Timothy Zahn

Timothy Zahn preview

In the latest Insider, Star Wars author Timothy Zahn reflects on the 20th Anniversary of Heir to the Empire, which kick-started the modern era of Star Wars novels. The following extract begins with Zahn explaining his reaction when he was first offered the chance to write a Star Wars novel...

The predominant emotion was panic. It was overwhelmingly exciting; but, at the same time, if I did a bad job on it, hundreds of thousands of people were going to see me fail. That’s a scary prospect for a mid-level science fiction writer.

Was there ever a concern that Star Wars without Darth Vader might not work?

No one at the time knew if Star Wars fans were even out there any more. I don’t know if George Lucas was thinking about doing the prequels at that point, but I think on some level this was the test to see if anybody still cared about Star Wars. We’d had successful books with Han Solo and Lando Calrissian—during the time the movies were coming out—without Darth Vader or any of the other major characters. I think the feeling was Vader is gone, the Emperor is gone, but we still have Luke, Han, and Leia, and if the Star Wars fans are still out there, they’ll probably grab on to this.

When you embarked on the first book, how tightly did you plan the entire trilogy?

I had the basic plot set from the beginning. I had a 20-page outline for the first book, and five pages or so each on the second two. I had learned at that time what works for me: because, as I finish the first book of a series or a trilogy, I’ve made enough changes along the way that my other outlines are not necessarily that useful. Things that I thought might happen in the first book didn’t—I came up with something better instead—and so the second and third outlines were semi-irrelevant. The main plot-threads that outlined where the whole series was going were set from the beginning, so they didn’t change. I knew about the final confrontation at Mount Tantiss; I knew about the results of the battles; and I had the overall structure, but a lot of details got changed.

You can read the full interview with Timothy Zahn Star Wars Insider #127 (US numbering), on sale now.

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Category: Interviews | Posted on: 26 July 2011