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Written By:

Ed Fortune
Star Wars The Living Force Book Cover

John Jackson Miller is an American comic-book writer, novelist and commentator known for the Knights of the Old Republic and Knight Errant comic books and the Kenobi novel. His latest book, Star Wars: The Living Force, focuses on Qui-Gon Jinn, his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the twelve members of the Jedi Council. We caught up with John to find out more…

STARBURST: What is the elevator pitch for The Living Force?

John Jackson Miller: Qui-Gon Jinn walks into the Jedi Council chamber and challenges the masters to get out of the building and find out what they’re missing about the galaxy. “Help one person.”

The Phantom Menace is 25 years young this year, did that inform the writing in anyway?

Certainly. The story is set a year before those events so Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi have been working with one another for a good while. I determined that Qui-Gon would be one of the ones most likely to notice what would have been an undercurrent at this time: that the Republic and the Jedi are no longer serving the needs of people like they once did, setting up the conditions for the troubles to follow. And certainly, what we see of the Jedi Council in the movie and attendant prose from this time period gave me a lot to work with. Some of the characters we see are well-established, while others we’re getting to know for the first time.

The Star Wars series has a lot of authors creating work for it; how much negotiation is required to make the series fit together smoothly?

My editor, Tom Hoeler, kept me fully apprised of events in other books that might connect to mine – or provide opportunities for crossovers, as actually happened in the case of one character. Likewise, the Lucasfilm Story Group and fiction editor Jen Heddle communicated with us regularly to make sure everything fitted together and worked. I’m a veteran of the Knights of the Old Republic comics, the Kenobi novel, and the New Dawn novel among other things, so I have seen the process in a lot of different eras. Everyone’s been at this a long time and it’s a well-oiled machine.

The book does interesting things with the Jedi Council. Can you tell us more?

While we see some members of the Council in action in the films and in The Clone Wars series, this novel really takes a look at the body itself. What the members think the Jedi should be doing in the galaxy; what they think the Council should be doing within the Jedi Order. It turns out not all of them have the same view of these questions. Mace Windu answers Qui-Gon Jinn’s challenge by arranging for the Council to reconvene on Kwenn, a planet that was once a showpiece for the High Republic, but since then has seen better days. This gives everyone on the body a chance to get out and interact with the people that they’re supposed to protect. It also lets us see a lot of the members of the Council working together – and interacting, as friends and colleagues – in some new ways. There’s a lot of humour in the book, in addition to the adventure.

What part of the 
Star Wars universe would you like to explore next?

I’ve written in many different parts of the timeline over the years. The Original Trilogy remains a favourite of mine, but I also see a lot of places for new kinds of stories to be told elsewhere. It’s been a long time since I did a really extended storyline in something like a comics series; that could also be interesting to do again. Star Wars is rich with story opportunities, and I’m constantly finding angles I haven’t explored before.

If you could have a real working holocron, what would be in it?

All the books that I haven’t written yet. The Force can tell the future – maybe it can save me a little time on the next manuscript!

And if you could take one Star Wars thing and ensure that it would survive for thousands of years, what would it be?

Definitely the films – but also, if possible, something showing the context the films were released into. A New Hope on its own would be a treasure, but it’s a lot more fascinating if you can put it in its place in a Museum of 1977, to show how it changed society, filmmaking, and fandom. Because these pictures have that kind of lasting impact.

STAR WARS: THE LIVING FORCE is out now, and can be purchased at all good bookstores.

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