Shelly Shapiro Live Chat

May 19, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Posted in Books, Comic Books, Interview, Star Wars News | 1 Comment

Today Star Wars Books conducted a live chat with editor Shelly Shapiro on their Facebook page and a lot of questions were answered concerning the future novels we can expect as well many others. We have prepared an edited transcript below for your reading pleasure…

Shelly Shapiro: Hi, everyone. Bear with me while I read the questions and remember to refresh my page regularly!

Q: Will the Del Rey Star Wars novels’ timeline ever meet up to the events depicted in Dark Horse’s Star Wars: Legacy comics by John Ostrander and Jan Duursema that features Cade Skywalker?

Shelly Shapiro: I have no doubt that it will, eventually, as we continue to fill in the future history of the Skywalker/Solo clan.

Q: Will there be any more Tales collections for all the NJO, Clone Wars, and other stories that haven’t been collected yet?

Shelly Shapiro: We don’t have plans for those right now, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. For the moment, though, the only collection we’re planning is a Lost Tribe of the Sith collection.

Q: Hi Shelly! Any thoughts on a novel that would bring in some smuggler fun in the form of Han, Chewie, Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, and others?

Shelly Shapiro: I like them, so yes, I think we’ll consider smuggler-type adventures in the future. And don’t miss The Old Republic: Deceived, as it has a great smuggler-type character!

Shelly Shapiro: (New Clone Wars novels) Possibly. (A GL signature series) That could be very cool, but I don’t see it happening any time in the near future. (Blu-ray) We have marketing plans tied in to the blu-ray release.

Q: Can we anticipate a 20th anniversary edition of Dark Force Rising and The Last Command to compliment the forthcoming Heir to the Empire release?

Shelly Shapiro: I’d love to do them, but I think we will likely let the market guide us on that decision.

Q: Is there a possibility of additional Rogue and Wraith squadron books after Allston’s 2012 novel?

Shelly Shapiro: Absolutely possible.

Q: Can you give us any info on the next book series after FOTJ?

Shelly Shapiro: No idea yet! We have a lot of ideas to hammer out first.

Q: Will we see more novels featuring Kerra Holt? Or more books by John Jackson Miller (apart from his upcoming Lost Tribe of the Sith anthology)?

Shelly Shapiro: Definitely possible. Nothing in the works at this moment, though.

Q: Any thought to having only three-novel story arcs with one author as opposed to the nine novel approach with three authors that has been the recent trend?

Shelly Shapiro: We are backing off the multi-book, multi-author series for a little while, I think, if only to give us all some breathing room. We are talking about sticking to standalones, duologies, and trilogies for a bit in the near future.

Q: Any chance of more video game novelizations as with TFU – more specifically, the KOTOR games?

Shelly Shapiro: If the right game presents itself.

Shelly Shapiro: I have to say that right now we have a lot of ideas–a LOT of ideas, let me stress–and they’re mostly in the early-seed stages. So all these questions about “any plans for…” are hard to answer definitively, and easy to answer with a “Possible.” I can tell you that there are definitely plans for post-FOTJ stories. Just not sure yet what form and exactly what the stories will be.

Q: I’m a huge fan, one question. When FOTJ Started it was said a major character would die, has that been decided, and was it a collective choice, or the choice of one?

Shelly Shapiro: Actually, what I recall promising was that in this series, NO major character would die. Believe it or not, we don’t kill major characters lightly, and we don’t enjoy inflicting grief on our surviving characters.

Q: What’s the policy for deciding if new books are released in hardcover versus trade paperback?

Shelly Shapiro: Most new novels are being done in hardcover these days, because that seems to be what the market is asking for. Our one foray into trade paperback novels wasn’t terribly successful, so unless we see a major change in the marketplace, I suspect we’ll be sticking to hardcovers, mass-market paperbacks, and now–yay!–e-books.

Q: Will we be seeing any more novels (beside Revan and Darth Plageuis) that center on the Sith Lords? Perhaps one taking up where Dynasty of Evil left off?

Shelly Shapiro: We absolutely want Drew to explore the future with Zannah. Nothing definite yet, though.

Q: Is there still a possibility of getting a Boba Fett novel?. I believe Karen Traviss was set to write one but it ended up getting canceled.

Shelly Shapiro: We had to cancel that book because of changes to continuity and new material being planned on the tv end of things.

Q: Any news on the upcoming Alex Irvine Star Wars novel?

Shelly Shapiro: It’s set in the distant past and stars Nomi and Vima Sunrider. I think it’s really cool to explore some of these older legends and time periods that haven’t been touched by the novels yet. And Alex is a terrific writer, so I’m hoping for an epic legend!

Q: In Fate of the Jedi, it seems like you are setting up Ben to take up his father’s mantle as head of the Jedi order (a bit like in Half-Blood Prince with Harry and Dumbledore) will this be addressed in a future novel or series?

Shelly Shapiro: Wow, it’s so great to see all this enthusiasm! The best thing (and sometimes the hardest!) about working in Star Wars fiction is the incredible wealth of ideas open to us to explore. It’s like being the proverbial kid in a candy store. So yes, I hope to address Ben’s future in the Jedi Order at some time–I like Ben, and I think he has amazing potential as a really cool adult characters. And then, of course, there’s his cousin Allana, whom I can’t wait to help develop further.

Q: Will there ever be any novelizations of the legacy comics featuring Cade Skywalker? I realize this is a long shot, but is it possible that one day the comic series could be novelized? And how about another collaboration with Dark Horse (like with Knight Errant?)

Shelly Shapiro: Cade Skywalker is a really neat character–but right now I feel that things are so rich, we’d be limiting ourselves by simply novelizing Dark Horse’s material. I’m much more excited by collaborating more closely with Dark Horse, the way we did with Knight Errant–where each of us develops part of a greater whole and we work together to make that greater whole something really rich and exciting.

Q: What factors go into eBook pricing? They seem a bit over-priced considering the lack of costs normally associated with physical books: paper, binding, transportation, storage, etc.

Shelly Shapiro: I wish I understood that stuff, but I don’t. I do understand, however, that we live in a relatively free-market capitalist economy.

Q: Is there any sense of obligation to deal with the change in continuity regarding Even Piell’s fate in TCW? Especially considering the next installment of the Coruscant Nights series?

Shelly Shapiro: This is one of the biggest challenges for us. Thank goodness for Leland Chee at Lucasfilm, Keeper of the Holocron and grand master of retconning. Some things, though, just have to remain as they are. I prefer that to going back and revising already published novels to reflect recent changes. Look at Splinter of the Mind’s Eye–never revised, it just lives as an entity of its own, and that’s how it should be, in my honest opinion.

Q: Shelly do you think the whole death of Luke Skywalker thing was overblown by EU fanatics?

Shelly Shapiro: To be honest, I don’t even recall that brouhaha. Most so-called fanatics are wonderful in their love of the material, and getting excited–even negatively–is just a sign of that love.

Q: How do you determine which authors to ask to pen Star Wars novels?

Shelly Shapiro: I get approached by a lot of authors who want to write Star Wars. I read samples of their published work, and when I find someone I feel will be able to live up to our SW expectations, I pass those samples on to Lucasfilm for approval.

Q: Can you tell us why editors don’t do their jobs these days? Too many spelling errors in novels…and even in their later paperback releases nothing gets corrected…but not only spelling errors, but also major issues like character names.

Shelly Shapiro: I know I do my job, but I can tell you that these books go through a lot of iterations, and are read and reread by numerous people, but that sometimes, even with all that, errors slip through the cracks. Rest assured that every error we do catch gets corrected, but if we catch it too late… We’re also on a very tight production schedule, which can introduce errors, as well. We do our best to not let these things happen, and I, for one, hate when I find out that a major error has made it through into a finished book.

Q: Does George Lucas have the final say as to when and how Luke Skywalker dies… and when the novel will be out?

Shelly Shapiro: Of course GL has the final say as to when and how Luke dies! No current plans to even touch that.

Q: Will the Star Wars saga ever end, or will it just keep on going past the Legacy comics?

Shelly Shapiro: I hope not! We have millennia of past and future history yet to explore!

Q: How will the novels deal with the unnatural deaths of all younger characters in current novels who would theoretically be very alive by the Legacy comics time period given GFFA’s canon lifespans?

Shelly Shapiro: Most Star Wars characters don’t live THAT much longer than contemporary humans. One hundred and twenty would probably be pretty impressive. What has changed is that they age better, and remain vital much longer than most of us do on 21st-century Earth.

Q: Will we see an end point in the future, not the ending of exploring the in between of all eras?

Shelly Shapiro: As for an end point in the future, honestly, I don’t see that happening. There can always be new events in a galaxy that large. Though when, and if, we eventually put an end to Luke, Han, and Leia’s active careers, that’d probably feel like a major ending point, at least to one part of the saga.

Q: Who is your favorite character, author, novel, comic, and movie?

Shelly Shapiro: Hard questions! I confess to being very fond of Han; I like Jaina, Ben, and Allana a lot, too. And I loved Qui-Gon Jinn. I can’t have a favorite novel, because it’d be too much like a parent choosing favorites among his or her children. My favorite movie is Empire Strikes Back.

Q: What is the meaning/message of Star Wars for you? Would you consider yourself a Sith, Jedi, Mandalorian, or something else?

Shelly Shapiro: Good question. I think it’s that events–no matter how small or large in scale–revolve ultimately around human beings (including sapient aliens, of course!) and their feelings and their relationships with one another. Also, that no matter how strong the lure of evil, which we are all susceptible to, there is always the possibility of redemption. Which probably makes me a Jedi. Though my colleagues at RH probably would say I’m naturally more of a Sith!

Q: Is there any future plans for an updated 3rd edition chronology book?

Star Wars Publishing: No current plans for a third chronology book, but I can see the need for one in the future.

Q: Will we see any more making of books? Maybe updated ones on the prequels and the special editions?

Star Wars Publishing: As for making of books, J. W. Rinzler is currently writing the Making of Return of the Jedi.

Q: Do you know when we might see the cover for Revan revealed?

Star Wars Publishing: The Revan cover should be revealed sometime mid-summer.

Q: Shelly, can you give us any hints as to where Aaron Allston’s upcoming Wraith Squadron novel falls into the timeline?

Shelly Shapiro: Aaron’s Wraith Squadron novel takes place around the end of the FOTJ. I can’t wait to read it! The cover for Revan will be revealed when it is finished–right now we’re just at the sketch stage. But I know it’s going to be awesome. I love our Old Republic covers! (Also can’t wait to try the game!!!)

Q: Has there ever been any discussions about a Palpatine-centered book that takes place throughout the prequels? Perhaps a continuation of the Plageuis novel (however that turns out) that details how he implemented his plan to take over? The reasons behind the decisions he made, and how he dealt with unexpected surprises along the way?

Shelly Shapiro: I think once you’ve read Darth Plagueis, every one of Palpatine’s later decisions will be very clear. It will make watching the prequels much more interesting, I think.

Q: Will Del Rey make a commitment to pursue diversity in future publications?

Shelly Shapiro: I feel we’ve had quite a bit of diversity, especially when you take into consideration the growing number of prominent characters that aren’t human. Saba Sebatyne, for example: An awesome female Jedi who is barely even humanoid. (I like her a lot!)

Q: Shelly are their plans for single book story arc’s for future titles?

Shelly Shapiro: Yes, of course! Alex Irvine’s novel will stand alone, as will Jeff Grubb’s. We will be planning others, as well.

Q: When is Del Rey’s contract up?

Shelly Shapiro: I can’t tell you when the contract is up, but I can tell you that we have books planned through 2014 at the moment.

Q: Shelly, could you discuss how the role of editor is different in the Star Wars publishing shared universe, versus if you were editing an author’s own individual work in their own universe? Could you also describe how your role is either similar or different from Sue Rostoni at Lucasfilm?

Shelly Shapiro: My role as editor is much more complicated in the Star Wars universe. When I work with an author on a non-tie-in novel, the entire job is between the author and me, and the author has a lot more leeway in terms of what happens on the pages. Those novels don’t have to have approved outlines, for example: I’ll just make suggestions to the author as to how I feel he or she can improve the story and/or characters. With Star Wars, every aspect has to be approved by the licensor–LFL. So part of my job is to help the author make the work the best novel they can write, and part is as liaison between the author and LFL. Sue and I do very similar work, though it’s more her job to make sure the story and characters conform to Star Wars continuity and LFL expectations, while it’s more mine to make sure the writing flows well, the story evolves smoothly, etc. I hope that answers the question–it’s a small space and time in which to answer something not that simple!

Leeland Chee: Great job!

Shelly Shapiro: Thanks, O Great Holocron Keeper! And thanks to everyone for coming here with all these great questions, for putting up with any awkwardness on my part in terms of keeping up with this chat format, and especially for your ongoing enthusiasm and support for our books!

Remember, you can read the full, unedited live chat here on Star Wars Books Facebook page.

Posted By: Skuldren

1 Comment »

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  1. Very well done. For someone as out-of-the-loop as I have become it certainly plugged some holes in my knowledge. Thanks for this!

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