And that’s it! Thanks for joining us!
“Some characters are more challenging than others…Thrawn filled a need for the show [Star Wars Rebels], as well.”
Chee: “Doing a whole book would be a challenge…We’re gonna pick and choose. Something like Thrawn, we’re going to be careful with…If we’re going to bring a character like that, we’re going to make sure their role is important and there’s a reason…He’s a great character we all loved.”
Question: Do you ever foresee a day where an entire EU book could be brought into canon?
Chee says it was. He cites the journey from Hoth to Bespin in Empire — they had no hyperdrive, making the distance nebulous. With a hyperdrive, you can get anywhere instantly.
Question: The old canon had a lot of conflicting information on time and distance. Was it challenging to streamline and figure out this info?
The idea was to get readers to explore the whole page, “make their own way around the spread,” says Amos. “The titles really grab you,” says Chee, noting that “Clumsy Gungan” is more fun than just “Jar Jar.”
Question: Why are character names not featured prominently in the spread?
Audience question: If there are 365 days in a year, is there a leap year in Star Wars. Chee says they discussed it and decided no.
One of Amos’ favorite facts is that the Neimoidians have to fight for food for the first 7 years of their life.
On the Coruscant spread, they finally established the length of a calendar year in Star Wars: 365 days. Whether there’s months or weeks, it remains undecided.
Bray especially enjoyed working on the Hutt page, below.
How did he do it? He reenacted the scene where Jar Jar snags a piece of fruit with his tongue in Episode I. His wife stood in for Qui-Gon, and he took measurements how long the tongue would’ve had to be.
Horton’s favorite fact: figuring out the length of Jar Jar’s tongue!
Chee says 10,000. (That’s not quite official, folks.)
The Death Star holds about 1 million people… Horton says first he would ask if there are any toilets at all, then would look into actual building code to figure it out.
How many toilets are there on the Death Star?
It could be something the animals are eating…? “If there’s nothing in the fiction that states it, our best reference is real life,” Chee says.
Why is bantha milk blue?
“I wanted to have something in there I could look back and say, ‘Yeah, I snuck that in!'” Horton says. Chee says he saw no reason to block its inclusion.
The book incorporates everything. “In terms of anything new, the key is not to get in the way of storytelling.” Horton says he snuck in one reference to the Star Wars Holiday Special — “Goodnight But Not Goodbye,” the song sung be Bea Arthur.
Horton says they would pull facts from everywhere, but were careful. “There are numbers on every single page.” Many of the statistics were carried over from the EU.
Here’s the Twi’lek/Hera spread — see the lekku gesture guide!
Design was a “labor of love” — they worked very hard to grab readers with the layouts of the spread. “I think we’ve made something that looks quite unique,” Amos says.
Here, the tentacles wrap upward, guiding the reader’s eye.
She feels the text matches the visuals perfectly.
Amos’ favorite spread is…
Chee’s favorite spread? He cites the Twi’leks spread, which included a sign language guide for Twi’lek’s head tails. That was created just for the book.
Funniest email: when Amos asked Horton, “We need some more fun facts about Palpatine!”
A planned spread on senators was nixed. “And for good reason,” Horton says. “It just didn’t fit the tone of the book.”
For Horton, it was Ventress.
“I love the creatures and the planets and the ecosystems…I like the menus and all the gross things that the Hutts eat.” – Bray
Favorite topics to write about?
In editing, they often made changes. Sometimes, one fact would actually work better on a different spread, etc.
Not really! Bray says that at Celebration Anaheim, he wondered why Horton was on a panel with him — not knowing he was a co-author on the book.
Did the authors collaborate?
Chee says there were some elements of the Expanded Universe they carried over (everything in the book is considered canon). “They have the hard work of coming up with the facts, and we have the hard work of verifying the facts.”
What was the process for authors wanting to invent new material for the book?
How do the writers keep up with everything in Star Wars? They consume everything Star Wars. Watch all the shows, read all the comics and novels. Bray: “It’s a great excuse to be able to do this as your job.”
They did leave some things out of the book. “We have to be very careful about what stated facts we put in the book,” says Chee. They don’t want to include things that might prohibit a future story.
Chee is discussing the Story Group: he, Pablo Hidalgo, and Matt Martin collaborate with publishers to ensure continuity and authenticity.
The book was part of the Journey to The Force Awakens publishing program — which Horton didn’t know during production! The spread on C-3PO, featuring his red arm, was kept secret until the book was released.
Not much, though there’s some at the end, says Chee. But it did have some reveals from Star Wars Rebels, including details about Fulcrum/Ahsoka Tano.
What Force Awakens secrets were the authors privy to?
“We also took this as a challenge to find the really obscure stuff,” Bray says. That made the work harder and longer but more rewarding.
How long did it take to last? “It felt like forever,” Horton says. The Ventress spread below is his favorite of the book. It’s filled with quirky and informative facts. Someone like Obi-Wan was harder to fit into a 2-page spread. “We worked on this for months.” He also rewatched the entire Clone Wars series just in preparation.
Amos asked Bray and Horton for all the Star Wars facts they had — topics (aliens, monsters, etc.), was split between the authors to keep the writing fresh.
Now discussing the genesis of the book.
“Start small,” says Adam Bray. He notes that he wrote for 10 years before he got to Star Wars. “Make sure you’re writing and make sure you’re reading…The more you read, the better you’re gonna write.”
“The real trick is, if you want to be a writer, you need to write…and do it every day and put your stuff out there,” says Cole Horton. He adds the coming to Celebration helped him become a Star Wars author — being where the action is and meeting people.
How can someone become a Star Wars author?
DK’s Ruth Amos, authors Cole Horton, Adam Bray, and the Story Group’s Leland Chee.
But one of her favorites is Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know. The panel today consists of editors and writers who created this book.
Editor Julie Ferris: “We’ve been publishing Star Wars books for almost 20 years now.”
We’re here at DK Publishing’s panel, and host Amy Ratcliffe takes the stage!