More blessed, glorious Star Wars is upon us in the very near future. In fact, under our very own roof we will be visited by Star Wars author (and the closest thing there is to an expert) Michael Kogge, presenting his co-authored, freshly updated Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know just in time for the holidays (but AFTER Thanksgiving – on November 29). Here’s our short conversation as preview to that pan-galactic event …
Eric Larkin – What is your very first Star Wars memory?
Michael Kogge – My very first Star Wars memory is watching the original film in a theater with my dad and being absolutely captivated by the cantina sequence. It seemed like all the monsters from movieland had close-ups. There were googly-eyed green aliens, werewolves, devil-people, reptilemen, just to name a few. Although most of these creatures happened to be nothing more than extras wearing Halloween costume rentals, my young eyes saw them as real. To this day, I don’t think a more wretched hive of scum and villainy has ever been presented more authentically on the silver screen.
EL – An argument I often have with my friends is over whether or not Star Wars is science fiction. Obviously, it’s broadly classified that way, but in terms of asking “What if…?” questions or even just in terms of having anything science-y, I think it fails the test. I say it is just an epic adventure that happens in space. Can you make a brief argument for or against?
MK – Star Wars, to me, is legend and myth. It’s the same class of story as the Arthurian tales and the medieval romances. As you rightly point out, it’s an epic adventure that just happens to be in space. But I’d also say that while it may not fit into the genre of “hard” science fiction, Star Wars is about science and an individual’s relationship to technological progress. The villains all use advanced technology to conquer the galaxy and even death, in the case of Darth Vader and his armored body-suit. The heroes, on the other hand, don’t have the latest gadgets, but what they have is spirit. When Luke turns off his X-wing’s targeting computer to destroy the Death Star, the film tells us that the human spirit can be stronger than technology and the greatest scientific achievements; spirit is what binds us all together.
EL – You are presenting the updated and expanded version of Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know at our event, part of the vast DK Star Wars reference series. What has been added from the earlier edition?
MK – My co-authors on this book, Adam Bray and Cole Horton, added material from the films and television shows that has come out since the book’s initial publication in September 2015. In this updated edition, there’s quite a bit of cool stuff showcasing The Force Awakens and the Rebels animated show, and even some amazing new spreads on The Last Jedi that I think fans will love.
EL – You’ve written a lot of Star Wars stories, especially junior novels like Droids in Distress and the junior novelization of The Force Awakens. What are your favorite characters and/or storylines in the Star Wars universe and why?
MK – Of my recent books, I really enjoy writing Finn and Rey. Finn’s funny, a bit of a ham, who is marvelously human. He has no problem expressing his reservations when things get out of hand, yet when all seems lost, you can always count on him to do the right thing. He’s the stormtrooper who makes the decision not to do what stormtroopers are supposed to do—blindly obey orders— and by his choice, sets off a chain of events that propels the actions in The Force Awakens, from the rescuing of Poe to meeting and helping Rey. I find Finn to be the moral center of the new trilogy.
Rey is fascinating to write because she’s a mystery to the audience as well as to herself. We learn about her just as she learns, which makes the revelatory moments all the more powerful. We’re on the journey with her. But what’s most interesting about her for me is not her past; it’s her character. She’s fierce, tough, and fearless, yet she’s also caring and tender. For years she’s been holed-up in a walker on Jakku, living the harsh life of a scavenger and loner, until she meets other wayward misfits like Finn, Han Solo, and Chewbacca. For a brief time in The Force Awakens, she has a surrogate family, and consequently a purpose other than trying to get more food portions from Unkar Plutt. Her adventure shows her that the galaxy is a much larger place than the wastes of Jakku, and there are other good people out there.
EL – They’ve just announced a new trilogy and (I think) a possible TV series. If you could work on a brand new Star Wars story, what kind of story would you tell, and in what era would you base it?
MK – Hard question. Every era of Star Wars has its strengths. For me, it’s more about character and theme, and finding truth in the story you want to tell. That said, I’d love to write an Obi-Wan Kenobi adventure or a story from Chewbacca’s perspective, if given the opportunity.
EL – What is Empire of the Wolf? What is next for you?
MK – Empire of the Wolf is my original graphic novel about a war of werewolves in ancient Rome. It’s a spin on the myth of Romulus and Remus, two brothers who were suckled by a she-wolf—and in my story, are the basis for a lycanthropic curse that nearly dooms the Roman Empire. Readers who like my Star Wars work, and those who enjoy classical history and myth, might find it a fun read. With the exception of the werewolves, of course, it stays quite true to history! Alterna Comics published the book and one can read more about it at www.empireofthewolf.net.
As for my other work, my junior novel for Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be out soon. I’m also a screenwriter and am developing a television pilot with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. And of course there are many other ideas I can’t wait to get to!
Get all your obscure Star Wars questions answered and knock a few droids off your shopping list on November 29.
Readers can find Michael Kogge online at www.michaelkogge.com or @michaelkogge on twitter.