Back in 2-13, Del Rey / LucasBooks released THE LAST JEDI, co-authored by yours truly and the late (and much-missed) Michael Reaves. Concurrently with this, Star Wars fan site Roqoo Depot posted an interview with me and a review of the novel.
Ahem. Says the reviewer, “ I have to say that The Last Jedi was a damn fine novel.” I shall, I have decided, enjoy those words even if another reviewer or reader or disgruntled fan says, “Meh.”
The Roqoo Depot review also notes that “…it’s been awhile since I’ve seen a writer do Vader dialog this impressive.” I shall also allow myself to enjoy those words even when one of the above says, “Naw, you got Vader all wrong!” (This actually happened, by the way.)
Do I still get excited when a book releases? You bet.
Do I live and die by reviews? Nah. But it’s hard not to care … just a bit. After all, Michael and I created these characters and we’ve lived with them through a series of books. Even before I started writing about Jax Pavan, I had the privilege of seeing Michael’s draft manuscripts as a beta reader.
As the interview and review note, this is a dark book in some ways. We put Jax Pavan through hell. (I have read all the Harry Dresden novels, so I know from hell.) Which meant that we had to go through hell with him. So, yeah, when you’ve marched your beloved characters into the valley of the shadow of the Dark Lord, you really want readers to make the journey with them and to love/hate every agonizing moment of it.
In some ways, I think, I prefer having a fan emphatically disagree with the way I’ve painted a character than to not care. That’s because I care. So, the last time the subject of how Michael and I see Darth Vader at this point in his checkered career came up, I was actually delighted to converse with a fan who was emphatically NOT in love with out depiction.
Yeah, yeah, I know—writers who do media tie-ins are not supposed to get attached to the characters, yada, yada. Really? How’s that possible, when even those of us who have just watched and read about those characters are attached to them?
So, I admit it, I love Jax Pavan, and the droid, I-Five. And I want that love to show in what I write. I know Michael would agree. I also love to write, period. So sue me.
A little while ago a group of writers were discussing passion and its role in fiction. I recalled a quote from a painter named Albert Pinkham Ryder who mostly did sea and landscapes. He said: “For what avails a storm cloud, accurate in form and color, if the storm is not therein?”
I think of that whenever I write an emotional passage. I thought of it often during the drafting of THE LAST JEDI. I felt the storm during quite a few passages and I hope that readers will recognize them and think “Storm Here!”
I’ll tell you a secret: My favorite part of the whole book are the scenes that take place on Dathomir—especially the scene on the Infinity Plain that’s hinted at on the cover.
I’ll tell you another secret: There are a couple of sideways Tuckerizations in the book as well. I have a friend who said he didn’t mind dying horribly … in fiction. Does he die in THE LAST JEDI? I’m not sayin’.