My secret Star Wars mission (and no Bothans died in the process!)

I like to keep my characters in motion as a writer — but sometimes, the writers are the ones in motion. So it was in March, while I was finishing Star Wars: A New Dawn, my new novel for Random House. (Read more about it here.) The publisher asked me to make a fast trip out to Lucasfilm in California, to be part of their Expanded Universe appreciation video.

It was definitely something I wanted to do, but the complication was that I was already scheduled, after finishing the novel, to throw everything in the car to run down to Memphis, where I had a public library event and a full slate of panels at Midsouthcon. This situation involved more than a simple suitcase! It took some juggling, but we worked it out so I would fly to San Francisco first, then to Memphis. We shipped my supplies one direction, while I went another. I flew out in a howling Midwestern snowstorm: a few hours later, I was walking Union Square. One guess which had the better weather!

The day of the shoot, Timothy Zahn was already in the car when the driver picked me up. In pure fan mode, I promptly got him to autograph my copy of Heir to the Empire — which still has its first-week-of-sale discount wraparound banner around it, and appears in the video. Tim said back then they weren’t entirely sure how well the book would do, after such a long absence for Star Wars fiction: the wraparounds came off pretty quickly after a few days of sales.

Tim had never been to Lucasfilm before, but I had visited once in the summer of 2007, to read the script for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in advance of writing the comics adaptation. So I thought I knew my way around when we were dropped off at the complex. In fact, I promptly got us lost for half an hour, before Jennifer Heddle, Leland Chee, and Pablo Hidalgo rescued us.

I must invoke a different franchise in admitting “I’m a writer, not a guide!”

We had lunch with the team, shot our videos, and got the grand tour. I had seen some things before but it is always amazing: because of Lucasfilm’s collection with ILM, there are artifacts commemorating dozens of films. Jennifer took a picture of us outside with the Yoda statue. (And believe me, I was looking for that statue in trying to find the place!) It was a great trip.

And then it was on to my regularly scheduled events. I couldn’t say anything about where I’d just been, of course; I managed to make it through seven panels and multiple signings without collapsing. I was delighted to have been a part of it. My thanks to Random House and Lucasfilm for making it happen!

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