EUC Interview: Sue Rostoni

Sue Rostoni, the executive editor at Lucas Licensing, has been kind enough to participate in two past interviews with EUCantina since we launched in 2007. Today, she has graciously answered our questions once again. Readers may recall that we invited fans to send in their questions for Sue. Though we couldn’t include every question, those that were submitted by fans are marked in the interview. Fans will miss the convenience of Sue’s VIP thread on the now extinct StarWars.com forums, but perhaps she will announce an alternative way to easily communicate with her in the near future.

In the interview, Sue provides new information about several projects, including Jeff Grubb’s Star Wars novel, the Agent of the Empire comic series, and the 2012 editions of The Phantom Menace novelization and Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter. She also discusses the end of Fate of the Jedi, Darth Plagueis, manuscripts, changes to cover art, and much more!

EUCantina (EUC): Sue, thanks for doing an interview with EUCantina once again! It’s been a while since we last talked, and I’m curious to know which project you’re currently working on. How is the end of Fate of the Jedi coming along?

Sue Rostoni (SR): I’ve just finished reading DARTH PLAGUEIS by Jim Luceno and I found it to be a very engaging read. And the page proofs for John Jackson Miller’s Fate of the Jedi short story, PANTHEON, just arrived. An excerpt from Christie Golden’s ASCENSION will appear in the back.

And for Dark Horse, the new Agent of the Empire series by John Ostrander is coming along very well, and I can’t wait to see Stephane Roux’s art. The first issue is a nice blend of new and familiar characters and Han and Chewie have roles. It’s a perfect start to this series that debuts this December.

EUC: Paul S. Kemp has been signed to write a Star Wars duology, but it sounds like the exact subject of these novels wasn’t decided when he signed the contract. Do authors often sign to pen Star Wars novels before a topic for that novel is chosen, and has a storyline or an era for Kemp’s duology been picked yet?

SR: It all depends on the author and the timing. Paul is a wonderful storyteller and his books are popular with readers, so it made sense to offer him another spot. He had some ideas when he proposed the duology and since then we’ve countered with a few other options – the final story, setting, and characters are still being mulled over.

EUC: Last year you said on the StarWars.com forums that, “There’s an assigned book in March of 2012, a hardcover, that I can’t release the author name yet.” Is this novel still on the schedule for March 2012, and will the author’s name be released soon?

SR: Blast. I can’t remember which book that was at the time. Perhaps it was PLAGUEIS by Jim Luceno that’s now slated for late December, 2011? Since releasing Jim’s name would have had people wondering if the Plagueis book was back on the schedule, it made sense not to announce it then.

EUC: What influences a decision to completely remake a cover, as seen with Riptide and Order 66?

SR: In the case of RIPTIDE, it was mostly that we reconsidered the original thought and felt it didn’t translate well in the execution.  That happens sometimes. Changing a paperback reprint cover so that it’s different from the hardback happens if the image size won’t work as well on the paperback, or if, in hindsight the cover doesn’t accurately reflect the main story. This happened with THE COURTSHIP OF PRINCESS LEIA so many years ago. The cover looked like the novel was basically a romance, when it was much more than that.

For ORDER 66, I believe the original cover was for solicitation purposes and then we felt that the single Clone trooper helmet would work better for the movie adaptation (I wasn’t the editor for this book).

EUC: When the Darth Plagueis novel was cancelled in 2007, you said that it “was not the right time to delve into Palpatine’s back story and Plagueis’s beginnings.” What factors made this the right time for the Plagueis novel?

SR: When we first explored the idea of a Darth Plagueis novel we didn’t know exactly what areas The Clone Wars television program was going to explore and wanted to make sure we didn’t tell competing or contradictory stories. Now that the television show is so popular and we have a better understanding of the contents, the time seemed right.

EUC: The novelization of The Phantom Menace, along with Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, will be republished next year to coincide with the 3D release of The Phantom Menace. Will these additions receive new cover art, and are there plans to re-release each novelization with each 3D movie edition?

SR: Yes, there will be new cover art and each will have a new original short story. I imagine Random House will be re-releasing each novelization with each of the 3D movies, but I haven’t heard for certain.

EUC: More standalones and duologies are on the agenda after the conclusion of Fate of the Jedi. Will these be used to continue the story after Apocalypse, or is there going to be a break in content coming out of the FotJ time period?

SR: There are no plans at this time to immediately continue with stories taking place after Fate of the Jedi. We have a number of stand-alones that are set in different time eras and will have perhaps a few duologies. We haven’t developed many stories past those that are already scheduled for the remainder of 2011 and 2012.

EUC (Fan Question): I am dying to know more about Pablo Hidalgo’s The Essential Reader’s Companion. What more can you tell us about this must have book for EU readers?

SR: I really can’t say much more than what’s been announced. It’s a chronological guide to the prose fiction, including adult novels and juvenile novels, with book summaries, new illustration and behind-the-scenes sidebars. There’s a lot of information to gather and organize and I’m very happy that Pablo is writing this – it’s going to be a good reference book for people who are new to the Expanded Universe as well as for us old timers. And I’m promised that we’ll have new illustrations of characters we’ve never seen depicted before.

EUC (Fan Question): I’d like to ask if there are any plans to write novels based on Legacy comic series?

SR: Not at this time.

EUC (Fan Question): I’ve heard about a book dealing with Hutts (by Jeff Grubb). Can you tell something more about it?

SR: Jeff’s book is presently slated for May 2012 so the manuscript will be coming in later this year. It’s going to be a very exciting story featuring Hutts, Jedi, and Bothans! A great combination.

EUC (Fan Question): I’m loving the direction Tahiri’s life and characterization is going, especially her new bounty hunter type role. My question is, can we look forward to more stories centered around Tahiri, both in the last FotJ books, as well as any novels planned afterwards?

Thank you, and keep up the good work!

SR: I’m happy you are enjoying Tahiri. She’s a character that has come from the deserts of Tatooine on to Yavin 4 as a Jedi youngling to becoming a Jedi Knight only to be abused by the Yuuzhan Vong, then manipulated by Darth Caedus, and now leaving the Order to explore her new place in the galaxy. She has quite a story. We don’t have any planned novels on the horizon that showcase Tahiri but I’m sure she’ll be a prominent character in anything set during her lifetime.

EUC (Fan Question): I was wondering if you could describe how you handle manuscripts. I don’t fully understand what happens when you get them. Do they come to you electronically, or on paper? How do you make edits? When editing, what do you look for?

SR: The manuscripts arrive electronically. In the past, I would print them out and edit on paper, but over the last few years I’ve grown fond of editing electronically. It’s easier for me and I believe I do a better job. For one, my writing gets sloppy after a few sentences and there’s never enough room in the margin or between lines to really get my thoughts out. There’s no limit to my verbosity when editing electronically. So I edit in “Word” using “Track Changes” and the “Comments” options.

I especially use the comment option when there are continuity issues for Leland Chee’s input, or specific things for him to note in the Holocron. Leland will make his comments in the manuscript and send it back to me.

Shelly Shapiro is more responsible for seeing that the story works as a whole and the writing runs smoothly, while I make sure the story and characters fit the sensibility of Star Wars. I watch for things that take me out of the story, sometimes just a word like “typewriter” will do it, sometimes it’s when someone acts out of character. And since Star Wars is populated by an abundance of aliens, I have to remind myself that while most readers will automatically “see” a Wookiee, it helps to have a few reminders of the appearance of some of the less known aliens.

And, of course, I want to have an emotional response to the story, to both be entertained and challenged, and to be able to identify how the events change the primary characters.

EUC: To conclude, I have to give in to my own fan desires and ask a personally important question. Are there any plans to have Matthew Stover write another Star Wars book in the near future? I know you probably can’t tell me even if such plans existed, but I’d be letting myself down by not asking.

SR: We’d love to have Matt back. He’s a wonderful storyteller and his writing has such an acute emotional depth. However, right now he’s busy writing his own stories so we don’t have him scheduled for anything in the near future.

EUC: Thank you for your time Sue. Your involvement with the fans and your hard work is truly appreciated.

SR: Thank you!

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About the Author

Austin Blankenship is the webmaster of EUCantina. He is a host of our official podcast, EUCast, and also founded our sister website, SoloSound.net. Austin helped turn EUCantina from a forum into a website in 2007, and continues to operate the site and the EUC social media accounts. Austin works as a librarian in a small town above Atlanta, Georgia.