This afternoon, author Timothy Zahn discussed his work and the current state of Star Wars in a Q&A on Del Rey's Star Wars Books Facebook page, fielding fans' questions about his EU novels, Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm, and much more. Some of the questions concerned his latest book, Star Wars: Scoundrels, the release of which was the primary occasion for this Facebook chat.
Below is a transcript of readers' questions and Zahn's responses. For clarity purposes, questions and answers have been edited for spelling.
Q: I loved the scene in Scoundrels where Han "shot first." A: Thanks. That was basically how I would have rewritten the Greedo scene to let Greedo shoot first, even while Han was in control of the situation.
Q: Youíve got to wonder why Leia's adopted mother has been hardly mentioned in the EU while it's been established quite early she was still alive when Alderaan was destroyed. I wanted to ask you whether this memory flashback of Winter was intended as something particularly meaningful for her; I mean, according to *you*, was the Queen present in Winterís upbringing or was she more of a stranger? A: I've always thought that Breha had a fair amount to do with Leia's (and Winter's) upbringing, though that may not be canon anymore. Regardless, I assume that the girls would at least have some fond memories of her, which would of course hit Winter particularly hard.
Q: What made you decide to use characters like Kell and Winter? Was it fun writing them? A: The cast list in Scoundrels was designed to be a book that Star Wars fans who weren't EU readers could pick up without being lost. Winter and Kell are there because I *did* want to give some links to the EU folks, but since these are (chronologically) their first appearances, the newcomers wouldn't be lost.
Q: What would your thoughts be about turning some of your Star Wars books into movies? Not just the Heir to the Empire trilogy, but other books as well? A: Yes, I'd love to see some of my stuff adapted to movies or TV.
Q: With Disney set to do the new Star Wars movies, do you think they will use some of your material from the post-Empire era as inspiration? A: No, I have no idea how the Disney/LFL thing will work out, but I'm expecting good things.
Q: I hope you write more books! A: I would love to write more SW books, whether about Thrawn, Mara, Winter, Bink/Tavia, or the Big Three. At this point, though, I don't know what Disney has planned for the EU, and we'll all just have to wait and see.
Q: I was curious what you think about the new Star Wars movies, and if you know how or if it will interfere with the Expanded Universe novels. A: Whether the new movies will ignore the EU, adapt the EU, or completely bulldoze the EU is also something we'll have to wait to see. If there are to be more books, and if LFL/Del Rey/Disney decide to let me write some of them, I have a trilogy project to pitch where the third book would also be the third book of the Hand of Judgment series (Allegiance and Choices of One). Again, I don't know if that will happen.
Q: Who is your favorite character to write? A: Favorite characters to write: Whichever one I'm working on at the moment. Seriously, though, I do try to get into the skin of whoever my point-of-view character is at that moment; to understand how they think/act, and to see the universe through their eyes. That being said, I have to say that Thrawn and Mara are two of the most rewarding/difficult characters to deal with.
Q: What is your favorite Star Wars film? A: Favorite SW movie: TESB. I haven't seen enough Clone Wars to have an opinion. (Our cable tier doesn't carry that channel.) I've only read a couple of the other EU books -- I just don't have the time anymore to read like I used to.
Q: You said the Oceanís 11 movies inspired your new book. However, did you seek inspiration from the remakes or the classics? A: I've seen both the original and the remake of Ocean's Eleven, and I prefer the second. (More complex plot, and I think the characters are a bit more engaging.)
Q: What Star Wars time period that you havenít yet explored would you like to write in? A: At the moment I like writing in the Episode 4/5 gap, partly because the characters are so much fun in that era and partly because the territory hasn't been as well explored. However, I understand there are several books now scheduled in that time, so it may start getting crowded. As to other eras, the Old Republic era has a lot of good writers who are working there, and I'm not sure whether Del Rey is planning to go beyond Legacy of the Force right now. If the Episode 3/4 gap is ever opened up (LFL so far has kept that off-limits) there are a bunch of stories I could tell there.
Q: Any chance you can retcon the Star Wars Holiday Special to make it worthy of the Star Wars name? A: No, I am *not* going to retcon the Holiday Special.
Q: Are you afraid that the Disney sequels might ignore the wonderful EU that all started with your Thrawn Trilogy? A: Actually, I think Disney will do right by LFL. Their record with Pixar and Marvel indicates they know how to step back and let the people who know what they're doing just do it. With Kathleen Kennedy now helming LFL, and with all the wonderfully talented people already in place there, I'm expecting good things to come. Of course, if Disney decided they wanted a couple of TV shows, and just *happened* to think of Mara Jade or the Hand of Judgment, I would certainly not stand in their way.
Q: If Disney/LFL asked you to write a Fel or Chiss novel, would you do it? A: A Fel or Chiss novel would be fun. As a matter of fact, the trilogy I mentioned above (which I'll pitch if I'm invited to do another book) would have one book heavily involving Thrawn and the Chiss. (The middle book, btw, would feature Mara being sent to stop an assassination...against Vader. Imagine the fun they would *both* have with *that* assignment.) The proposed series title is The Maestro Trilogy, if anyone wants to star nagging Del Rey. (No, seriously, *don't* nag. Just ask politely...)
Q: How would you feel about an animated version of the Thrawn book series? A: An animated Thrawn Trilogy would be wonderful, and I think many of my other books and series would lend themselves well to the big or little screens. Hopefully, someday Hollywood will run out of sequels and remakes and start looking at the great books, comics, and graphic novels out there.
Q: Is there any chance of anniversary publications for the two remaining Thrawn Trilogy books? A: At the moment there are no plans for 20th anniversary editions of Dark Force Rising or The Last Command. But that could always change.
Q: What did you study in school? Writing? A: My education background is actually physics, with some astronomy thrown in. I never took a formal writing class -- fortunately, writing is something you can learn to do on your own.
Q: If you were to recommend one of your own books/series to Star Wars fans who want to check out your other work, which one would it be and why? A: Non-SW recommendations: for standalone mystery/thriller you might try The Icarus Hunt. For film noir in space, the Quadrail Series (first book: Night Train to Rigel). For YA adventure, the Dragonback books (first book: Dragon and Thief). For military adventure, the Cobra Series (six books so far, with a third trilogy in the works). And for any David Weber/Honor Harrington fans out there, my next project (besides the new Cobras) is a trilogy collaboration with David set in the early days of the Manticore system, about 400 years before Honor. That one's turning into a lot of fun.
Q: Will any of your characters show up in the sequels? A: Again, no idea what's being planned, but I would naturally love to see something I've done up there on the Big Screen.
Q: How long does it take you to write a novel? A: I can write a book in about four months, occasionally three, which works out to three a year.