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Now is a good time to get in on Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures, writer Daniel José Older says
The five writers behind Star Wars: The High Republic have made audiences fall for a wide array of new Star Wars characters, and then they went and put those characters through hell. They’ve done it with only two waves of books and comics so far, and they’re nowhere close to being finished. Daniel José Older, Claudia Gray, Justina Ireland, Cavan Scott, and Charles Soule are the five members of “Project Luminous” who have made these interconnected books and comics possible.
Older, a Star Wars book veteran (Star Wars: Last Shot) has been responsible not only for Wave 2’s Race to Crashpoint Tower (which takes place within Scott’s The Rising Storm), but also for writing the entire run thus far of the comic Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures from IDW. New characters such as Lula Talisola, Zeen Mrala, and Torban Buck (and the familiar Yoda as well) took center stage in the comic, and audiences saw their stories interact with other parts of the era as the wave continued. Issue #8 of the series, now available, will provide fans who have yet to read this title with a great jumping-on point.
SYFY WIRE caught up with Older to discuss why this new issue will function in this way, how he works within the Luminous team, Buckets of Blood, attachment, and more.
The Project Luminous members I've already talked to have special affinity for characters that they’ve created. Would it be safe to say that Lula, Zeen, and Ram Jomaram are special to you?
Yes they are very special, absolutely. I knew I was going to write an ongoing comic series, and I knew I was going to put out some books for young people. From early on, what I really went into it with was an understanding of a very massive story entwining all those different mediums that ran alongside and intimately connected with the rest of the High Republic initiative. Everything is interconnected in the High Republic which is what's so cool about it. I knew I got to have a little corner of it to myself, so I wanted to stake out this territory with a crew because Star Wars is great for crews, great for teams.
It's very found family as we see in this issue [#8], that we bring in new characters that we've met some other stuff, and they become part of the team. A lot of the things that are happening now were really coming out of the midway point and moving towards an epic conclusion.
Issue #8 of Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures is being described as a good jumping-on place for new readers. Is there a particular reason for that?
Yeah, totally. At this point, since it is right after the halfway point, they've all been through a lot, but also they're coming back together after all being separated. It's this moment, even if it's characters that have been introduced before, some people are meeting them for the first time. There are a lot of introductions happening, and it's the whole team coming back. There’s a little bit of a time jump. A couple of months have passed since the last issue, and they've all been through a lot, so they have to catch up with each other. They're really starting a brand new adventure right now.
All of this coming off of the Republic Fair which wasn't a very good day for anybody.
Cavan Scott gets a lot of grief for that, but all five of you were involved in it, right?
Yeah. I mean, Cavan did his job. He knows what he did, and he did it great. So the person responsible for writing a book that happens during a particular larger beat is juggling their own story with their own characters, and the ones that came before them, and the larger galactic historical moment that's happening. We all have a part in that. So it's a lot of teamwork and then also individual work, and then coming back in teamwork. I hope that makes sense.
Your Race to Crashpoint Tower fits perfectly within that book. How did you manage that? Somebody flies out of the action in that book and into yours and then out of yours and back into that. It's seamless.
I appreciate you saying that because it was the hardest thing to do in the whole initiative I think, but also one that Cav and I were really dedicated to and excited about. But I'll tell you the thing that made it even harder is that we were writing the books at different times, and not in the best way. He for whatever reason, scheduling and deadlines and everything else, he was doing the bulk of his writing after mine was done, and that was hard because he was really laying down more of a framework of what has happened. That meant that we had to really both meticulously plot and plan how things were going to work, and be in constant contact, and then check back in and make adjustments as things moved around. That's exactly what we did.
We started from a ground floor plan. He laid out a lot of the major beats of the fair, and then I went in and figured out where I would thread my characters through that, and then we just bounced it back and forth and back and forth with of course great editing from everyone involved. That was the process. It was hard, but what's fun in retrospect is that I'm doing much of the same process now but with myself. So there are things coming down the pipeline that will crossover with other things that I'm working on. It's just so much easier. Because the High Republic is like that, there's just tons of that throughout.
Lula and Zeen have come to greater prominence, but so has famed Jedi healer Torban Buck, aka Buckets of Blood. Is he also your creation?
Buckets of Blood is my creation, yes. He is based on someone who is street lore in New York City like the EMS world of New York City, which I was a part of for 10 years as a paramedic in the early stages of my writing career. People just talked about him. I actually never met him in person, but everyone was like, "Oh Buckets of Blood.” There were stories about him. He was a character. I knew back then, I didn't necessarily know certainly didn't know I was going to be a Star Wars writer, but I definitely knew he would pop up one day as a character somewhere, just because he was so melodramatic, and he would really literally announce himself over the air on EMS radio as Buckets of Blood. That's such a personality right? He's a healer, right? He's a medic. He takes care of people, but the name is so gruesome, and I love that dynamic within someone.
It was very early on. We were still at the ranch just really sussing out. It was literally they were like, "Well who will the Jedi of the High Republic be?" I was like, "Oh, oh I got one, Buckets of Blood." It's like, "What?" I said "There's no way that's going to be a Jedi, but it'd be so cool if it was." Then here we are.
Ram Jomaram is a new Jedi character who I'm assuming we've only begun to read about. What sets him apart?
When we meet Ram, we're really following his initial journey from going from someone who's looking totally inward to someone who realizes how big the galaxy is, and how important his own role in the galaxy can be, because Valo is a little off to the side planet. Suddenly, there's Nihil attacking, and there's dignitaries in danger. There's other Jedi to meet. These Jedi, these Padawans even, have seen the galaxy in a way that he can never have even imagined would be his life. Now he's helping them save the Republic, very literally. So we see him really just open his eyes in a whole new way. In that opening of eyes, he really does also have to step up and take responsibility for himself and what his role in this changing world is.
Is Ram the anti-Elzar?
I think somebody pointed it out to me and I was like, "Oh, he's the opposite of Luke." Luke is dying to get off the planet and get off his little desert moisture farm and see the galaxy and Ram is not.
Is there a character in the High Republic that you haven't gotten a chance to write yet that you really want to?
It was the crew of The Vessel, but I wrote them in the last cycle of High Republic Adventures. Who else? I always forget his name, the Blade of Bardotta. Porter Engle, definitely one of my favorite characters. I would love to slip him into something because he's so great and weird and fun to write, so we'll see.
How concerned about Yoda should I be? Because I'm pretty concerned.
Thank you. You should be more concerned.
Nobody's really talking about it. We know he lives, but…
Right, but he blew up.
Did he? See, I’m concerned.
I appreciate that. I do get that we all know that he lives… however, he's gone. He's been gone at this point for months. Y'all might not be worried about him, but the Padawans are worried about him. They haven't seen the movies. We should all be worried about Yoda is what I'm trying to say, because I'm worried about him.
I'm very worried about him.
I can’t not mention Peekpa the Ewok slicer from your Star Wars: Last Shot. Is there any hope of seeing them again?
Oh, I hope so… I can say that as long as I'm writing Star Wars, there is hope for more Peekpa material for sure.
My other favorite part of that book was when you had young Ben Solo almost killed by a culinary droid.
When you put it like that.
If we're not having that level of fun in Star Wars, then what are we doing?
I had a great time writing that, I can say that.
I mentioned Elzar Mann earlier, and this is now a necessary question for anybody High Republic-related. How many problems do you think would be rectified if Jedi were allowed to marry?
That's a really interesting question. I think it's less about marriage and more about our understanding of what attachment means, right? That's definitely an underlying theme of everything I do in Star Wars, especially with Jedi, is getting deep into that question. What's really cool in the High Republic era is that because these are Jedi who came up in a time of peace and not war, they get to deal with those questions much more thoughtfully and with much more exploration and thought and consideration than the Jedi who we know from the prequel era who are pretty much a wartime priesthood. They don't have the luxury of having lots of different interpretations of the force, at least they don't think they do. So we get a much more rigid Jedi Order than the one from the High Republic.
So its been really cool not only to write different Jedi with different understandings of interpretations of that particular guideline, let's call it, but also reading my fellow writers' understanding of it, and different Jedi with different understandings of it, and how they clash and are in discourse with each other and everything else. What does it mean, and what do we do with it? There's a lot of conversations to be had. I try to have them in the work coming out now, and the upcoming work.
What can fans look forward to when it comes to Wave 3? What are you really excited about?
Wave 3 just escalates and expands. The stakes are raised in every possible way. There are new characters that come into play, and they're really exciting new characters. We meet one of them in this current issue, who's one of my favorite Jedi that I've ever come up with. She has a really cool lightsaber which is the first time I got to design a lightsaber, which I'm really excited about. We already have met so many amazing High Republic characters, and there's more to come. Everything just gets bigger, and cooler, and more dangerous... and more intense.
Issue #8 of Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures is now available from IDW. For light and life.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.