Diversity in Star WarsSeptember 23, 2012 at 7:37 am | Posted in Star Wars Books, Star Wars News | Leave a comment
Tags: jennifer heddle
LucasBooks editor Jennifer Heddle answered a few questions on Facebook regarding diversity in Star Wars. She also reaffirmed that the Big 3 will still be around in the Sword of the Jedi series but in the background. We’ve copied the Q&A below.
Hello Del Rey/LucasBooks (and fellow SW fans) – on behalf of a conversation we’ve been having over at the Jedi Council Forums over the last few years, I was hoping to hear some official opinions on the subject of diversity in Star Wars publishing. The conversation itself is the most important thing, so anyone with thoughts is welcome to chime in. Some general areas I’m curious about:
- Does editorial ever take steps to actively encourage greater diversity among novel casts, or is that left up to individual authors’ discretion? How often, if at all, does a book’s demography come up during the editorial process?
- Is there a general consensus among the Star Wars staff that the books are doing a satisfactory job of representing human diversity, or do people feel that there’s room for improvement? I’m visualizing the main casts of LotF and FotJ in particular when I ask this.
- On a related note, does Sword of the Jedi presage a greater focus on Jaina’s (and Ben’s) generation going forward? Many of us feel that there’s a great deal of room to continue expanding the younger cast of major characters in the “flagship” novels, and that could be an ideal area to boost both human and alien diversity without seeming to shoehorn new characters in where they aren’t needed.
- Lastly, as publishing professionals, what do you take away from incidents like the Hunger Games film release, where a number of fans expressed not only unhappiness, but shock, when characters who were specifically described in the book as dark-skinned appeared that way in the movie? Do SFF publishers see controversies like that as a warning sign, or a challenge?
Jennifer Heddle: Hey Mike — sorry to be chiming in so late on this. Missed your last message to me about this being up. I’ll preface by saying I’m speaking for me here, in my role at Lucasfilm, just because I don’t want to be speaking on behalf of my Random House colleagues without checking with them first. Let’s see. Sword of the Jedi presaging a greater focus on younger generation: in that “flagship” series, yes. The Big Three will still be around but there’s a reason we’re giving them a big rousing adventure in CRUCIBLE, b/c they will then fade into the background a bit to let the younger generation come into their own.
JH: Re: The Hunger Games. I believe, or maybe have to believe, that the people who expressed that outrage were a noisy minority. My assumption is vast majority of viewers had no issues with it. (And how anyone could have any issues with the INCREDIBLY ADORABLE actress who played Rue is beyond me. LOL.) Personally I don’t see it as a warning sign OR a challenge, just as a fact that there are always going to be racists in this world and they shouldn’t affect the creative process.
JH: (Taking these questions out of order, apparently) Re: diversity in casts, I think there’s always room for improvement, everywhere. …can’t even think what to add to that. Maybe not on Shonda Rhimes shows b/c she’s got it covered. Heh.
JH: The first question is the toughest for me to answer since there aren’t many books to date for which I’ve been in the beginning stages of the editorial process. I can’t speak to anything that happened before me. I think easiest way to sum up is basically what Shelly Shapiro and I said at CVI — we are aware of it but don’t want to do anything that feels forced, either. But yes, it has come up/will come up, on the editorial/licensor side.
Thanks to FANgirl Blog for pointing this out.