Forty Star Wars stories. Forty-three writers. Editor Elizabeth Schaefer tells StarWars.com how it happened.
Celebrating 40 years of Star Wars has been a year-long festivity, and October keeps the anniversary commemoration going with the release of From a Certain Point of View. Made of 40 stories by 43 writers and out today from Del Rey, Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View looks at the classic A New Hope story with fresh eyes -- through the points of view of many of the supporting and background characters of the film -- and even some that weren’t seen in the film, but are connected to the events of the movie. With the proceeds of the book going to First Book, a nonprofit that provides books and educational resources to children in need, From a Certain Point of View is more than a story anthology, it’s a force for good. Two weeks ago, Del Rey and the contributing authors began a social media campaign teasing each author’s story and the character whose perspective is seen. StarWars.com recently e-mailed with the collection’s editor, Elizabeth Schaefer from Del Rey, who provided us with a new point of view: from behind the scenes of the making of this book.
StarWars.com: How does the role of editor on an anthology like From a Certain Point of View differ from working on a traditional novel?
Elizabeth Schaefer: Haha! That’s an easy one: it’s so much harder! For this anthology, I got to work with 43 different contributors. Coordinating all of the e-mails, and contracts, and copy edits, and proof passes, and everything that needed to go to each author was its own logistical Olympics. Fortunately, I have the best team in the business here at Del Rey to help me out.
StarWars.com: There are a lot of great authors contributing to this book -- how was it working with acclaimed authors who may be coming to tell their first Star Wars story?
Elizabeth Schaefer: At the very start of this project, I sat down in front a blank Excel sheet and proceeded to fill in the names of all of my favorite authors. It was a dream list of people I’ve always wanted to work with. The craziest thing was how many of them said yes. The first-timers were universally invested in getting the lore right. Everyone wanted recommended reading lists -- I think Sabaa Tahir went out and bought Star Wars: Kenobi on the spot to make sure her Tusken Raider story felt authentic!
StarWars.com: How did the selection of characters to include in this book come about? What about those characters not present or mentioned in the film, like Yoda or Qui-Gon Jinn?
Elizabeth Schaefer: Whenever I reached out to an author about the project, I sent them a list of about 30 example points of view to give them a sense of the kinds of stories we were envisioning. But for the most part, each of the authors came up with their own point of view or pitched a twist on one of the suggestions. One of the great joys of the project was all the unexpected character requests. Who would have thought that Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction were huge Muftak fans? Or that Tom Angleberger would choose the point of view of the Whills themselves?
StarWars.com: Was there any attempt to link some of the stories together?
Elizabeth Schaefer: It was really important to me that the unique writing style of each author shone through in their short story. So for the most part I didn’t try to force anyone to mold their story to match someone else’s. That said, authors are a wily bunch and a few of them hid references to other stories or Star Wars novels in their contribution! Be sure to look for the Easter egg that Daniel José Older, Ben Acker, and Ben Blacker conspired to add to their stories.
StarWars.com: What are some of the highlights from working on a project like this?
Elizabeth Schaefer: The social media moments have been really fun to watch. Earlier this year, my colleague Tom Hoeler came up with the #OperationBlueMilk plan to announce all of the authors. Seeing fans freak out as author after author chimed in was like being in our own version of “All wings report in” from A New Hope. “John Jackson Miller, standing by! Glen Weldon, standing by! Elizabeth Wein, standing by!”
StarWars.com: Tell us about First Book and how this book will benefit them.
Elizabeth Schaefer: First Book is a fantastic organization whose mission is to provide equal access to quality education. In honor of the project, Penguin Random House has donated $100,000 to First Book, and Disney/Lucasfilm has donated 100,000 children’s books. But the real stars are the authors who all generously donated their time, energy, and all their proceeds from the anthology to First Book. You can read more about this amazing organization on their website: firstbook.org.
See below for a special gallery collecting all of Del Rey's From a Certain Point of View social media cards.