By: Jamison Wagner, Staff Reporter | Photos By: Rene Thompson
Michael Stackpole is one of the authors of the acclaimed X-Wing series in the Star Wars Expanded Universe and he took a few moments at the Albuquerque Comic Expo to answer some questions the Chronicle had about his involvement in the Star Wars fiction series.
Chronicle: How did you get involved as an author in the Star Wars universe?
Michael: I had a contract with Bantam Books and at the time Bantam was handling the Star Wars license. Bantam was using Star Wars books as a way to promote all of their authors. So, my agent was talking to me about getting one of the book series licenses. Bantam decided to buy the license to the Star Wars: X-Wing video game. And when Bantam looked down their list of authors and asked “Who do we know that knows computer games, can write military science fiction, has worked in someone else’s universes, can work fast, can work all of these things?” Pretty much, I was the only one who filled out all of those boxes for Bantam. And so my agent called me on Valentine’s Day of that particular year, really
Chronicle: How did the concept for the X-Wing series and Rogue Squadron come about?early in the morning and said “Bantam offered you four Star Wars books” and I said “yes”. And there it was.
The characters are pretty unique for the most part.
Michael: The only two characters that carried over from the movies were Wedge Antilles and Admiral Ackbar. There were a few others on the periphery. To certain extent, that was really part of the design. What I was asked to do was to write military science fiction about a fighter squadron and they wanted a brand-new set of characters, because brand-new characters would give them two things. One new character to make toys out of, but two, would also give us the leeway to kill characters and have a higher level of drama. Any character could be taken out of play in those books and that really kept the tension up. They also wanted a mix of women and non-humans because they had never originally done that in the movies because they did not have the special effects budget to do it. So when you are writing, you get an unlimited special effects budget, so there you go.
Chronicle: How did Aaron Allston wind up later running with the X-Wing series in the Wraith Squadron books?
Michael: What happened after I had published the X-Wing books is that they had done far better than Bantam or anyone ever expected. I had talked to my editor about what I had wanted to with “I, Jedi”. So when Bantam went to Lucasfilm for another contract, my editor Tom Dupree sold them on “I, Jedi” as a hardback. So I was locked in to do that. They also wanted to do four more X-Wing books so Tom left one of those open for me and then he said, “Look, we are going to have someone else do a trilogy.” I had introduced him to Aaron Allston a couple of years before and so Tom said, “Hey, we are going to get your buddy Aaron to do this.” I was like “great” as I knew Aaron would wonderfully. So that is how Aaron got brought on board.
Chronicle: Are there any further plans to continue with the X-Wing series and Rogue Squadron at all? Michael: There was a new X-Wing book that came out recently, “Mercy Kill.” But literally since the merger with Disney in those eighteen months they have not figured out what they are doing with the book program. There is now sense of what we as authors are going to do now. So we are waiting for Uncle Walt to make the decision. So they go into the freezer and ask Uncle Walt and he says yes or no. It is like a Ouija board thing.
Chronicle: So if Disney does green-light the books, do you have a general idea of what you would want to do with the X-Wing series?
Michael: I do not know. The first thing that would have to happen is they would have to offer me a contract and we would have to see if it would work with my schedule and those things. That might or might not happen. If it did, they would generally have an idea of what they are looking at and I would just work with that. If they did say “Hey you can do anything else you want,”
I would figure something out and just push into one of the many holes in the universe. Going out and doing something with the Fell family would be fun to play with.
For more information on Michael Stackpole and his works, visit his website at stormwolf.com