If you’re into Star Wars, you know the name Amy Ratcliffe.
Ratcliffe is a stage host at Star Wars Celebration, has co-hosted popular Star Wars podcasts (currently Lattes With Leia, formerly Full of Sith), written numerous articles for Star Wars Insider, and writes for the official Star Wars website. Currently, she’s working as the managing editor for Nerdist and still writes about Star Wars. When it was announced that she would be authoring a new Star Wars book called Women of the Galaxy, I don’t think anyone was surprised. She’s a perfect fit.
Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy takes a look at 75 different characters from a galaxy far, far away. Each one is written about by Ratcliffe and new art has been commissioned by a team of 18 female and non-binary artists for each one.
How did you get the job of writing Women of the Galaxy?
Amy Ratcliffe: My work on Women of the Galaxy started with an email that seemed too good to be true. My editor for the book, Steve Mockus at Chronicle Books, reached out to see if I was interested in a Star Wars project, and I didn't quite believe it. I read the email a couple of times. I closed my laptop. I reopened my laptop to make sure the email was still there and I wasn't hallucinating. Anyway, I had to process a lot of emotions. Once I came to terms with some of them and spoke with Steve about the project in more detail, I submitted samples and things fell into place from that point.
The book features a lot of characters from a wide array of backgrounds, what was your personal approach to the characters you were writing about?
Being someone with a Rebel Alliance tattoo, I definitely had to work at sitting down with an open mind to all types of characters and choices. I tried to be as objective as possible (my editor helped tremendously with this) to be fair to everyone. Star Wars includes so many different types of belief alignments and careers, it was surprisingly easy to find moments to connect with no matter whether the character at hand was a politician, a bounty hunter, or a fighter.
Of all the characters you wrote about, who was your personal favorite?
This is impossible to answer. I can't choose! I learned more about so many of the 75 characters featured in the book as I researched. I can say I found a lot of joy in writing about some characters from books and comics who may not be as well known, such as Kyrsta Agate and Rae Sloane. I want everyone in fandom to know how rad they are; maybe reading about them will inspire some fans to seek out new material.
Can we nerd out about Kyrsta Agate (pictured above by artist Annie Wu) for a second? Her little maneuver at the Battle of Jakku is still something I dream about seeing.
Right? She had such an important role in that battle with her powerful moment of sacrifice; I believe her action was key to the New Republic claiming victory. For her to have the presence of mind to come up with the seemingly insane plan to use her tractor beam to pull down a freaking Super Star Destroyer to crash into the surface of Jakku... it's so badass.
It really was. With that out of the way, can you tell me a little bit more about what your writing process was like?
I wanted each entry to feel like a celebration of the character, highlighting personality traits and accomplishments and maybe some behind the scenes information. I came up with a process for tackling each bio. First I listed high-level traits and story beats I associated with the character, then came the especially fun part, which was diving back into the films, TV series, comics, books—whatever information I needed to compile key moments. I made notes about memorable quotes, key scenarios, and more everyday decisions and actions. I took all that information and made an outline and wrote about one character at a time. I made an overly complicated spreadsheet to keep track of everything.
Tell me more about what sorts of things made it onto your spreadsheet.
I love organizing information, so apologies if this boring. I had a list of every character in the book and then color-coded them by which movies, TV series, etc. they appear in. Then I tracked the status of each character as I completed research or turned in drafts, along with any notes or lingering questions I had for my editor or Lucasfilm and various edits. It was easy for me to track my progress at a glance with the spreadsheet. And being able to mark different stages as complete was so satisfying.
What's the thing that excites you most about a project like this? Why do we need more books like this?
I am crazy excited about the art in Women of the Galaxy. It's incredibly cool to have over 100 illustrations of characters we know as we haven't seen them before. The 18 artists who worked on the book brought their own styles to the characters they drew, which makes the book so special. With that and seeing iconic moments in different palettes and seeing characters that have rarely (or never!) been illustrated, it's such a delight to flip through the pages. It's wonderful that this book showcases so many artists who depict the galaxy as we've never seen it before while highlighting amazing female characters
And why is that good for Star Wars?
Representation matters. Period.
Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy comes out in hardcover on October 30 from Chronicle Books.