A FOTF exclusive Interview with Author Adam Bray discussing his contributions to the newest edition of DK’s Ultimate Star Wars.
The newest edition of Ultimate Star Wars is now available for the first time digitally on a variety of ebook platforms. The price point is fantastic too ($12.99 for the US and £19.99 for the UK), especially given the depth of Star Wars content included in this edition. Ultimate Star Wars is available to order through the following links:
Recently, I had the privilege to interview Adam Bray, one of the book’s major contributors about the newest edition of Ultimate Star Wars and some details on his contributions.
Adam Bray | Exclusive Interview
Welcome back Adam to Future of the Force and thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions!
Patty: What approach did you take when researching what you needed to update for this edition?
Adam: It’s mostly straightforward on these encyclopedias. I receive a list of new entries being added to the book and then I write one spread at a time. I wrote all the new entries for anything appearing for the first time in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, Rogue One, Solo, Forces of Destiny, Rebels, Resistance, Marvel comics and Battlefront II. I believe my new co-author, Cole Horton, was responsible for updates to existing entries, while the publisher added new entries for The Rise of Skywalker. So for me, this simply meant consulting the source material and using sites like Wookieepedia or StarWars.com as a handy research aid.
Patty: What update took you the most time to work on and why?
Adam: This was probably Doctor Aphra and her two droid associates from Marvel comics. Admittedly, I’d fallen behind in my reading at the time. It’s always difficult to condense biographies into the essentials when a character like Aphra has received so much attention in the comics, with all their twists, turns, and cross-overs. Sorting their bios—and anyone else who appeared frequently in the comics–was a complicated process.
Patty: What is your favorite entry or section within each of the editions and why? Did this change from working on the first edition to this new edition?
Adam: In the first edition I liked writing the planet entries from the original trilogy best—Hoth, Dagobah, Bespin and Endor, particularly. I have a background in environmental biology, conservation and zoology. So it was fun to describe the environments realistically and in detail, but also to invent a few new creatures of my own for the respective ecosystems. Some of these new creatures have since been illustrated in other books—it’s always rewarding to see my ideas come to life like that. In the new edition, I enjoyed anything where I could contribute my own original ideas. Most often that was found in the data headers for new entries, with the invention of new homeworlds, technology model names and manufacturers.
Patty: Did you learn anything new by working the project you did not know before?
Adam: When we wrote the first edition, Star Wars canon had recently been reset. So the only Star Wars publishing sources that we had to take into account was just a couple of novels and a single story arc from Dark Horse Comics. It hadn’t dawned on me how important the past few years of publishing would be to the new edition until I started writing. At this point, nobody can follow everything. Star Wars is going in so many different directions—always expanding—and none of us has infinite time and money. I can’t afford a trip to Galaxy’s Edge and hadn’t been able to read every single story in print yet, so I had to do a bit of catch-up research. For a project like this though, I’m working mostly with material that is public knowledge, though I might get a little heads-up on a few things coming down the track very soon.
Patty: You mentioned in your Tweets that as you updated this edition, you added Easter Eggs to the entries you updated. What prompted you to do this and can you share an example?
Adam: My own philosophy as an author is that fans always want to learn something new—not merely buy a souvenir book recounting only the things that they’ve already seen. So it’s always my goal in every book I write, whether Star Wars or Marvel, to have original new material—especially what we call “Easter Eggs”—on every page spread. It doesn’t always work out that way due to the editing process, but that is my goal. I don’t believe in leaving empty spaces unless there is a good story reason to keep things a mystery. So, I usually provide options for all the facts and backstories—whether they actually get used in the end or not. So, when some things are left unsaid in the end, I tend to think that might be Disney saying “Stand down Poe Dameron! Let’s keep some options open for future storytelling.”
The Easter Eggs I create may be a reference to something from the old Expanded Universe (EU) or connect to storytelling in another part of the galaxy or even a homage to something that is outside the fictional universe. I try not to create any throw-away details. Newly invented factoids are nearly always a reference to something else that I find interesting.
One example relates to the Droids animated series from the 1980s. In one story arc, R2-D2 and C-3PO befriend a group of teenagers, led by Thall Joben, who go on to build speeders for an alien guy named Zebulon Dak. In the Rebels Visual Guide, I name parts of the Kanan’s speeder after those friends, suggesting that they designed it (fitting, since Kanan and the Rebels team are operating in the same timeframe as the old Droids animated series). In the new Ultimate Star Wars, I designated the manufacturer of one of the speeders in Resistance (which takes place in the new trilogy era) as “Joben and Sons.” My intention was to imply that Thall Joben’s legacy as a builder of speeders (and starfighters) is a family business that continues with his children.
Patty: What one aspect of the new edition that you were looking forward to that you did not work on?
Adam: Of course I was looking forward to seeing anything from upcoming Star Wars projects. I don’t think we have references to Jedi: Fallen Order or The Mandalorian in the book (though I admit I’ve not yet read through the final copy exhaustively), but there is quite a bit of new material sprinkled throughout from The Rise of Skywalker.
Patty: Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself or your writing process?
Adam: I’m often asked what I do to get inspired, or in the right mood for writing. Some good music or a nice cup of coffee/tea does help, but apart from that, there isn’t time to wait for a muse. Schedules are tight. Writing happens from early in the morning until late at night. I may write while I’m waiting in a doctor’s office or at a convention table, as much as write in a cozy café or my home office. It’s all about meeting a deadline. Inspiration comes from the work, not the other way around. That said, at the end of the day when I’m in the shower or laying in bed and my brain can finally decompress for a few minutes (because I’m not focused on a computer screen for the first time that day), I do tend to get a few great ideas that pop in my head. So I’ll quickly scribble them down for the following day. I’ve also noticed that whether I’m writing in Star Wars or Marvel, that a legion of action figures end up posed on my desk as I work… meanwhile, new figures get added to my shopping carts in online store accounts…
Patty: What else have you worked on or is upcoming that you can share?
Adam: There is nothing upcoming that I can share yet… But I’ll say that while I’m always happy to work on projects for Star Wars and Marvel, I’m open to other franchises too. I’m quite keen to write books for JK Rowling’s Wizarding World, James Cameron’s Avatar, Tolkien’s Middle Earth, or anything from The Jim Henson Company (especially Farscape)!
Patty: Where can fans find you?
Adam: I’m most active on Twitter (@authorAdamBray) and I also have an author page on Facebook (also @authorAdamBray). I have a website at www.AdamBray.com as well. I will be doing book signings over the holidays this year at the movie theaters in Gaylord and Petoskey Michigan too (including Petoskey Cinemas for the opening weekend of The Rise of Skywalker).
Ultimate Star Wars: New Edition by Adam Bray, Cole Horton, Tricia Barr, Ryder Windham, Daniel Wallace is published by DK Books and is available to buy NOW!
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Patty Hammond is a Senior Correspondent for Future of the Force. She is a passionate Star Wars fan and is a devoted fangirl and blogger. Follow her on Twitter @PattyBones2 where she uses the force frequently!