AN: Star Wars fans like myself knowthat Alan Dean Foster got the nod to begin the "further adventures"novels with his Splinter of the Mind's Eye because he'd ghosted thenovelization of SW for Lucas. How did you get the plum assignment of the Solonovels? Might you have been the first draft choice if not for Foster?
BD: I'd just finished The Starfollowersof Coramonde for Lester del Rey, going through the classic second novel curse--it took a long time to write and let me know I had a lot to learn aboutwriting.
I stopped byJudy-Lynn's office and asked if she had any for-hire work I might take on; Ithought that would be a good way to get some quick cash while working thewriter's trade. Owen Lock was standing nearby hiding a grin, because he knewwhat was coming: Judy-Lynn said, "Pick me somebody from Star Wras andwrite a proposal for a character novel about them."
The keys to the candystore. A young lady I was dating happened to be with me and she said later shewas very happy she'd been there since it was the only time she'd ever seen meunable to find anything to say.
At that time, Jack Chalkerwas preparing to write about Solo, and Leigh Brackett [[co-screenwriter withLawrence Kasdan on ESB]] was scheduled to take on at least one Princess Leianovel. But all that changed very quickly, since Jack decided to finish theseries he was working on and Leigh passed away.
Solo was the obviouschoice because he undergoes a moral transformation in the course of the movie;everybody else starts out either good or bad, and stays that way.
So into the bargain ofgetting to do Solo, mine was the only new SW book to appear at that time, whichwas a tremendous break for me. However, if we're talking might-have-beens aboutnovelizing SW, remember how many famous authors Judy and Lester had in theirgrowing stable. I would have been, at best, a long shot.
AN: Were you consulted by Raymond Velsacofor his Guide to the Star Wars Universe? It gave us many radio-drama-onlyproper noun spellings and Solo-novel pronunciations years before your scriptcompilation books came out.
BD: At Judy's request I looked throughVelasco's manuscript. I filled two or three typewritten pages with mistakes Ispotted, relating to my books, the movies and other sources. I still have mycopy of the editorial letter. Clearly, Velasco was making things up, hadn'tbothered to do his homework.
AN: I adore the fast-talking characterSqueak in the SW:ANH radio episode "The Han SoloSolution". Velasco's Guide makes the claim that Squeak's race is Tin-Tindwarf, another of your creations from Luke Skywalker's dialogue elsewhere inthe radio drama, a race of aliens mentioned but never described. Was this yourintention or did he just marry the two throwaway details himself?
BD: The latter, I believe. And a fairenough invention on his part.
AN: In your recent interview by BobWoods in SW Galaxy Magazine, you describe writing the radio episodes as freerthan the Han books. Wouldn't it be more constrictive to write "inside thelines," as it were, of a tale already plotted?
BD: In the greater sense everything inthe SW universe is "inside the lines." But I had a lot of latitude toadd and elaborate during the radio series, and by the time I got to them, acertain guardedness at Lucasfilm had eased up a bit, at least as far as I wasconcerned. They trusted me to treat their material responsibly.
AN: How does it feel to be on theshort list of works that LFL deems canon? (The three films, their novelizations by Foster/Lucas,Glut, and Kahn, and your two radio series-- that's all!) It's ironic that yourHan Solo books and radio scripts have internal continuity and agree 100%, yetthe guide for all the new novelists is the role-playing game, which all toooften contradicts your canon radio details. How would you feel if LFL ever added your Solo novels to the"canonade"?
BD: It's tremendously flattering to bein canon. But LFL can't afford to open that door toowide, and I don't blame them.
AN: Are there any Han Solo conceptsyou wish you'd been allowed to pursue?
BD: Yes, and I'm saving them againstthe chance I'll get to use them.
[[Tragically, theseideas are now lost to us.]]
AN: Got any printable anecdotes aboutyour radio experiences with then-unknowns David Alan Grier and Meshach Taylor?You hinted on the phone about some pretty hilarious antics...
BD: Example: when Solo is heaved intothe clink on Cloud City, there's a sound-effects notation about how a stormtrooperhits him with a buttstroke-- a blow with the butt of a rifle. A common term inthe Army, where I learned it, but you should've heard the fun David and Meshachhad with the notion of some butt-stroking going on down at the hoosegow.
Almost everybodygoofed around, especially Mark Hamill. When I referred to the medical droid at Hothbase, he ad-libbed a sitcom promo for Medical Droid. Something on the order of,"This week, Medical Droid brings his boss Mr. Credenza home for dinner anddelivers a laugh riot..."