Eric joins us today to chat about his love of Star Wars, writing, and the books of the Star Wars universe.
FT: Where did your love of Star Wars come from?
EO: Having been born in the mid-70s my parents didn’t think I wasn’t quite old enough to see Star Wars or Empire in the theaters, but by the time Jedi came out I was a perfect age. Star Wars was everywhere. There was no choice. I loved the characters and the story. No other franchise geared towards kids back then had quite the same quality or depth of the story. I remember playing with the action figures before I knew the full story and before I saw the movies, but I knew who was good and bad so I made up my own stories. And it just stuck with me through the dark times in the late 80’s as no other toy line did. And it’s still with me to this day stronger than ever before. Of course, now the way I enjoy it is different as an adult than when I was a kid. As much as I try to enjoy it as a child would, I am an adult (at least physically), so I like to look into the more philosophical/spiritual aspects and incorporate them into my own life. There’s just so much to love about Star Wars, and the fact that its ideas are taken from real life makes it so relatable.
FT: What characters resonates with you the most?
EO: I go back and forth on this. It was Yoda for the longest time. As a teen and even into my early 20’s through college, I had this thought that I wanted to be a Jedi or Jedi-like more than anything. I loved his wisdom, his seriousness, his patience. I liked how he knew so much but didn’t flaunt it. He was confident in his abilities but because he knew how powerful he was Yoda didn’t want to use it. I know Yoda’s not exactly a sexy choice, but that’s who I like. Having said that, after watching the demise of the Jedi in the prequels, Yoda annoyed me. But again, we see in Empire, and even in Rebels, Yoda knew the Jedi made a mistake and realized war isn’t the way to go. So that’s good on him. After episode 3 and The Clone Wars, my love for Obi-Wan grew a lot. If the New England Patriots could draft a Jedi, that’s who’d they draft because he’s versatile and can do just about everything well. Honorable mentions would go to Ahsoka, Rey, and Chirrut. Chirrut helps me a lot when I’m nervous, and my anxiety wants to take over. “I fear nothing, for all is as the Force wills it.”
FT: George Lucas brought so many amazing things into Star Wars, what are your favourite parts?
EO: George has opened my eyes to countless movies, comic books, mythologies, art, just about anything you could think of, I love it all. When I first read The Making of Star Wars by J.W Rinzler, I made a note of every film, and comic book reference I came across. I’d search for them online and either rent the movie or buy it. Same with the comics. I started with purchasing the reprints of the Flash Gordon comics from the 1930s illustrated by Alex Raymond. I bought box sets of the Flash Gordon serials, and a box set of Kurosawa movies. I hunted down obscure underground comics like Star Reach or Iron Wolf. I read comic books like Weird Science and Weird Tales. George got me interested in filmmaking, not that I want to do it, but I like to learn how it works. George also inspired me to create my own stories. I’d have to say though, that Edgar Rice Burroughs was one of the best things I discovered by way of Star Wars.
FT: Tell us how you got into the Star Wars books?
EO: Well, I am a bookworm by nature. I started out reading books by Beverly Cleary and then moved on to Jack London’s Call of the Wild, Edgar Allen Poe, and Stephen King and so on. So combining my love of Star Wars with my love of reading is a natural thing for me. The first Star Wars related book I read was probably the Return of the Jedi storybook along with the read-along books, and The Empire Strikes Back storybook. But it likely didn’t become a thing until Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire released in the early 90’s. And following shortly after that was the Dark Horse comics. I have every single legends and canon novel, every issue of Star Wars Dark Horse comic ever released. The entire run of Marvel Star Wars comic that ran from 77-86, and the new canon stuff as well.
FT: What are your favourite novels?
EO: Well, I’d be lying if I told you I loved them all. There are some real duds, especially in the Legends era. As far as Legends The Thrawn trilogy set the bar. Shadows of the Empire was fun for me because I thought it did a great job incorporating expanded universe and characters from the movies. The Lando Calrissian trilogy by L. Neil Smith was entertaining. The Han Solo trilogy by A.C. Crispin. In The New Jedi Order, I liked how all of the Jedi from previous books were brought together. That was fun to experience. In the new canon, Lost Stars by Claudia Grey was about as perfect as you can get. Bloodline, Dark Disciple. I’ve generally enjoyed most of them. Heir to the Jedi was probably the only one I was not that into. Right now I am reading Last Shot and am enjoying that as well.
FT: The Legends era contains so many gems. What are your memories of The Thrawn Trilogy?
EO: The first thing that comes to mind is I remember my older brother asking me how’s the book. And I said, there’s a lot of talking. I’m not sure what I meant by that. Anyway. I just loved Thrawn and how cold and calculating he was. As evil as he was, I admired his thought process. I loved how he was into art and how he would use that knowledge to defeat his enemies. He always seemed to be one step ahead, except of course the unexpected. I think it was the first time I read a book and was pulled in. Despite having read Edgar Allen Poe, I always felt that the Thrawn trilogy was the first set of adult novels I read and stayed with me.
FT: How about the Yuzhuan Vong, and the New Jedi Order?
EO: Oh man. Early on in that series, I remember thinking how the heck is the New Republic going to survive this. And Chewie’s death! You know something? When I read about the end of Admiral Ackbar in Destiny’s Way, I cried. I mourned over Ackbar’s death more than either Chewbacca or Anakin Solo. I don’t know if it was the way the author wrote it or that because it was so unexpected, but I put the book down because it was at the end of a chapter and I cried. I’ll never forget that.
FT: The new line is one complete canon. It began with John Jackson Miller’s epic A New Dawn. Your thoughts on the book?
EO: Umm, I might get some flack for this, but I thought it was okay. I liked how it provided some foundation for Kanan and Hera. I thought it was interesting how Lucasfilm decided it was a good idea to start the new canon with a book about characters from a show that hadn’t aired yet. I think the first few canon books kind of got the new canon off on a slow start. I feel bad saying that because John Jackson Miller is such a nice guy. I got a chance to speak with him on an episode of Bombad Radio podcast a couple of years ago, and he gave me some valuable writing advice. I also attended a panel at SWCO that he held on how to write for comics. Such a great guy!
FT: We’ve had some interesting stories come out with the three new films, which of the adaptations have you enjoyed the most?
EO: Of the three new movies, I’d have to say The Last Jedi is my favorite, with Rogue One close behind. I loved how Rian Johnson pushed the envelope and the story in new and unexpected directions. Regarding novelizations, I liked Alexander Freed’s adaptation of Rogue One, and I’ll even toss in James Luceno’s Catalyst because I feel like that book was a direct prequel to the film and gave us so much more regarding Galen and Lyra Erso and their relationship with Krennic. The Force Awakens was just a two-hour outpouring of emotion.
FT: You’re quite active in Star Wars fandom. Tell us about some of what you do?
EO: I was pretty active. I took a break from blogging for a few months, but I blog for Coffee With Kenobi monthly. There I try to find good magazines articles and incorporate them into Star Wars somehow. Like my most recent one was about artificial intelligence and why we shouldn’t fear them taking over. I talked about C-3PO and how humans would build droids that would help and not hurt us. I was writing comic reviews for Big Shiny Robot! I’m pretty active on Facebook and Twitter, talking to the fandom and such. I had to take a break after The Last Jedi and a few recent announcements made by Lucasfilm, the negative response was enough for me to say bye bye for a while. But I’m back. I decided I’m going to like Star Wars the way I used to love it as a kid. For fun. And not take it too seriously.
FT: What projects are you currently working on?
EO: Right now I am trying to get into writing poems for friends and give them as gifts. I am working agonizingly slow on a short story, that is very John Carter of Mars/Indiana Jones/The Day the Earth Stood Still. I am getting back into doing more creative things besides reading 24/7, so I pulled out these models I’ve had for decades to build them finally. One is a 12” vinyl C-3PO from Screamin’, I also have the ship from Forbidden Planet, and an alien from War of the Worlds.