SWCC 2019: 12 Insights and Announcements from the Lucasfilm Publishing Panel

Ten authors crowd onto one stage to talk about their love of writing and Star Wars storytelling.

On the same day we got our first look at the teaser trailer for Episode IX and an official title for the film, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Lucasfilm Publishing confirmed a galaxy of new stories being prepped ahead of the film’s release this December.

Lucasfilm Publishing’s Creative Director Michael Siglain announced plans for a Journey to Episode IX program similar to the books that have preceded Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

And although he was mum on other details, there were plenty of other announcements and insights during the Lucasfilm Publishing panel at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

The cover of A Crash of Fate.

1. We got our first look at the cover of Zoraida Córdova’s forthcoming book, A Crash of FateThe book is part of a series of comics and novels that tie in to the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge themed-land coming soon to Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.

2. We also got a look at Delilah Dawson’s The Skywalker Saga, illustrated by Brian Rood. The retelling is a story of a family meant to be read by families, says Lucasfilm Publishing’s Jennifer Heddle. But for Dawson, it’s simply “the book that broke my heart,” she said. In researching the book, she watched the Star Wars films over and over again, days in a row. Coupled with the fact that she’s the mother of a rebellious young blond-haired boy, Dawson says the experience gave her an even more intense emotional connection to the saga. “This book is full of tears,” she said. “These poor little Skywalker babies.”

3. Christian Blauvelt will continue his series on mindfulness and business practices with two new books, Be More Leia and Be More Lando. “Leia is the most important character in Star Wars for me,” he said. “She is pure passion and belief and commitment. It’s all about finding something that you really believe in and then just completely commit yourself to it…and make certain you can translate your beliefs into action.” As for the latter, “this is scoundrel-approved advice in how to get ahead in any business endeavor,” he said.

4. Creatures, aliens, and droids are having a moment. A sneak peek at upcoming titles included Creatures Big & Small, by Calliope Glass and Katie Cook, a sound book on Creatures vs. Aliens written by Pablo Hidalgo and including rathtars described as “rolling meatballs with teeth,” and the first in a new series, Droid Tales: C-3PO Does Not Like Sand, written by Caitlin Kennedy and illustrated by Brian Kesinger. Up next: R2-D2 is Lost. “And he happens to get lost on Endor so there are Ewoks,” Siglain said.

The cover of Rey and Pals by Jeffrey Brown.

5. Jeffrey Brown came up with almost 200 individual illustration ideas for his new book Rey and Pals. Brown, author of the popular Darth Vader and Son series, had stepped away from Star Wars to enjoy it as a fan but couldn’t stop sketching the sequel trilogy characters as kids. And when he would visit schools, he said young fans would request BB-8. “I’d draw the circle and the kids start clapping. This is low effort, high reward,” he joked.

6. Justina Ireland, the author of Lando’s Luck, has a secret book coming out. It involves stormtroopers and the Millennium Falcon. “That’s all I can tell you,” she teased.

7. Alexander Freed’s Alphabet Squadron exists under the oversight of one General Hera Syndulla. The Ghost pilot helps hold together a team of rag-tag New Republic pilots after the Battle of Endor. Freed himself has a soft spot for one of the ships in the motley crew — the B-wing. “It doesn’t get a whole lot of play in the films, but it’s such a weird beast and getting to write all the weird maneuvers it can do was great fun.”

8. Claudia Gray, author of Master & Apprentice, has loved the character of Qui-Gon since she first saw him in The Phantom Menace. The moment he pauses during his duel with Darth Maul left her in awe. “Qui-Gon drops and meditates. There’s no anger. There’s no fear. He’s completely free of that. I found that pretty inspiring.”

Star Wars Convention exclusive cover of Queen's Shadow

Star Wars Convention exclusive cover of Queen’s Shadow

9. E.K. Johnston was also inspired by the film, but it was Queen Amidala and her handmaidens that won her heart. The author of Queen’s Shadow told the audience about seeing the movie for the first time around her 15th birthday. “There was this girl who had friends and they were all good at so many things,” she said. “I just liked her so much and getting to write the book was just an amazing dream.” Plus, she honestly feels like a group of 14-year-old girls could rally together to rule and save a planet. “They just consistently outsmart everyone around them.”

10. Some of the new books include familiar characters. Timothy Zahn revealed that Eli Vanto will return for Star Wars: Thrawn Treason. And Phasma‘s Cardinal shows up in Dawson’s forthcoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge tie-in novel Black Spire.

11. Star Wars books inspired some Star Wars authors to become writers. Heddle so loved the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back that she read it over and over and over again. “My copy literally fell apart because I read it so many times. I still have it somewhere. It’s scotch taped on the spine.”

12. We’ll learn more about the Journey to Episode IX series soon. And we can’t wait!

Visit StarWars.com’s Star Wars Celebration Chicago hub for all the latest Celebration news.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.

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