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As references go, lifting a copy of The Essential Atlas by Jason Fry and Dan Wallace and pointing to it as a key piece of literature is a winning stroke. Leslye Headland, deep at work on her Star Wars series for Disney Plus, gave a bit of detail on how she works, explaining how the Atlas has been essential in grounding her story in the geography of the galaxy.

“Every pitch starts here,” Headland said holding up a copy of Wallace and Fry’s Star Wars: The Essential Atlas. “It start with ‘Where are we?’ because I think that is always how I anchor myself within this particular world. You can’t just always just start with ‘I have a cool emotional idea,’ or ‘I have a cool concept I’d like to explore.'”

She added, “Those are all great and keep them up there, but it’s an actual world with actual places. Where are you? Who’s there? How much do we know about who’s there and how much do we not know? Based on what we know about who’s there, what can we infer from the political economic structure of that place and then, how does that dovetail into the story you want to tell?”

“For me, it’s less about going through the Star Wars universe cinematically or artistically, I’m actually kind of combing through it geographically and go on a literal journey,” Headland explained. “When we were pitching, I had my designer create that Indiana Jones-like “we go here and then we go here,” with the little dotted red line like this is our journey, this is where we’re going.”

While there’s very little detail so far on what her series is about – rumours have it as an out-of-continuity, alternate timeline, female led martial arts series which sounds interesting but somewhat unlikely – the fact she is determined to ground the series in the geography of the Star Wars galaxy by being so keen to fix it into specific locations is highly encouraging for the stellar cartographers out there.

For more on the Essential Atlas, check out our recently re-published Vintage Interviews with Jason Fry and Dan Wallace, done back in 2009 as the Atlas arrived.

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Star Wars: The Essential Atlas
  • Ballantine Books
  • Wallace, Daniel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 08/18/2009 (Publication Date) - Del Rey (Publisher)