|Obligatory fan picture!|
If you're not familiar with the name Timothy Zahn, he's a talented author (that's the understatement of the year). He's written several Star Wars books, including (and starting with) the Thrawn trilogy that pretty much spawned the modern generation of Expanded Universe books. For the love of Ewoks, this is the guy that created Mara Jade! Shelly Shapiro is an editor at Del Rey, and she's in charge of the Star Wars fiction. She's grabbed authors and helped shape the most beloved novels of the Star Wars EU. Yeah. I know.
I met up with the other two winners - one of whom flew in from Indiana just for the lunch - at the Hilton Bayfront. We talked nervously until Mr. Zahn and Ms. Shapiro arrived. We took seats at the restaurant, nd the three of us (the winners) were smiling ear to ear. Mr. Zahn and Ms. Shapiro took the time to chat with us about whatever we wanted. One of the group came prepared with a list of a questions. I should have been that prepared, but I was just excited to be there. I also didn't want to slip into reporter mode. So I winged it. Between the three of us we asked about the editing process, how the character of Thrawn was created, how to get a foot in the editorial door, the issues with long series and different authors, playing in George's driveway, writing characters that other authors have created, and so many other tidbits that were washed away in the sheer excitement of sitting at that table. I know I'm not the first person to ask about Thrawn, but I couldn't help it. Zahn wanted to create a character that commanded by loyalty rather than fear, and he knew it had to be an alien (so it would be more impressive that he was a Grand Admiral, given the Emperor's disdain for aliens). He had a few other components and from them, Thrawn was born.
We moved from the restaurant to a quieter lounge area, and Leland Chee (Keeper of the Holocron at Lucasfilm) wandered by. And then he sat down to talk with us. That man has an astounding memory. Shapiro asked about x, y, or z, and Chee would pause for just a minute before filling in the details around each point.
One of my favorite parts of the lunch was listening to Mr. Zahn pitch ideas to Ms. Shapiro about [redacted] and hearing the back and forth conversation. It was by turns inspiring and exciting. He even spun a new idea in front of us. Ahh! I love hearing other people talk passionately about Star Wars, and when it's people that have hands in books I stay up late reading... it was surreal.
Once in a lifetime opportunity is the phrase that goes here, and it's appropriate.
Read about the lunch from another winner's point of view.
Thanks to Suvudu and Del Rey for holding the contest, and thanks to Shelly Shapiro, Timothy Zahn, and Leland Chee for being so generous with their time.