Beth Revis is a YA science fiction author who wrote the novel Rebel Rising. She was kind enough to answer a few questions via email for 365 Days of Star Wars Women.
When were you introduced to Star Wars? What appeals to you the most about the galaxy far, far away (favorite characters/movies, etc.)?
I honestly cannot remember a time in my life when I wasn’t aware of Star Wars on some level. My mother taped the original trilogy off of television and my brother and I watched those VHS tapes so much that to this day I remember where the commercial breaks are supposed to go. As kids, we had one official (Vader) lightsaber–we’d take turns using it while the other one fought back with a stick or a PVC pipe.
What appeals to me most about the series now is the expansive world (or should I say galaxy?). It’s truly a mark of George Lucas’s original brilliance that the world of Star Wars can grow and encompass so many different stories and characters. But as a kid, what I loved most was Leia. She was everything I wanted to be–and now that I’m grown, and have seen my princess become a general, she is still everything I want to be.
On your website you rank the Star Wars films as follows: RO, RotJ, ESB, TLJ, ANH, TFA, RotS, AotC, TPM. Is this a firm ranking from you or do movies switch back and forth at times? Do you think anything could knock Rogue One out of first place? Any guesses where Solo will end up in this ranking?
It’s not a firm ranking–especially with the new stories coming out!–but Rogue One will always be special to me since it enables me to enter the world as a creator instead of a dreamer. And Return of the Jedi is the film of my childhood (Ewoks are awesome, I will fight you over this). But I actually really love the new angle that the new stories are taking. The phrase “Let the past die,” is a great way of reminding us all that we cannot live in nostalgia forever, and that one of the best things about Star Wars is the way it can grow, and therefore change.
I’m not sure where Solo will end up, but I do know that Donald Glover as Lando has put it pretty high already.
Did you read many Star Wars Expanded Universe (now Legends) books? If so any favorites? How about canon books? Any favorites?
I read a bunch of the Young Jedi Academy novels when I was in high school. I remember signing up for those book monthly subscription services just so I could get the collected volumes of those books, and my friend and I would swap the books on the school bus so we could each get the full story.
As for the new canon books, I think Claudia Gray’s Bloodline is my favorite, probably because I identify so much with Leia now that she’s grown.
How did you find out you were going to write Rebel Rising? Were you looking to write a Star Wars book or was it a happy surprise?
It was a happy surprise–and one I’m still pinching myself over! I’d loved Star Wars forever, and burned with secret envy at all the authors folded into the new canon, but had no idea how to break into it. When my agent called to let me know they wanted me to write a book, I screamed into a pillow so I wouldn’t wake my sleeping baby and then continued to freak out so much I woke the baby anyway.
What kind of guidelines or guidance did you get from Lucasfilm about the outline of events in Rebel Rising?
I think people expect that the authors are giving a very rigid guideline and forced to conform their stories, but to be honest, I was met with nothing but respect. Everyone I worked with really respected the role of an author and made sure to give me creative freedom. I was given the guideline of where the book fit in the timeline (between Jyn being picked up by Saw as a child to when she’s in prison as a young adult), but pretty much I could do what I wanted to within those two points. There were a few things that I wanted to add but couldn’t, but that was because I was fan-servicing myself by including some characters that really had no place being in that part of the story, or dropping in allusions that weren’t true to the narrative. Every suggestion from Lucasfilm was about making the book better, not fitting it to a mandated, restricted form.
I have seen comments from several people that they didn’t feel connected to Jyn Erso until they read Rebel Rising. I’m assuming you have heard this feedback as well. Did you have a hard time getting into Jyn’s head to write this book? Do you think she’s a hard character to relate to or that a full backstory was needed to appreciate her?
I was able to read the script (and some of the linked books) early so that I could understand the character better, and of course, I read all this with an eye to really focus on Jyn, so I never felt that disconnect that others have mentioned. I actually found Jyn’s development to be something fairly easy to suss out–we got the dots of her past, and I just connected them.
Did your writing process change much with Rebel Rising compared to books that weren’t a part of a large film franchise? Any specific challenges with this book?
My process did actually change significantly. I’d never before written a novel to an outline, but obviously it was more time conducive to make an outline for this project and get feedback on it prior to actually writing the whole book. It really revolutionized my writing, and I’ve adapted to using outlines for my own creative work now.
On your website, you refer to a love for putting Easter Eggs in your books. Are there Easter Eggs in Rebel Rising that haven’t been discovered to your knowledge? Any hints if this is the case?
I do love Easter Eggs! To my knowledge, there is only one left that no one else has caught, but it’s really obscure. It’s funny, the ones I thought would be hardest to find were the first ones people noticed, but no one’s caught that last one, which I thought was pretty easy…
Would you enjoy writing more Star Wars books in the future? If so, are there any specific characters or time periods you’d love to get a chance to write about?
I WILL DO ANYTHING FOR STAR WARS ANYTHING AT ALL I JUST WANT TO PLAY IN THIS GALAXY FOREVER MY HEART IS THERE
(But also, Doctor Aphra is amazing and if I could write a YA novel about her time in school before she joined with Vader, I would die with a smile on my face. But also just anything.)
For Star Wars fans who have only read Rebel Rising is there another book or series of yours you feel is the easiest to recommend?
My Across the Universe trilogy is essentially a murder mystery set in space, so if you’re in Star Wars for the stars side, grab that one. My book coming out this September, Give the Dark my Love is the story of a girl who goes from learning alchemy to help people to becoming a necromancer because why not (I refer to it as my Vader story with more death). So if you’re in Star Wars for the wars side, preorder it now!
Your Paper Hearts series is described as writing advice, tips, philosophy and more designed to help authors at every point in their career. What inspired you to write this series?
Before I was published, I taught high school English. I actually really loved it–the actual teaching side of the job, I mean, not the grading or politics. I naturally think about stories by breaking them down, and so when I quit teaching to write full time, I still talked about books and writing in a “teacher” way on my blog and at public speaking gigs. Eventually, my readers asked me to compile all the posts that were scattered about, so I used Wattpad to put them all in one place, organized and neat. After that hit a hundred thousand reads, I started getting messages from others to turn it into a full book.
Can you talk about any books you have coming out soon or are working on now?
My next book, Give the Dark my Love, will be available on September 25. It’s my evil little book about how a girl becomes a necromancer and descends to darkness, and I loved every minute of it. Killing characters is so much more fun when you can bring them back and kill them again…
Thank you so much for taking the time for this! I absolutely love Jy and I thought you did a fantastic job with Rebel Rising!
Thanks! That story really is near and dear to my heart <3
Check out the entire list of women in 365 Days of Star Wars Women in the Women in Star Wars Index. It includes highlights from each post plus notes which posts include new 365 interviews with actresses, writers, artists, and more.