I recently caught up with John Jackson Miller to talk about one of my favourite books from the Star Wars franchise, ‘Kenobi’ as well as the differences between writing for prose novels in comparison to comics. Here’s what he had to say.
Your back catalogue of Star Wars books is huge, what are some of your favourites you have worked on and why?
Among comics, certainly, Knights of the Old Republic is a favourite, because of the fun cast of characters and the wide range of stories we got to do. Those stories didn’t write themselves, but it was close — once Zayne and Gryph got going the fun always ensued.
In the novels, certainly, KENOBI is the most memorable, having been so many years from concept to publication. I’m delighted it happened, and wouldn’t change a word.
When it comes to writing about Star Wars where do you draw your inspiration from?
From Star Wars, obviously, but also from many of the kinds of films that inspired it. KENOBI was famously influenced by western movies, for example. And the new story in CANTO BIGHT, “The Ride,” is inspired by many past stories about gamblers, and some of my own experiences.
Do you have any favourite characters from the franchise, if so, who are they, and why?
From the movies? Beyond Obi-Wan — that’s an easy answer — I’ve always liked Lando, whose calculating nature in part inspired Gryph. And of course Luke is a favourite — in a sense, all my other stories about Jedi who are cut off and on their own are inspired by him.
What was the writing process like when you were writing ‘Kenobi’?
Well, it was divided across a wide stretch of time. I developed the plot as a potential graphic novel for Dark Horse back in 2006, but each successive draft got longer and longer, and when both my and the publishers’ plans changed, the story was shelved. I suggested it against as a novel to Del Rey, and in 2012 we finally got the project in production. I spent the fall and early winter of that year writing it, drawing upon the isolation of my rural home to help establish mood.
Also, I drew upon the knowledge of an equestrian expert friend of mine to figure out what the parts of a dewback saddle would be called. Research is fun!
How did you get involved with Star Wars novels?
I had written comics for Dark Horse, which led to my getting to write short stories for the old Hyperspace subscription service. That was good training for when Del Rey needed a short story series written for the Lost Tribe of the Sith. That was what got me, eventually, the Knight Errant novel.
It’s nice to have an artist, clearly, as they usually fill in a lot of details to the world — in prose you have to describe everything, or not, on your own. That said, prose is interesting because you can get more into characters’ minds. We don’t really have thought balloons anymore in comics!
What are some of your thoughts on the Star Wars films?
I’m a huge fan, naturally — it would be strange if I weren’t. I like that they seem to hold up very well over the years. Also, watching movies from 1977 and before it’s remarkable how very different it looks. I think I was conscious even as a kid that I was watching something truly transformational, but as time has gone on I have really come to understand the context of the times.
A big thank you to John for letting me interview him, and be sure to read his work as you will not be disappointed.
May the force be with you all!