Star Wars: Master & Apprentice: A Peek Inside with Author Claudia Gray

It’s been twenty years since we first met Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, but there’s still more to be explored in the story of Jedi and Padawan.

Star Wars: Master and Apprentice cover.

To celebrate the arrival of Star Wars: Master & Apprentice, the new novel out now, recently sat down with bestselling author Claudia Gray to get a glimpse at what this novel has in store for readers, from the Padawan problems of their early relationship to a deeper look at the treasured lore at the heart of the Star Wars saga.

Note: This interview does not contain detailed spoilers regarding the plot of Master & Apprentice, but it does shed light on its characters. Tread carefully! To begin, I’ll ask about your short story – also entitled Master & Apprentice – for the anthology Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View. When you wrote that piece, did you anticipate an entire novel about Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi?

Claudia Gray: When From a Certain Point of View came up they asked who I’d like to write about in A New Hope. I told them Qui-Gon! Though he wasn’t in the film, of course, I said I could show them how it might work. Though I didn’t anticipate writing a novel at that time, I had been saying to Lucasfilm Publishing that I would love to write about Qui-Gon in case there was ever a chance. I did not expect this book-length story to come along so quickly. Up until this point you had written stories in the original and sequel trilogy eras. Princess Leia was a central character in a number of your stories. Now you were moving into the prequel era with Qui-Gon. Is he a close second to Leia as your favorite character?

Claudia Gray: Well it’s all very hotly contested! Qui-Gon is certainly one of my favorites. We get so little of him in the films. It seemed there was so much more to tell with this idea of a Jedi who was not in lockstep with the Jedi Council. As the events of the prequel trilogy go on, we realize that the Jedi have sort of lost their way. Where does that leave Qui-Gon? It was a fascinating viewpoint to try and portray, if we could do it. Readers spend a lot of time with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan together. What was it like exploring the ups and downs of their relationship?

Claudia Gray: It was one of the things I wanted to get into the most. It’s interesting to see Obi-Wan when he doesn’t have it all together yet. In the films he is much surer of himself. But what does that look like when you’re 17? He and Qui-Gon have different ways of doing things. It’s not a natural fit, and they have to work on it. Yoda reminds Qui-Gon that if he wasn’t having trouble with his Padawan then something would be wrong. Taking an adolescent through these big life changes is a little rocky. But that rocky patch has gone on a bit too long with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan and their relationship is in peril. How did your understanding of these characters evolve throughout your writing process?

Claudia Gray: Young Obi-Wan does things by the book. Some people interpret that as a lack of courage or originality. But of course that isn’t the Obi-Wan Kenobi we all know. So what beliefs drive him in that way when he’s young? He follows the rules because he’s convinced they’re the right thing and represent real wisdom. They’re valuable teachings that are both procedural and spiritual.

With Qui-Gon, I became interested in his self-doubt about whether he was failing Obi-Wan. It’s his role to teach him. Qui-Gon is someone who takes that responsibility and wouldn’t blame the student. He’d look for the answer in himself first. This reminds me of the moment in The Phantom Menace when Obi-Wan apologizes for his forwardness, to which Qui-Gon responds that his Padawan is a “much wiser man” than himself.

Claudia Gray: This book was an opportunity to layer in more depth around those brief moments we see in The Phantom Menace. The issues of slavery in the galaxy have a major role in the story. How did this topic come to be included?

Claudia Gray: In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon is both very compassionate and at the same time can tell Shmi Skywalker, “I didn’t actually come here to free slaves.” The Jedi have a mandate to follow. They work within parameters. With the kind of power they have, to rule directly is too dangerous. So we wanted to see Qui-Gon dealing with his feelings about slavery. He questions why the Republic hasn’t done much about policing it. It’s a question that I myself ask, too. At this point the Republic is past its prime, and from The Phantom Menace on those cracks will start to show.

Author Claudia Gray.

Claudia Gray Of course, we also have Rahara Wick and Pax Maripher, two characters that have a fresh dynamic in the form of an escaped slave and a person raised by protocol droids. Where did that inspiration come from?

Claudia Gray: The germ of it probably came from the TV show Elementary. You have Sherlock Holmes, and a female, more no-nonsense Watson character. It started there, but then Rahara and Pax came into their own forms. I needed one to have slavery in their background to show what the impact of those practices could be. Rahara’s personality grew out of that. Pax was a know-it-all, but then I wondered why he was like this? As he grew up, his only patterns of behavior were set by characters that behaved like C-3PO! I had so much fun writing Pax and I hope the readers enjoy him. I also love the idea of having them be jewel “thieves” (they’re not quite thieves) in space. You should just have glamorous jewel thieves in everything. Rael Averross is a new example of an independent-minded Jedi. We’ve seen other examples of this from Count Dooku to Anakin Skywalker and of course Qui-Gon. What makes Rael stand out?

Claudia Gray: Rael was Dooku’s apprentice before Qui-Gon. He became a Jedi Knight not long before Dooku took on Qui-Gon as a new Padawan, so Rael became a friend and informal mentor to the young man. Rael is also a character that hints at some of the issues that Anakin will have later. He was 5 years old when he joined the Order, considered too old by some. Rael can’t fully acclimate to the life of a Jedi like those who don’t have any memories before the Order. So he doesn’t try to fit in. He defines himself more and more by what he isn’t. That defiance can work constructively, but it does skirt him towards the dark side. He has an oppositional mindset. Of course, Dooku cultivates that to the max.

The Phantom Menace - Qui-Gon with Anakin It’s the 20th anniversary of The Phantom Menace this year. This book is among other new stories that point to the prequel trilogy era. How does it feel to contribute to this era?

Claudia Gray: If readers are able to see more layers in The Phantom Menace, more depth in the characters and their interactions, then I’ve done my job. I just want to add things, but at the same time make the additions feel like they could’ve always been there. Hopefully it feels like a natural part of Qui-Gon’s journey.

You can order your copy of Star Wars: Master & Apprentice now.

Lucas O. Seastrom is a publicity writer at Lucasfilm. He grew up on a farm in California’s Central Valley and is a lifelong Star Wars and Indiana Jones fan.

Star Wars: Master & Apprentice: A Peek Inside with Author Claudia Gray

The Art of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Book Announced

Take a closer look at the journey to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order with a new art book that reveals the design process behind the highly-anticipated video game.

The Art of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, hitting bookshelves this fall, will be published by Dark Horse Books, in collaboration with Lucasfilm, Respawn Entertainment, and Electronic Arts.

With detailed concept art of all-new characters, like our hero Cal Kestis, and locales both familiar and new, the book offers a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the video game, including intimate artists’ commentary. Learn more about Cal’s perilous journey across the galaxy as he battles foes and learns the ways of the Force on his quest to rebuild the Jedi Order.

The Art of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order goes on sale November 19, 2019, and is available for pre-order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Things from Another World, and at your local comic shop. All Star Wars, all the time.

SWCC 2019: New Tales from Vader’s Castle Series Announced, Jaxxon Returns, and More from the IDW Publishing Panel

IDW Publishing, purveyors of charming all-ages Star Wars comics, revealed new storylines and art today at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

Among the biggest announcements was that writer Cavan Scott will be taking a return trip to his creepy and acclaimed Tales from Vader’s Castle, with a new series launching this October. In addition, a box set of the original comics is on the way.

Jaxxon, the rabbit-like smuggler from Marvel’s original Star Wars comics, is back in Star Wars Adventures Annual, courtesy of Cavan Scott and Mauricet. The book features a cover by the great Stan Sakai — himself the creator of another iconic comics rabbit.

Check out Sakai’s cover below, along with IDW’s Free Comic Book Day offering — coming on May the 4th — and more from the panel!

IDW Publishing Star Wars comic featuring Jaxxon.

IDW Publishing Star Wars comic

IDW Publishing Star Wars comic

IDW Publishing Star Wars comic

IDW Publishing Star Wars comic

Visit’s Star Wars Celebration Chicago hub for all the latest Celebration news. All Star Wars, all the time.

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SWCC 2019: New Tales from Vader’s Castle Series Announced, Jaxxon Returns, and More from the IDW Publishing Panel

SWCC 2019: Marvel’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge #1 Art and More Revealed

Star Wars Celebration Chicago attendees got a peek into the future of Star Wars comics — no Force powers required. Matt Martin of the Lucasfilm Story Group, Tom Groneman (assistant editor ), writers Greg Pak and Ethan Sacks, and cover artist John Tyler Christopher gathered for a discussion on their work thus far and what’s to come. Here are the biggest announces and insights.

Marvel's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge art

Marvel's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge art

1. Marvel’s upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge series will take us inside the infamous outpost. The comic, which ties to the upcoming Star Wars-themed land of the same name, sounds like an essential read for those excited about visiting. “It’s a five-issue series,” said Matt Martin, “and it will introduce you to Dok-Ondar, who is the antiquarian at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.” The book will show how Dok-Ondar came into possession of some of the artifacts we’ll soon see for ourselves, in person. But one item might not be safe. “There is a criminal gang out to plot a heist for a very specific object there,” Ethan Sacks teased.

Marvel's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge art

2. Black Spire Outpost, as it appears in the comic, is impossibly accurate to its real-world inspiration. While showing a spread of the Star Wars-themed land in the comic, Sacks said the creative team worked with the Lucasfilm Story Group and Walt Disney Imagineering to get it right. “A lot of what you see — the settings and the people, are straight out of the park. It’s very authentic.”

Star Wars 68 cover

Star Wars 68 art

3. Greg Pak is taking the reins of Marvel’s flagship Star Wars comic. His run kicks off with issue #68, with Phil Noto on both interior and cover art duties. “Dream come true,” Pak said. “I’m trying to write the Star Wars movie that I’d want to see.”

Boba Fett #1 art

Boba Fett #1 art

4. Pak is currently writing eight issues in the Age of Rebellion series of one-shots — but he might have a favorite. “I love them all, but I have a special affection right now for the Boba Fett one,” he said. “It’s like a badass bounty hunter Western story. Boba Fett, I think he says three words through the whole thing.” The story has a Man With No Name feel, Pak explained, where no one’s really sure of his motivations.

Finn #1 art

Finn #1 art

5. We’ll finally see Janitor Finn. Several Age of Resistance books (the series will cover four heroes and four villains) were revealed, including Finn #1, which is set during the Resistance hero’s earlier days in the First Order on Starkiller Base. “I don’t think we’ve seen too many tales outside of the films or outside of the comic adaptations starring Finn,” said Tom Groneman, assistant editor. “You’re going to see the germination of the idea of finding his morality within the ranks of the stormtroopers of the First Order. A glimmer of the hero he might end up being.” The reveal received a round of applause — especially for Martin’s spoiler that we will see Finn performing his janitorial duties.

6. Is there a story to tell from Rey’s journey to Ahch-To? Rey #1 from Age of Resistance was announced, and Groneman teased the tale inside. “Maybe there was a pit stop for Rey and Chewbacca on the way to seeing Luke after The Force Awakens…”

Phasma #1 art

Phasma #1 art

7. The Phasma faithful are going to be very happy. The cover to Phasma #1 was shown, along with some stunning pages, in what looks to be an action-packed story. “It really is just Phasma being a merciless terror. It’s almost a horror story,” said Martin.

More comics from Age of Resistance were also discussed, including Poe #1, which features “an unexpected mentor from his past” according to Groneman, Hux #1 (“This is the Hux story we deserve. It’s great.”), and more, which you can see below.

Age of Resistance Special #1

8. In Age of Resistance #1, we’ll learn how hair is dyed in a galaxy far, far away, according to Martin. ‘Nuff said.

Target Vader #1

9. Target Vader #1 is coming July 2019, and with it, a character from Star Wars comics past. Valence, who first appeared in Marvel’s classic Star Wars #16 in 1977 as a cyborg bounty hunter with a vendetta against Darth Vader, is the story’s central figure. “This is a deeper dive into the criminal underworld, and it’s all about Valence and a crew of bounty hunters coming together to pull an impossible job, really: hunting down the Dark Lord of the Sith.” His look has been updated, but with nods to his original outfit. And Groneman promises that Valence, a skilled fighter, will be more than a match for Vader.

Doctor Aphra #32

Marvel Star Wars art

Doctor Aphra #33

10. Doctor Aphra begins a new story arc in May. And it sounds like a new kind of challenge for the sometimes good, sometimes bad archaeologist. “We’re gonna see a little bit of her growing up [as a child]. Some of the lessons that she learned as a kid from her mom come into play as she takes on a parental role with a young character.”

Check out more covers and art revealed at the panel below!

Marvel Star Wars art

Marvel Star Wars art

Marvel Star Wars art

Marvel Star Wars art

Marvel Star Wars art

Marvel Star Wars art

Marvel Star Wars art

Marvel Star Wars art

Marvel Star Wars art

Star Wars: TIE Fighter #1

Marvel Star Wars art

Marvel Star Wars art

Marvel Star Wars art

Visit’s Star Wars Celebration Chicago hub for all the latest Celebration news.

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

Site tags: #StarWarsCelebrationChicago2019, #SWCCPanel

SWCC 2019: Marvel’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge #1 Art and More Revealed

SWCC 2019: 12 Insights and Announcements from the Lucasfilm Publishing Panel

On the same day we got our first look at the teaser trailer for Episode IX and an official title for the film, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Lucasfilm Publishing confirmed a galaxy of new stories being prepped ahead of the film’s release this December.

Lucasfilm Publishing’s Creative Director Michael Siglain announced plans for a Journey to Episode IX program similar to the books that have preceded Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

And although he was mum on other details, there were plenty of other announcements and insights during the Lucasfilm Publishing panel at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

The cover of A Crash of Fate.

1. We got our first look at the cover of Zoraida Córdova’s forthcoming book, A Crash of FateThe book is part of a series of comics and novels that tie in to the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge themed-land coming soon to Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.

2. We also got a look at Delilah Dawson’s The Skywalker Saga, illustrated by Brian Rood. The retelling is a story of a family meant to be read by families, says Lucasfilm Publishing’s Jennifer Heddle. But for Dawson, it’s simply “the book that broke my heart,” she said. In researching the book, she watched the Star Wars films over and over again, days in a row. Coupled with the fact that she’s the mother of a rebellious young blond-haired boy, Dawson says the experience gave her an even more intense emotional connection to the saga. “This book is full of tears,” she said. “These poor little Skywalker babies.”

3. Christian Blauvelt will continue his series on mindfulness and business practices with two new books, Be More Leia and Be More Lando. “Leia is the most important character in Star Wars for me,” he said. “She is pure passion and belief and commitment. It’s all about finding something that you really believe in and then just completely commit yourself to it…and make certain you can translate your beliefs into action.” As for the latter, “this is scoundrel-approved advice in how to get ahead in any business endeavor,” he said.

4. Creatures, aliens, and droids are having a moment. A sneak peek at upcoming titles included Creatures Big & Small, by Calliope Glass and Katie Cook, a sound book on Creatures vs. Aliens written by Pablo Hidalgo and including rathtars described as “rolling meatballs with teeth,” and the first in a new series, Droid Tales: C-3PO Does Not Like Sand, written by Caitlin Kennedy and illustrated by Brian Kesinger. Up next: R2-D2 is Lost. “And he happens to get lost on Endor so there are Ewoks,” Siglain said.

The cover of Rey and Pals by Jeffrey Brown.

5. Jeffrey Brown came up with almost 200 individual illustration ideas for her new book Rey and Pals. Brown, author of the popular Darth Vader and Son series, had stepped away from Star Wars to enjoy it as a fan but couldn’t stop sketching the sequel trilogy characters as kids. And when he would visit schools, he said young fans would request BB-8. “I’d draw the circle and the kids start clapping. This is low effort, high reward,” he joked.

6. Justina Ireland, the author of Lando’s Luck, has a secret book coming out. It involves stormtroopers and the Millennium Falcon. “That’s all I can tell you,” she teased.

7. Alexander Freed’s Alphabet Squadron exists under the oversight of one General Hera Syndulla. The Ghost pilot helps hold together a team of rag-tag New Republic pilots after the Battle of Endor. Freed himself has a soft spot for one of the ships in the motley crew — the B-wing. “It doesn’t get a whole lot of play in the films, but it’s such a weird beast and getting to write all the weird maneuvers it can do was great fun.”

8. Claudia Gray, author of Master & Apprentice, has loved the character of Qui-Gon since she first saw him in The Phantom Menace. The moment he pauses during his duel with Darth Maul left her in awe. “Qui-Gon drops and meditates. There’s no anger. There’s no fear. He’s completely free of that. I found that pretty inspiring.”

Star Wars Convention exclusive cover of Queen's Shadow

Star Wars Convention exclusive cover of Queen’s Shadow

9. E.K. Johnston was also inspired by the film, but it was Queen Amidala and her handmaidens that won her heart. The author of Queen’s Shadow told the audience about seeing the movie for the first time around her 15th birthday. “There was this girl who had friends and they were all good at so many things,” she said. “I just liked her so much and getting to write the book was just an amazing dream.” Plus, she honestly feels like a group of 14-year-old girls could rally together to rule and save a planet. “They just consistently outsmart everyone around them.”

10. Some of the new books include familiar characters. Timothy Zahn revealed that Eli Vanto will return for Star Wars: Thrawn Treason. And Phasma‘s Cardinal shows up in Dawson’s forthcoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge tie-in novel Black Spire.

11. Star Wars books inspired some Star Wars authors to become writers. Heddle so loved the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back that she read it over and over and over again. “My copy literally fell apart because I read it so many times. I still have it somewhere. It’s scotch taped on the spine.”

12. We’ll learn more about the Journey to Episode IX series soon. And we can’t wait!

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.

Site tags: #SWCCPanel, #StarWarsCelebrationChicago2019

SWCC 2019: 12 Insights and Announcements from the Lucasfilm Publishing Panel

In Rob Bredow’s Making of Solo Book, ‘See the Way the Magic is Made’

On the set for Solo: A Star Wars Story, the production team worked together to create a visual and visceral spectacle to put the motley crew of Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, and the rest of the characters inside the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon.

Hydraulics helped create the feel of turbulence and liftoff, while a wraparound screen added visuals to immerse the actors in the moment and help filmmakers capture just the right trick of light. But no one told the actors what they were in for.

The cover the new Making of Solo: A Star Wars Story book out now.

“The first time we put the cast into hyperspace was really fun,” says Rob Bredow, the VFX supervisor and coproducer on the film who documented his experience on set in the new book, Industrial Light & Magic Presents: Making Solo: A Star Wars Story. “We made this big wraparound screen and we had pre-made the entire Kessel Run in visual effects, but when we were bringing the cast in it just had stars on it. The special effects team was standing by to shake the Falcon, and I had talked to the visual effects team and we were ready to cue hyperspace. We didn’t tell the actors. I think it might have been Ron’s idea to do it this way.”

A spread from the new Making of Solo: A Star Wars Story book out now.

They ran the scene like any other, a dry run-through played more for the choreography. But as Donald Glover and Phoebe Waller-Bridge leaned over to push the hyperspace levers, the cockpit began to shake, and the stars began rapidly streaking by. The reaction was priceless. “They were transported,” Bredow says. “After everybody quieted down, Donald Glover, who is probably the coolest guy on set, he just says to himself, ‘This is. The coolest thing. I have ever done.’”

Impressing Lando himself remains one of Bredow’s favorite memories from making the film. In Industrial Light & Magic Presents: Making Solo: A Star Wars Story, which is available next week with a limited number of copies on sale at Star Wars Celebration Chicago beginning today, Bredow captures an intimate portrait of the filmmaking process steeped in reality, from treacherous pre-production location scouting trips scaling literal mountains, to moments like this on set, and all the way through creating down-to-the-wire post-production visual effects at ILM. Through candid behind-the-scenes images and personal anecdotes, Bredow invites fans to stand beside him and experience what it felt like to be there. From troubleshooting the best ways to create thrilling effects in challenging sequences like the Kessel Run and the train heist, or sitting beside director Ron Howard as he asks if a particular element of the live shot can be fixed in post-production, this book puts you truly behind the scenes making a Star Wars film.

An image from the new Making of Solo: A Star Wars Story book out now.

‘It goes bright, we cut’

Placing the actors in an environment where they can respond to the visuals that audiences will also be seeing on screen is a new way of using a very old technique to create movie magic and a perfect example of the way Solo’s behind-the-scenes crew collaborated. “It was innovative to do it this way, taking an old technique, rear-projection, and modernizing it with the latest technology,” Bredow says. “It was raising the bar of what the actors could bring because they had all this interactive experience. It was like going on a ride everyday. And then of course it helped the camera department, too. It was really all the teams coming together.”

An image from the new Making of Solo: A Star Wars Story book out now.

Practical effects, like the projections on the screens, help ground the scene, and gave filmmakers some details they wouldn’t have otherwise envisioned. “If you look at any of the other Star Wars movies that have been done, when you push those levers into hyperspace, as soon as the stars streak and it goes bright, we cut. In this movie, as soon as we go to hyperspace, it got really interesting and the camera operator, who in this case was Sylvaine Dufaux, she panned over and found Han’s face.”  She could see the reflection of hyperspace caught in his eye, “like the perfect poetic way to illustrate the hopeful story point,” Bredow says. “And we never would have thought of that shot had we not had that rear-projection screen wrapped around the cockpit.”

A spread from the new Making of Solo: A Star Wars Story book out now.

Bredow’s book highlights these serendipitous moments as well as learning experiences that come with pushing the envelope and sometimes failing. “I think it’s easy for us to forget that we learn more from things that don’t work than we learn from our successes,” Bredow says. “Going through here and documenting some of the stuff that we tried visually and we ruled out, I think that’s something that everybody benefits from. We figured out ways to solve all of these problems, so all of these learning processes are really fun to share. It’s also fun to tell these stories of where you thought for sure that would be the solution and it turns out it wasn’t and then you have to find another way around it.”

For instance, the book details the many iterations of shooting the train heist, including full-speed stunt testing to mimic how people would really react to being on the top of a fast-moving train. Ultimately, those shots were done on a soundstage, but the experience of putting stunt doubles out on the road was invaluable. “It was so complicated to set up that we would have gotten one shot a day,” Bredow says. “But we did learn how much wind we needed. We had a visual reference for what we were going for. We saw how the actors moved when they were really nervous at 50 miles per hour on an outdoor vehicle, so we could show that reference to the actors when they were in a controlled environment. Even though we decided not to shoot the sequence on a runway for practical reasons, we proved that we could duplicate that on a soundstage. It was a huge win.”

A spread from the new Making of Solo: A Star Wars Story book out now.

Science and schedules

They also incorporated science, math, and physics into the artistry, including a real underwater reaction to capture the effect of the massive coaxium explosion.

“The coaxium explosion is a real underwater explosion that we shot at high speed at 25,000 frames per second,” Bredow says. “That’s a camera that’s running about 1,000 times faster than your average camera. We set off a tiny little charge underwater. If you just looked at it with your eye, it looked like a white flash. But captured at very, very high speeds, you get this wonderful sphere that grows and then sucks back in and collapses on itself. Then you get the secondary flash and all the smoke that builds out. And we were really interested in capturing that and using that as the foundation for the coaxium explosion at the end of the train heist sequence.”

And Bredow’s book conveys the pressure of the post-production crew’s compressed schedule, when ILM staffers in four offices around the world were working around-the-clock to finish 20 shots per day as the deadline neared. “That is a lot of people working at the same time. Hundreds of artists working around the globe… One hundred shots a week is a pretty good clip. It’s a lot because it’s not just about making every pixel perfect, but it’s also making sure we’re telling the story in the clearest possible way for the audience.”

A spread from the new Making of Solo: A Star Wars Story book out now.

For the crew

Bredow didn’t actually set out to write a book about the filmmaking process.

Part of his job as VFX supervisor is to document behind-the-scenes details, lighting, and textures, so the artists at ILM can understand the scene and seamlessly replicate those aspects in CG later on. That was why he had his camera on set in the first place. “But I noticed very early on, often I was the only one in the room with a camera. And I’m watching these things that are happening around me and I thought, ‘I’ve got to document this. It’s too much fun.’”

The photos were intended for his personal edification, a way to celebrate the work of being embedded in the film for over a year. Then he hatched the idea of using the images to create a book for the crew. But when he mentioned it to Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, she encouraged him to instead pursue writing a book for everyone, the crew and the fans. Mike Siglain, creative director of Lucasfilm Publishing, helped Bredow shape the idea further, with a personal departure from the typical “making of” story.

A spread from the new Making of Solo: A Star Wars Story book out now.

“We’ve done other ‘making of’ books, but not with somebody who was on the film from the very first day of pre-production to the very last day of post-production and actually telling that person’s view into the story,” Bredow says. “And it’s such an interesting story.”

Instead of the typical retrospective approach, Bredow took advantage of down time between takes to take out his iPhone and capture a quick 20-minute interview with a fellow crew member. He didn’t just want the book to be a step-by-step look at the process of making the movie. He wanted the story to have the heart of the hundreds of filmmakers who worked on this show.

As he wrote the book, he stuck a note on the corner of his computer screen. “Tell stories,” it said simply. “It’s really useful, because it’s very easy when you’re trying to explain what’s happening in a photo to tell somebody what the process is. And I do some of that in the book — document how we get from point A to point B. But it’s way more interesting to tell a story.” Vignettes capture his family’s experience as extras and memories from crew members across several teams and departments, lending a unique vantage point to many aspects of the film’s creation. Kennedy shared a touching story about the late producer Allison Shearmur, who kept working on the film even after she was diagnosed with cancer.

A spread from the new Making of Solo: A Star Wars Story book out now.

At one point, Bredow found himself sitting at a table on Ron Howard’s birthday, sharing in a loaf of bread that Jon Favreau had made from scratch as a gift, as they went over Favreau’s recording script for Rio. “We’re all sitting around the table talking about the lines and eating this wonderful sourdough bread that Jon Favreau had baked for Ron Howard.” Bredow just kept thinking, “’I cannot believe I’m sitting in this spot.’ And that’s exactly what I was trying to capture here. Just getting to stand with these people, you feel very fortunate.”

Howard invited Bredow and the rest of the team into the creative process as collaborators, leading with humility and allowing them to make their childhood dreams a reality. “Ron Howard is a great leader in that he knows how to get the best from all of his people and he invited everybody in,” Bredow says. “He listens to all the ideas and then he says, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’ And he also has tons of ideas of his own. He’s got the confidence and experience to know he’s going to figure out the best way with all the input.

“I think the most fun was getting to work through all the details of the storytelling of the Kessel Run. Some of it’s just geeky stuff like how to make the parsec story something that makes sense by giving this really long circuitous route on the way in and having a dangerous route that’s shorter on the way out. You should definitely not go there and, of course, Han’s going to take us that way. So that’s really fun. But also figuring out how to shoot it in a different way is a great challenge.”

An image from the new Making of Solo: A Star Wars Story book out now.

Star Wars was the most important film of Bredow’s childhood and he hopes that young fans poring over the pages of his book might be enticed by the same sense of wonder and excitement.

After all, as a child, it was an image of Dennis Muren photographing a stop-motion AT-AT that set Bredow on course for his career in special effects. “My dream is that like that picture of Dennis and those AT-ATs in The Empire Strikes Back inspired me to want to make this my career, I hope people look through the book and there might be an image that will inspire them to go out and make something,” he says. “Or maybe some of them want to get into visual effects because they see the way the magic is made.”

You can get your copy of Industrial Light & Magic Presents: Making Solo: A Star Wars Story starting today at Star Wars Celebration Chicago or when it hits shelves next Tuesday. Pre-order your copy here.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.

In Rob Bredow’s Making of Solo Book, ‘See the Way the Magic is Made’

Star Wars: Master & Apprentice – Exclusive Excerpt

Long before he trained a young Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn was himself a Padawan learner under the tutelage of Master Dooku.

In Star Wars: Master & Apprentice, the new book hitting shelves later this month, author Claudia Gray explores the relationship between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan in the first canon novel to take place prior to the event of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

Today, is pleased to share a few pages from the forthcoming novel! In this exclusive excerpt, we meet a young Qui-Gon as he and his master find themselves on the trail of a dangerous bounty hunter on the far off planet of Numidian Prime…

Star Wars: Master and Apprentice cover.

“I’m in pursuit!” Qui-Gon shouted into his comlink, hoping his voice would carry over the rush of air around his speeder bike as he swerved through jungle foliage. “Track me!”

His voice cracked on the last word. Great, he thought, but there was no time to dwell on anything except the chase.

He and Dooku were part of a Numidian Prime strike team, orga­nized to find the notorious bounty hunter Shenda Mol. She collected her bounties not by murdering individuals—which would’ve been bad enough—but by sabotaging passenger ships, detonating devices in crowded public areas, or once even releasing a deadly virus. Tens of thousands of deaths on fifty different planets were, for Mol, no more than collateral damage.

The Jedi had tracked her to Numidian Prime, where she had a small stronghold and a handful of followers. But the followers had all been apprehended now, and it was up to Qui-Gon and his Master to bring in Mol herself.

He gunned his speeder bike, trying to fly over the thick jungle un­derbrush but under the heavy palm leaves. Qui-Gon’s Padawan braid streamed behind him, and he wished he’d worn goggles to protect his stinging eyes.

No time for that. He crested the hill, which revealed the stony valley where they’d detected Mol’s hideout. Qui-Gon pulled back on speed, bringing his speeder bike to as quiet a stop as possible. From now on he’d travel on foot.

Numidian Prime could be a swampy, treacherous world, but Shenda Mol had hidden herself on high ground. Qui-Gon could walk silently on leaves and vines that were still soft and green. Other than a few birds circling overhead, no fauna seemed to be in the area. Keeping one hand on his lightsaber, he pulled out his scanner to make sure he was heading toward the right coordinates.

A few large, stony hills provided the likeliest place for Mol’s hide­out. Qui-Gon paused at the foot of one of them to put away his scan­ner and prepare for an altercation. Dooku would be along any moment now, but there was no guaranteeing his target wouldn’t be—

“Don’t move,” said Shenda Mol. She leaned against a rock forma­tion a few meters up the hill, and pointed her blaster at his head.

Qui-Gon went still. His hand remained on his lightsaber; against an ordinary opponent, he would’ve trusted himself to pull his weapon in time to block blasterfire. But this was Shenda Mol. She was a Falleen, with ultra-fast reptilian reflexes—and even among the Falleen, her reputation as a sharpshooter was unparalleled.

“Tell me something,” he said, remaining motionless. “I’ve always heard you had perfect aim—”

“You heard right.” She tossed her head; her long black ponytail fell across her green shoulder. “If you doubt it, make a move and find out.”

Qui-Gon had no intention of making a move . . . yet. “If you can target any individual from a tremendous distance, why do you resort to bombs or viruses? Why do you kill thousands when you could kill only one?”

Mol smiled. “I have a little game I play. I need more kills to win—though, of course, I’m only competing with myself. That’s the only competition that really matters, you know. More people ought to un­derstand that.”

Dooku would be along at any moment, he reminded himself. Mas­ter Dooku would’ve been tracking his speeder bike. All Qui-Gon needed to do was stall Mol for a brief time.

“You’re one of the trainees, aren’t you?” She cocked her head, study­ing him. “Not much of a catch. The kind I’d usually throw back.”

Qui-Gon didn’t like being called a “trainee,” but that was the least of his problems. “I’m not yet a full Jedi, no.”

“I knew that,” Mol said. “I’ve eaten cheese older than you.”

“I’m fourteen.”

“Fourteen.” She hissed, as the Falleen sometimes did when they were amused. He thought it best not to respond to that.

Mol slid over a few rocks—practically slithered—while keeping the blaster at the ready. Qui-Gon felt sure her aim hadn’t wavered for a moment. Now she was a full meter closer to him.

She said, “What am I to do with you?”

“The smartest thing to do would be to turn around and leave,” Qui-Gon said. “Of course, that’s what I want you to do, but it happens to be true. Others are coming. The sooner you leave, the more chances you’ll have to lose them.”

“When you’ll just hunt me down again.”

This, too, was true.

Mol narrowed her eyes. “Shall I tell you of my little game, trainee?”

“It sounds like you’re going to,” Qui-Gon replied evenly. His palm was becoming sweaty against the hilt of his lightsaber.

“It goes like this. I’m trying to kill one target of every age. At least up to two hundred—I can’t go chasing ancients all the time. But I want all two hundred years represented. So far my oldest was a Whiphid who was one hundred and sixty-two. My youngest was four days. I count her as zero.”

Mol said it all proudly. It turned Qui-Gon’s stomach.

“Here’s the thing.” Her grin widened. “I’ve killed a thirteen-year-old and a fifteen-year-old. But that leaves me with a little gap. A gap you’d fill perfectly.”

She’s going to kill me. Qui-Gon’s hand tightened on his lightsaber—he’d just have to try to block her, even if it was futile—

A flash of light exploded from the jungle, striking Shenda Mol. She screamed in agony, dropping her blaster and tumbling down the hill­side to fall to the ground. Qui-Gon could no longer see her—thick undergrowth blocked his view—but he could hear a strangled gur­gling coming from her throat. Scratching against the dirt, as though she were clawing or kicking at the ground. Before Qui-Gon could ask what that light had been, the foliage rustled to reveal Master Dooku.

“You kill the helpless and brag of it,” Dooku said, walking past Qui-Gon into the underbrush, focused only on Mol. Although Qui-Gon wanted to see his Master, to show himself, he knew better than to interject himself into an encounter Dooku had well in hand. “You think to murder my Padawan merely to fulfill your pitiful ambitions. You find yourself impressive, do you? You know nothing of true power!”

Brilliant light flashed again, and again. Qui-Gon still couldn’t see it directly, though he could feel his skin prickling and his hair standing on end. The air tasted of ozone.

None of that seemed to matter, not when he could hear Mol’s wretched shrieks of pain.

Then Shenda Mol’s cries choked off. For one instant Qui-Gon thought she was dead—but then he heard her moaning brokenly. The sound wrenched him into action.

“Master, stop.” He pushed his way through the underbrush to stand between Dooku and Mol. The assassin lay at his Master’s feet, curled in on herself, trembling. “Please. I’m all right. We’re taking her into custody. It’s over.”

Dooku’s expression was unreadable at first, but slowly he lowered his hand. “It’s over,” his Master repeated. Suddenly he seemed almost normal again. “You’re all right, my Padawan?”

“Yes, Master.” Every other time Dooku had saved his life, Qui-Gon had thanked him. He couldn’t now.

What had his Master done?

“Let me summon the others.” Dooku stepped away to speak into his communicator, while Qui-Gon remained there, “guarding” Shenda Mol as she shivered on the ground.

Listen to the exclusive audio clip, from the audiobook narrated by Jonathan Davis, here:

And you can pre-order your copy of Star Wars: Master & Apprentice now! All Star Wars, all the time.

Star Wars: Master & Apprentice – Exclusive Excerpt

Discover the Secrets of Dooku: Jedi Lost

In a tale set during her days as a Sith Apprentice, Asajj Ventress has a new mission: uncover the secrets of her master Count Dooku.

Today, The Star Wars Show and are thrilled to announce a new audio original novel, Star Wars Dooku: Jedi Lost, available April 30. Get your first look at the cover art below!

Cover of Dooku: Jedi Lost.

The audio-only story, written by Cavan Scott, follows Dooku’s assassin Ventress as she uncovers why Dooku left the Jedi Order.

Narrated by a full cast including Euan Morton, Orlagh Cassidy, January LaVoy, Marc Thompson, and many more, the recording promises to deliver an epic exploration of a new chapter in Dooku’s story. All Star Wars, all the time.

Discover the Secrets of Dooku: Jedi Lost

Vi Moradi, Leia’s Top Spy, Heads to Batuu in Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire

There’s a galaxy of major books and comics coming to shelves that center around Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the mysterious world of Batuu; today, the Disney Parks Blog has pulled back the curtain on one such release, revealing the cover and story details for Delilah S. Dawson’s novel, Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire. Coming August 27, the book promises to explore the secret history of Galaxy’s Edge — and we can’t wait.

Check out artist Darren Tan’s stunning cover, featuring Resistance spy Vi Moradi, and the novel’s official description below!

Galaxy's Edge: Black Spire book cover.

Walk the ancient streets, meet the colorful characters, and uncover the secret history of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the upcoming expansion to the Disney Parks experience!

After devastating losses at the hands of the First Order, General Leia Organa has dispatched her agents across the galaxy in search of allies, sanctuary, and firepower—and her top spy, Vi Moradi, may have just found all three, on a secluded world at the galaxy’s edge.

A planet of lush forests, precarious mountains, and towering, petrified trees, Batuu is on the furthest possible frontier of the galactic map, the last settled world before the mysterious expanse of Wild Space. The rogues, smugglers, and adventurers who eke out a living on the largest settlement on the planet, Black Spire Outpost, are here to avoid prying eyes and unnecessary complications. Vi, a Resistance spy on the run from the First Order, is hardly a welcome guest. And when a shuttle full of stormtroopers lands in her wake, determined to root her out, she has no idea where to find help.

To survive, Vi will have to seek out the good-hearted heroes hiding in a world that redefines scum and villainy. With the help of a traitorous trooper and her acerbic droid, she begins to gather a colorful band of outcasts and misfits, and embarks on a mission to spark the fire of resistance on Batuu—before the First Order snuffs it out entirely.

Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire arrives August 27 and is available for pre-order now.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open ahead of schedule on May 31 at Disneyland Resort in Southern California and August 29 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida. All Star Wars, all the time.

Vi Moradi, Leia’s Top Spy, Heads to Batuu in Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire

Author E.K. Johnston’s 6 Favorite Padmé Moments

Whether forging an alliance with the Gungans, spying for the Jedi Council, or standing up to the entire Galactic Senate, Padmé Amidala, devoted to her civic duty from the young age of 14 when she was elected as Queen of Naboo, often proves she’s a courageous leader who isn’t afraid to take part in even more aggressive negotiations.

In writing her latest book, Star Wars: Queen’s Shadow, author E.K. Johnston had the chance to explore a previously unexamined period in the character’s life. The story is set in the time between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, with a special focus on Padmé and her handmaidens as she transitioned from noble teenage queen to formidable senator from Naboo. When Johnston recently paid a visit to the Lucasfilm headquarters, we asked her to name her personal fan-favorite moments that spotlight Padmé, her forbidden relationship with Anakin Skywalker, and her ingenuity in handling almost any situation that comes her way.

Full disclosure: “Most of Padmé is my favorite Padmé moment,” Johnston says. But here are her top six picks.

1. “We are brave, your highness.” An invasion by the Trade Federation put Padmé and her handmaidens in a dilemma in The Phantom Menace: The queen could stay on Naboo and risk annihilation or flee to Coruscant and attempt to plead for her people before the senate. Either choice was dangerous. And to make matters worse, Sabé had to make the call, dressed as the queen’s decoy. “My favorite possible moment in film is ‘We are brave, your highness,’” Johnston says. “I just love that so much. She has to say, ‘We need to leave this planet’ without actually saying the words. Qui-Gon has probably figured it out by that point, but they’re all agreeing to pretend that he hasn’t so they kind of just have this wonderful moment of synergy. All of them, these girls who are teenagers and running a planet. I just love everything about that.”

Padme takes the Theed palace by force.

2. The long way around. “Just from a pure character moment, during the battle of Naboo when the door opens and Darth Maul is there and she’s just like, ‘We’ll go around,’” Johnston says, laughing. “They just go around and leave the Jedi behind. I love that.”

3. An awkward reunion. “Padmé has one of the best filmed ‘Oh no, he’s hot’ moments in the history of  film,” she says. “There’s this moment in Attack of the Clones where she visibly looks into his face and then says the worst possible thing imaginable in front of  both of their bosses — not just his boss, both of their bosses! Which is essentially ‘Oh little Ani, you’ve grown up.’ And he’s like, I’m gonna die now, this is the worst possible outcome that could happen.” That authenticity is what makes the exchange one of Johnston’s favorites. “I think it’s fantastic because you have this girl who’s really good at talking to people, but not in a personal way. And then you have Anakin, who doesn’t talk to anybody except for Obi-Wan, who is a terrible role model for that sort of thing. I just love that moment where she totally takes the wind out of his sails and you can just imagine he’s been waiting to see her for 10 years. He’s so excited and she says the worst possible thing and then they have to spend time together, which is hilarious.”

4. Basically everything about the lake house retreat. Although the awkward flirting surrounding Anakin’s feelings about sand is Johnston’s favorite moment from this part of Padmé and Anakin’s time together, she’s an unabashed fan of the entire sequence. “Basically everything that happens at the lake house. It’s so pretty and it’s the most relaxed she ever gets to be even though she’s still super awkward around boys. Padmé and Anakin have the most amazing have-never-tried-to-flirt-with-anyone dialogue ever!”

For example, Anakin’s musings on sand. “It’s awkward flirting by a teenage boy who’s trying very hard to say the right thing but has never had the opportunity to say the right thing so he’s very bad at it,” Johnston says. “He has no idea what he’s doing. I like the idea that they really do like each other a lot and they have several really good connections but they  haven’t spent enough time with each other to sort of unpack the differences in the way they grew up, which even throughout the Clone Wars is a pretty big stumbling block. I really like that aspect of their relationship and it’s all in that one conversation. Sand is terrible and it’s this wonderful example of the class difference between them because for her sand is the beach and a holiday. For him, sand is a reminder that he grew up owned.”

Padme and Panaka in the decoy maneuver.

5. The dream team of Padmé and Panaka. There’s a moment towards the end of The Phantom Menace, “when they’re having their standoff in the throne room and Sabé comes in and all the Neimoidians turn around,” Johnston says. “And without talking about it, Padmé and Panaka both go for the guns in the throne. I love that moment. The whole reason the decoy maneuver exists is distilled into that moment and it’s perfect.”

The cover for Star Wars: Queen's Shadow.

6. Johnston’s own decoy scene in Queen’s Shadow. “There is a scene in the book where they have to switch places and it’s at a party and it has to be Padmé on the way in because she has to pass the facial scanner. Then they have to switch to Sabé at the party so that Padmé can go and see something that she has to see with her own eyes. She has to read body language,” Johnston says. “And while she is up in a tree spying on some people, she realizes she has to get back downstairs and back into the queen’s outfit immediately. The whole scene from there until the end when she trips over Bail Organa is my favorite part of the book.”

In fact, Johnston spent a lot of time considering the logistics of Padmé’s sprawling wardrobe as she was writing. “I basically built the whole book around her wardrobe and the developments that Dormé makes to it when she takes over. Not only did they have to change it aesthetically to make her look more like a senator and less like a queen, but it has to be a little bit less formal. With her queen stuff, there’s a physical difference; you can’t get close to her because her skirt goes out too far. And so her senator outfits have to be more accessible. She has to make friends and so I did think a lot about he actual mechanics of her wardrobe and what stuff is made of and how things function. A lot of it is at the very least fireproof and sort of reinforced for blaster fire,” Johnston says, including dresses with trap doors for ease of escape, fancy-looking shoes that are ready to run in, and multifunctional jewelry. “She has hair pins that are lock picks in Attack of the Clones, so I basically just took that and wrote a book about it. Anything that anyone has ever made fun of a girl for doing is exploited by the handmaidens because they are small and they disappear. They’re really good with fabric and blasters and all that. So it was fun to take all those things that are super girly and make them 1) super important to the plot and 2) very, very useful without taking away any of their prettiness, which was also deeply important to me.”

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.

Author E.K. Johnston’s 6 Favorite Padmé Moments