jackson Miller Varner Hilts really is the third Grumpy Old Man, beside Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. I really wanted to show a character in the Tribe’s system who was seemingly past any hope of taking control of the place; someone marginalized. And it is partially because he was out of the scheming for so long that he actually learned something useful.
Maciej Kotowski Is there any plans to conitnue KotOR series? It would be great to see a novel since it’s Your only Star Wars comic that has no book tie-in
John Jackson Miller Again, sure, KOTOR prose would be spectacularly fun. As I saw, I’m talking with folks all the time. And actually, there was a KOTOR short story once upon a time, back in the Hyperspace days — http://www.farawaypress.com/fiction/shortstories/sw-laborpains.html — hoping we can get that out again one day.
Graham Englefield Do you feel that the different periods of star wars are starting to mimic each other too much? Ie the visual and thematic similarities in TOR?
John Jackson Miller I’ve written about the similar looks to the universe across time before. My explanation was always that technology had more or less reached a functional level millennia before, and there wasn’t really anywhere to go beyond cosmetic changes and ever-crazier superweapons. If you think about it, cars look about like they did 100 years ago, more or less. You’d think that maybe starships would be the same way.
Clint Bloom Will you be working on the era between Eppisode 3 and 4?
John Jackson Miller I did have one “Dark Times” story in a hard-to-find place — I wrote the Dawn of Defiance RPG module, “Sword of the Empire” http://www.farawaypress.com/games/swrpgdod9.html –another one of those online things that is no longer available. It would be fun to work in that intermovie period again, to be sure.
Chelsee Sheppard Can we expect to you work on anything in the era between Current EU 44aby. And the Legacy Era 127aby+ ??
John Jackson Miller Yeah, it’s funny, almost everything I have done has been in the past — no Legacy era material at all. Nothing against it, just the opportunity never came up. I’d be open to it, though. As I’ve said before, it’s all Star Wars, whenever it’s set.
Roqoo Depot When you wrote Pandemonium, did you know the Lost Tribe stories would be continuing with the Dark Horse Comic mini-series Spiral?
John Jackson Miller No, in fact, the Lost Tribe of the Sith – Spiral series came together after I had already turned Pandemonium in. So while Knight Errant – Aflame and the Knight Errant novel were written at the same time, this time, the comics came afterward. That said, when I re-edited the stories for the collected edition, I did make references to some things in the comics, because I had written some of them by then. So I look psychic!
Brian Klueter Can you say anything about any future project that youre working on? And what are some non star wars comics that youve worked on?
John Jackson Miller Well, as that link at top describes, I’m working on my own novel — as well as a few other personal projects — but there are a number of things on the licensed side, as well. I can’t announce a lot yet — though, for example, I have several Simpsons comics stories coming up — first one is in BART SIMPSON #76, which is in orderbooks now.
And as to the other comics I’ve worked on — well, there’s quite a list at this point, including Iron Man, Crimson Dynamo, Indiana Jones, and Mass Effect. Here’s my page for the series. (I have a handful of some of the early stuff that hasn’t been reprinted on hand, but otherwise you’re in eBay land!)
Dave Assinder Are there any stories with Cade Skywalker or Zayne Carrick which you wanted to tell but never got the chance? Would you ever consider doing a major crossover event like 2008’s Vector?
John Jackson Miller Definitely, Vector was really something — it took a long time to engineer, well over a year I think. It’s tough to pull off crossovers like that when you really can’t have time travel. I’d be up to the challenge, but with something that big, it really is something that has to start at the publishers.
Tiffany Roach also my husband and I would love to write a star wars book, how would one go about getting Mr. Lucus’s permission?
John Jackson Miller Like a lot of licensed fiction, Star Wars is pretty much by invitation. Most people get in by writing elsewhere first, thus showing that they know the tools of the trade. I had just done Iron Man when I approached Dark Horse about Star Wars. So I would really recommend getting published elsewhere first — that really helps.
Eric Harzer was it daunting writing for an entire civilization that spanned several thousand years? Did you at all think about how the culture had progressed technologically and socially as you jumped forward further and further in the timeline?
John Jackson Miller No, my model really was the FOUNDATION TRILOGY by Asimov, who had stories that leapt ahead many years at a time. In my case, I needed to get the characters from what the Sith looked like during Tales of the Jedi to what they looked like in Fate of the Jedi — and there was a big difference there, so we got some story fodder from it.
Vasili Volkoff Could we see your work in the form of short stories in issues of Star Wars Insider? We want more, Mr. Miller! LOL…
John Jackson Miller just let Del Rey and Insider know you’d like to see short fiction. I’d be happy to write some. In actuality, that first KOTOR short story was something I’d intended for Insider, many years ago, but Hyperspace ended up being the place it appeared.
John Ryan Decker I’d love to see you write in the Legacy era! So many other stories to be told in that setting
John Jackson Miller Yeah, like I say, if the right story and opportunity came along, I’m up for anything. I find things of interest in all the eras. Again, I’m increasingly developing some of my own things, but I’m thrilled to play in some other sandboxes as long as people let me.
Kenny Kraly Jr Have you ever thought about telling story’s from the clone wars era , prequel era or original trilogy era or all of them? And what is your favorite of all 6 films?
John Jackson Miller I’ve had some notions for the Clone Wars era… I think there are some interesting angles to explore. But I grew up with the original movies, and those are probably my favorite. And EMPIRE is the favorite of those.
Just a quick note before I forget: I will be at Star Wars Celebration all four days. Thursday we have a Star Wars Upcoming Comics panel; Friday at 7 we have a Writer’s Roundtable, with me, Randy Stradley, David Marshall, Jan Duursema, and Brian Wood (from the new series). And I will be doing signings both for Dark Horse and Del Rey. Hope to see you there.
Lorenzo Martinico What in the galaxy are Ralltiiri glowmites and why are they less suicidial than the members of Odion’s death cult?
John Jackson Miller Haha! Yes, Raaltiri glowmites. I needed the Star Wars equivalent of lemmings. I figured the glowmites would throw themselves against power supplies and kill themselves.
John Ryan Decker Speaking of Vector, any comment on Celeste Morne’s implication that the Skywalker family are direct descendants of Zayne?
John Jackson Miller yeahhhh, I don’t think the connections between Zayne (who’s childless so far as we know ) and the Skywalkers are something worth speculating on. I mean, figure we’re talking more than a hundred generations here, and it’s a big galaxy, to boot. The better question is this — does Threepio include any circuits used in Elbee?
– Aaron Goins