Del Rey editor Shelly Shapiro chatted with fans this afternoon on the Star Wars Books Facebook page. With more than 108 comments, you can’t say it wasn’t popular! Read on for a few high points, including Fate of the Jedi, book formats, typos, continuity, smugglers and more!
On the new edition of Heir to the Empire. We’ve been wondering if the 20th anniversary edition of Heir to the Empire would lead to Dark Force Rising and The Last Command getting a similar treatment. Shapiro said she’d like to do them, but Del Rey will “let the market guide us on that decision.” So if you want annotations for the rest of the Thrawn trilogy, buy Heir in September!
On the upcoming Wraith Squadron novel. Perhaps the biggest tidbit Shapiro dropped us was the time period of Aaron Allston’s 2012 novel. It “takes place around the end” of Fate of the Jedi! Future Rogue or Wraith novels are “Absolutely possible.”
Fate of the Jedi and beyond. “There are definitely plans for post-FotJ stories,” and a lot of ideas in play across the line. They’re scheduling things through at least 2014, so there are still plenty of balls in the air.
As you might expect, she doesn’t go into a whole lot of specifics, but does say a bit about Ben and Allana: “I hope to address Ben’s future in the Jedi Order at some time–I like Ben, and I think he has amazing potential as a really cool adult characters. And then, of course, there’s his cousin Allana, whom I can’t wait to help develop further.”
No major characters will die in Fate of the Jedi, she says. “Believe it or not, we don’t kill major characters lightly, and we don’t enjoy inflicting grief on our surviving characters.”
There are “no current plans to even touch” the death of Luke Skywalker. And of course George Lucas has “the final say as to when and how.” She goes on the explain their thoughts on aging, and how GFFA characters don’t live that much longer than we do. “What has changed is that they age better, and remain vital much longer than most of us do on 21st-century.”
Retirement seems a more likely option. “When, and if, we eventually put an end to Luke, Han, and Leia’s active careers, that’d probably feel like a major ending point, at least to one part of the saga.”
On future projects… A smuggler novel is something many of us got excited about (I wonder why) and Shapiro’s answer did not disappoint: “I like them, so yes, I think we’ll consider smuggler-type adventures in the future.” Cross your fingers!
As for books that are actually on the schedule, the novels by Alex Irvine and Jeff Grubb will both be standalones. “We are talking about sticking to standalones, duologies, and trilogies for a bit in the near future.”
On typos and other errors. “I can tell you that these books go through a lot of iterations, and are read and reread by numerous people, but that sometimes, even with all that, errors slip through the cracks. Rest assured that every error we do catch gets corrected, but if we catch it too late… We’re also on a very tight production schedule, which can introduce errors, as well. We do our best to not let these things happen, and I, for one, hate when I find out that a major error has made it through into a finished book.”
As someone who deals with a lot of text and a lot of deadlines, I really have to sympathize with Shapiro here. No one wants errors, but these things do happen, no matter how many folks have looked through it.
On continuity. The dreaded c-word is “one of the biggest challenges for us.” She goes on to say, “Some things, though, just have to remain as they are. I prefer that to going back and revising already published novels to reflect recent changes.” Her example is the completely unrevised Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. “it just lives as an entity of its own, and that’s how it should be. IMHO.” I completely agree!
On collaborating with Dark Horse. Shapiro is excited about working with Dark Horse further, the way they did for Knight Errant. She says of that experience, “…Each of us develops part of a greater whole and we work together to make that greater whole something really rich and exciting.”
On formats. Del Rey will stick to hardcovers, paperbacks, and ebooks, Shapiro said. Their “one foray into trade paperback for novels [the 5-book Clone Wars series from Traviss and Miller] wasn’t terribly successful.” Though I have to wonder if that had less to do with the format, and more to do with the content: Perhaps there’s just not a whole lot of crossover between Clone Wars fans and novel readers? Whatever the case, we won’t be seeing Star Wars novels in the trade paperback size “unless we see a major change in the marketplace.”
On choosing authors. “I get approached by a lot of authors who want to write Star Wars. I read samples of their published work, and when I find someone I feel will be able to live up to our SW expectations, I pass those samples on to Lucasfilm for approval. ”
On being an editor. “My role as editor is much more complicated in the Star Wars universe. When I work with an author on a non-tie-in novel, the entire job is between the author and me, and the author has a lot more leeway in terms of what happens on the pages. Those novels don’t have to have approved outlines, for example: I’ll just make suggestions to the author as to how I feel he or she can improve the story and/or characters. With Star Wars, every aspect has to be approved by the licensor — LFL. So part of my job is to help the author make the work the best novel they can write, and part is as liaison between the author and LFL. Sue and I do very similar work, though it’s more her job to make sure the story and characters conform to SW continuity and LFL expectations, while it’s more mine to make sure the writing flows well, the story evolves smoothly, etc.”
The meaning and message of Star Wars. “I think it’s that events–no matter how small or large in scale–revolve ultimately around human beings (including sapient aliens, of course!) and their feelings and their relationships with one anther. Also, that no matter how strong the lure of evil, which we are all susceptible to, there is always the possibility of redemption. Which probably makes me a Jedi. Though my colleagues at RH probably would say I’m naturally more of a Sith!”
I thought this was a pretty good chat – though there were several fans could certainly learn a lesson or two in courtesy (and grammar,) it didn’t go off all that badly. Your thoughts?