On September 4, 2014, author Chuck Wendig tweeted that he wanted to write a Star Wars book. One year to the day saw Force Friday and the release of his new book, Star Wars: Aftermath. Wendig was a guest over the weekend at Dragon Con, held every labor day weekend in Atlanta, and still didn’t miss out on any of the Force Friday action.
Star Wars fans from across the country assembled at a Barnes and Noble near the event for the first chance to get Aftermath signed by its author. Security guarded stacks of the book until the clock ticked past midnight, and in the minutes leading up to 12:01 a.m., fans were regaled by stories and a reading of the novel by Mr. Wendig himself.
Reading from the second chapter of the book, Wendig introduces the audience to the Rebel pilot, Norra Wexley, who is trying desperately to return to her home planet of Akiva and reunite with her son in the days after the Battle of Endor. We all listen raptly to the stunning TIE fighter chase that ensues — from space to the surface of Akiva.
After the reading, Wendig talks about specifics of the book and answers questions from the audience. The first question concerned the perspective of the book. It was written in third person present tense, which is a first for a Star Wars novel. “It was actually always third person present,” says Wendig. “I pitched the book and explained that I wanted to try it that way, to give it an urgency. And Shelly Shapiro said to send her a chapter to see, and I sent her 10.”
He was also surprised by how much Lucasfilm and Del Rey wanted to hear his ideas for the story. This wasn’t a story mandated by someone else; he pitched the ideas, proposed the characters, and was guided by the editorial team and story group to make sure it fit in the constraints of the universe as dictated by the future of the galaxy in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
When asked if he was privy to any information about the new film, he shifted his eyes and asks, “A privy is a bathroom, right?”
In fact, most questions directed at Wendig were responded to with his signature wit. Where else would you hear about Chief Chirpa’s mating song?
As the minutes tick closer to midnight, Wendig goes behind the security screen and gets ready to sign copies of the book. Bria LaVorgna from Tosche Station is the first in line, and was a hundred pages into the book before the event was over. Elsewhere in the store, the mood is electric. There are trivia contests and photo opportunities with cardboard Star Wars characters. There’s also a modest toy selection, including Sphero’s remote control BB-8, one of which Wendig left the store with personally.
It was a great event and a lot of fun for Star Wars fans who gathered for Dragon Con. Everyone left with a smile on their face and a copy of the book, making for an incredibly memorable Force Friday.
Bryan Young is an author, filmmaker, journalist, and the editor-in-chief of BigShinyRobot.com! He’s also the co-host of the Star Wars podcast, Full of Sith. You can also follow him on Twitter @swankmotron.