‘Star Wars: Convergence’ author puts Han Solo for a new anti-hero
Star Wars: Convergence ushered us into a new era of a galaxy far, far away last month. It’s the first novel for adults in Phase 2 of the High Republic era, which takes place 350 years before the Skywalker saga.
The story follows Jedi Knight Gella Nattai as she investigates a plot to assassinate the heirs to the royal families of Eiram and E’ronoh, from warring neighboring worlds. She is forced to team up with Axel Greylark, the arrogant son of a Republic Chancellor, despite his distrust of the Jedi.
It’s written by the lovely Zoraida Córdova, whose previous Star Wars work includes A crash of fate and stories in anthologies like From a certain point of view: a new hope, The Empire Strikes Back and The Clone Wars: Tales of Light and Dark.
The Ecuadorian-born writer is also known for his Brooklyn Brujas Seriesas well as The legacy of Orquídea Divina.
I had a spoiler-filled chat about the twists and turns of the novel with Córdova, who is based in New York. We discussed Gella’s ability to use his emotions, the inspiration behind Axel Greylark, and how his book sets up other High Republic stories.
Complete SPOILERS for the upcoming novel, so I recommend that you wait until you have finished the book to continue. Here is a transcript of our conversation, slightly edited for clarity.
Q. Writing the first Phase 2 adult novel must have felt like a big responsibility. What did you hope to achieve?
Córdova: It was about bringing these two planets together, establishing the role of the Jedi and the Republic, and how they work together before a time when we actually saw them collaborating in this way. I wanted to show different aspects of the Jedi through Gella Nattai and how using your emotions can be a good thing. And I wanted to develop the landscape and the culture of two different planets, because one thing that we love about Star Wars is that we can see these wonderful worlds.
Eiram and E’ronoh are fascinating places. How much of their development was left to you and how much was prescribed? My understanding is that with Star Wars novels, authors have a lot of creative freedom and autonomy.
I’ve done a lot of IP work for brands, and it’s amazing how, with Star Wars, you almost have a little more room to play. [Lucasfilm Publishing boss Michael Siglain] and our team is more willing to say, “Oh, that’s cool, let’s bring that.” All I knew about them was that there was a desert planet, but not a sand desert, and an ocean world. It’s established in Phase 1. We’ve seen them very briefly and know where they are.
With E’ronoh in particular, it’s a very dry world. For the geography, I was really inspired by the southwestern United States, where all these giant rock formations are. And the idea that not only are Eiram and E’ronoh fighting against each other, but they’re also fighting with their own planets. They struggle with the basics, and how do you fight a war, when your own planet is trying to kill you? You don’t have fresh water on Eiram, desalination plants won’t be there until the phase 1 era. Is it responsible for even having a war while you’re fighting the base elements? And as we see, the people of E’ronoh begin to rise up against the monarch.
For me, it was important to show the younger generation that they stood up to the older generation and they said “OK, well, I’m sick of the war, we have to do something different “.
Gella was much more emotional than what we’ve seen with most Jedi, especially during the Clone Wars era. Why did it work for her?
The Jedi can’t just be these robots traversing the galaxy, because what makes them great peacekeepers is the idea that they care enough to fight for light and life. With Gella, it made sense to show someone who wants to be the best Jedi. People can relate to this idea of aspiring to be something, and sometimes you’re going to screw up trying to be the best you can be.
We all have this idea that you can only be a Jedi if you are a certain way. How does it work for someone if they choose a different path, but still end up with the same result?
Sounds like Gella’s decision to become a Wayseeker (a Jedi who operates independently of the Jedi Council) at the end of this story is related to this?
Yeah, Gella’s decision to become a Wayseeker fits her asking “How can I still be a Jedi and fulfill my mission, but do it on my own terms?” Meeting Axel Greylark challenged his idea of how Jedi are supposed to be. She desperately wants to learn, and there’s only so much you can learn in school. It’s like getting your doctorate. on how to become a Jedi and then realizing that maybe you need to go to school for hard knocks.
How did you develop Axel Greylark?
I had this idea looking at Star Wars archetypes, and I came to “What if Han Solo had been raised rich?” It changes the kind of person he becomes. It’s like a person who has everything, and yet makes choices that hurt people. And can you be a good person and hurt someone? How can one be influenced by someone like a cult leader?
The novel only addresses Axel’s relationship with the Mother. [the leader of the Path of the Open Hand, a cult that believes no one should manipulate the Force] . How did you manage to include them in this novel in such a circumspect way?
There’s this idea that Axel, as a temperamental guy in the galaxy, somehow lost, is among the most vulnerable people when he comes across as someone like the Mother – all of that is implied in this book. There are other stories where we can see how the open hand path really worked. [like Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland’s novel Path of Deceit].
But here I wanted to show how someone’s machinations, which we see a lot in Star Wars, influence something as huge as a civil war between two planets. Axel thinks he’s in control, but in the end he’s just a pawn. Which is kind of tragic, because he changes his mind about the Jedi at the very last minute. [as he falls in love with Gella] .
Convergence shows what they are capable of doing in the shadows. In [George Mann’s audiobook The Battle of Jedha, and Lydia Kang’s novel Cataclysm, which come out Jan. 4 and April 4 respectively] we’ll see how they work in the light.
How does the planning go with that? How do authors communicate?
We have a very secret game among authors, no executives allowed. We ask ourselves “Are you using this character? What have you done here? We keep continuity through other secret documents, but for the micro-story elements, we just have to remember each other. So it’s a bit chaotic, but in a good way.
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