In a recent interview, I managed to catch up with Tim Lebbon, the author behind Dawn of the Jedi: Enter the Void.
Primarily a Horror and Dark Fantasy author, in 2013 Tim was brought in to write a novel for the biggest franchise in the world and I was lucky enough to ask him a few questions about his time writing the book.
How did you get into writing?
I’ve written stories pretty much since I could pick up a pencil. I wrote all through my teens, started submitting for publication in my early twenties, the first novel published in my later twenties, and became a full-time writer in my early thirties. My love of books came from my mother. My love of writing came from wanting to tell stories. I’m glad I took the plunge into doing it full-time, although there are always uncertainties…
How did you get involved with Star Wars novels?
I was asked by an editor at Lucas Books to write the novel. I’d previously worked with her when she worked at another publishing house, and she wanted my particular style for the novel in question … as much a dark fantasy approach as an SF novel. Actually, I’ve always regarded Star Wars as fantasy anyway, so it was a good fit.
For those who haven’t read ‘Dawn of the Jedi, into the Void’ can you provide a synopsis of the book?
It’s set in the Tythan system, where the Jedi (in the book it’s Je’daii) first appeared. It’s tied into a series of comics and is the earliest novel in the whole Star Wars timeline (or it was when I wrote it, I don’t think any earlier ones have been published since). It involves my main character, Lanoree Brock, trying to prevent discovery of an artefact that might inspire a system-wide tragedy. It’s a lot of fun. I get to destroy a city.
What is your writing process?
Monday to Friday, 9 in the morning until 3 or 4 in the afternoon. That can vary, but I find it difficult to write when my wife and kids are in the house, so those are my core hours. I rarely sit at my desk for more than half an hour without needing to get up and have a coffee, exercise, read for a bit. That’s just the way I work. I sometimes get anxious about that approach, but most days I hit my 2000 words target, so it seems to work.
Does writing for Star Wars bring any added pressure considering how big the franchise is and how passionate the fans are?
No, I didn’t let that get to me. I was telling a Tim Lebbon story in a Star Wars universe, and it was a real honour being able to do so. But I didn’t worry about how it would be received (some people loved it, some hated it). I did get quite a few emails, the vast majority of them positive, but a few negative ones. One reader didn’t like that there were ‘cuss words’ in the novel (I think I used bitch, crap, and bastard). Sheesh.
What do you think makes your stories stand out?
I have no idea. I’m still striving to be better, and I think a writer needs to do that throughout their career. And I’m still finding my voice, or refining it at least. I think as you get older your writing changes anyway, and that comes with experience, changing the outlook, and just living a life. But it’s not up to me to say how my writing stands out, or if it does at all.
What sort of books do you read?
All sorts. Quite a bit of horror, but other genres too, and more and more lately quite a bit of non-fiction. I’m very into endurance sports, so I read a lot of biographies about people pushing their boundaries and going on adventures. I’d like to go on an adventure one day!
When it comes to writing about Star Wars where do you draw your inspiration from?
As I said above, I wanted to write a Tim Lebbon novel in the Star Wars universe. I didn’t worry about trying to make it sound like a Star Wars novel, though of course I always had to consider the background. And there were limits to what I could do, but generally, I had an awful lot of leeway to write what I wanted. It was a great experience. I’d love to do it again!
What are some of your thoughts on the Star Wars films?
I love the original three. The three prequels I’m not much of a fan of at all … I think technology had advanced to a stage where Lucas thought, I could put ANYTHING on the screen! So he put everything there. I like the new movies. Even The Last Jedi which, although I don’t think was this trilogy’s Empire, I think is the strongest of the new movies.
Do you have any favourite characters from the franchise, if so, who are they and why?
I guess Han because he was such an anti-hero, to begin with, and he had a great backstory. I hope the Solo movie is pretty gritty and dark. Oh, and he shot first.
Are there any restrictions when it comes to writing, in terms of character development and plot lines, or do you have a lot of creative freedom?
Bear in mind I only did one novel. But I had a lot of freedom with that one because most of the characters were my own, so I could have them do whatever I wanted (and kill them if I wanted to). As for the plotline, after reading the comics I went through several comic-related ideas which were all shot down by the publisher (because they had plans that I couldn’t interfere with). So I came up with my own idea totally, the only real link is that it was based on the same system as the comics. And that worked out great.
When writing Star Wars books, did you have to look into what other authors were also doing and see how you could tie that into your story?
No. Mine was the earliest novel in the timeline, so I didn’t have to read any others. And I didn’t want to. I wanted to sound like me, not someone else, so I didn’t really want to be influenced by other novels.
What are some of your fondest memories of working on this book?
Seeing the cover for the first time. And having great feedback from the people doing the audio version, because they LOVED the fact that I had a female main character who kicked loads of butt!
A huge thank you to Tim for allowing me to interview him and if you haven’t done already, go and read Dawn of the Jedi now!
May the Force be with you all!