Star Wars

New Release Interview: Star Wars: Kenobi by John Jackson Miller


KenobiObi-Wan Kenobi is my favorite Star Wars character.

Before he became Old Ben, a crazy, wispy hermit living on a desert planet, Kenobi was a force in the galaxy, a Jedi Master and General, a man whose greatest failure resulted in a galaxy subjugated to a Sith despot. He is a complicated man. And while we have seen him featured at different points in his life, no better time period is directly after the Republic’s fall.

Lucas Books, Del Rey Books, and author John Jackson Miller have brought that time period to life in Star Wars: Kenobi. It is a closer look at one of the most important Star Wars characters, directly after his exile when he first arrives on Tatooine, Luke Skywalker is just a babe in his arms.

I decided to ask Kenobi author John Jackson Miller some questions about the new book! Here you go:

NEW RELEASE INTERVIEW: STAR WARS: KENOBI BY JOHN JACKSON MILLER

Shawn Speakman: STAR WARS: KENOBI is now published. Tell Suvudu readers about when the book is set and what they can expect?

photo-johnjacksonmiller

John Jackson Miller: The prologue is set during Episode III, and the rest is set during Obi-Wan’s early days on Tatooine. He’s dealing with the pain of what’s transpired in the last movie, of course: the Republic and the Jedi Order are gone, and he believes he’s killed his best friend. He’s got to take Luke to safety and then disappear.

But he’s also dealing with the practicalities of moving to a remote, desert wasteland. How will he feed himself? How will he get water? These are practical concerns, and while he is a great survivalist, Tatooine can prove a test for anyone. It requires that he visit what passes for civilization in his area and interact with some of the locals, who are understandably curious about why anyone would move to Tatooine.

The novel is in fact mostly told from the points of view of two of the locals that Obi-Wan meets, as well as a Tusken warlord. His arrival changes their lives, even as their actions impact his. Trouble follows Obi-Wan whereever he goes, even when he’s trying to affect nothing around him.

Shawn Speakman: Tatooine is a dangerous place. I really got a sense that you enjoyed expanding it, particularly with the Sand People. How much did you have to research previous Star Wars sources to get it right? And how much were you allowed to create?

John Jackson Miller: I read everything I could find, and I tried to keep everything consistent with what had been published before. At the same time, I took the approach that the Tusken Raider population is very fragmented, so there are many clans that have different subcultures. It is not necessarily the case that the mythology and practices of the one group I depicted are shared universally by the other clans. That gave me some freedom to go my own way.

I tried to show a brutal, savage tribe that looks upon the settler population as a blight to be eradicated, and while they have endured injustices, I didn’t aim to make them sympathetic. They’re still incredibly dangerous.

Shawn Speakman: The book obviously features a Kenobi still trying to acclimate to staying under the radar. He does a poor job of it, right from the outset of the book. Was it fun trying to transition him from Jedi
Master of the Republic to crazy, old hermit?

John Jackson Miller: Oh, yes. I had to be carefiul while telling my fish-out-of-water story not to let things slip into slapstick, as is often the case in these kinds of tales. Obi-Wan is cool under pressure and keeps his cool even when I throw a lot of situations at him that the readers would expect to be unnerving for him. That said, there are some extreme moments when he’s doing his best not to jump out of his skin. He’s trying to be undercover here, and events keep pulling him in another direction.

While this book has been described as a western, the above means that it’s also a lot like a super-hero story. Obi-Wan has an origin story, powers, and a secret identity that nobody around knows about. He does his best to help people, yes, but he does it in ways that won’t reveal who he is. He can’t be Superman. He’s got to be Clark Kent.

Shawn Speakman: If you could tackle another Star Wars character in similar fashion, who would you choose and why?

John Jackson Miller: I think there are a number of characters that would be interesting to see through others’ eyes — from the point of view of those normal people living in the galaxy. What must people who meet Vader think of him? Or Yoda, or Luke, or Leia? There are many different stories that could be told, I think, using the smaller scale that we adopted in KENOBI.

That said, I’d certainly be interested in returning to Kenobi’s world at some point. He’s on the planet for a loooong time!

Shawn Speakman: What are you working on now? What can we expect from you in the future?

John Jackson Miller: I have just released an original prose science fiction work of my own, OVERDRAFT: THE ORION OFFENSIVE, as a book from 47North — and Dark Horse is now collecting my KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC comics in Omnibus format. I have a few additional sandboxes that I’ve been working in — I have a CONAN story in the November issue of ROBERT E. HOWARD’S SAVAGE SWORD — and also a STAR TREK novella, TITAN: ABSENT ENEMIES, that’ll be released some time as an e-book by Pocket Books. I also have a much larger prose project of my own that I’ve been devoting time to.

But while I’m broadening my horizons a little, my heart remains with the Galaxy Far, Far Away and I hope to have more opportunities working in it in the future. Folks can follow my work at www.farawaypress.com and on Twitter at @jjmfaraway to keep up with any announcements.

There you go! I thank John Jackson Miller for his time! Star Wars: Kenobi is in fine bookstores now!

And not in a galaxy far, far away either…


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