Padawan’s Journal #45: Writing Non-Human Characters or I Fell in Love with a Droid

I often get asked which character in a book was the hardest, easiest, or most fun to write. Some writers say they hate answering those questions. I enjoy them.

When it comes to the Star Wars novels that Michael Reaves and I collaborate on, I have definite answers to these questions.

I will tell you that my favorite character to write in our most recent novel Shadow Games was Dash Rendar’s Nautolan navigator, Eaden Vrill. I think Nautolans are awfully cool. Mostly, I think, because I share their love of water. (My mother had it that I was at least part seal.)

They also have singularly unexpressive faces—no eyebrows. Have you ever considered how important eyebrows are to facial expressions? You you when you start thinking about how someone without them shows polite disbelief, or wry humor.

Michael and I just finished The Last Jedi and I have a favorite character from that book as well. To be honest, he’s also my favorite character from the entire series. I’m speaking of Jax Pavan’s droid best friend, I-5YQ, or I-Five for short.

I-Five has featured in a number of Michael’s other novels, beginning with his introduction in Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, in which he is the companion of Jax’s dad, Lorn Pavan. He turns up again after a memory wipe in the Medstar books with Den Dhur, the Sullustan journalist, and finally, becomes attached to Lorn Pavan’s son, Jax.

Altogether, I-Five’s career spans more than two decades in which we learn all sorts of things about him. The first of those things being that he is no ordinary droid. Which is, I suppose, one of the reasons I’ve fallen quite in love with Five. He is the glue that holds things together. He is capable of the unheard-of feat of retrieving his memory after a mind-wipe. He seems to forget, at times, that he is a droid and responds with an acerbic wit that  it’s hard to chalk up to quirky programming.

And, of course, he has a Force signature.

Still, for all that, he’s a metal man with a metal face that can’t show expression. For this reason, his voice becomes very important. When I-Five speaks, as I think I’ve mentioned in a previous journal entry, I hear Rene Auberjonois’ marvelous voice. I can’t imagine anyone else’s voice, in fact. Partly, this is because Mr. Auberjonois (at right as the Star Trek DS9 character, Odo) does acerbic wit exceedingly well. and partly it’s because he’s one of my all time favorite voice actors. Which means that if George Lucas were to ever do another Star Wars movie and just happened to choose the Coruscant Nights series to do the screenplays from (Michael is also a fine screen writer and I’ve done a few screenplays myself.) I’d beg to have René Auberjonois to do the voice.

I-Five has a sterling sense of honor and integrity on top of being logical and fearless in the face of just about everything. But the thing that makes him so special to me is his loyalty—to Jax, to Den, to the Resistance that will one day evolve into a full fledged Rebellion. That and his indomitability. I-Five is the energizer bunny of droids, the Timex tin man who takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’.

He is unique and, in each book in which he appears, that uniqueness is refined upon just a bit. The Last Jedi is, for I-5YQ a tour de force (and no, I didn’t catch the pun until I got to it).  And I have to admit, for reasons I think you’ll understand when you read the book, he was especially fun to write in this Jax Pavan adventure.

I don’t want to stop writing about this droid. I feel as if his story is still unfinished. And besides, I love him.



Padawan’s Journal #45: Writing Non-Human Characters or I Fell in Love with a Droid — 2 Comments

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