To the left of this text is an icon. His name, for any of you who missed the last half-century, is Han Solo.
George Lucas, of course, was the first person to write about Han. With the able aid of an engaging unknown actor named Harrison Ford, George turned Han into an iconic character—recognizable on sight to millions of people around the world (and possibly to any aliens watching our airwaves 🙂 (Heh.)
Ever wonder what it might feel like to be Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, or Carrie Fisher—unable to walk past a book stand in market, drugstore, airport or bookstore without seeing a fictionalized version of your youthful self staring at you from myriad covers?
While being an icon is probably daunting, writing about one can be equally intimidating. Ann Crispin, of course, was the first to write about Han Solo in depth, and she talks about her mixed feelings of appreciation and apprehension at being asked to undertake giving Han Solo a life.
Well, okay, so Dash Rendar isn’t Han Solo, but—hey, he’s an icon too! See, there he is on that playing card. And it is a bit daunting to consider “fleshing him out” as they say. The challenge is to give you, dear reader, a Dash who is familiar and meets your expectations in significant ways, while revealing new and interesting things about him that amaze you, engage you, even surprise you.
This is no easy task. When I read the wide array of comments about the Coruscant Nights trilogy, I see that fans have completely different takes on different iconic characters. Take Darth Vader, for example. Michael Reaves drew exuberant praise and snarled criticism for the way he (and in the case of Patterns of Force, his anonymous padawan) handled Vader. The reason for this is simple: Fans and writers alike have their own idea of who Darth Vader is and what motivates him. The Darth Vader of the first three films was mysterious, aloof. He had no real history and we knew nothing about the human being, Anakin Skywalker, until the third film. Now, though, we have three more films that have allowed us to watch the genesis of the character from the boy, Anakin, to the warped man, Vader.
There’s a flashback in Patterns of Force in which Anakin gives Jax Pavan a pyronium crystal. Having written that scene, I was hyper-aware, when I wrote Darth Vader’s scenes throughout the book, who was inside that suit. Not the carefully controlled Darth Vader of the first trilogy, as portrayed by James Earl Jones and Sebastian Shaw, but the angry, vengeful Anakin Skywalker of the final film—a powerful being driven by a strong impulse to smash what he cannot have and punish those he once called friends. I had to remember, as I wrote, that the man in the black life support suit was, like Michael’s hero, only about twenty-five or twenty-six years old and, though powerful, was not yet a master of his hatred and loss.
That sort of illustrates the hydra-headed challenge of writing these characters. The writer may face having an overwhelming amount of information (as in the case of Han Solo or Darth Vader). In that case, they must step carefully around the pitfalls of violating the reader’s cherished ideas about the character, while adding content to that character that other writers will draw on, in their turn.
In the case of Dash Rendar, we face a dearth of information. Sure, we have a sketch of Dash’s life and basics about his family, but who is Dash Rendar?
That’s for Michael and I to figure out. And, as always, the fans of the genre will let us know how well we did our job.
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