Have you ever watched Star Wars: The Clone Wars? What about any of the Star Wars prequels? Both of those series, set within the Star Wars universe, introduced us to two characters who eventually grew to become fan favorites. Those characters are none other than Ahsoka Tano and Padmé Amidala. We recently had a chance to interview an author who wrote two Star Wars novels that focus on Ahsoka and Padmé during time periods in their lives that were relatively unexplored through canon media.
E.K. Johnston wrote the novels, Ahsoka and Queen’s Shadow. Ahsoka, obviously about Ahsoka, focuses on the time period of Ahsoka’s life that falls between her appearance in The Clone Wars and Rebels. Queen’s Shadow takes place in between Padmé’s appearances in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones focuses on her during the transition she went through from Queen of Naboo to becoming a senator for the republic representing Naboo. Check out the interview below to learn more!
How did you find out that you had the opportunity to write your first Star Wars novel, furthermore, a story about Ahsoka?
I found out when my agent called me out of the blue one day. Usually we schedule calls, but this time the phone just rang. I, naturally, assumed that some catastrophe had befallen my career, but it turned out okay.
Ahsoka is an iconic character, more so Padmé; how would you describe the way it feels to write stories about characters that are so popular within the Star Wars fandom?
It is pretty wonderful, to be quite honest. Not only is it a marvellous challenge, fitting stories into a shared universe, it’s also a awesome gift that I get to do it. Before Ahsoka came out, I was a little scared–there’s so many talented people working in Star Wars and imposter syndrome is a real thing–but the fandom has been amazing, and I’ve enjoyed basically every moment of my involvement.
I see Padmé and Ahsoka as two characters who had very different roles within the prequel era. Is there anything that you think makes them similar in a way that connects the two female characters?
They’re both dreamers, but they also know how to get things done. They’re determined and compassionate, and deeply aware of the problems in the galaxy. On the surface, they were both brought into Star Wars to round out Anakin’s story, but they are such complex and interesting characters that they really took on independence very quickly! The galaxy is just as much theirs as it is anyone else’s.
Your novel, Ahsoka, addresses a lot of questions that fans had about the character, and I found it to be somewhat of an origin story of the Ahsoka whom we got to know in Star Wars: Rebels. What was it like to explore this “transformation” that Ahsoka went through in order to go from being the young padawan from The Clone Wars to “Fulcrum” from Rebels?
I think that’s one of the things I love about writing YA. You get these characters who are pretty sure they know what they’re after, but then something changes and they have to rework all their plans. For Ahsoka, it was definitely tragedy and loss that defined her independence, and then she had to figure out how to integrate herself back into a system. Padmé has always had such strong support, so her development went in another direction, but it was fun to write both takes, because, let’s be real, there are so many ways to experience that moment when you realize you’re more than a little bit on your own.
As a new Star Wars author, are there anyone (authors, writers, etc.) involved in the franchise who has been there to guide you throughout your writing and contributions to the franchise?
I mean, kind of? I had to keep Ahsoka a secret for a really long time, so no one ever KNEW that I was a Star Wars author while I was learning how to be one. I did get to watch the “first gen” authors go through their publication cycle when The Force Awakens came out. I watched Chuck Wendig and Claudia Gray weather all kinds of reader responses, and decided from that point how I was going to present myself in public. I’m endlessly grateful for their examples, even if they didn’t know that I was watching.
I remember when you were on “The Star Wars Show,” shortly after Ahsoka was released, and you discussed some of the Canadian references that you made throughout the novel. Will there be any references to the Canadian culture in Queen’s Shadow?
There is some Canadian content in Queen’s Shadow, mostly relating to the election process.
After both of your novels being about characters from The Clone Wars, are you excited for The Clone Wars to come back later this year with a final twelve episodes?
SO MUCH. I missed that panel at SDCC because I had a booth signing, and then we had to run to another panel that I was on, so I was literally backstage, watching the trailer on my phone and crying while my co-panelists were all “Does…she just have stage fright?” It’s going to be SO GOOD.
E.K. Johnston can be found on both Twitter and Instagram @ek_johnston. Queen’s Shadow will be released on Tuesday, March 5th.