Out this week from Del Rey is Star Wars: Bloodline, a novel by Claudia Gray. It features Leia Organa as a senator of the New Republic seeking to prevent a divided Senate from splintering into chaos while investigating outside threats to the young democracy. Taking place years after Return of the Jedi but years before The Force Awakens, Bloodline sets the stage for the Resistance as well as hints to the growing power of the First Order. Last week, Jen Heddle gave us reasons why this novel is essential reading, but now we can take a peek at Claudia Gray’s new book, as she shares seven behind-the-scenes details on the making of the story.
1. Seeing through Princess Leia’s eyes is nothing new for Claudia Gray. When asked how she got into Leia Organa’s point of view, Gray says, “I can’t even tell you how I got into Leia’s point of view, because I have literally been asking myself what it would be like to be Princess Leia since I was seven years old. Now it’s finally paid off.”
2. Writing Leia Organa is quite a bit different than writing her own original characters in Star Wars. In Claudia Gray’s first Star Wars novel, Lost Stars, her characters of Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree grew up wishing to be pilots, and eventually ended up on opposite sides of the Galactic Civil War. The central character of Bloodline is one of the biggest names in Star Wars, Leia Organa, who transforms from princess and Rebel leader to the head of the Resistance. Gray comments, “The biggest difference was that the canon was a lot stricter on Bloodline. Since the galaxy’s timeline for the events in Episodes IV-VI is already well established, and Thane and Ciena were my creations, I could do almost anything that still allowed us to touch on the big battles of the war against the Empire. Bloodline had to slot much more tightly into canon!”
3. Every generation has a story. While readers are familiar with the exploits of the heroes of the Rebellion, in the galaxy far, far away, the next generations have a different point of view about war and the Empire. Ransolm Casterfo is a fascinating new character that is part of the younger generation that came of age after the fall of the Empire. Gray explains Casterfo’s perspective: “Casterfo remembers the Empire, but he was a little kid then. So I think he absorbed very different ideas about power, who should have it, how it should be used.” Even younger than Casterfo is Joph Seastriker, whom Gray describes as, “a New Republic baby, so he hasn’t been scarred by the war — unlike virtually everyone else in the galaxy even a few years older than him.”
4. Casterfo has some real world mysterious origins! They’re so mysterious, Gray couldn’t answer fully, but teases, “I didn’t invent the name Casterfo! Though I did change the first letter from a K to a C.” Also, if you’re wondering about how to pronounce the name, the emphasis is on the first syllable: CAS-ter-foe.
5. Leia isn’t the only teenager to get into galactic politics. Korr Sella, seen briefly in The Force Awakens, and having a bit more of a role in the film’s novelization, is one of a few characters from the movie to make an appearance in Bloodline. She becomes one of the main characters as she works closely with Leia, and she too is the daughter of a prominent politician, Sondiv Sella, who shows up in Lost Stars. Gray took the opportunity to flesh out Sella, saying, “Poor Korr! The one bit of the novelization I got to read while working on Bloodline was her scene with Leia…which of course wound up on the cutting room floor. But at least she gets her moment to shine here. Hopefully it will make that scene in Episode VII a little more personal.”
6. Leia isn’t the only member of the galactic nobility out there. Bloodline touches on the collected noble class out there through the Elder Houses, and a new character, Lady Carise Sindian. “The Elder Houses,” Gray explains, “are the hereditary royal houses of the galaxy. Once, hundreds or even thousands of years ago, the Elder Houses were very serious about supporting various monarchies. By the time of Bloodline, though, they’ve long since become more of a social organization than anything else.”
7. Easter eggs in Bloodline? You bet! Some of the characters and settings of the story have real-world inspiration or even connections to other universes. There are also a few references to other fictional worlds in there for fans to find. “Pretty much every other alien or planet name in the book is, in some way, a tribute to Mad Max: Fury Road, because fandom is like that. Oh, and I sneaked in another Star Trek reference. Everyone needs a hobby,” hints Gray.
What other secrets can we tease about Bloodline? Those familiar with The Force Awakens might recognize some other familiar faces, as Leia looks to her allies within the New Republic when it comes time to take action against the storm on the horizon. And of course, there’s X-wings, assassinations, protocol droids, underworld bosses, and blaster battles!
Also, be sure to check out the short story “Scorched” by Delilah S. Dawson in Star Wars Insider #165 — it features Greer Sonnel, a main character in Bloodline, in the time before she becomes Senator Organa’s personal assistant and pilot.
Bloodline is out today in hardcover and ebook from Del Rey, as well as audiobook from Random House Audio, narrated by the award-winning January LaVoy, who has previously narrated Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void, The Perfect Weapon, and William Shakespeare’s Star Wars.
James Floyd is a writer, photographer, and organizer of puzzle adventures. He’s a bit tall for a Jawa. His current project is Wear Star Wars Every Day, a fundraising effort for a refugee aid organization. You can follow him on Twitter at @jamesjawa or check out his articles on Club Jade and Big Shiny Robot.