SoonerCon Q&A: "Star Wars" writer Timothy Zahn
Author Timothy Zahn, who kicked off Star Wars' "Expanded Universe" in 1991 with the novel "Heir to the Empire," is SoonerCon's guest of honor this year.
According to information provided by SoonerCon, Zahn has published fifty novels, over a hundred short stories and novelettes, and five collections of short fiction. Best known for his ten Star Wars novels, he is also the author of the Quadrail series, the Cobra series, the Conquerors Trilogy, and the young-adult Dragonback series.
He answered a few questions in advance of the con, which starts Friday at the Reed Conference Center in Midwest City. Look for more about SoonerCon in Friday's editions of The Oklahoman. I'll be hosting a Q&A panel with Zahn at 2 p.m. Saturday at SoonerCon.
The Oklahoman: Can you tell me about your experience returning to Thrawn in your latest novel?
Timothy Zahn: It was very smooth and easy. I’ve spent so much time with Thrawn over the years (over the decades, really) that it was mostly just like revisiting an old friend. This book covers a different era than I’ve written him in before, where he’s dealing with unfamiliar Imperial politics and a somewhat prejudicial military structure, but Thrawn himself is still the same person that he always was.
Q: You helped kick-start the entire original expanded universe with Heir to the Empire. What was that experience like? What was your impression of Star Wars prior to that, and how has it changed over the years?
Zahn: I was a big fan of the movies, so when I was offered the chance to play in George Lucas’s sandbox it was both exciting and a bit scary. I knew I needed to write a story that would fit into the overall Star Wars mythos and feeling, being true to the original characters even as I was adding new ones.
As to how Star Wars has changed, that one’s pretty self-evident. From an era where no one knew if the fans even existed anymore, we’ve seen an explosion in both the size of the franchise and the size and passion of the fan base.
Q: You in the fairly recent past crafted a fun, fast-paced novel in "Scoundrels." Are those characters or that type of vibe anything you might return to in the new Star Wars canon?
Zahn: I’d definitely like to go back to that kind of “Ocean’s Eleven” type of story. We’ll just have to wait to see whether such a book would fit into the overall saga that Lucasfilm is carefully crafting.
Q: What have been some of your best experiences with Star Wars fans?
Zahn: There have been way too many to mention – Star Wars fans are among the nicest, most wonderful people on the planet. Still, the most memorable interactions are with people who tell me that mine were the first books they read for pleasure, or that the books helped them through a difficult period in their lives, or that my stories got them through a stressful military deployment. Revelations like that are what raise writing from simply a fun and satisfying job to something that can deeply touch people’s lives.
Q: To what do you attribute the continuing appetite for Star Wars, both in film and in the expanded literature?
Zahn: Star Wars originally captured its audience by its wonderful mix of action, adventure, loyalty, courage, fear, danger, sacrifice, friendship, and humor. Those are the factors and emotions that resonate with people of every nation and every era, and that’s the mix we all continue to strive for.