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Portrait

Jason Fry

Jason Fry is a writer, editor and occasional journalism consultant from New York. In the Star Wars-universe he's known for Bounty Hunter – Boba Fett, The Clone Wars - The Visual Guide, The Clone Wars Visual Guide: Ultimate Battles, The Clone Wars: New Battlefronts: The Visual Guide, The Clone Wars Character Encyclopedia, The Official Episode Guide – Season 1, The Clone Wars – Official Episode Guide, The Essential Atlas (with Daniel Wallace), Geonosis and the Outer Rim Worlds (with Craig Carey and Jeff Quick), Coruscant and the Core Worlds, The Essential Guide to Warfare, Darth Maul: Shadow Conspiracy, The Guns of Kelrodo-Ai, Endor and the Moddell Sector, TCW Episode-Guide, LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary — Updated and Expanded, Star Wars in 100 Scenes, Servants of the Empire: Edge of the Galaxy und much more! His homepage can be found here.

Interview

Wiki5
What advice can you give Star Wars fans who would like to write their own stories and eventually publish them?
It's not clear to me whether the question is about writing Star Wars fiction or any kind of fiction. So I'll take the two cases one at a time.

First of all and toughest to hear of all, don't make your goal "write and publish Star Wars." License holders, publishers and others aren't looking for fans of a given property -- they're looking for professional writers with publishing credits and a history of meeting deadlines and being easy to work with. If you want to become a writer, that's a great goal -- it can be a very fun and rewarding (though risky) career. But understand that you're going to spend years and years proving yourself as a writer before you ever get the chance to write Star Wars -- or any other property similar to it. If you hear that and still think, "That sounds awesome -- I want to write!", then full speed ahead and best of luck. But if your first reaction to hearing that is frustration, I worry you're going to wind up disappointed.

I feel bad when people see my career path as a Star Wars writer and draw the wrong conclusions. Yes, I was a huge fan when I got my first assignments writing for the Star Wars Insider in the late 1990s. But that wasn't why I got a shot at writing Star Wars. I got a shot at writing Star Wars because I had years of experience as a professional journalist. The fact that I was also a Star Wars fan didn't really have that much to do with it.

If the question is about writing fiction in general and not Star Wars specifically, my advice is to read all you can and write all you can, and to learn something from everything you write. Pretty much everything I've ever written taught me something, whether it was a school assignment or a newspaper article or a poem in college. Understand that it will probably take you years to hone your craft until your work is publishable, and even then there's an enormous amount of luck involved. You should write because you enjoy it, not because you think it will make you wealthy or famous, because it almost certainly won't. But if you really enjoy it, any sales or recognition that come your way will feel like a nice added reward.

Oh, and for God's sake be nice, particularly if you have some success. The author gets his or her name on the cover of a book, but this is a little unfair, because a book demands the hard work of many more people than that: editors, copy editors, artists, designers, layout folks, marketers, distributors, etc. You're part of a team and you all have the same goal, so do your best to make people's jobs easier instead of harder. Sometimes you'll have to stick up for something or argue with someone who you think is taking the wrong path, but you can do that without making it personal. Nobody wants to work with people who are jerks, and no amount of talent, luck or fame is a license to treat people poorly.
Jason Fry Interview
Wiki5
Does anyone know where Holowan Mechanicals had its headquarters?
There's a planet Holowan, so I'd assume it was located there at one time or another. But that isn't canon, just an assumption from a guy who knows his Star Wars geography.
Jason Fry Interview
Wiki5
Was Luminara Unduli a Senior Jedi General during the Clone Wars or just a corps leader?
I don't have a better answer than whatever's on Wookieepedia. If this question came up for a Star Wars project I was working on, I'd ask Leland Chee for guidance.
Jason Fry Interview
Wiki5
How did ex-chancellor Valorum die? There are many versions. Was it poison, was it a shuttle explosion or didn't he die at all (TCW)?
Given that TCW is part of the primary Star Wars canon, I'll go with "didn't die at all." But I like to take the famous words "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" as my starting point for questions like this. These are stories from long ago told and retold by different people on different planets. Think how many stories we have about the deeds of Robin Hood, or King Arthur, or Spider-Man, to say nothing of actual historical figures. Those stories can't all be true, but that isn't the point -- they're all stories that mean something to someone, and that gives them value.
Jason Fry Interview
Wiki5
What happened to Asajj Ventress after the events of The Clone Wars?
That's a story that remains to be told. I'm as eager to find out as the person who asked this is.
Jason Fry Interview
Wiki5
What is your opinion on separating the EU into canon and legends?
I answered this extensively in an interview with Eleven-ThirtyEight a few months back, so I'll just point you there. Here's Pt. 1 ([1]) and here's Pt. 2 ([2]).
Jason Fry Interview
Wiki5
Which canon conflicts do already exist? E.g. in a Rebels preview we saw Luminara Unduli alive, even though we know from other media, that she died during the execution of Order 66. And: as what are your Essential Guides now considered - canon or Legends?
I'm not interested in playing what John Jackson Miller recently called the canon/not-canon parlor game. I'd counsel fans to resist looking at the new stories this way, because I think it will be a recipe for frustration. I read/watch stories to enjoy them, not to worry about whether or not they fit with everything else. Give me a good story and I'm not going to get too worked up about whether the continuity lines up perfectly.

The Legends stories aren't going away -- they're just being assigned a different place in canon, which is something that's happened since Day 1 in Star Wars. The Empire Strikes Back undid a bunch of things from the Marvel and newspaper strips, zapped Splinter of the Mind's Eye and even arguably undid part of A New Hope -- what's Obi-Wan's "certain point of view" speech in Return of the Jedi but the original Star Wars retcon? The prequels changed Obi-Wan's backstory (he and Owen Lars were originally brothers), as well as that of Boba Fett, altered some plot points in Tim Zahn's work and made us look differently at a bunch of ancient Star Wars history from West End Games and the comics. The Clone Wars changed how we saw Mandalorian history and revised some of the prequel Jedi's fates. So none of this is new. But just because a story's now Legends instead of canon, I don't see that your enjoyment of it should be lessened or invalidated. It's still a story that speaks to you or doesn't.

As far as I know the Essential Guides are now Legends. But let's see what happens. In writing the Servants of the Empire books, when I needed an alien species or a planet or a weapon, I used existing continuity and the approval process for that stuff was pretty much the same as it's always been. So I think it's too simple to say everything in, say, The Essential Atlas is defunct and written over. I'm sure some of the history will need to be revised eventually, but will the planets move? Maybe, maybe not. We'll see -- and in seeing, we'll hopefully get a lot of cool new Star Wars stories. That's the most important thing to me.
Jason Fry Interview
Wiki5
Which TCW episodes are your favorites?
Hmm. I think "Innocents of Ryloth" is great, big-hearted storytelling -- I was thrilled when I read that Henry Gilroy would be involved with Rebels. Stylistically, I love the look and feel of "Bounty" -- I think it's the most visually striking episode in the series. But more than any individual episode, I liked the series' focus on characters and how it was able to take its time to explore their relationships. Fans were a little taken aback by Ahsoka at the beginning of the series, but by the end I think we appreciated her growth as a character, and our view of her relationship with Anakin gave us a deeper insight into his struggles and made his fall even more tragic. At its best I think TCW gave us great characters whom we came to enjoy and appreciate, whether it was Duchess Satine or Hondo Ohnaka or Captain Rex or Ziro the Hutt. Also, I just loved getting thirty minutes of Star Wars every week, and the format of a half-hour episode let the creative team tackle some pretty cool ideas, whether it was an homage to Hitchcock or Kurosawa or a film noir starring Obi-Wan or a nutso story about a frog general's existential crisis. Not all of those ideas worked, but what a cool palette to get to play with!
Jason Fry Interview
Wiki5
Which of your books would you say is your best? On which did you write the longest?
The book of mine I like best isn't Star Wars, but The Jupiter Pirates: Curse of the Iris, which comes out in December from HarperCollins. (The website is http://www.jupiterpirates.com.) For those who haven't heard of The Jupiter Pirates, it's a young-adult space fantasy saga set in the 29th century, when Earth is the dominant power of the solar system, opposed by breakaway colonists on the moons of Jupiter and the other planets of the outer solar system. The saga's hero is Tycho Hashoone, who starts the series as a 12-year-old midshipman on his family's pirate ship, the Shadow Comet. Tycho's mother is the captain, his father is the first mate, and he's part of the bridge crew with his twin sister Yana and their older brother Carlo. The siblings have to work together as a family, but they're also competitors: the captaincy of the Shadow Comet is handed down from one generation to the next, and only one of the kids will get to be the next captain.

Jupiter Pirates isn't Star Wars, but it's got a lot of the elements that made me love Star Wars as a kid: heroes and rogues, lots of space battles, and family secrets. I'm proud of the first book in the series, The Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra, but when I wrote that one I was still figuring out the characters' motivations and the world-building and everything else. When I wrote Curse of the Iris I'd worked all that out (or at least most of it), so I could really relax and enjoy the storytelling.

My favorite Star Wars book is The Essential Atlas. The Atlas (which is also the book that took the longest, by a factor of about a billion) was quite literally a dream come true. When I was a kid, I really wanted a book full of maps of the Star Wars galaxy and explanations of how it worked, and one night I dreamed such a book existed and I bought it, and when I woke up I was so disappointed to realize it wasn't true. I had no idea that it would be true one day, but first I'd have to grow up and become a writer and meet Dan Wallace and convince the folks at Del Rey that this wasn't really such a crazy idea for a book.

I'm also having a lot of fun writing the quartet of young-adult books in the Servants of the Empire series. That one's tied in to Star Wars Rebels and star Zare Leonis, who's a supporting character on the show. The setting is that of Rebels and the books overlap with the show in places, but I've had a lot of freedom to shape Zare's story, which has been both an enormous honor and a ton of fun. The first one, Edge of the Galaxy, comes out in October and I'm really excited for folks to read it.
Jason Fry Interview
Wiki5
Great answer! Next question: there are many people who share the opinion that Star Wars: Rebels mainly targets children and they miss the "Dark Times"-feeling in the previews of the show. What do you think about it?
I think they should wait for the show. Forming an opinion based on eight or nine minutes of footage is insane. Seriously, I increasingly think the Internet is making us lose our minds. We've somehow convinced ourselves that we have to have an opinion about something instantly and based on nothing, and it's better if that opinion is as extreme as possible. I have no idea why we do this to ourselves and to each other, but I wish we'd stop it. It's short-sighted and unhealthy and it's making us all miserable. Just watch the show. It's OK if you don't have an opinion after eight minutes. Or eight episodes. Or if you change your mind. Or if you like some stuff but don't like other stuff.
Jason Fry Interview
Wiki5
You wrote the episode guide to TCW as well as Darth Maul: Shadow Conspiracy and your new Servants of the Empire series. How much insight do you have into both TV shows? Did you know of the decision to wind down TCW - before it was officially announced on starwars.com? Have you been informed about the content of some of the TCWs arcs that weren't published so far like Rex' story on Anaxes?
I had no advance knowledge about the decision to end The Clone Wars. There's a funny story there -- the designers of The Clone Wars Episode Guide really wanted to end the book with the splash page of Ahsoka descending the steps of the Jedi Temple, so we went with that. The decision to wrap up the show came after our work was done, so no one involved with the book had any idea that splash page would wind up being such a perfect farewell to the series' TV run. We got lucky there. I don't know about the unmade arcs -- I heard about the storyline with Rex on Anaxes via Twitter, like everybody else. I was really bummed that one never got made -- I invented Anaxes years ago for Coruscant and the Core Worlds, an RPG book from Wizards of the Coast, and have revisited the planet in a few of my projects. Seeing it onscreen in The Clone Wars would have been pretty amazing.

While the focus for Lucasfilm and Disney is understandably elsewhere right now, I have no doubt that those TCW stories will get revisited at some point, in one medium or another. Look what Dark Horse has done with Maul, and what Del Rey's doing with Ventress. Based on that, I'd be very surprised if we've seen the last of Rex and Ahsoka, or Hondo and Aurra Sing.

For Rebels, I've read the story bible and preliminary scripts and/or treatments for most of Season 1, and I've seen one episode of the show because the second Servants of the Empire book retells much of its action, although from a different point of view. That was a big help to me as an author. (For Darth Maul: Shadow Conspiracy I didn't have a chance to see the episodes before I adapted them, so I had to torture poor Leland Chee with dozens and dozens of questions.) The episode of Rebels I saw felt very much like A New Hope in terms of its pace, mix of humor and action and even how the shots were constructed. Based on that peek, I'm pretty excited to see more.
Jason Fry Interview
Wiki5
Speaking of the TCW episode guide: can we expect an extension which includes the content of the season six episodes?
I would love to do this, and have suggested it as a project to DK. But there are no current plans that I'm aware of.
Jason Fry Interview
Wiki5
You told us about your new Servants of the Empire series. How did that come about? Was it your idea or did somebody from Disney ask you to write it?
The idea came from Disney/Lucasfilm -- they gave me the setting, the protagonist and the broad outlines of his experience. But I've had a lot of freedom to shape the story beyond that, working in the spaces between where Zare's story intersects with the TV show. I've also received terrific guidance from the show producers and Story Group, which has been helpful and made the story stronger. The first two books are finished, and I'm getting ready to write the third one this fall. I really can't wait to share this one with readers.
Jason Fry Interview
Wiki5
In the Rebels Visual Guide Zare Leonis is described as "skilled" and "incredibly brave" - can we expect a young Anakin or an inspiring revolutionary or is he a normal boy who just stands up for his friends when they need him?
Zare is athletic and smart, but he doesn't have any extraordinary abilities -- which plays a small but important role in the series. He's a normal kid who has to re-evaluate what he believes and what he stands for. Which I hope makes him an accessible protagonist, and an interesting alternative to a hero who can use the Force.
Jason Fry Interview
Wiki5
Often you can find epic quotes in the Star Wars-universe, e.g. Padmé's "So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause. " I think sentences like this just get to the heart of the events of that scene. Could you share one nice quote out of the Servants of the Empire series with us as conclusion of the interview?
“Despite everything that’s happened, you’re still the little Imperial who thinks the galaxy is supposed to be a nice place. Leave me a message when you understand the stakes.”
Jason Fry Interview
Wiki5
Great. Thank you very much for the interview, Mr. Fry!
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