John Jackson Miller is the author of Star Wars: Knight Errant, Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith: The Collected Stories, and fifteen Star Wars graphic novels, as well as Overdraft: The Orion Offensive. A comics industry historian and analyst, he has written for franchises including Conan, Iron Man, Indiana Jones, Mass Effect, and The Simpsons.
Del Rey and John are celebrating the release of his latest novel, Star Wars: Kenobi, which debuted at #12 on the New York Times bestseller list. Here’s a brief description of the new book:
The Republic has fallen.
Sith Lords rule the galaxy.
Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi has lost everything . . .
Everything but hope.
Tatooine—a harsh desert world where farmers toil in the heat of two suns while trying to protect themselves and their loved ones from the marauding Tusken Raiders. A backwater planet on the edge of civilized space. And an unlikely place to find a Jedi Master in hiding, or an orphaned infant boy on whose tiny shoulders rests the future of a galaxy.
Known to locals only as “Ben,” the bearded and robed offworlder is an enigmatic stranger who keeps to himself, shares nothing of his past, and goes to great pains to remain an outsider. But as tensions escalate between the farmers and a tribe of Sand People led by a ruthless war chief, Ben finds himself drawn into the fight, endangering the very mission that brought him to Tatooine.
Ben—Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, hero of the Clone Wars, traitor to the Empire, and protector of the galaxy’s last hope—can no more turn his back on evil than he can reject his Jedi training. And when blood is unjustly spilled, innocent lives threatened, and a ruthless opponent unmasked, Ben has no choice but to call on the wisdom of the Jedi—and the formidable power of the Force—in his never-ending fight for justice.
As part of John’s whirlwind promotional tour for the book he took some time to chat with readers on Del Rey’s Star Wars Books Facebook page. Following is an edited transcript of the chat.
John Jackson Miller: Glad to be here! Happy to talk about things KENOBI and Star Wars in general. (Hoping to keep things relatively spoiler free — for more spoiler-y kinds of questions, I suggest posting to this thread on my website, where I’ll be addressing the more detailed questions later on.)
Regarding Star Wars: Kenobi
Eric Garris: The book was great. Any chance of a sequel or at least additional short stories?
John Jackson Miller: I’d definitely be interested in writing more Kenobi. A lot of things are going on in the Star Wars universe right now, but hopefully there’ll be an opportunity that makes sense for everyone involved.
J Ryan Decker: Hi John! Looking forward to reading Kenobi as soon as i swing by Barnes on Saturday. Can you tell us what inspired you to take on this missing chapter of Star Wars lore?
John Jackson Miller: I had been interested in telling a different kind of story, really — drawing on some of the tropes of westerns. It seemed to fit perfectly for this time in Obi-Wan’s life, as he starts to transform into Old Ben.
Peter Attridge: Knowing that you are a classic tv guy, were there any shows you pulled the ideas for the Oasis from? Or the culture of the [Tusken] Raiders?
John Jackson Miller: Heh. The Oasis draws a bit on fish-out-of-water stories — think NORTHERN EXPOSURE and BALLYKISSANGEL — where the out-of-towner arrives in new and strange surroundings. There are certainly others. The Raider culture was more based on what we had already known about them, plus some new twists.
Trudy Haley: Hi John, what would you say were your influences while writing Kenobi?
John Jackson Miller: Hi, Trudy! I think a lot obviously comes from old westerns, like SHANE, and some newer ones, like Larry McMurtry’s LONESOME DOVE where we get to see a lot about the world the heroes live in.
Jason Hunt: So did you pitch the idea for Kenobi to Del Rey, or did they come to you with an idea?
John Jackson Miller: I brought them the idea. It had started as a notion for a possible original graphic novel at Dark Horse, but it became clear as I wrote it that it would work better as prose.
Larry Alan Roberts Jr: How hard was it to write a story about such a pivotal character like Obi-Wan Kenobi?
John Jackson Miller: Obviously a lot of people have in mind what Obi-Wan should sound and act like, but fortunately we also had performances by the actors — Guinness, McGregor, James Arnold Taylor — to serve as guides in making sure he sounded right.
Keith Voss: What was one aspect of Obi-Wan’s personality or history do you wish you could have touched upon more, if given the chance?
John Jackson Miller: Well, we were restricted in some degree by what he knew about at the time, so there are facts he doesn’t have about what the Empire has been doing. Certainly as you get into the storyline later on, we’d see him dealing with what he knows about Vader’s survival.
Phil Unvericht: Can we expect a Kenobi sequel? If you were to write one, what could we expect next?
John Jackson Miller: As noted above, I’d be glad to — just a matter of timing and having it make sense for everyone involved. As to the topic, there are a lot of different ways to do it. Many points on the compass left unexplored on Tatooine!
Andy Peachey: Hey John, really loved Kenobi, you really seemed to keep the novel very grounded using the other characters perspectives on some of the more fantastical things that were happening which I loved. If there were to be a sequel to the novel in the future, would there be a possibility of Obi-Wan investigating what Anakin did to the Tuskens years earlier or even dealing with the realization that Darth Vader survived?
John Jackson Miller: Well, we know those events do come up a little later — LIFE AND LEGEND OF OBI-WAN KENOBI tells us that — so yes, they’d certainly be available for exploration should we choose, I would think.
Rebecca Benjamin: Hello there, John. Loved Kenobi! You portrayed, “Ben” perfectly. The surrounding characters and their back stories were amazingly entertaining as well. Trying to keep this “spoiler free”, but I must say that you definitely managed to stay true to, Obi-Wan’s roots. Doesn’t matter what situation he found himself in, he was always the same, pure hearted Jedi we know and love. Even his “negotiator” skills shined through during the story. Great Job!
John Jackson Miller: Thanks. I figured this kind of story would really force him to rely upon his softer skills. He can’t solve everything with a lightsaber and not get seen!
Enrique Donut-Kiko Bello: Hi John, I specifically finished the last chapter of Kenobi today so I could thank you personally for such a great portrayal of Kenobi. it really built a lot of the background between the end of Ep3 and Star Wars (A New Hope) and it really mirrored a lot of the things that went on throughout the series in a much smaller aspect. Anyways, my question is:
Do any of the Tusken Raiders in the story (or any characters) show up in Ep4? Basically did you scan Ep4 for characters you’d like to use in the book? Albeit about 20+yrs younger.
John Jackson Miller: Good question. No, I didn’t look for any Tuskens in A NEW HOPE — I created all of the ones I used for this book (not counting some characters that had appeared in earlier stories).
Vasyl Tkachenko: John, I was intrigued by that Rodian who’s silently sitting in the bar and just staring into his cup. I feel there’s a story behind this, am I wrong?
John Jackson Miller: Maybe. Maybe not. I wanted to leave that open to your interpretation.
Brandon Borzelli: the book is simply awesome. is there a character you really wanted to include that just didn’t work out?
John Jackson Miller: No, not really. I was thrilled that we got to use a certain henchman of Jabba’s — that was a blast for me. If you’ve read the book and are familiar with the character’s history, you’ll know what I mean.
Henry Matthews: Do you think Kenobi’s [Force] ghost would ever feature in a novel/ movie (episode VII)/ or TV show showing what Obi-Wan was like from events after his complete surrender to the Force?
John Jackson Miller: I imagine anything’s possible. The future is always in motion!
Regarding Comic Books:
Bobby Linn: Hi John, I’m a big fan of your work. Are we ever going to see Zayne Carrick again?
John Jackson Miller: It’s a big galaxy, and he’s still around, so anything’s possible. It was many years between X-Wing novels and another one happened. So we’ll see!
Michael Stipp: Hey John! Since KotOR [Knights of the Old Republic] was (and still is) my favorite series, I hope you can get back to the KotOR era eventually – especially Gryph and Jarael are missed. Is there any chance we can expect a return to that era from you?
John Jackson Miller: No KOTOR anytime soon, but Brian Ching and I are always talking about various projects to work on together. We’ll see!
Sidney Lau: Was there any [Lucasfilm]-ban on the background of the Sith Triumvirate? (Nihilus, Sion, Traya) I read Knights of the Old Republic eagerly hoping for more background on those characters, but didn’t get any…
John Jackson Miller: I was never told of anything like that. I touched on KOTOR game elements where it made sense in my own story, but really, it was Zayne’s saga, and we couldn’t expect him to meet everyone.
Regarding Star Wars:
Jeremiah Michael Stewart: You just wrote Kenobi is there another classic Star Wars character (or prequel) that you would love to approach similarly with a novel (if you could)?
John Jackson Miller: Hmm… big question. I think there’s a number of characters that’d fit that description. I also think Lando would be a blast to write — my first Star Wars pitch was a Lando story, eons ago!
Justin Wilson: Hey John, who is you favorite Star Wars character?
John Jackson Miller: Wow, that’s a tough one… a lot of choices there! In the [Expanded Universe] I always really wanted a Valance the Hunter action figure!
Joshua Schaier: Knight Errant was one of my favorite Star Wars novels. Any chance of a sequel? Loved Kenobi. Keep up the good work!
John Jackson Miller: Thanks! Like KOTOR and Lost Tribe, Knight Errant is one of those things that remains out there for possibly returning to someday, once we know more about what the future looks like (literally!). So we’ll see. Kerra isn’t going anywhere!
Little John: Hey John, off the subject but how do you feel about [Star Wars] Episode VII?
John Jackson Miller: I think it’s really done a lot to spark interest in the franchise. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they have planned!
And we’ll leave the chat with this question:
Alexander Rybak: Hey John. Glad your here. What work can we expect from you in the future?
John Jackson Miller: I have a Conan story coming up in November’s ROBERT E. HOWARD’S SAVAGE SWORD #6 from Dark Horse Comics. The audiobook is due out soon for my OVERDRAFT series… and I have a Star Trek: Titan novella which has just been slated for February. I have some other projects unannounced yet… stay tuned!