The second wave of Lucasfilm Publishing’s ambitious multi-year initiative Star Wars: The High Republic starts tomorrow, and this afternoon Barnes & Noble held a panel discussion with authors Charles Soule, Claudia Gray, Cavan Scott, Justina Ireland, and Daniel José Older. In the bullet-point list below, I’ve enumerated all the most interesting tidbits and factoids to come out of this conversation between these talented writers.

  • Claudia Gray turned seven when the original Star Wars film came out, and she says “that’s a really good age to have your relationship to reality severed.” She saw it four times in the theater, and that’s considering she lived several towns away from a movie theater.
  • Cavan Scott was first exposed to the Marvel Star Wars comic books before the films. His first issue featured Jaxxon, who he later incorporated into his own comic writing.
  • Justina Ireland doesn’t remember her first exposure to Star Wars as a concept, but she thinks she and her family may have seen Return of the Jedi in the theater. She loves Ewoks. She once thought Michael Jackson was in Star Wars due to “Captain EO.”
  • Daniel José Older calls himself a Return of the Jedi kid and says Jabba’s Palace and the Rancor scene in particular were formative experiences for him. He had one issue of the Marvel Star Wars comic book featuring Boba Fett.
  • Charles Soule has been working in Star Wars since 2014, which he jokes is a third of his life. He says the group met for the first time at a hotel bar in Northern California before they all went to Skywalker Ranch together.
  • Scott says he couldn’t believe he got the opportunity to visit and work at Skywalker Ranch, since he considers it a type of “Shangri-la” as a movie fan.
  • Soule gave a breakdown and recap of The High Republic so far, and a list of the books and comics that have come out in the initiative so far, including his own launch novel Light of the Jedi.
  • Justina Ireland and Claudia Gray recapped their novels A Test of Courage and Into the Dark, while Cavan Scott and Daniel José Older talked about the two The High Republic comic books from Marvel and IDW.
  • Then they talked about wave 2 of The High Republic: Cavan Scott’s adult novel The Rising Storm, Daniel José Older’s middle-grade book Race to Crashpoint Tower, and Justina Ireland’s young-adult novel Out of the Shadows.
  • Ireland says not to read her book before you’ve read the other two. In fact, Soule supports this idea by saying all of The High Republic books should be read in order of release.
  • Soule asked his fellow authors how they feel about the success of The High Republic so far. Gray says “relieved” because people connected with it and “got” it. Older says he is really happy because of how much he simply enjoys writing Star Wars, and having people love it became “icing on top of the cake.” Scott likes when he sees fans being creative with the newly introduced characters and that fans are going to be absorbing the stories through new media like audio dramas. Soule likes the story they’re telling among themselves and how much the authors talk to each other.
  • Starting with fan questions, “What is the thing you're most proud to have contributed to the Star Wars saga?” Scott says finding out that parents and kids were reading his Star Wars Adventures comics together. Gray cites her novel Bloodline because she got to write about Han and Leia’s relationship in the years leading up to The Force Awakens.
  • “What is different about writing in The High Republic as compared to the Skywalker Saga era?” Ireland says she doesn't have to worry about killing a character. “There’s a lot more freedom.”
  • “How far out do you plan these projects?” Scott says recently they’ve been planning stuff through the end of phase three which will not be released for a couple years, but as far as the comic goes he’s about six months ahead.
  • “Will you connect The High Republic with the Skywalker Saga era?” Soule says “we have all done that and will continue to do that,” citing examples like the San Tekka clan.
  • “How old is Geode?” Gray says “he’s cagey about it. He’s probably older than most humans get, but not as old as Chewbacca.”
  • “Will we see Chewbacca born in the books?” Soule says “I can’t answer that, but I can say he is born during The High Republic era. That’s just math.”
  • “How many stages are there in each phase?” Soule says they can’t say much more than that there are three phases overall in the initiative.
  • “Will we get to learn more about the Jedi Council in this era?” Scott says “yes.”
  • “How do you name the books?” Ireland says she has never named her books except for one non-Star Wars example. Everything else has been the editors and the sales teams. Scott says The Rising Storm was written under the working title Strength in Unity but it was never going to be called that officially. Older says he rejected several titles for Race to Crashpoint Tower before settling on the final one.
  • “How does it feel to write each other’s characters and how does it feel to have other authors write your characters?” Older says some of Gray’s characters show up in The High Republic Adventures comic soon (including Geode) and loved writing Vernestra Rwoh in his new book. “To me that’s one of the best parts about the whole thing.” Soule says he’s excited to write Stellan Gios at some point because of his longtime friendship with Elzar Mann and Avar Kriss. “You read what the other folks have done and then try to be respectful. It’s a thrill when they’re written well.”
  • “Who created Vernestra? I was inspired by her.” Justina Ireland says “yay!”
  • “Will we see the point of view of bounty hunters?” “We’ve spent time talking about it.”
  • “Do the Nihil make an appearance in Solo: A Star Wars Story?” “It came out before we made them up, so no.” “The marauders and the Nihil have a certain similarity.”
  • “How would one get into writing Star Wars stories?” Gray says you have to write a whole lot of other stuff first so Lucasfilm Publishing can see what you’re capable of first. Love of Star Wars isn’t quite enough. Older says story is the most important part of it, and he loves that each author has their own voice in current Star Wars storytelling.
  • “Do I need to finish reading Light of the Jedi before reading wave two?” Soule says “yes and I encourage you to pick up the new paperback edition.”
  • “How do you connect all the stories?” Scott says they talk to each other all the time sharing outlines and ideas but they leave room for happy accidents to happen and allow things to flow freely on top of the established framework.
  • “Will we see more Jedi from the back to help with costuming?” Scott has been trying to put more in the comics by saying “We look past certain characters.”
  • “What new creatures are in the second wave?” New monsters, because Older has loved Star Wars monsters since the Rancor. Older named a monster and Scott gave it three heads to Daniel’s surprise. “We didn’t have a Wookieepedia entry for that yet, so how was I supposed to know?”
  • “Will we get more non-Jedi content?” Soule says they’re doing a lot with other characters especially in the stories they’re writing for Star Wars Insider magazine. Older says a Jedi investigator gets paired off with a private detective in the upcoming Trail of Shadows comic miniseries.
  • “What was your main source of inspiration for the visual look of this era?” Scott says the movie Excalibur, Ireland says art deco, Older says the behind-the-scenes footage from Return of the Jedi, Soule says 1960s-era space race stuff.
  • More news about future releases in The High Republic is due out in July.

Star Wars: The High Republic – The Rising Storm and Star Wars: The High Republic – Race to Crashpoint Tower will both be released tomorrow, June 28, with Star Wars: The High Republic – Out of the Shadows coming July 27.