Ultimate Star Wars is one big book! It encompasses the entire Star Wars film saga, The Clone Wars, and Star Wars Rebels all in one volume. It was a daunting task indeed to tackle such an all-encompassing Star Wars encyclopedia.
Writing so much material on a tight schedule — no matter what the subject matter — all comes down to pacing and perseverance. It means diving in to the book each morning, even when you have the flu or feel more than a little sleepy. You get your words down first — inspiration comes along the journey.
The majority of my time was actually spent in research. This means weeks of weeding through piles of books, comics, maps, and diagrams, endless Internet searches, jumping through scenes on DVDs and Blu-rays, recalling gems from podcasts and cast and crew interviews, and keeping John Williams on at all other times for some extra motivation.
My contributions to the book included sections about Star Wars Rebels, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and a little foray into Return of the Jedi. The sections on Rebels were a welcome return to my favorite new subject matter, after writing Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide. Ultimate Star Wars builds on that book and was expanded to cover material from the entire first season of Rebels.
Ultimate Star Wars is quite thorough. I believe it is the first sizable reference book to be written since Lucasfilm designated the former “Expanded Universe” as “Legends.” For my part, I wrote about a lot of characters and gadgets that appear very briefly on screen, which was challenging at times and calls for details you might not see on screen. Readers of Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide know that it incorporated references from “Legends” comic books, novels, and even the Droids animated TV series from the ’80s. Readers of Ultimate Star Wars will be similarly rewarded with occasional little “Legends” nuggets, now woven seamlessly into contemporary Star Wars canon.
My favorite features in Ultimate Star Wars are the “Key Events” spreads sprinkled throughout the book. These pages offer a chance to dig a little deeper into George Lucas’ recurring themes and explain the significance of pivotal events (such as the factors in Anakin’s embrace of the dark side, and Luke’s deviation from Yoda’s teaching in order to save his father), all in the context of the entire film saga. I always enjoy this sort of story introspection, which we don’t often find in licensed Star Wars books.
My own philosophy in writing any reference book is that it is only worthwhile if I also learn a lot in the process, and ultimately impart new information and new angles on the subject matter. This book is both fresh and exhaustive, providing an opportunity for even very well-read fans to learn something new.
This May meet the authors of Ultimate Star Wars on DK’s 2015 Ultimate Star Wars Book Tour. Each tour stop will include a game of trivia, a Q&A with the author(s), a book signing, and in-store raffles and giveaways. Visit DK.com for more information.
Author of DK’s Star Wars: What Makes a Monster?, Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide, and the upcoming LEGO Star Wars: Into Battle, follow Adam Bray on Twitter at @authoradambray.