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Every author has a creative sandbox to play in, but Chuck Wendig’s happens to be the size of Tatooine. The man behind the cyber thriller Zer0es, Marvel Comics' Hyperion, the Terribleminds blog and a whole lot of other stuff might earn a spot as Grand Marshal of the Star Wars Day parade if such a thing existed.
Wendig’s book Star Wars: Aftermath, released last September, was part of the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” publishing push that connected the narrative dots between the original trilogy and Episode VII. The canonical story featured familiar characters from the Star Wars Universe while also introducing memorable new ones -- such as the sadistically comical battle droid Mr. Bones, Temmin Wexley (eventually portrayed by Greg Grunberg in TFA) and Sinjir Rath Velus, the first gay protagonist, that we know of, in the SWU.
With the second installment, Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt, arriving this July, and his writing duties on The Force Awakens Marvel comic coming next month, Wendig is keeping pretty busy in that galaxy far, far away.
But we’re not entirely ready to talk about all that in depth with him – yet. Instead, since we’re in the midst of our book theme month, and today just happens to be Star Wars Day, I thought it was worth a brief check-in with Chuck.
Read ahead to see get his take on his favorite childhood books, what inspires him, the state of the Hugo Awards, and how I can get Mr. Bones into a new Star Wars movie.
What is the oldest book you still have from your childhood?
The oldest book is ... probably a worn-to-hell, beaten-up The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in mass-market paperback. Either that, or the mmpb of McCammon’s Swan Song, which is another book (though markedly different) that I read hundreds of times over the years.
Do you have a handful of books you like to give out as gifts to people?
Not consistently. I do have books over the last year that I love that I’ll secure in a pile, ready to throw them at people with vigor and joy. So, anything I read that I really like — well, it goes in the pile.
What are the books you revisit the most that inspire or humble you?
Fiction-wise, anything by Robin Hobb, Robert McCammon, Joe Lansdale, Bradley Denton, Christopher Moore.
Considering the controversies and trolling, can the Hugo Awards be fixed, and should they be?
Something needs to be done, though I’m certainly not the person to ask. What I know is that this isn’t just in the Hugos — it’s in most fandoms now. It’s in video games. It’s in comics. This is pop culture. This is Gamergate, it’s Trump, it’s all of it. I like to believe it’s the fear-bleats of an animal that knows extinction is coming for its culture, but who knows?
If you had your pick of Star Wars characters to write into classic stories, which would you use in a Lovecraftian horror, Hammett-esque noir, hard Asimovian sci-fi, and a Tolkien-esque fantasy, and why?
Fantasy is already too close. I’d totally go with a Hammett noir. How awesome would that be? Han Solo as the beleaguered detective ...
I hope to discuss Life Debt more in the coming months, but we know (based on that EW excerpt) Sinjir, Norra, and Jas meet up with Han and Chewie. Talk about the level of geeking out you experienced by writing your characters in scenes with them.
It gave me no small thrill to get to take the reins of the Millennium Falcon and its two famous pilots. If only because, though we know where their story is going, we don’t know how they get there, and I’m geeked to be able to contribute a leg of that journey to the narrative canon.
Is there anything you can tease about Life Debt?
IT IS A BOOK BUT ALSO A VR EXPERIENCE — wait, no, not really.
I can’t say anything! If I give anything away, a lightsaber blade will appear behind me and remove my head from my shoulders.
How do we get Mr. Bones into a Star Wars movie, and is Greg Grunberg now on your speed dial?
Greg won’t answer my calls. Or my texts. Or my screams from his shrubbery.
As for Bones in a SW movie? I do all I can do, which is pray at my Dark Sith Altar at night, sacrificing Jedi — one by one — upon it until the Force brings me my fortune.
Stay tuned for more coverage on Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig, available July 19, 2016.