Working on a Star Wars book is always an exciting experience, a new opportunity to tell a great story set in my favorite fictional galaxy. But the process behind Star Wars: A New Dawn, by John Jackson Miller — available now from booksellers everywhere — was truly something different. The author, the Del Rey editors, and I were able to work on this with the Lucasfilm Story Group and the executive producers of Star Wars Rebels. It was a great collaborative enterprise that I know is only the beginning of a slew of awesome reading experiences we’re going to be able to bring your way.
A New Dawn is an official prequel to Star Wars Rebels, telling the story of how Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla met and joined forces. It’s considered just as much a part of the canon as the episodes themselves will be. That knowledge can make for a pretty heady experience, but it didn’t change John Jackson Miller’s approach one bit. He, like all of us involved with Star Wars fiction, just wants to tell a great story that engages readers and expands horizons. I think he accomplished this admirably in A New Dawn.
I want it to be clear that this is very much John’s book. He came up with the story, the setting, all of the characters who aren’t Kanan and Hera. What the executive producers of Rebels (Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, and Greg Weisman) and the Story Group were able to provide was insight into what makes Kanan and Hera tick, where they are from, and where they are headed. To be able to get direct access to these highly creative minds about the characters they created was invaluable. I think John did an absolutely remarkable job of capturing who Kanan and Hera are, without ever seeing a frame of footage! And that’s due to the generous cooperation we received. I mentioned at our San Diego Comic-Con panel how gratifying it was to be able to have Dave and John speak directly about these characters, and to see John quickly grasping what Dave was trying to convey, and contributing ideas of his own, which led to more riffing from Dave, to more riffing from John…it was a wonderful creative experience.
The executive producers and Story Group also gave their stamp of approval on the story John ultimately devised, making invaluable suggestions at the same time. Dave Filoni even graciously provided a foreword. This is, now, the story of how Kanan and Hera met. And it’s a rollicking good tale.
But it’s also the story of Skelly, a Clone Wars veteran who spends most of his life trying to make his voice heard when no one is willing to listen. And Zaluna, a Sullustan surveillance expert who believes the Empire is a new boss same as the old boss — until her eyes are opened otherwise. And Rae Sloane, an Imperial captain determined to make a name for herself in this new order, if only to distinguish herself from her politician father. The world of Gorse is a character in and of itself, with only half of its lands ever seeing the light of day. And there’s a brand new villain to hate, with a story of his own.
I’m proud of this book. I’m proud of the way we all worked together, of the advice freely given by people with extremely busy schedules, of the hard work and heart John put into his writing, of the gorgeous cover art by Doug Wheatley. I think it’s a great way to herald a new dawn. And I hope you agree.
Jennifer Heddle is senior editor at Lucas Books. Follow her on Twitter at @jenheddle.