Between 1999 and 2009 Lightsabre.co.uk brought news, fanfic, podcasts and much, much more to the masses. Our one hundred and twenty-fourth guest created one of the net’s best regarded Star Wars timeline’s – Eddie van der Heijden.
Lightsabre – Eddie, welcome to Lightsabre.
EVDH – Nice to be here! And might I add that it is an honor to be interviewed! I was quite surprised by this, as I am really ‘nothing’ compared to you guys and the people who maintain the various Star Wars websites on the ‘net. And please remember that I am Dutch, and English isn’t my native language!!!!
Lightsabre – Star Wars has had a profound effect on all of us – it’s why we’re here talking about it, but what was it that started you off on your Star Wars journey?
EVDH – Hah, good question! Do you have a few hours? It began waaayyyy back in 1978, when I turned 9 years old, and my mum and dad surprised me with a movie-day. I got to choose between this new groovy science fiction flick called Star Wars, or a juvenile Dutch movie about a thumb-sized little fellow called Pinkeltje (based on books by the Dutch writer Dick Laan). As you may have guessed, I chose Star Wars (otherwise I would be working on a Pinkeltje timeline now, and dress up in yellow clothes…) Anyway, we went off to see Star Wars (during which my dad fell asleep…). And from that moment on, I was infected with the virus. I clearly remember collecting the first five Star Wars figures from Kenner, and receiving the storybook from a friend of my older brother. I went to see The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, Return of the Jedi in 1983, and The Ewok Adventure in it’s Dutch theatrical release in 1985 (during which I was the oldest in the audience… or so it seemed)… I even managed to survive the Dark Times between 1986 and 1991, thanks to West End Games’s excellent RPG guides…
Lightsabre – You’ve been involved Star Wars timelines for a number of years, and had amassed a 10,000 page timeline which you lost back in 2002 before starting again from scratch. What is it about timelines that attracts you?
EVDH – One of the main things I like most about Star Wars is that it is treated as a real universe by the license-keepers (i.e. all books, comics, games, RPGs form a cohesive storyline in which one event affects another). It was in the late ’90s, when I first got onto the internet, that I discovered the wonderful Timetales timeline, and I was hooked. My interest in a Star Wars timeline began even before that, around 1987 when I got the first few books from West End Games RPG, and when I began to write down dates of certain storylines. When I got onto the internet, a new world opened up for me, and soon afterwards I also discovered Nathan Butler’s excellent timeline. I started my own timeline on my first Apple (not on the internet) in the early ’90s, and amassed about 10,000 pages in 2002 (this is possible because, as a very shy guy I was quite unsuccessful with the ladies, and got to spent most of my free-time behind the computer in my Star Wars-decorated bedroom at my old folk’s house, at least until 1997 when I met my now-wife).
But in 2002 tragedy struck, and a computer-virus made me lose all my word-files. And guess what, it was then that I learned to make BACK-UPS!!! But since I was not really happy with the work I did from 1993 to 2002, as it was in the same vein as the timelines on the internet, and not detailed enough for me), I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to start anew… West End introduced this great in-universe (Tapani) calendar system, and I took this as one of the bases for my new timeline. Another big influence for my new timeline, which I had decided would follow a day-to-day account, with clear distinctions of ‘official’ and ‘conjectured’ dates was the Hyperspace Travel Charts from the West End RPGs which, in my opinion, made the Star Wars universe even more believable. Now we had travel-times between star systems. When I got the opportunity to acquire starwarstimeline.com back in 2004, I immediately grabbed it (to never let it go, not realizing that it was Nathan Butler himself who had let it go) and began to publish my timeline-bits on the internet (another way to make sure I would not lose anything once again…)
But back to the question: what attracts me in timelines is the way events are categorized, making all the books, comics, movies into one big story. For me, everything is canon (except for the clearly comical storylines).
Lightsabre – Which of the seven big screen Star Wars movies stands out as your favorite?
EVDH – Well, that’s a hard one… I don’t really have a favorite I think, as my interest seems to shift once in a while, but I have to admit that I am probably one of the few oldies who’ve enjoyed the Prequels just as much as the Classics. There’s two favorite scenes I have, though: the battle between Vader and Luke once Vader threatens to go after Leia in Return of the Jedi (chilling music, fantastic and dramatic scene!!!) and the second one is the Order 66-scene. Dramatic music, and a very dramatic turn of events, especially for a George Lucas-movie. I hope we get more of these moments in the upcoming live-action series.
Lightsabre – The website started in 2004 and has grown since then, and is notable for its regular updates and additions. Do you have a network of friends who help out with it, or is the site 100% Eddie?
EVDH – Hah, the regular updates and additions are mainly in the Upcoming Books and Comics (and movies, tv-series, games, RPG)-section. That is one thing I am just as much excited about as timeline-ing. In the early pre-internet days, I would scream out in joy when Starlog or Starburst would run a little article with upcoming Star Wars books. So when I got the chance to search for upcoming books and comics on the internet myself, I was intrigued with the amount of data available when you do a little research, and since my timeline-updates are far-and-between, I thought it was a great idea to get this Upcoming list up on my website as well (almost updated daily, before I go off to work), to inform other fans of upcoming projects.
And regarding the timeline-part of my website. Yes, it’s 100% Eddie up ’till now (which is why I often jokingly remark that my timeline will be finished somewhere around 2030… but that even seems unlikely now with the new tv-series being added to the sources). One of my readers, Keeper_of_Swords suggested that I allow other contributors to work on my timeline, and I agreed. He started a thread over at TFN, setting a few rules. Every contributor will receive a credit for his-or-her portion, but before it will appear online, it will be Eddie-ized (i.e. checked on accuracy, broken down in day-to-day segments, adding page-numbers of the 1st-edition source).
Another thing I want to have in my timeline is that every segment is a ‘readable entity’ unto itself (i.e. so that you can fall-in anywhere and immediately understand what it happening on Day 275 of year 25BBY. And to make my work even harder is that I have every entry into the Great ReSynchronization 10-month calendar (based on the old West End NewsNet articles of Paul Sudlow, continued by Paul Ens and Pablo Hidalgo in the online HoloNet News website in 2002 (and its subsequent incarnation in the Insider). Using the Great ReSynch calendar makes the dates more ‘believable’ in my opinion. In other words 4,000 BBY (Tales of the Jedi) translates into 3,966 before GrS in my timeline… And A New Hope takes place in GrS 35, neat huh?
Lightsabre – As a fellow fan you must have many golden Star Wars memories. Tell us about some of them.
EVDH – Well, I am not quite that interesting… Most of my golden Star Wars memories involves ‘golden’ deals regarding the purchase of books and comics. There was this time that I discovered a complete set of Star Wars Missions books (all 20!) on the Australian eBay site for just over $40, including p&p to the Netherlands!
Oh wait, here’s another one I remember fondly… When I was 14, my then-22 year old bro Mario (who is all into military figurines) took me with him on a weekend-trip to London. Man, we spent all Saturday-long in this big used-books store called Foyles, and it was a dream-come-true. I saved for this event and when i got home, my suitcase was filled to the top with 2nd-hand Star Wars books!!!! As I said, I am not that interesting…
Lightsabre – Which of the Star Wars characters is the closest to you?
EVDH – Definitely Luke Skywalker. In my teens, I was this shy, naïve guy who dreamed of ‘the greater world’ around him, just as Luke dreamed about being a starfighter pilot. I can recollect the feeling I had then even now, which is why he will always have a special place in my heart… (I always wanted to be Han Solo, of course…)
Lightsabre – What would you change about Star Wars if you could go back in time and make alterations?
EVDH – Not that much. I am very easily pleased, I guess. I take it as it comes, seeing the stories told in the comics and books as ‘real’ in-universe events which roll out just as real-life rolls out. There’s much debate around the Internet regarding some of the latest book-series by Del Rey, in which people would like to see things played-out differently, but I am not that kind of a fan. I have preferences, ofcourse, but I cannot say that I really dislike anything put out in the past 30 years (oh my, I guess this comment will come back to haunt me…). Oh yeah, there’s one thing: Han DEFINITELY shot first!!!!
Lightsabre – With the arrival of the television shows, webstrips and HoloNet there are new events entering the continuity stream practically every day? How do you plan to keep up with that?
EVDH – Check the major sites every day, and order, download, print-out everything immediately before it disappears! I have even printed-out every page of Wizards of the Coast’s online EU-stuff (adventures, information) since 2000, and I plan to do so now with the new Clone Wars online comics, Hyperspace-only webstrips and short stories, the new HoloNet News audio-files, which I am also transcribing. So I guess that I will continue as I have been doing for the past ten years: check the regular news-sites for items, and securing them for my personal collection of 1st-edition books and comics.
And for my timeline, I have decided to wait with adding the Clone Wars-era until there’s an official word of the timeline placement of the new animated series… (except for the wonderful Karen Traviss’ RepCom books which have day-notations! I cannot wait to begin with that for my timeline, but first I gotta finish my KotOR/TotJ-era, as well as the Living Force-adventures).
Lightsabre – Which era of Star Wars history is your personal favourite?
EVDH – At this point in time? The Dark Times-era, as well as the post New Jedi Order-era, but I am also very fond of the Tales of the Jedi-era and the Clone Wars-era… Oh man, do I really have to choose?
Lightsabre – What do you foresee for yourself in the future?
EVDH – Where I am now. I am a happily-married man, dad of two marvelous younglings. They, and my lovely wife, are the most important part of my life, and forever will be. And regarding Star Wars, I will continue to collect books and comics in their 1st editions (except for silly projects such as the limited-edition Pop-Up Guide to the Galaxy, the extremely-priced limited editions like Sculpting the Galaxy, and the upcoming Frames).
And I hope my timeline will have grown to a substantial size, so that it is an interesting entity to read. I also like the contact I have with other timeline-people, and hope to maintain and build-out these contacts in the future.
EVDH – I discovered Lightsabre about a year ago, and have to say that I like to visit it on a regular basis. You guys run great interviews, and although I am not really into fan fiction, I have caught myself being immersed in some of the storylines on your site. And I am amazed with the work being done in the Setnin sector chronology!
Lightsabre – It’s been a great interview, and thanks for being our guest. Just one final question. Master Yoda, Emperor Palpatine and Jabba the Hutt are gathered in a plush conference room to be interviewed for the job of main presenter on the HoloNet’s main news channel. You know there will be a political bias to whatever they say, and you cannot allow that, so which one do you persuade to ‘play it straight’ and how do you do it?
EVDH – Difficult one, that is. First of all, I would serve them all some Dutch courage (inside joke: a few of us on the Dark Horse forums concluded that Dutch Courage consists of large amounts of Heineken beer). Once the ice is broken, I would try to start a game of Truth or Dare, which they would do miserably. Then there would break out a fight between Yoda and Palpatine, in which they would probably nearly destroy each other, taking Jabba with them during the fight as Yoda would obviously try to hide behind the Hutt. And with the three of them in the med-center I would try to get Khaleen Hentz for the job instead.
This interview was originally posted on lightsabre.co.uk on 12th October 2008.