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Andre Norton

The following is an article that Ann wrote for the SFWA Bulletin back in 2005. I’m reposting it here to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Andre Norton’s death.

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Some of the magic has gone out of our world.

Andre Norton died on Thursday, March 17, 2005, one month to the day after her 93rd birthday. She died pretty much as she had wished to: at home, peacefully. She had been clear-headed pretty much till the end. I spoke to her for the last time 12 days before her passing, and she knew who I was and thanked me for calling. She sounded calm, though it was clear that she was having difficulty breathing. Her faithful caregiver, Sue Stewart, told me that she had announced that it was time to go, and that she was ready. Andre went through that final Gate as easily as Simon Tregarth, one of her favorite heroes, passed from our world into Witch World.

I knew Andre for nearly thirty years. We began corresponding in the late 70’s, and I was the first author she asked to join her in writing a Witch World novel. It was a tremendous honor for a new writer who had made only one professional sale. Working with Andre was like taking a Master’s course in little-known and fascinating facts. She had a sharp mind, a nearly photographic memory for the written word, and she was the best-read person I’ve ever encountered. Decades after reading a book, she could recount the plot in detail. She read widely: history, biography, archeology, cultural studies, fiction…the depth of her knowledge and the accuracy of her memory never ceased to amaze me. An accomplished storyteller herself, she loved stories of all kinds, from all cultures. She could recite folklore from nearly every culture and historical period.

Andre used her extensive knowledge of other times, places, and cultures to create other worlds. Ask any substantial gathering of science fiction and fantasy fans who gave them their first introduction to science fiction, and probably half of them will say, “Andre Norton.” (The other half seem pretty evenly divided between Robert Heinlein and those Holt Winston series books.) Books such as Star Rangers, Daybreak 2250 A.D. Forerunner, Beastmaster, The Time Traders…well, I could go on and on and on, but you probably know the titles as well as I do. In her later years, when fantasy became as marketable as s.f., Andre created Witch World, a classic fantasy series that has remained in print for nearly forty years. How many books did she write? I really don’t know. Over 200, I’m sure. Her first book was published when she was 19 years old (The Prince Commands) and, before her death, she held in her hands an advance copy of her last solo novels, Three Hands for Scorpio. That’s an incredible, impressive career by anyone’s standards.

I learned so much about writing from working with her. She taught me to get right into a book and never let the pacing lag. She expressed her knack for drawing a reader into her characters and plots with her habitual self-deprecation: “I always get my characters off the spaceship and onto the planet with as little delay as possible, so they can get straight into the adventure,” she told me with a chuckle, “That’s because if I have to try and explain how all the science works, I’d probably make a mistake!”

Andre was an expert at drawing the reader into a character’s plight. She specialized in the “hero underdog” protagonist – ordinary or disadvantage people who, when faced with a challenge, rose to heroic heights and won the day. She authored many “firsts” in science fiction: the first black protagonist (Shann Lantee in Storm Over Warlock), the first female protagonist in science fiction (Charis Nordholm in Ordeal in Otherwhere). She also introduced Native American protagonists and handicapped protagonists to science fiction. When I was a pre-teen, reading Ordeal for the first time, I found myself reading with a smile on my face, wondering why the book had such an immediate, intrinsic attraction for me. It was a while before I figured out that it was because, for the first time, a girl got to have an adventure on another planet – just like the guys. After years of reading science fiction novels populated by male WASP-types, Andre’s deliberate showcasing of other genders, races and ethnicities was like a drink of cool water on a summer day.

Many people think of Andre as she was in her later years, a gracious Lady (in every sense of the word) who was seldom seen in public. That was not always the case. True, she stayed at home caring for her elderly parents until their deaths (and never complained about it), but when she was free to travel, she did, though she never made it across the Atlantic because of the turmoil of World War 2. But she took passage on a tramp steamer to Central and South America, and later, worked at the Library of Congress in wartime Washington. Andre was awarded a special citation by the government of Norway for her portrayal of the adventures of the Norwegian Resistance during WW2. She treasured that award. She treasured her Grand Master trophy, too. Her office shelves were filled with writing awards for specific works and Lifetime Achievement, but unless you visited her home, you seldom learned about them. She was modest to a fault.

One of my favorite memories of Andre was the ladies’ tea she gave at the Noreascon where she was Guest of Honor. All of the lady authors at the convention were invited to her suite, where we were served very proper cucumber sandwiches and cups of tea on delicate china. I went, wearing gloves and a (borrowed) hat. Andre greeted all of her guests, and chatted warmly and graciously with everyone there. My favorite moment was while she was discussing her collection of Victorian books, and commented calmly that her collection contained an extensive selection of Victorian pornography. For half a second I thought I might have perform the Heimlich maneuver on Jane Yolen, but Jane, who is also a Lady, managed to swallow her mouthful of tea and sandwich.

My favorite times with Andre were when I’d go for visits and we’d sit up together after supper, talking about books we’d loved and read, books we wanted to write, stories that needed to be told. Once, when I confided that someone I’d encountered at a writing conference had been snippily dismissive of me and of our genre, and that I’d experienced doubts about whether what I was writing was worthwhile, she shook her head at me solemnly. “Never let that bother you,” she said. “You and I are part of a great and ancient tradition. For as long as there have been human beings, there have been storytellers. We are storytellers, and that is something to be proud of. Always.”

I miss the magic. I miss her stories. I miss her.

Always.

Time Horse now available

timehorse_cover1_rev3

For those who haven’t heard, Ann “A. C.” Crispin died on September 6, 2013. Her legacy will live on. Now, Ann’s last completed book, TIME HORSE, has been published for the first time as an ebook for Kindle. It’s the story of Danielle Tomasky, who is twelve years old and wants nothing in the world but a horse to ride. She finds a horse that turns out to be something extraordinary, and that takes her on a magnificent adventure back to a time that tests every one of Danni’s equestrian skills to their limits.

Praise for Time Horse

“Time Horse is a wonderful romp imbued not only with a marvelous sense of history, but with wonderfully drawn characters–human and equine–who prove that heroes come in all shapes and ages.”

— Doranna Durgin, author of the Changespell Saga

“TIME HORSE reminds me of all the wonderful horse books I devoured as a teen. A passionate and knowledgeable young rider. A mysterious, amazing horse. And a mission to challenge them both! The details of having a horse, and caring for one, shine through. This is the perfect gift for the horse-lover in your life, even if that’s you!”

— Julie E. Czerneda, author of A Turn of Light

“I think the Time Horse is real. It took me back in time to when I was a horse crazy girl saving milk money in a jug to buy a horse of my own. Alas, it never happened, but I still hung out around horses at a local stable, and all of AC Crispin’s lovingly crafted details took me there–the scents, the textures, the horse sense. The same eye for detail also placed me over two hundred years in the past as our heroine and her very special steed face danger and excitement in Revolutionary era America. A very satisfying read. I wish we could have more stories of the adventures of Eilyn and Neideo.”

— Kristen Britain, author of the Green Rider series.

Ann Carol Crispin was born in Stamford, Connecticut on April 5, 1950. She is the daughter of George Arthur Tickell and Eleanor Hope Hooker. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature in 1972.

Ms. Crispin, who wrote under the name A.C. Crispin, was a New York Times bestselling author who was recently named the 2013 Grandmaster by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. She wrote prolifically in many different tie-in universes, and was a master at filling in the histories of beloved TV and movie characters. Over the years, she became the unofficial “Queen of Backstory.” Ms. Crispin had a unique talent for writing dialog that captured the essence of those characters. She began publishing in 1983 with the Star Trek novel Yesterday’s Son, written in her spare time while working for the US Census Bureau. Shortly thereafter, Tor Books commissioned her to write what is perhaps still her most widely read work, the 1984 novelization of the television miniseries, V, which sold more than a million copies. She went on to collaborate on two more books in the V series, East Coast Crisis with Howard Weinstein, and Death Tide with Deborah Marshall.

For Star Wars, she wrote the bestselling Han Solo Trilogy: The Paradise Snare, The Hutt Gambit, and Rebel Dawn, which tell the story of Han Solo from his early years right up to the moment he walks into the cantina in Star Wars: A New Hope. She wrote three other bestselling Star Trek novels: Time for Yesterday, The Eyes of the Beholders, and Sarek.

Crispin and noted author Andre Norton wrote two Witch World novels together, Gryphon’s Eyrie and Songsmith. Ann Crispin and Andre Norton were friends for nearly 30 years. Ms. Norton was the first woman to be declared a Grand Master in the field of science fiction and fantasy by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). Andre Norton’s passing brought increasing demand for her works, but a legal battle has tied up the rights to her collaborations with Ms. Crispin.

A.C. Crispin was active in SFWA since soon after joining the organization in 1983. She served as Eastern Regional Director for almost 10 years, and then served as Vice President for two terms. Ms. Crispin was a fierce advocate for writers. She and author Victoria Strauss created and co-chaired SFWA’s “scam watchdog” committee, Writer Beware, in 1998. Crispin still serves as the Chair. Writer Beware is the only professionally sponsored group that warns aspiring writers about scam agents and fraudulent publishers that infest the internet. Crispin and Strauss have assisted law enforcement in bringing several of these con artists to justice.

Ms. Crispin didn’t confine herself to writing media-related fiction. Much of her work was in her own original universes. Her major original science fiction undertaking is the StarBridge series for Berkley/Putnam. These books, written solo or in collaboration, centered around a school for young diplomats, translators and explorers, both alien and human, located on an asteroid far from Earth. Series titles are: StarBridge, Silent Dances, Shadow World, Serpent’s Gift, Silent Songs, Voices of Chaos, and Ancestor’s World. They have all recently been re-issued as ebooks and will soon have audio book editions.

StarBridge (Book One) was placed on the American Library Association’s Young Adult Services Division’s list of Best Books of 1991, and Silent Dances (Book Two, co-authored with Kathleen O’Malley) made the 1991 Preliminary ballot for the Nebula, the award given by SFWA for outstanding writing. Serpent’s Gift (Book Four, with Deborah A. Marshall) was placed on the 1993 Recommended Books for the Teen Age by the New York Public Library. Book Five, Silent Songs (also written with Kathleen O’Malley) was nominated for the A.L.A Young Adults “Best Books” list.

A.C. Crispin’s newest original book is the fantasy stand-alone book The Exiles of Boq’urain: Storms of Destiny. Her newest “backstory” is Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom and is a prologue to the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean films released by Disney. In it, Ms. Crispin told the story of how Disney’s most famous buccaneer became the man we meet in the first PoTC film. A YA novel, Time Horse, will be released posthumously.

Ms. Crispin taught many writing workshops since becoming a full time professional in 1983. Her teaching credits include a semester-long “Writing for Profit” course at Charles County Community College, two two-day writing workshops for Harrisburg Area Community College, a two-day writing seminar at Towson State University, and numerous mini-workshops at science-fiction and Star Trek conventions, where she was a frequent guest. She taught a writing course at Anne Arundel Community College and was the writing teacher in residence at Dragoncon from 2005 to 2011.
Ms. Crispin is survived by her son, Jason Paul Crispin, her spouse, Michael Capobianco, a sister, Faith Treadwell, and mother, Eleanor Hope Tickell.

Links:

Washington Post Obituary: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/ac-crispin-dies-at-63-author-of-sci-fi-and-tie-in-novels/2013/09/07/5ed498d4-17e5-11e3-804b-d3a1a3a18f2c_story.html

Tor.com Obituary: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/09/ac-crispin-obit

I would like to thank the IAMTW for honoring me with the Faust award. I’m proud to be the first female Grandmaster for the organization.

When I heard the name of the IAMTW’s Grandmaster Award, it struck me as ironic that it’s officially the “Faust Award.” I know this title refers to Frederick Faust, who wrote as Max Brand, but to those of us who work in media universes, it sometimes comes down to making a deal with the devil, doesn’t it? Some members of the writing profession look down on those who take on media tie-in projects as having sold out, or assume they’re lazy and can’t do the work to create “real” fiction. Those of us here all know, of course, that nothing could be further from the truth. It is every bit as challenging to write a good tie-in story as it is a good original novel. When you throw in tight deadlines, unreasonable and clueless studio minions, and the rules of story canon, it can be even more difficult than writing an original book.

But a good story is a good story, no matter what universe it is written in.

My dear friend Andre Norton once listened to me complaining about how tie-in writers aren’t respected the way they should be, and remarked, “Being a storyteller is one of the oldest and most valued professions. Without stories to lift us out of life’s problems and doldrums, where would we be? Be proud of what you do.”

Andre was a very wise lady, and her words stuck with me over the years.

As media tie-in writers, we have a responsibility to our readers, our peers, and the field of writing to look out for each other. The next time some publisher offers you author-unfriendly or unreasonable terms, speak up. Share the problem with the IAMTW, and others you know who might be facing a similar situation. You have to speak up about stuff like this. Otherwise, conditions just get worse, and what’s already a tough profession gets even tougher.

Writers associations can help with author-unfriendly situations. I well recall the day I was given a copy of Pocket Books’ blacklist for Star Trek writers. I brought the blacklist to Ben Bova, the current SFWA President, and thanks to SFWA’s intervention, the blacklist became a thing of the past. When I discovered through an audit that Pocket Books was shipping Star Trek books overseas to England, slapping pound stickers over the American bar codes, then trying to claim they weren’t “exporting” them, I again spoke up. SFWA was able to negotiate a cash settlement for the Star Trek authors involved. When Bantam decided that Star Wars writers didn’t deserve royalties, again SFWA tried to improve this situation.

All of these problems happened before the IAMTW was created. I wish I’d had time to get involved with volunteering for IAMTW, but by the time the organization existed, I was dedicating all my volunteer time to SFWA, especially co-chairing Writer Beware, which was founded back in 1998.

Many people have helped me with my writing career, and I’d like to take a few moments to acknowledge them. Kathleen O’Malley, my first editor and later collaborator, taught me to think when I wrote, rather than just putting down the first words that popped into my head. She’s been my long-time beta reader, and I owe her a debt I can never repay.

Andre Norton allowed me to come and play in her universe. I learned a lot about spinning tales from The Lady, as we called her.

Victoria Strauss, my partner in running Writer Beware, is my other primary beta reader as well as a close friend. Thanks, Vic, for everything.

My husband, three-time SFWA President Michael Capobianco, worked hard during his administrations to protect the rights of tie-in writers. He’s also been my brainstorming buddy, especially for my tie-in books. I could never have produced many of my books without his input.

Thanks also go to my friends, Howard Weinstein, Bob Greenberger, and Peter David. All of them have inspired me at one time or another.

I’d also like to thank those who collaborated with me on my original StarBridge series, which is now out in e-book form, and soon to be re-released in hardcopy. Kathleen O’Malley, Jannean Elliott, Tom King, Ru Emerson and Deb Rollison…thank you.

And finally, I would like to thank the franchises which gave me the chance to play in their sandbox. Writing dialogue for characters like Han Solo, Jack Sparrow, and Mr. Spock was a lot of fun…a dream come true.

To all of you here tonight, I wish you a fun and safe convention, and I thank you for your readership and support.

I know this may get me really disliked, but I just can’t get into the Star Trek “reboots.” I know they’re an “alternate universe” and all that, but I know ST so well that I am continually being yanked out of the story by continuity changes. Plot elements like Chris Pike dying, and McCoy casually having tribbles hanging around his lab were incredibly distracting to me. The acting is good on the part of the actors…I’m not blaming them. My favorite characterization is Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy. He rings “truer” to me than any of the other rebooted characters.

WARNING: Spoiler Alert!

I had problems with the Enterprise being hidden from the inhabitants of Niburu underwater. Why do that? If they’d stayed in orbit, there would have been no violation of the Prime Directive. Basically, they did it because it’s never been done before, and they thought it would look kewl. Insufficient reason, in my book.

Benedict Cumberbatch is an excellent actor. I love him in Sherlock Holmes. But he’s WHITE. Khan Noonian Singh was supposed to be Eastern Indian, a genetically engineered superman from the Eugenics Wars, not a pale, ascetic-looking Caucasian. I found that incredibly distracting. And the moment I heard how many torpedoes there were, I know doggone well what was inside them. I confess to missing a resolution that would have placed those hibernation tubes aboard a ship called “Botany Bay.” Oh, well.

A lot of the script had things happening willy-nilly, just as they did in the first reboot film. Why would “John Harrison” long-range beam to Kronos? (Where Praxis had obviously blown up about five decades early.) Carol Marcus really had no reason to be the person who came aboard the Enterprise with the torpedoes. She was a scientist, not a weapons expert. There wasn’t a hint of attraction between her and Kirk, except perhaps for that (gratuitous, IMHO) scene where she peels down to her sexy black undies.

I could go on, but what all this boils down to is the same problem I had during the first reboot film, to wit: I just didn’t CARE. The plot had so many glitches and inconsistencies that even the efforts of the actors couldn’t save it. The scene where they reprised a version of Spock’s death in “Wrath of Khan” made me roll my eyes instead of tearing up. Ho hum.

For a good analysis of the plot holes and script inconsistencies, I recommend Keith de Candido’s review that he wrote on the Tor page. Keith knows Star Trek as well as I do, possibly even better (he’s written for the franchise more recently than I have). His comments were spot on.

On the other hand, if you, like the majority of Star Trek fans, love the reboots and are willing to overlook all of the plot glitches because of excellent special effects and lots of action, just be happy that the reboots are successful, and will obviously continue.

Personally, I don’t care either way. Just call me a continuity curmudgeon from the Jurassic, because that’s what I am.😉

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/05/star-trek-into-darkness-review-spoilers?utm_source=newsletter

Me, A Grandmaster? Wow!

I’ve delayed posting about being declared a Grandmaster by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers because I was struggling with radiation and the effects of anemia. Also, I was totally flummoxed to learn about it. My first reaction when I got the email announcement was that this was some kind of cruel hoax being played on me by one of Writer Beware’s enemies…!!!! Michael had to look up the email addresses before I’d believe it was true.

When you compare my output to that of, say, Kevin Anderson, I haven’t written all that much, and only about half my output has been tie-in books. It’s true that I’ve written in a LOT of other universes, and that many of my tie-in books sold pretty well. But I really didn’t feel worthy of the honor.

To be honest, for years I struggled with the prevailing attitude among some s.f. and fantasy writers that writing media tie-ins was the ultimate in degrading hackwork, lower on the authorial totem pole even than writing pornography to eke out a living.

Personally, I believe a good story is a good story, no matter what universe it’s written in. I really love being able to put characters from famous universes through their paces, and get inside their heads. I put as much effort into my tie-in books as I do for my original books (though I confess the original books are tougher to write, since you have to make it ALL up), and I was proud of the stories I produced. But I didn’t like getting openly snubbed or patronized sometimes when I was at conventions or writer gatherings.

One time I was talking to my dear friend, Andre Norton, about how I felt about this, and she set me straight. “Ann, you are a STORYTELLER,” she said. “One of the oldest and proudest professions known to the human race. No matter what kind of story you’re telling, be proud of that ability!”

Fortunately, that snotty attitude among the “purist” s.f. and fantasy writers seems much less prevalent today. Earning a living writing is so darned tough these days that whatever type of writing you’re doing, if you can make money doing it, hey, more power to you.

So I’m very proud to be receiving this award, and proud to be a storyteller. I wish I could go to San Diego Comic Con to receive the award in person, but I gather all the tickets are sold out.😦

IAMTW is talking about trying to rig up a skype connection so I can be there virtually. We’ll see if that works out.

There’s a complete list of my books on my website, http://www.accrispin.com, in case you haven’t checked out my work.

Here’s the official announcement:

http://iamtw.blogspot.com/2013/04/crispin-is-grandmaster.html

It’s been kind of a hard week for me, as some of you may have guessed. I had that procedure on Wednesday that the docs hope will help this debilitating anemia that has kept me sub-par. The procedure was partially successful. They hope it will give me some relief, but I won’t know for sure until next Wednesday, when I’ll have my next blood test at the clinic.

I’ve been meaning to tell you about my Easter weekend. Our dear friends Steve and Mary came down to Southern Maryland for a visit. We went out to Red Hot and Blue for dinner on Friday night (Steve LOVES bbq!) and then sat in my living room and just caught up on all the stuff that’s happened. At one point Mocha wandered out and sat down at Steve’s feet and looked up at him expectantly. (He knows he’s beautiful and that it is his right to be adored!) Steve looked down at him and said, “How are you, you animated dust mop?” I laughed out loud.

On Saturday the four of us met Brenda and Larry for brunch at the Carlyle Grand Cafe over in Shirlington. I had the lobster bisque (which is superb) and the crabcakes benedict. Yum!

After brunch, we went to see the “real pirates” exhibition at the National Geographic Museum in DC. Steve was my nautical expert for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom, and, while we knew MOST of the stuff the exhibit showcased, even I learned a few things. The exhibit is a traveling one, and features recovered gear, cannons, treasure, etc. from “Black Sam” Bellamy’s ship, the Whydah. (Pronounced “Wee-dah.”) If you like pirates, watch for this exhibit!

We had dinner that night at Outback, where I had clam chowder. I was still full from brunch! On Sunday we bade goodbye to Steve and Mary, and then went back to the Outback near my mom’s house for a family Easter celebration. This time my appetite was just fine, and I had a small prime rib.

All in all, a fine Easter weekend!

http://press.nationalgeographic.com/2013/02/07/national-geographic-museum-to-host-real-pirates-exhibition/

silent_passion_cover_largeSILENT PASSION is now available for FREE on Amazon.com for a limited time. I really hope that being able to get this story for FREE will help some of you that have never read anything but my tie-in novels to sample my original STARBRIDGE universe.

To be dead honest about it, it’s kind of discouraging when folks tell me I’m one of their favorite writers, but then reveal they’ve never read anything I wrote except V, or Sarek, or a Han Solo novel.

Doggone it, my original novels showcase my BEST, most imaginative work!

I would LOVE to hear some feedback about SILENT PASSION (or any of the StarBridge novels)! Caveat: this story features a gay couple.

http://www.amazon.com/Silent-Passion-StarBridge-story-ebook/dp/B00ASOBZ2U/

I’m getting calls from friends who are concerned because I’ve been scarce online. I’m sorry to be so scarce. Truth is, I had to have another transfusion this week. I keep getting dangerously anemic. The chemo is going pretty well, and I have hopes it will help in the long run. But it’s hard to drag around, breathing hard from just going up a short flight of stairs. The transfusions help, but I sort of feel guilty getting blood that could be going to victims of car crashes, etc. Even though I have a common blood type, and have been assured that there’s no shortage in the DC area.

One of the fun things we did this week was drive off to a remote location in farm country (not far from our house) and watch for Comet Panstarrs. I was able to make out the incredibly thin crescent of the new moon, and above and to the left, a blobby smudge that had to be the comet. I wouldn’t have been able to see it if it weren’t for Michael’s high-power astronomical binoculars, and his comprehensive knowledge of where to look. As a comet this one seems to me to be a big disappointment. Last night we were watching a second season episode of Game of Thrones, and there was the comet that heralded the wars and the return of dragons to the world. Visible in daylight, crimson as fresh-spilled blood. I turned to Michael and said, “Now THERE is a comet!” They say there’s going to be another one in November, a much better one. Bring it on, sez I!

I have a nice outing to look forward to this weekend. Michael and I and a couple of good friends are going to see the “Pre-Raphaelite” exhibition at the National Gallery, then grab some Indian food afterwards. Should be a good time! I’ll give you my comments on it next week.

BTW, stay tuned for an important announcement later today or tomorrow morning.

Michael and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary on February 7th with a really lovely dinner out. And it turns out Michael hadn’t planned just a dinner at a very nice restaurant (the Treaty of Paris in Annapolis), he’d also sprung for the “romantic getaway.” So we had a lovely dinner (crab appetizers, salad, and rack of lamb with risotto and roasted carrots). Then, in our room later, they delivered a bottle of champagne.

The next morning it was breakfast in the Treaty of Paris (French toast for Michael, Crabcakes Benedict for me). We’d hoped to wander around Annapolis for a while, but it was drizzly and cold, so we hopped back in the car and drove home. Last night we caught up on “The Big Bang Theory.” My friend Teresa turned me on to watching it, and it’s usually pretty funny. Laughter is good medicine, as they say!

🙂

Also, I promised I’d comment on the news that Disney plans to do a film based on the early life of Han Solo. Some folks were saying they hoped that Disney would film my trilogy for the movie.

Wow, that would be a thrill, though it’s extremely unlikely. They own the work, of course. It’s copyrighted to them. If they made a movie of it, they wouldn’t give me any credit, or a single sou.

But I very much doubt they’ll use any material from my novels, or any of the other Star Wars novels, even though they’re supposed to be “canon.” J.J. Abrams will come up with his own story. At least he’s SEEN the original Star Wars. He bragged that he’d never in his life seen the original Star Trek.

What do I guess the film might be about? Well, there were several things I was instructed NOT to write about in any detail. One was Han’s mom and dad. I was faced with the challenge of trying to explain how Han discovered his cousin, Thracken Sal Solo, without ever knowing anything about this parents, even their names.

I was also told not to go into any detail about Han’s Academy days. I think this is a possibility for the film. In the early days of my writing The Hutt Gambit, I was instructed that I was not even permitted to explain how Han first encountered Chewie –!!!

Naturally, this was impossible for someone who had to write about their relationship. I was so disconcerted by these orders from Lucasfilm that I actually began a scene and sent it to the licensing approval person (Sue Rostoni, at that time). It went something like this:

***
“Han Solo sat in the pilot’s seat of the freighter, and carefully made an adjustment to their speed. “Prepare for the jump to lightspeed,” he said, glancing sideways at the giant Wookiee who occupied the co-pilot’s seat. “Hnnnnrrrrhhhh,” the Wookiee acknowledged.

Han frowned. What WAS that Wookiee’s name? He had no idea where he’d come from, or why he insisted on tagging along wherever Han went this past month. Han had told him to leave several times, but the Wookiee — oh, yeah, his name was Chewbacca, or something like that — merely shook his head, mumbling something about a “Life Debt.”

Han didn’t remember anything he’d done that might have brought about something as serious as a Life Debt.

Hmmmmm…he frowned. Maybe it was because of that bender he’d gone on, after he’d been kicked out of the Academy. He couldn’t remember WHY he’d been kicked out of the Academy. But at some point he’d taken a whack on the head when he’d been so drunk he couldn’t stay on this feet. Maybe that was why he couldn’t remember anything about the Wookiee and why he kept hanging around. I really shouldn’t get that loaded, Han thought ruefully. I’m never doing THAT again…”

***

At any rate, I sent what I wrote to Lucasfilm, and apparently it gave them a good laugh. Next order to come down was that I was allowed to write a brief explanation of how Han had saved Chewie’s life when he was enslaved by the Empire, and had gotten cashiered for his pains.

That was a big relief, trust me! It would have been almost impossible to write the rest of the Han Solo Trilogy with that prohibition in place!

So my guess is that Disney will make a film about Han’s days in the Academy. But it’s just a guess…

🙂

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