Between 1999 and 2009 Lightsabre.co.uk brought news, fanfic, podcasts and much, much more to the masses. Our forty-ninth guest is the author of numerous Star Wars books releases, and has written for Star Wars Gamer and Star Wars Insider – Dan Wallace.
Lightsabre – Dan, welcome to Lightsabre.
DW – Thanks for the offer! It’s great to be in such good company.
Lightsabre – During your career you’ve written articles and books on two major subjects – the DC Universe and the Star Wars Universe. How exciting is it to inhabit both of those great universes?
DW – It’s a kick for me, since – although I’ve been a fan of both universes since forever – I’ve only been working professionally on the DC Universe guidebooks for a couple years, so I’m still discovering some of its nooks and crannies. Star Wars feels like a well-worn, perfect-fitting glove. And I also contributed to this fall’s Marvel Encyclopedia, so that’s a third fictional universe I’ve been lucky enough to visit in print.
Lightsabre – Tell us something of your career. How and where did you begin and what led you to where you are today?
DW – I started writing professionally with Lucasfilm in 1995, after a fan resource I had written – The Star Wars Planets Guide – came to the attention of Lucasfilm Publishing. They invited me to participate in a writer’s runoff, and I won the assignment to write Del Rey’s Essential Guide to Planets and Moons. I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the Internet.
Lightsabre – You’re the acknowledged master of the Essential Guides, writing and detailing snippets of knowledge and bringing them together in handy, useful official guides to droids, characters as well as planets and moons. What process do you have to go through to research these guides?
DW – Fortunately, I have the ability to keep large amounts of this information compartmentalized in my brain, so there’s not as much prep work involved as you might think. It also helps that I have a gigantic Star Wars library.
Lightsabre – What has it been like to be a part of the Star Wars phenomenon?
DW – For me, the highest of high points was the summer of 1998, when I was invited to Skywalker Ranch to read the script for Episode I as prep work for a little mini-book published by Running Press. It was mind-numbingly surreal to be 1) walking around the Shangri-La of my fanboy dreams, and 2) seeing top-secret production art and story summaries for one of the most anticipated movies in history.
Lightsabre – Being a part of the DC Universe must have been thrilling, especially working with a character such as Superman, with a history stretching back to the late 1930’s. How has it been coming from a rich and detailed universe like that into the equally diverse and busy Star Wars universe?
DW – Superman is a little different in that there are multiple continuities involved. With Star Wars, everything ties to everything else. With Superman, things like the animated series, Smallville, and the mainstream comic books all exist in distinct, mutually-exclusive universes. So preparing for Superman Returns is mostly a matter of reacquainting yourself with Superman I and II (which I did, happily). Getting involved in the mainstream comic book continuity of Superman, as I did with the DC Comics Encyclopedia, is trickier and a bigger challenge. The Crisis on Infinite Earths-type reboots sometimes help!
Lightsabre – You have been heavily involved with the Superman Returns project, writing three books on the film including the expansive Art of Superman Returns book. How thrilling was it to see Supes fly again?
DW – I’ll tell you after tonight! I haven’t seen it yet except for the trailers, but I’ve been hugely optimistic ever since I visited the Superman Returns set in Sydney last summer. Everybody seemed genuinely excited about the work they were doing, and I think that will translate into quality on-screen. And I was bowled over by the production designs, from the white crystals of Krypton to the Norman Rockwell prairies of Smallville, to the art deco fabulousness of Metropolis.
Lightsabre – What were your feelings on Revenge of the Sith? Having co-written the excellent Essential Chronology you must have a whole batch of thoughts on how the final film impacted on Star Wars history?
DW – What Revenge of the Sith really did was leave me hungry for Episode III and a half! As you know there’s a Star Wars television show in development that will be set during the “dark times” of the Jedi purge and Imperial rule. I’m dying to see what that will look like. I’m a fan of Lucas’s previous TV show, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, so I’m optimistic for this one.
Lightsabre – You were involved with a number of RPG articles and projects for Wizards. Do you miss the table-top RPG days? After all, West End Games Star Wars game back in 1987 played a huge role in the revitalisation of Star Wars.
DW – I do miss it. The thing that was so great about West End Games and Wizards of the Coast is that they could publish roleplaying manuals that delved insanely deeply into the workings of the Star Wars universe, to a degree that never would be tolerated among a mainstream audience (e.g. an entire book on star freighters and cargo shipping!) Although I didn’t PLAY the rpg, I would always buy these books as a fan, and eat up the detailed info contained within. Eventually I got to write some of these books for Wizards, and they’re still some of my favorite bits of writing set in the Star Wars universe.
Lightsabre – If you could make any alterations to the Star Wars story, what would it be?
DW – I hate that Vader speechifies with “Alert my Star Destroyer to prepare for my arrival” in the Special Edition of The Empire Strikes Back, instead of biting out a terse, pissed-off “Bring my shuttle.” Thankfully, this fall’s release of the original theatrical cuts on DVD is a step in the right direction.
Lightsabre – While attending conventions and shows do you enjoy the interaction with Star Wars fans?
DW – I love meeting fans! I had some of the best times of my life at Star Wars Celebrations 2 and 3 in Indianapolis. This July I’ll be at San Diego ComicCon International to promote The New Essential Guide to Droids, The Art of Superman Returns, and the Superman Returns Visual Guide.
Lightsabre – Is there a dream project that you would ultimately like to undertake?
DW – One of my dream projects is to rework the Essential Guide to Planets and Moons from an “atlas” perspective, with lots and lots of National Geographic-style maps. Maybe someday.
Lightsabre – What lies ahead for you in the future?
DW – I hope to continue to contribute to both Star Wars and DC in the future, but don’t have anything to announce just yet.
Lightsabre – A quick question about our site. Any comments?
DW – I’m honored to be included among famous actors, artists, writers, puppeteers, and designers. It’s a great site, and thanks for inviting me.
Lightsabre – It’s been a great interview, and thanks for being our guest. Just one final question. Anakin Skywalker, Superman and George Lucas are at the front row of a rock legends gig. Jimi Hendrix is on guitar, Keith Moon on drums, John Entwhistle on bass and John Lennon is screaming out the songs. One of them is dragged onto the stage to join in, but which one is it?
DW – Anakin, of course. Jimi, Keith, John, and John all have a self-destructive streak that make them fascinating musicians, even if they flame out in spectacular fashion. Superman is steady as a rock – he’s more of a Paul McCartney fan. And I don’t know about George.
This interview was originally posted on lightsabre.co.uk on 30th July 2006.