Star Wars: A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy

41yIXVFArxLPenned by acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Bracken (Darkest Minds series), we get to see A New Hope like we’ve never seen it before – exclusively from the mind’s eyes of Leia, Han, and Luke. The sampler that Disney/Lucasfilm provided only included the first three chapters, which was still plenty of a tease to get me to pre-order it.

The book begins right where Episode IV does, above Tatooine, with Leia and the crew of Tantive IV fleeing Darth Vader and the Star Destroyer Devastator after intercepting the Death Star plans. However, instead of seeing stormtroopers blow through the hatch in a blaze of laser fire, you’re inside the mind of the Princess wondering how she is going to complete her mission despite the dire situation she and her Rebel compatriots are facing.

Along with the physical realm of what Leia has to deal with, Bracken takes you back to the Princess’ upbringing on Alderaan and how she has been labeled for so long as just a pretty member of royalty while trying to earn respect as a legitimate senator.

As we all know, Leia is captured and taken prisoner aboard the Star Destroyer and eventually transferred to the Death Star. What Bracken explains, however, is there is quite a story that takes place between her capture and her eventual incarceration on the Empire’s ultimate battle station we never were privy to until  now. I can only imagine the additional detail within the larger story Bracken will unfold before us later in the book.

I also very much enjoyed how the dialogue in the book, which is sparse in the first few chapters since it is mainly about what Leia is thinking, echoes the lines from the film. This makes the words figuratively jump off the page and make for absolutely delightful reading as you are whisked through the story relating to the pictures and sounds from the film.

The bottom line is this: I found Bracken delivering quality story telling. Much like Lost Stars, this is a story I didn’t know I wanted until I started reading it. Again, a warning: Don’t let the targeted age group fool you into believing this isn’t a perspective on the OT you wouldn’t enjoy.

A little more background on the author from Amazon.com: Alexandra Bracken is the New York Times bestselling author of The Darkest Minds and Never Fade. Born and raised in Arizona, she moved east to study history and English at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. Alex now lives in New York City, where you can find her hard at work on her next novel in a charming little apartment that’s perpetually overflowing with books. Visit her online at www.alexandrabracken.com and on Twitter @alexbracken.

In case you didn’t know, Bracken is quite the Star Wars fangirl. Be sure to read up on her post here about growing up loving the toys and books and how exciting it was for her to have this opportunity to combine two big loves of her life – Writing & Star Wars:

http://alexandrabracken.tumblr.com/post/102568839747/bracken-joins-star-wars-saga-author-lineup

She also talks a lot more about The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy on her website here: http://www.alexandrabracken.com/?p=1769

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: So You Want to be a Jedi?

4134IGWthTLIf you’re like me, your favorite movie of the Original Trilogy is Empire. It’s difficult to really call it my favorite since I love all three movies deeply and watch them over and over again equally. But there’s just something special about Empire – whether it’s the Hoth battle scene, learning the ways of the Force through Luke’s experience on Dagobah, or the dark ending that sees our favorite smuggler frozen and taken from Leia just as things were getting going between them and the big reveal about Darth Vader’s family tree.

So to say I’m very much looking forward to reading So You Want to be a Jedi? by Adam Gidwitz would be a drastic understatement. Like the other two OT retellings that were released today, StarWars.com made the first three chapters of Gidwitz’s retelling of Episode V online. From just the small percentage of the book I’ve seen, it reveals the stories that make up the grander story of The Empire Strikes Back – which enhances the film immensely and gives you a different perspective to the 35-year-old story line in a new and exciting way.

The book opens pretty much like the film does, with Luke riding his tauntaun on the surface of Hoth and conversing with Han, who is cracking jokes about how little life is on the planet. The first chapter is told from the first-person point of view of Luke and is written in the present tense, so the action is happening real-time which makes the pace quick and thrilling. Of course we all know what happens from there, but as all three of these junior readers that have been released today will show, there’s a big difference between the first-person point of view of our characters and the third-person perspective the films can only offer.

In addition, Gidwitz’s retelling of Empire comes with a bonus at the end of every chapter – Jedi training. You read that correctly. At the end of the first three chapters at least, which is all that was included in the sampler, the reader is presented with steps to becoming a Jedi, starting with meditation, then going to the importance of breathing, and finally to reaching out with your mind. This makes the cover price of the book worth it alone – let alone the bulk of the book is the retelling of my favorite Star Wars movie of all time. It’s obvious once the story takes you to Dagobah, the training modules will synchronize nicely with Luke’s education thanks to Master Yoda.

Like the other two books, as well, the dialogue in So You Want to be a Jedi? aligns very closely with the film, so you are transported through the book seeing the sights and sounds of the movie in your mind’s eye which brings the whole experience to life.

It’s impossible to spoil these books since they are retellings of the OT as we all know and love – but experiencing them from a new perspective certainly enriches the stories. At least it does for me.

As mentioned previously, the book is targeted toward the younger crowd, but it shouldn’t keep you from checking it out if you love Empire or Star Wars in general. In fact, if there’s a child in your life who loves Star Wars, here’s a golden opportunity to do some reading together.

A little more background on the author from Amazon.com: Adam Gidwitz grew up in Baltimore. Now he lives in Brooklyn and teaches kids large and slightly less large at Saint Ann’s School. Adam only writes about what he’s experienced personally. So, while all of the strange, hilarious, and frightening things in A Tale Dark and Grimm really did happen to Hansel and Gretel, they also happened to Adam. Of course, if you’ve ever had a childhood, they’ve probably happened to you, too.

His website is http://www.adamgidwitz.com/ and he can found on Twitter @AdamGidwitz

Adam posted a blurb about the book on his website, which can be found here: http://www.adamgidwitz.com/news/so-you-want-to-be-a-jedi/

 

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side!

41o-iTA7vgLOf the three young readers out today, Beware the Power of the Dark Side! appears to be for the youngest crowd. The author is Tom Angleberger, who is famous for his Origami Yoda series among his other children’s books.

Angleberger’s writing style is more for grades 3-5 in my opinion (which is fine considering the book is written for grades 3-7), but it may seem a little juvenile for the 6th and 7th graders in this reviewer’s opinion, and much more so as you climb the age ladder.

Still, the book is fun and engaging, even for the most devoted Star Wars fan. The first three chapters of the retelling of Return of the Jedi cover R2D2 and C3PO’s trek through the desert of Tatooine toward Jabba’s Palace, so very much in line with the film without covering the Darth Vader Death Star 2 scene announcing the Emperor’s visit.

Subsequently, the story provides background on Jabba the Hutt, his palace, why Han Solo is hanging like a wall painting, etc. All of the cool components that kick off Episode VI.

It’s written in the third person, so like most of the Star Wars written genre, you get to dip into each characters’ mind remotely – but get to see the stories and happenings that never could make it into a major motion picture because of time constraints. The other two books out today (The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy; and So You Want to be a Jedi?) are either first person or switch back and forth between first person and third person depending on the chapters that were contained in the sampler.

Like the other two books, as well, the dialogue in Beware the Power of the Dark Side! aligns very closely with the film, so you are transported through the book seeing the sights and sounds of the movie which brings the whole experience to life. Angleberger also adds his own dialogue as he imagined it would’ve been as the ROTJ scenes unfold, giving the reader a deeper insight into how things may actually have happened a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

As I’ve mentioned with the other reviews, it’s impossible to spoil these books since they are retellings of the OT as we all know and love (unless you’ve not seen the films!?!? Ack!) But being able to experience them from a new perspective certainly enriches the story line – and Angleberger does it in a way that is fun for all ages.

As mentioned previously, the book is targeted toward the younger crowd, but it shouldn’t keep you from checking it out if you love ROTJ. As noted before, if there’s a child in your life who loves Star Wars, here’s a golden opportunity to do some reading together.

You can learn more about the author and his work on his website (http://origamiyoda.com) and he can be found on Twitter @OrigamiYoda.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side! is only mentioned briefly on Angleberger’s site here in preparation for BOOKCON back in May (http://origamiyoda.com/2015/05/news-and-stuff/) Currently his Star Wars book is not listed on his site, but expect that will soon change.

For more information on the popular Origami Yoda series, check out this site: http://childrensbooks.about.com/od/genrefiction/a/Origami-Yoda-Books-By-Tom-Angleberger.htm

 

 

Three more canon stories next week!

I confidently believe I speak for many – if not all – Star Wars fans when I say it’s grand to be a perpetually kid when it comes to our favorite universe from a galaxy far, far away. We’ve all seen grown men fighting for Star Wars “dolls” – OK, action figures – and cosplaying to the nth degree, even just to go stand in a line for hours to have a chance at the aforementioned dolls. And it’s awesome!

Enter Disney/Lucasfilm’s efforts to get us primed for The Force Awakens with more than 20 books – many of which are young adult and junior novels – in a marketing blitz to appeal to all ages of the Star Wars Fandom Universe.

Talk about feeding into our desires to never grow up.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve absolutely gobbled up the six new adult canon novels released this year, a young adult novel, Lost Stars, and the three junior novels, Smuggler’s Run, Moving Target, and A Weapon of the Jedi. They all are excellent.

Yes, I know there’s a preconceived notion the young adult, junior novels, and young readers aren’t as compelling or engaging as adult novels, but I beg to differ. While the sentence structure and the overall concepts are simplified to a certain degree to make it appropriate for the age group targeted, they are just as enjoyable in my opinion as the adult novels if you are a Star Wars fan. They certainly enhance my certain point of view of the Star Wars Universe.

If you agree, you’re in for a real treat – this Tuesday (September 22, 2015) marks the release of three more junior novels! I downloaded the sampler of the three books and will post my reviews of the first few chapters of each on release day. You can download the sampler, too, by clicking here: http://a.dilcdn.com/bl/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2015/06/Star-Wars-Chapter-Sampler-FINAL.pdf

Here’s the description from StarWars.com (http://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-adaptation-covers-revealed-presenting-the-new-original-trilogy):

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….

“That’s how it all started. And it will soon continue. With the world anxiously awaiting the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens this holiday season, Disney-Lucasfilm Press has decided to revise the saga for a whole new generation of readers. In a new series coming September 22, fans will experience the original trilogy in an entirely different way, with Star Wars: A New Hope — The Princess, The Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken (the Darkest Minds series), Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back — So You Want to Be a Jedi by Adam Gidwitz (A Tale Dark & Grimm series), and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi — Beware the Power of the Dark Side! by Tom Angleberger (the Origami Yoda series).

“But these are more than just mere retellings from this top talent; these are fresh interpretations — true to the films but filtered through each author’s vision. In each novel, the authors get inside the characters’ heads, tell us about the scenes between the scenes, and even teach us how to be a Jedi.”

Here’s the descriptions of each of the books on Amazon.com:

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Star Wars: A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Pages: 336
Ages 8-12; Grades 3-7

Product Description:
The galaxy is at war.

Although the Rebel Alliance has won a few battles against the Empire, hope is fading. The Empire is about to finish building the greatest weapon the galaxy has ever seen-the Death Star. The rebels’ only chance to defeat it now lies in the unlikely hands of a princess, a scoundrel, and a farm boy. . . .

Acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Bracken delivers a captivating retelling of Star Wars: A New Hope like you’ve never experienced before. Since the premier of the original film, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Luke Skywalker have become iconic, larger-than-life characters. The Princessthe Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy takes a deeper look at these three heroes as they join forces to defeat the evil that threatens their entire galaxy.

4134IGWthTLStar Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: So You Want to be a Jedi?
Author: Adam Gidwitz
Pages: 336
Ages 8-12; Grades 3-7

Product Description:
Acclaimed, New York Times best-selling author Adam Gidwitz delivers a captivating retelling of Star WarsThe Empire Strikes Backlike you’ve never experienced before, infusing the iconic, classic tale of good versus evil with a unique perspective and narrative style that will speak directly to today’s young readers while enhancing the Star Wars experience for core fans of the saga.

41o-iTA7vgLStar Wars: Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side!
Author: Tom Angleberger
Pages: 432
Ages 8-12, Grades 3-7

Product Description:
Acclaimed, New York Times best-selling author Tom Angleberger delivers a captivating retelling of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi like you’ve never experienced before, infusing the iconic, classic tale of good versus evil with a unique perspective and narrative style that will speak directly to today’s young readers while enhancing the Star Wars experience for core fans of the saga.

Star Wars ComLINKS: The Aftermath of Force Friday for this business traveler

I’m a reader. I use Amazon … a lot. I travel often for business. Those are the three components that made up my Force Friday experience and I’m excited to share my Force Friday story here on Star Wars ComLINKS.

Allow me to explain.

I pre-ordered five of the Force Friday books on Amazon Prime Day (July 15) to take advantage of a little bit of a discount offered to Prime members. Of the five books I ordered one digitally (Aftermath) and the other four were hard covers (Lost Stars, Smuggler’s Run, The Weapon of a Jedi, and Moving Target). My reasoning for the digital copy of Aftermath was so I could read it as soon as it dropped on Thursday night/Friday morning vs. waiting until my UPS guy dropped a box on my doorstep Friday afternoon/evening. My strategy worked out well as I’ll cover here in a bit.

So how does traveling for business come in to this explanation of my Force Friday experience?

Here’s how.

HanSolo0221131_0I imagine star lines streaking past when the Alaska Airlines pilot throttles for takeoff. I step off the plane feeling like Han Solo descending the Falcon’s ramp. Business after-hours functions often remind me of a Mos Eisely cantina – the good and the bad.

But the reason I even bring this up is because my latest out-of-towner appeared to cast a dark shadow over my Force Friday plans. Business took me out of town last week and I was forced to spend all of Sept 3rd and 4th in meetings and traveling to and fro. I finally wrestled my leg from the Sarlacc tentacle’s grasp around 5pm Friday and caught a transport to the docking bay where a starship (a Boeing 737-800) waited to whisk me home.

The YouTube live stream kept me up late Wednesday night and I managed to steal peeks at Twitter and Facebook during breaks between conference calls as lines formed and the
anticipation reached a fever pitch. I was as anxious as Chewbacca to get home to Kashyyyk lifedayon Life Day.

I spent my layover in Seattle on Thursday night watching toy unboxing videos and interviews with the authors of the new canon novels – what I was looking forward to most being an avid Star Wars novel reader.

I kept checking in with my Tweeple who were expecting to download Aftermath on their Kindles to see if anyone had seen or heard when we could expect it. I was hitting “sync” on my Kindle reader about every 5 minutes, or more often if I thought about it.

Rarely do I splurge and purchase GoGo Internet on flights but the situation called for it as I was determined to start reading Aftermath as soon as I possibly could.

It paid off.

I don’t recall the time of day or where over Nevada or Oregon I was because I was too excited, distracted, and focused to look. I got an email from Amazon alerting me that my credit card had been charged the 11 bucks and Aftermath was now available to download. If you’ve ever used GoGo Internet while flying, you know it’s super slow – only good for web surfing, emails, texting, etc. It seemed like an eternity but aftermathIphonefinally the status bar registered
100% and I was able to open Chuck Wendig’s highly anticipated first book in a trilogy of stories meant to bridge the 30-year gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Needless to say, the remainder of the trip home was spent reading Aftermath on my iPhone. Turbulence shook the plane but my eyes never left my tiny screen. I was absorbing it like a wampa with a freshly killed tauntaun.

By the time I landed at my small hometown regional airpiort, it was 15 minutes AFTER midnight on Force Friday. I was 20% into Aftermath but now needed to get to my transport (my car) as quickly as possible because I knew all the Star Wars merchandise that was released at midnight was going fast.

I found my ride and tore out of the parking lot, nearly sideswiping other vehicles and trees that lined the road. I felt like a biker scout attempting to flee from Rebel Alliance infiltrators on a speederbike on the forest moon of Endor.pickedover

I arrived at Walmart about a quarter to 1 a.m. and dashed inside to find the aftermath of dedicated fellow Force Friday enthusiasts. The shelves were picked clean like skeletons in a Rancor pit. There were balloons and cupcakes and a few faithful fans still mulling about in costumes. But the damage had been done. I was virtually shut out when it came to toys and games.

Mentally I was in a good spot, though. I was already on a Star Wars high because of Aftermath and had the Labor Day holiday weekend to absorb the other new stories. Aftermath would be wrapped up by Friday afternoon and then four new books would be on my doorstep.

And that’s exactly how it happened.

Force Friday was a whirlwind of travel and monitoring what I could online. I drew it up very differently when it was first announced, but all in all, I look back on it with fondness. To be able to download Aftermath and start reading at 35,000 feet – it was like traveling through hyperspace (ok 500 mph) while getting my hands on the next chapter of the Star Wars Saga.

May the Force be with you.

IMG_0024

Only about 4 months to go!

Adam Harris’ Star Wars Documentary Will Inspire a Galaxy

“This film is not just about Star Wars and Star Wars fandom, it’s about community, family, overcoming adversity and living your dreams.”
– Adam Harris

mysagawebsite

If you haven’t heard Adam Harris’s story yet, then you must be living as a hermit on Tatooine. As Star Wars fans, we continually are immersed in stories that inspire us, seeing and reading how our heroes overcome challenges and turn seemingly hopeless situations into ones of survival and celebration. Adam Harris is the real-life embodiment of what inspirational stories are made of.

Enter Adam Harris’s creation – a Star Wars fan film documentary entitled My Saga that’s currently in production and due to be released in 2016. From the film’s website (http://mysaga.com.au/): “My Saga follows the journey of Adam Harris, who four years ago was struck down with a brain tumor, and transformed something tragic into something positive. With the love of his family and his passion for Star Wars, he overcame this adversity to be given a chance to live a dream with his son, Jack Anakin Harris. This father and son have now embarked on a journey together for the next 12 months to explore the bonds between generations of fans as they experience the build up to the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.”

adamandfamI’m disappointed I didn’t learn of Adam and his story before attending Star Wars Celebration: Anaheim as I would’ve sought him out, even if just to meet him and shake his hand.  Adam, his wife Angela and their three children, reside in Australia. Through all the Facebook posts, Tweets, and YouTube links available on social media about Adam and My Saga, his journey captured my attention. Many news outlets, blogs, and Star Wars fan sites have already covered Adam’s story. But still, I wanted to reach out to Adam and let him know of another soul his story touched and do what I could to help promote the film and his website, which recently launched an online store (http://store.mysaga.com.au/) with the merchandise profits going to the Starlight Children’s Foundation (http://www.starlight.org/).

To learn more about Adam’s story, check out the feature produced by Australia’s SBS 2, The Feed:


(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWo63YBDt94&sns=em)

Adam was gracious enough to sit down to do a Q&A with Cloud City HoloNet despite his busy schedule, which includes being a full-time husband and father, along with a full-time job and all the demands that come with producing My Saga. His wife Angela also chimed in, so be sure to read the entire Q&A below.

“Don’t ever give up, believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to be you. Embrace your passions.”   – Adam Harris

adamlightsaber

CCHN: What stage are you currently with My Saga and is there a release date you are targeting?

Adam: We are approximately at the half way point of shooting currently and we are aiming for an early 2016 release. Hopefully sometime around February/March next year.

CCHN: What has been the biggest challenge so far in making the documentary?

Adam: Time. Myself and my team all have jobs, film-making is our passion but unfortunately at this stage it doesn’t pay the bills. So we all work, have families and we want to make this film, it’s trying to find a perfect balance. Finding the time to film has proved quite a challenge, sometime though we’ve had to make the time due to it being a certain event that takes place.

CCHN: Why a documentary vs. a traditional film?

Adam: I love fan films, I’ve always wanted to make my own Star Wars film but when they announced the new trilogy I remember my first time seeing Star Wars in the theatre with my father and it just hit me that I now had an opportunity to capture that moment with son and furthermore I could take my son on a Star Wars pilgrimage and find out why people connect and bond with the Star Wars story.

CCHN: What has been the most enjoyable part of making the documentary?

Adam: Being able to share it with my family. To have them by my side experiencing those special moments with me is just amazing. Especially to have my 6 year old son Jack with me during my time in the U.S….it was truly special.

CCHN: What makes working with Haywire Films so special?

Adam: Haywire Films have been the amazing during this whole production. The team of Terry King and Rod O’Neill are the most talented bunch of guys I have ever met. Not only are the producing this film, they also have designed the website for the film and our fantastic theatrical posters. There is nothing these guys cannot do.

CCHN: Without giving away too much, which interview with a Star Wars person did you enjoy the most and why?

Adam: They were all equally amazing, but to interview Perry King who voiced Han Solo in the Radio Dramas was probably just that little extra special. I am a huge fan of those Radio Dramas and Perry’s take on Han Solo was just amazing. I truly had a fanboy moment meeting him.

CCHN: What question have you been wanting to be asked about your film but haven’t been asked – and how would you answer it?

Adam: Tough question… what are you hoping will happen when people see your film? I’m hoping that I will not only inspire other Star Wars fans to chase their dreams but everyone. That you can overcome anything and make your dreams come true.

CCHN: Do you have anything specific you’d like to say to everyone who is planning to see your film?

Adam: This film is not just about Star Wars and Star Wars fandom, it’s about community, family, overcoming adversity and living your dreams.

CCHN: What will you do post release to continue promoting and raising awareness and donations for Starlight?

Adam: We will continue to raise funds/donations through our online store as profits from all merchandise will go to the Starlight Children’s Foundations and also profits made from the sale of the film will also be heading to Starlight.

CCHN: Without spoiling too much, what do you have planned when you see The Force Awakens for the first time? Is that when you will wrap up production/shooting?

Adam: This is locked away tighter than The Force Awakens script….but I will say it will be the last day of shooting. I would love to share but it is going to be amazing when people see this bit in the documentary.

CCHN: We all have our own saga in a way – some include very scary life moments such as what you have experienced. What message do you have for others who see your film and are going through something scary to them?

Adam: Don’t ever give up, believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to be you. Embrace your passions.

CCHN: What do you love the most about the Star Wars Community?

adamandjackAdam: There is a true feeling of not just community but of family. During my time at Star Wars Celebration this year I got to experience it first hand with my son and everyone was so kind and supportive and the stories I heard were all amazing and unique but that common bond of Star Wars is something each fan shares and that’s what makes the fans more like family.

CCHN: Who/what is your favorite Star Wars character and why?

Adam: It’s a tie…Luke from the original trilogy and Obi-Wan from the prequels. They both have an inner strength to overcome anything and it is something I aspire to. They always see the best in everyone and never give up, I just love that about these characters.

CCHN: Which Star Wars character do you relate to the most and why?

Adam: I would have to say Luke Skywalker, in A New Hope Luke is yearning for adventure and knows that he is destined for other things. I really relate to the journey he takes in the Original Trilogy and that exploration of family and him having to believe in himself to become the person he is meant to be.

CCHN: What Star Wars character’s story/journey do you liken to your own and why?

Adam: A mix of Anakin’s and Luke’s. There are things in both their story arc’s I relate to in my life and decisions I made when growing up to now being a parent.

CCHN: What message from Star Wars do you hold dearest to your heart?

Adam: Do or do not there is no try….Yoda speaks the truth, you either do it or don’t. Words I now live by.

CCHN: What about ROTJ made you aspire to be a filmmaker?

Adam: Being a kid seeing this film on the big screen was just something incredible. When I left I wanted to know how they did it and that I wanted to tell stories like that.

CCHN: What films besides ROTJ have influenced you significantly in terms of filmmaking?

Adam: Steven Spielberg played a huge part in me wanting to be a film-maker. He is such a diverse director who can tackle a variety of subjects and tell such an intriguing and engaging story that you could go back and watch again and again. He is the greatest director of all time in my eyes.

CCHN: What is the draw for you in terms of being a filmmaker?

Adam: Being able to tell a story. I just love being able to bring something, an idea, to life. You can read a book and imagine in your mind what that universe is like but it’s something else to create the visual and I just love that about film, it makes it reality.

CCHN: What’s the biggest takeaway/learning so far in being a filmmaker?

Adam: It’s a tough and huge industry, but to not give up hope, to listen and learn and have fun along the way.

CCHN: Final question – Your love of Star Wars and filmmaking has inspired you to do something great – for yourself, for your family, for all of us devoted fans. So what will be your encore?

Adam: Direct Episode IX, just kidding….I have a couple of ideas and a feature script already done, but I might see what the future holds once this documentary is finished. I hope though I can be part of another Star Wars film project in the future.

  • Adam’s wife, Angela, was gracious enough to answer a few of our interview questions.

CCHN: What does it mean to you and your family to see Adam pursuing a lifelong dream?

Angela: Everything. We all have a dream we all want to follow and he is blessed to be able to follow his.

CCHN: Obviously your family’s story has inspired many already and certainly will exponentially inspire others once the film is released. Is there a story you already have about Adam’s story already inspiring someone else?

Angela: Not to my knowledge, but it’s only a matter of time.

CCHN: How many times have you told Adam he’s crazy?

Angela: Never, though he does drive me crazy on the odd occasion.

CCHN: Since success is a journey not a destination, and success is purely relative to the one defining it, how will you know when you will be able to call this film a success for your family personally?

Angela: When it is completed and Adam can say he is proud of the finished product.

CCHN: What has been the most inspirational part of this journey for you and your family?

Angela: Watching my boys get on a plane to America to go on that part of the journey.

CCHN: What are you doing on release day? A babysitter will be lined up I hope 🙂

Angela: I can’t tell you (rolls eyes)…It’s all a secret.

Follow My Saga on Twitter at @MySaga_SW and on Facebook facebook.com/mysagadocumentary.

Many thanks to Adam and Angela Harris for taking the time to do the Q&A with Cloud City HoloNet. We’re looking forward to seeing The Force Awakens and then seeing My Saga. Best wishes, and as always…

May the Force Be With You.

Heroes Deserve A Good Death & Dark Disciple Delivers

Dark_Disciple_Cover

The way I see it, it’s pretty simple. You love Star Wars. You adore The Clone Wars. You are part of the community that continues to demand it be resurrected or at least see what was started get finished in some form or another.

If that describes you, do yourself a bantha-sized favor and pick up a copy of Dark Disciple and do it now.

Christie Golden’s canon novel is available for purchase as of today. Eight Clone Wars episodes that were written and only partially animated were transformed beautifully by Golden into written form with the support of the Lucasfilm Story Group. The result is an adventure unlike any I’ve experienced before as a devoted fan of Star Wars and The Clone Wars.

OK – disclaimer time before I go any further.

The remaining of this post contains mild spoilers, so I recommend clicking here to jump right to my Q&A with Ms. Golden if you haven’t read Dark Disciple yet. The Q&A can be enjoyed without revealing the story. For those reading on, I attached my Q&A with Christie at the end of this post.

OK – back to my commentary about Dark Disciple.

With Lucasfilm powered by Disney injecting as much Star Wars into us the next four years than it seems we’ve seen released over the last four decades, I have a growing problem that really reared its head reading Dark Disciple.

You see, I struggle mightily with the fact we must face the demise of many of the characters we have grown to love. The Clone Wars with all its amazing story lines and development of new faces and their adventures has one significant “draw back” – if that’s even the right phrase. We’re going to learn how their stories end. There isn’t going to be any mystery about how it ended for them. I love it and hate it. As borderline anal retentive, my Star Wars Universe is out of balance if I don’t know the culmination of something or someone. In the end, I just hope their personal conclusion is glorious.

A “good death,” if you will.

Case in point. Star Wars Rebels has returned two of our favorite characters from The Clone Wars – Ahsoka and Rex. However, neither of them appear in Episode IV and beyond. Yeah, you see where I’m going with is.

But I digress.

Dark Disciple is the story of Quinlan Vos and Asajj Ventress. I won’t bore you with their back stories. If you are reading this, you know who they are. Ventress much more so because of her heavy appearance in The Clone Wars. Heck, we were introduced to her in all her “Sith-ness” in Season 1, Episode 1 facing off against Yoda. True, Jedi Master Vos comes in with much more mystery around him, but Dark Disciple changes that.

Golden’s writing style pairs well with the telling of this story because it demanded going deep on the psychology of these two unlikely partners while providing us the action and adventure that makes this the Star Wars we love.

The Jedi Council, in all their supposed wisdom and foresight – continually clouded by the Dark Side – hatches a plan to end the war once and for all. Vos must partner with Ventress to become the ultimate assassin duo and cut off the head of the Separatist snake. Of course, Ventress can’t know Vos is a Jedi, and he must somehow reignite Asajj’s rage against her former master Count Dooku to make this work.

Obi-Wan Kenobi, having faced her numerous times, provides some counsel for dealing with Ventress, who has since left the war behind and has turned to bounty hunting. Most interestingly is Kenobi’s mention of Ventress’ beauty.

Vos is flawless in his push-pull techniques to win Ventress’ respect and commitment to join him. He ends up with her heart, too. We saw Asajj deftly wield a lightsaber, sometimes two. Thanks to Golden’s eloquent passages, we find her passion is even more powerful than her skill as a swordswoman. Dark Disciple drowns you appetizingly in a sea of flirtatious and delicious banter between Vos and Ventress.

Asajj was one of my favorite characters in The Clone Wars and I found myself rooting for her often, especially in her attempts against Dooku’s life – albeit knowing it wouldn’t happen. My fondness for her swelled when she aided Ahsoka in Season 5. She deserved much more in a way.

Ventress falls deeply for Vos and their chemistry becomes a prominent part of the story. Of course, Vos is extremely conflicted as anyone could predict he would be. Getting to know the real woman that is Asajj Ventress causes Vos to see his partner as much more than an instrument to complete his mission.

When truths are revealed and the stories plays out, the outcome leaves you absolutely breathless. Golden is masterful in her approach to novelizing the eight-story arc and finishes a heaping portion of what The Clone Wars cancellation left unfinished – an epic adventure complete with romance, intrigue, and tragedy.

A good death.

Bottom line: Four-and-a-half stars and my favorite canon novel to date (beating out Lords of the Sith and A New Dawn).

Pro tip: After you read the chapter on Vos and Ventress’ meeting in Dark Disciple, watch the scene as shown at The Untold Clone Wars panel at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim to accentuate the story if you’ve not already seen it.

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Below is my Q&A with Dark Disciple author Christie Golden. Follow her on Twitter at @ChristieGolden. Her website is christiegolden.com.

WhatChristieShot_FINAL_Sml did you do to prepare for Dark Disciple in terms of researching the main characters and their back stories?

First of all, I had eight terrific, complete scripts in front of me, plus the animatic treatment of the first four.  I read and watched these repeatedly, and I also watched all the aired episodes of The Clone Wars–again, many of these episodes I watched more than once.  All the source material was available to me in order to complete my research in a very pleasant fashion. 🙂

Whose character did you like writing about more and why – Vos or Ventress?

I really enjoyed them both!  Ventress was a challenge in that she was so well-developed and well-known to readers from The Clone Wars.  Vos was, if not a blank slate, at least more open to development.  We only saw him in TCW in a single episode as these eight were never aired, so there was much less to draw on, and more room for me to develop his character.  They are both characters that I call “good traveling companions,” i.e., characters that, whether or not you like or dislike, you still enjoy reading about and writing for.  I had a fantastic time hanging out with this pair.  They really came alive for me as I wrote their story.

Is there a message in Dark Disciple that you want your readers to grasp?

Hmm….I hesitate to say something like “the moral of this story is…”, but I do think something we see crop up, again and again, is that you cannot sacrifice who you are for what you think you want.  Be careful when you say “the end justifies the means,” because you can’t really see the “end.”  Throughout, we see the tragedy of what happens when characters aren’t true to themselves–when they are in denial, or doing something despite what their gut tells them, or hiding who they are. 

What was your favorite part of Dark Disciple to write?

Too many to list.  I think one of my favorites, though, was the buildup of trust between these two characters.  Neither of them trusts easily, so to get them to a point where not just a partnership, but friendship and then love, was a careful process I really enjoyed.  Also, banter. 😉  There’s a lot of darkness here, but a lot of humor that comes from how Ventress and Vos interact and play off one another.

Did you find anything particularly challenging about writing Dark Disciple?

I really wanted to honor Asajj Ventress without “hero-worshipping” her.  She’s got a lot of strengths and traits to admire, but she is flawed, and makes mistakes.  She came with a huge following who wanted to see her story told well and with respect, and that meant a lot to be entrusted with that.  It was an interesting line to walk, but I enjoyed it.  In the end, I really just trusted in what the character had become to me, how it felt to be “inside her skin”, and trusted in that.  Thus far, from what I am hearing, that seems to have been the right call.

Have you previously used already-written scripts and/or stories to adapt into novel form like you did for Dark Disciple? If so, which works of yours were produced using a similar process?

Yes, I’ve done this quite a few times before.  I adapted the Warcraft novel, “Lord of the Clans,” from an unproduced Blizzard Entertainment game.  While that wasn’t a novelization of scripts, it certainly was an adaptation from a preexisting source.  I also novelized Arthas Menethil’s story arc from the scripts for the Warcraft games in “Arthas: Rise of the Lich King,” which was my (and Blizzard’s!) first NYT-bestselling novel.  And earlier even than these, I had worked with the late Harve Bennett to adapt the first five episodes of Steven Spielberg’s too-short-lived anime TV show, “Invasion America.”  

Can you explain the process of translating eight Clone Wars episodes into novel form and what did you find particularly easy or difficult about it?

It’s its own thing, that’s for sure.  It’s different from an original media work and a script, somewhere in-between.  As I said earlier, I watched and read the episodes and the animatics, and all TCW episodes.  There were a few conference calls about what everyone wanted to see, and where we should stick completely to the scripts and where expanding the ideas or perhaps additional conversations were necessary, and a lot of emails back and forth.  Like all media work, you must honor the source material and the creators of it.  Fortunately in this instance, I was quite happy with what I had to work with, and found it readily sparked my own creativity and imagination.  

Is working with Dave Filoni as fun as it would appear to be and why?

Alas, I had no direct communication with Dave.  Most of my contacts were Shelly Shapiro, Jen Heddle and Story Group, but now and then we’d bump something we wanted a ruling on to Dave.  I do remember we went back and forth on one particular scene and what we ended up with was much more gut-punching and powerful than either of our initial thoughts.  That’s what good collaboration can do!

What question have you been wanting to be asked about Dark Disciple that you haven’t been asked yet – and how would you answer it?

Did I want to change the ending, and yeah, in some ways, I kinda did. 😉

Who/what is your favorite Star Wars character and why?

First, ever, and always, Luke Skywalker.  I was at the impressionable age of 13 in 1977, and Luke was my first major crush.  As I got older I grew to appreciate his journey and admire it even more.  To have written for him, was a dream come true–as was meeting Mark Hamill at Celebration this past April.  Without a doubt, I wonder where the heck I would be in my life now if it weren’t for Luke.  Not just as a SW fan, not just as a writer, but as a person. 

As to characters I’ve gotten to create, that’s got to be Vestara Khai and Wynn Dorvan. Vestara was just so much fun, and Dorvan was a totally unexpected character whose deadpan, calm demeanor saw him through being created as a throwaway “assistant” to becoming head of the GA.  Oh, and can’t forget Pocket!

Do you have anything specific you’d like to say to the readers of Dark Disciple?

“As always, thank you for supporting my work, and allowing me the ability to continue to create and tell stories.  And I hear how you love Asajj, and I hope my treatment of her and her story is one you enjoy.”

What will you be doing now (post release) to promote the book?

I’ll be signing books at San Diego ComicCon, and I also have two book signings scheduled, one in Houston at Murder By the Book, 6:30 7/28, and on in Austin at BookPeople, 7:00, 7/30.  Hopefully I’ll be attending some conventions in the fall as well!

Would you consider writing more Star Wars cannon novels and if so, are there specific characters or stories you’d like to be involved with?

Absolutely, I’d love to keep writing in this universe.  Obviously, I love Luke Skywalker, any one of the Big Three, really, and I enjoyed writing a short story about Lassa Rhayme.  Wouldn’t mind at all doing more with her. 🙂 

What books have you read that have influenced your writing career the most?

Wow that’s a hard one.  I loved Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni books made me want to write fantasy rather than just read it.  A book that really helped me organize my thoughts and structure and still does is “The Writer’s Journey” by Christopher Vogler.

What book are you reading right now?

Listening to “A Storm of Swords” by George R.R. Martin. No spoilers, please!

Q&A with Dark Disciple author Christie Golden

ChristieShot_FINAL_Sml

Below is my Q&A with Dark Disciple author Christie Golden. Follow her on Twitter at @ChristieGolden. Her website is christiegolden.com. I’ll post my review of Dark Disciple July 12 to give Cloud City HoloNet readers time to read the newest Star Wars canon novel.

What did you do to prepare for Dark Disciple in terms of researching the main characters and their back stories?

First of all, I had eight terrific, complete scripts in front of me, plus the animatic treatment of the first four.  I read and watched these repeatedly, and I also watched all the aired episodes of The Clone Wars–again, many of these episodes I watched more than once.  All the source material was available to me in order to complete my research in a very pleasant fashion. 🙂

Whose character did you like writing about more and why – Vos or Ventress?

I really enjoyed them both!  Ventress was a challenge in that she was so well-developed and well-known to readers from The Clone Wars.  Vos was, if not a blank slate, at least more open to development.  We only saw him in TCW in a single episode as these eight were never aired, so there was much less to draw on, and more room for me to develop his character.  They are both characters that I call “good traveling companions,” i.e., characters that, whether or not you like or dislike, you still enjoy reading about and writing for.  I had a fantastic time hanging out with this pair.  They really came alive for me as I wrote their story.

Is there a message in Dark Disciple that you want your readers to grasp?

Hmm….I hesitate to say something like “the moral of this story is…”, but I do think something we see crop up, again and again, is that you cannot sacrifice who you are for what you think you want.  Be careful when you say “the end justifies the means,” because you can’t really see the “end.”  Throughout, we see the tragedy of what happens when characters aren’t true to themselves–when they are in denial, or doing something despite what their gut tells them, or hiding who they are. 

What was your favorite part of Dark Disciple to write?

Too many to list.  I think one of my favorites, though, was the buildup of trust between these two characters.  Neither of them trusts easily, so to get them to a point where not just a partnership, but friendship and then love, was a careful process I really enjoyed.  Also, banter. 😉  There’s a lot of darkness here, but a lot of humor that comes from how Ventress and Vos interact and play off one another.

Did you find anything particularly challenging about writing Dark Disciple?

I really wanted to honor Asajj Ventress without “hero-worshipping” her.  She’s got a lot of strengths and traits to admire, but she is flawed, and makes mistakes.  She came with a huge following who wanted to see her story told well and with respect, and that meant a lot to be entrusted with that.  It was an interesting line to walk, but I enjoyed it.  In the end, I really just trusted in what the character had become to me, how it felt to be “inside her skin”, and trusted in that.  Thus far, from what I am hearing, that seems to have been the right call.

Have you previously used already-written scripts and/or stories to adapt into novel form like you did for Dark Disciple? If so, which works of yours were produced using a similar process?

Yes, I’ve done this quite a few times before.  I adapted the Warcraft novel, “Lord of the Clans,” from an unproduced Blizzard Entertainment game.  While that wasn’t a novelization of scripts, it certainly was an adaptation from a preexisting source.  I also novelized Arthas Menethil’s story arc from the scripts for the Warcraft games in “Arthas: Rise of the Lich King,” which was my (and Blizzard’s!) first NYT-bestselling novel.  And earlier even than these, I had worked with the late Harve Bennett to adapt the first five episodes of Steven Spielberg’s too-short-lived anime TV show, “Invasion America.”  

Can you explain the process of translating eight Clone Wars episodes into novel form and what did you find particularly easy or difficult about it?

It’s its own thing, that’s for sure.  It’s different from an original media work and a script, somewhere in-between.  As I said earlier, I watched and read the episodes and the animatics, and all TCW episodes.  There were a few conference calls about what everyone wanted to see, and where we should stick completely to the scripts and where expanding the ideas or perhaps additional conversations were necessary, and a lot of emails back and forth.  Like all media work, you must honor the source material and the creators of it.  Fortunately in this instance, I was quite happy with what I had to work with, and found it readily sparked my own creativity and imagination.  

Is working with Dave Filoni as fun as it would appear to be and why?

Alas, I had no direct communication with Dave.  Most of my contacts were Shelly Shapiro, Jen Heddle and Story Group, but now and then we’d bump something we wanted a ruling on to Dave.  I do remember we went back and forth on one particular scene and what we ended up with was much more gut-punching and powerful than either of our initial thoughts.  That’s what good collaboration can do!

What question have you been wanting to be asked about Dark Disciple that you haven’t been asked yet – and how would you answer it?

Did I want to change the ending, and yeah, in some ways, I kinda did. 😉

Who/what is your favorite Star Wars character and why?

First, ever, and always, Luke Skywalker.  I was at the impressionable age of 13 in 1977, and Luke was my first major crush.  As I got older I grew to appreciate his journey and admire it even more.  To have written for him, was a dream come true–as was meeting Mark Hamill at Celebration this past April.  Without a doubt, I wonder where the heck I would be in my life now if it weren’t for Luke.  Not just as a SW fan, not just as a writer, but as a person. 

As to characters I’ve gotten to create, that’s got to be Vestara Khai and Wynn Dorvan. Vestara was just so much fun, and Dorvan was a totally unexpected character whose deadpan, calm demeanor saw him through being created as a throwaway “assistant” to becoming head of the GA.  Oh, and can’t forget Pocket!

Do you have anything specific you’d like to say to the readers of Dark Disciple?

“As always, thank you for supporting my work, and allowing me the ability to continue to create and tell stories.  And I hear how you love Asajj, and I hope my treatment of her and her story is one you enjoy.”

What will you be doing now (post release) to promote the book?

I’ll be signing books at San Diego ComicCon, and I also have two book signings scheduled, one in Houston at Murder By the Book, 6:30 7/28, and on in Austin at BookPeople, 7:00, 7/30.  Hopefully I’ll be attending some conventions in the fall as well!

Would you consider writing more Star Wars cannon novels and if so, are there specific characters or stories you’d like to be involved with?

Absolutely, I’d love to keep writing in this universe.  Obviously, I love Luke Skywalker, any one of the Big Three, really, and I enjoyed writing a short story about Lassa Rhayme.  Wouldn’t mind at all doing more with her. 🙂 

What books have you read that have influenced your writing career the most?

Wow that’s a hard one.  I loved Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni books made me want to write fantasy rather than just read it.  A book that really helped me organize my thoughts and structure and still does is “The Writer’s Journey” by Christopher Vogler.

What book are you reading right now?

Listening to “A Storm of Swords” by George R.R. Martin. No spoilers, please!

Recap from Star Wars Night at Safeco Field, Seattle

Darth Vader delivered the game ball. Luke Skywalker threw out the first pitch. Forty characters took pictures with fans. Trivia. Music. And oh puns galore!

Star Wars Night at Safeco Field in Seattle last Friday night (June 19, 2015) came as advertised, and the Force turned out to be strong for the Mariners as they defeated the division-leading Houston Astros 5-2 before a crowd of 40,914. My family and I were lucky enough to be in attendance. We enjoyed all of the sites and sounds that come with America’s favorite past time with the added flavor of a galaxy far, far away.

Team officials inserted Star Wars themes at every opportunity. My favorite was when the Astros pitching coach methodologically strolled out to the pitching mound to give his relief pitcher time to warm up in the bullpen. The sound effects person allowed Darth Vader’s epic breathing to play the entire time, much to the delight of the thousands of Jedi and Sith in the stands.

The Mariners took a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth when Kyle Seager, who had struck out in his two previous at-bats, singled to right to score Robinson Cano. As the crowd cheered, the Safeco Field scoreboard flashed “YO-DA MAN!” Between innings was Star Wars trivia, movie clips, and Mariners highlights in which wooden bats were replaced by lightsabers as some of the biggest hits in Mariners history were showcased.

After the Mariners had retired the side in the top of the ninth to cap the win, event organizers hurried onto the field to set up for the post game fireworks show. The lights were then dimmed and the Seattle skyline shown bright in the distance as the Star Wars main score began. A thrilling fireworks display commenced in tune with the music’s changing themes from the different films and ended with a big finale to wrap up one amazing night.

Here are some snapshots from the evening: