Transcript of Live Chat with Ryder Windham and Pete VilmurNovember 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Posted in Star Wars Books, Star Wars News | Leave a comment
Tags: pete vilmur, ryder windham, the complete vader
Star Wars Books hosted a live chat with The Complete Vader authors Ryder Windham and Pete Vilmur today. Ryder answered a lot of fan questions, and although Pete showed up late, he got a few in too. You can check out the full live chat here or you can read our edited transcript below.
Q: how did you guys feel when you found out it was going to be delayed due to printing issues?
Ryder Windham: We were wrecked. But it was beyond our control and we knew the book would eventually ship. Now, we’re very happy it finally has.
Q: How did this book come together?
Ryder Windham: As usual, it started with a phone call. Becker & Mayer wanted to do a Darth Vader book to follow up their Star Wars Vault, and they contacted me.
Q: Ryder, you have done many Star Wars items, mainly young readers and non-fiction stuff, which of those two do you prefer and do you want to write any adult fiction for the universe?
Ryder Windham: I love writing anything Star Wars, but I especially enjoy writing for kids, the illustrated books and also juvenile fiction. I recently wrote a Vader short story for the Star Wars Insider, and I think that’s geared for “all ages.” If I were asked to write an adult Star Wars novel, I’d certainly want to work it.
Q: What was the best part of working on this project?
Ryder Windham: The best part of writing Star Wars books is that I get paid to write Star Wars books. I don’t mean that in a crass way. I just can’t believe I wound up making a living at this. Working on the Vader book, it was a great opportunity to revisit old comics and back issues of Starlog. I used my own old magazines and comics for reference. Very fun to revisit all that.
Q: How many volumes do you see the Secret Missions series going on for?
Ryder Windham: Secret Missions is slated to end with book #4, which ships in February (I think).
Q: What was the weirdest fact about Vader that your learned when doing research?
Ryder Windham: I think the weirdest fact about Vader that I learned was that if you’re ever going to sculpt a dark lord out of butter, use unsalted butter.
Q: What is the most interesting part of the book in your opinion? And what advice can you give on how to go about writing an official Star Wars novel for Del Rey and Lucasfilm?
Ryder Windham: I regret I don’t have any advice for how to break into writing Star Wars. It just happened to me. I was an editor at Dark Horse Comics, wound up editing Star Wars and Indiana Jones titles left the company on good terms, and Lucasfilm remembered me well, began recommending me to write books for different licensees.
Comment: Just commenting…when Revenge of the Sith came out in theaters, I was struck by the emotional weight of Anakin turning Vader. The Vader holding C-3PO’s head in the opening pages of The Complete Vader brings back all that same emotion! Great Job!
Ryder Windham: Thank you … I confess, I still pinch myself for coming up with the storyline for “Thank the Maker.” When I pitched the story, I was afraid someone else was already working on a similar idea. I was just lucky.
Q: Ryder and Pete, In terms of writing The Complete Vader, was it a real treat to find the page from The Empire Strikes Back script that said Luke I am you father?
Ryder Windham: YES, that was a major score to get that Empire Strikes Back script page into the book. We really wanted it in there, and were glad to get it.
Q: Are The Force Unleashed video games actually cannon and how were they discussed and included in the book?
Ryder Windham: I’d have to flip through The Complete Vader again, but I can’t recall off the top of my head if The Force Unleashed is mentioned.
Q: What was your favorite piece of Vader merchandise as a kid?
Ryder Windham: My favorite piece of Vader merchandise? I don’t know… I had an action figure, but… my older brother bought the Star Wars novelization when it was released in late 1976, and that was the first time I saw Vader, on the book’s cover. So I’d say my favorite collectible was that first edition, specifically because of Ralph McQuarrie’s cover. I love it.
Q: Since you’ve re-introduced Gizz in the Secret Missions books, I’ve been wondering if Nuru and Spiker are actually the same person?
Ryder Windham: I’m glad you’ve been wondering if Nuru and Spiker are the same person. I’ve been wondering if anyone has been wondering that.
Q: I’ve also really enjoyed the “biography” books about Vader, Luke and Obi-Wan that you wrote and I’m looking forward to the upcoming one about Darth Maul. Do you for see yourself writing anymore? You do a very nice job of tying up a lot of the different stories from comics, novels and the movies and ironing out some continuity problems
Ryder Windham: Thanks, glad you like the “bio” books. Yes, I hope to continue writing Star Wars books as long as folks keep hiring me. I think Lucasfilm appreciates the fact that I really do make an effort to make continuity mesh, that I respect the fact that other SW stories precede mine, that I like to recycle characters more than I like to invent them.
Q: What is the most interesting part of the book in your opinion?
Ryder Windham: I think the best part about The Complete Vader is just that it’s a drop-dead gorgeous coffee table book about Darth Vader. That’s what we set out to do, and I think we did it. The design is terrific, everyone seems happy with it. I hope you enjoy it too!
Q: Do you think there could be another ‘The Complete …’-book about another character?
Erich Schoeneweiss: I’ve got a character in mind that I think would a natural for it. I’ve brought it up in conversations a few times. We’ll see what happens. Any character in particular you think would be perfect for the “Complete” treatment?
Comment: I think Artoo & Threepio would do fine for another ‘Complete’ book and Boba Fett would be popular as well :)
Ryder Windham: I think the droids would be worthy of their own book. Boba Fett too. Heck, I never get tired of the Millennium Falcon. How about an entire book of Falcon stuff?
Q: Any writing tips for the sci-fi writers just starting out?
Ryder Windham: Yes, my advice is write your own stuff. Also, don’t read an excessive amount of science fiction. I’ll explain. When I worked at Dark Horse, a science fiction writer made two story pitches to me that I immediately recognized as, um, “borrowed” plots from a Fred Pohl novels. I think if you’re going to write science fiction, it’s probably to your advantage to read almost anything but science fiction. You’ll come up with more original ideas that way.
Q: Is there any new information about Vader found within the book? (not background/merchandise but canonical in-universe stuff)
Ryder Windham: I don’t believe there’s any new “in universe” info in The Complete Vader.
Comment: Best part is that my son (10) has always viewed Vader as the villain. To explain to him that he is the hero is a little odd for him
Ryder Windham: Yeah, it’s a tough stretch (seeing Anakin as the hero) for adults as well as kids. I also look at Captain Rex and see a total hero too, then remember… Oh, right, Order 66. Ha ha.
Q: Do you want to take a minute to talk about your Star Wars Insider story, “Vader Adrift?” (which comes out November 4th)?
Ryder Windham: “Vader Adrift” was written for Star Wars Insider magazine. The only direction I got was: make it a story about Vader set during the events of the original trilogy, as opposed to the Dark Times (between ROTS and ANH, but you all knew that already.
Q: Did the authors learn anything new about Vader and did it make you like him more or less?
Ryder Windham: I think the thing that I learned about Vader that made me like him more was some info that Pete emphasized… The original Star Wars publicity packages didn’t really play up Vader as the major villain. Peter Cushing’s Tarkin got more “billing” in that department. I just like the fact that audiences really embraced Vader as the villain they loved to hate.
Pete Vilmur: Folks, sorry I’m late — I had it in my calendar to join at 3:30 PACIFIC time!!! Argh! Better late than never, I guess :)
Q: Ryder, when writing do you ever feel feel Vader getting those twinges of good in him that help you move the story along?
Ryder Windham: I think the twinges of goodness in Vader have to be very carefully balanced. For example, in the story “Thank the Maker,” right after Vader decides to give C-3PO’s parts to Chewbacca on Cloud City, what does Vader do next? He’s off to the torture chamber to visit Han Solo. Vader can be a little good, but he never becomes “redeemed” until the end of ROTJ.
Q: Do you like the portrayal of Anakin in The Clone Wars?
Ryder Windham: Yes, I DO like Anakin in The Clone Wars. I think the writers do a terrific job of balancing the good/bad aspects of Anakin.
Q: Hey Pete! What was the one thing that didn’t make it into the book you wish had?
Pete Vilmur: Ooo, good one. Well, right after the book went to press, I won a cool French Vader poster from McDonald’s showing a couple smooching in the background and Vader levitating his lunch. Priceless image. Next time!
Q: Ryder, you also wrote “The Wrath of Darth Maul.” Who is te most challenging to write? Vader? Maul? Or Palpatine?
Ryder Windham: Each has certain challenging aspects, but I think Palpatine is probably the most challenging because he’s the least immediately-interesting character. He orchestrates events, manipulates others to do his bidding. Maul and Vader are relatively easier to write because they can just fly off and kill people. Ha ha.
Q: What are your thoughts about Vader’s ‘nooo’ in Return of the Jedi on the Blu-ray? :)
Ryder Windham: Oh…you don’t really want to bite the black-gloved hand that feeds me, do you?
Q: What is the most interesting part of the book in your opinion?
Pete Vilmur: I thoroughly enjoyed researching Vader’s first brush of public fame, making appearances at record stores, toy stores, and such. I was fortunately able to track down Kermit Eller, the original actor who portrayed Vader for public appearances in the US. He had some great history to share on that one.
Q: What was the one thing that didn’t make it into the book you wish had?
Ryder Windham: I wish The Complete Vader had included an audio mechanism so when you turn the cover back, you’d hear Vader’s mechanically labored breathing. I’d just love to watch people in a bookstore, from a distance, as they picked up the book and opened it. If that feature had been included, it probably would have been a good idea to line up ambulances outside the bookstore.
Pete Vilmur: I don’t think Ryder will be fully satisfied until he gets that audio mechanism installed in the book — I recall that being the very first thing he wanted to do when we started the project. Maybe a one-off can be devised just for him :)
Ryder Windham: Pete, I knew you’d remember that! Yeah, I’ll just insert an audio chip into one of my own copies and watch the bodies fall.
Pete Vilmur: Regarding favorite Vader collectible — to which I must answer, one: which day? Seriously, my list of favorites seems to change every day, but I guess my favorite piece depicted in the book is the Vader humidifier from Japan. The only way I could get one was to bid in a silent auction staged by the Licensing division here at LFL. I bid high, but Darth Vapor is mine.
Q: Speaking of Vader levitating consumables, have you guys ever noticed him levitating a cup of coffee into his hand in the Marvel Comics adaptation of A New Hope?
Comment: I just re-read the marvel run thru Dark Horse’s Omnibus series, and I saw that. I also seem to remember that happening in the 1976 novelization. the scene must have been deleted or unfilmed (ie based on early drafts of the script)
Ryder Windham: You’re right… the reason the “coffee cup” was in the Marvel comic was because the comic’s creative team was working from an early draft of the screenplay. I think you can read the original text in The Making of Star Wars by Jonathan Rinzler.
Ryder Windham: I just want to thank everyone for writing in, your kind words about my work, etc. I’m a longtime Star Wars fan too, and it’s beyond gratifying to know everyone is “with us” on this project.
Pete Vilmur: Again, my sincerest apologies for coming late to the party — I just got out of a screening for mid-season The Clone Wars episodes, and discovered I was supposed to be talking Vader instead. Well, if it’s any consolation, Clone Wars fans have A LOT to look forward to this season — it gets better with each new episode.