Always witty and intelligent, Pablo Hidalgo shares what’s like to work for Lucasfilm on his official blog and Twitter. In The Essential Reader’s Companion, Pablo Hidalgo again takes fans behind-the-scenes of some of their favorite novels. We discuss Star Wars Detours, Han Solo, fanfic, and much more!
EUCantina (EUC): Most have read The Essential Reader’s Companion by now. Is the feedback what do you expected?
Pablo Hidalgo (PH): I tried not to go in with too many expectations. To be honest, about a week after the book was published, I was swept up in a lot of new projects at Lucasfilm, such that I never got to look too closely at what’s been said. The few sites I did interviews with were very positive, and I appreciate that. Feedback at New York Comic-Con was very positive too. I know something that is as treasured by so devoted an audience such as the EU will draw a lot of different viewpoints, and the book can’t be everything for everyone. But I do appreciate that people have taken the time to dig into it.
EUC: The art of The Essential Reader’s Companion is a diverse palette. Artists Darren Tan, Chris Reiff, Jeff Carlisle, Brian Rood, Joe Corroney, and Chris Trevas each have their own unique style. What style reflects your personality the most?
PH: That borders on playing favorites. Obviously, I like it all, but I think I find myself responding to Darren Tan’s work the best, if only for the particular type of energy that he managed to imbue in his works.
EUC: Although it doesn’t intend to, The Essential Reader’s Companion gives readers a few history lessons about Star Wars publishing.
PH: Oh, that was no accident. As a reader since the start, I wanted the story of the EU’s evolution to be in those pages, even if only as something a reader accumulates from looking at publication dates and behind-the-scenes information.
EUC: What was Del Rey editor Erich Schoeneweiss’ biggest contribution?
PH: There were a ton of contributions. He kept me on target and kept encouraging me when it seemed like the project was insurmountable. He offered direction on format at the very start, helping set the foundation of what would be in the book and how it would be presented. He also handled all the art requirements and wrangling hundreds and hundreds of covers. The book is an enormous project as far as managing a lot of information, and Erich kept on top of it.
EUC: You’ve worked on two guides, The Complete Encyclopedia and The Essential Reader’s Companion. Would you like to switch gears and be a novelist one day? Ever written fan fiction?
PH: Regarding fan fiction: not really. In the ‘90s, I dabbled with adaptations – turning a comic into prose, or turning a comic into an audio dramatization script, just to get a feel of what that’s like. I wrote some short stories for West End Games, “Spare Parts,” and “Shapeshifters” for the Adventure Journal. I prefer the shorter format. I liked doing some of the webstrips back in the day, the Rookies series, and I wish that would have continued in some format, but with real artist at the helm.
I don’t think I have a 300-page Star Wars novel in me; I admire those who can write those. I tend to prefer consulting and editing someone else’s work, offering insights and opportunities to make connections or improvements.
EUC: Are there some topics you’d want covered in an essential guide?
PH: Not really, but I do have some thoughts for a non-fiction Star Wars book I’d like to see.
EUC: In previous interviews, you’ve spoken affectionately about Brian Daley’s The Han Solo Adventures. Do you have a soft spot for Han Solo? Have you read Scoundrels?
PH: It really depends on who writes Han and where he is in the timeline. I like pre-Episode IV Han, because he’s so grounded and his adventures aren’t of galaxy-shattering consequence. That’s when the character is the best, because I don’t think he’s an epic storyline character. He’s more pragmatic, doing things a day-at-a-time type of guy. I like the novels that fill that scale. I have not yet read Scoundrels. I did read the outline for it though, for its inclusion in the Reader’s Companion.
EUC: You were a member of the Star Wars Fanboy Association. Official sites, such as StarWars.com and Suvudu, are embracing fan sites and Star Wars communities. As a member of one of the earliest discussion groups, how do you see fansites evolving with the digital age? What’s next for StarWars.com?
PH: I like to think the return of Star Wars movies will create a greater diversity of online fan presences. If you look back to when the prequels were in production, there were a lot more specialized fansites. As far as StarWars.com, I don’t know what the online team has in store and am eager to see what they’ll cook up for this new future.
EUC: Will Star Wars Detours opening up more possibilities for future non-canon stories?
PH: That’s too hard to predict. I think more depends on what kind of stories writers want to write and readers want to read than any one project having a direct influence on things.
EUC: And speaking of television, can you give us an update (if possible) for the live-action series?
PH: I’ve got nothing to add to what’s already been said.
EUC: What are your plans for 2013 and beyond?
PH: On the book side, I’ve got a few small kid-focused projects in development, some Star Wars, some not. I don’t expect to do anything as big as the Essential Reader’s Companion in a long time. I continue to help edit and develop content for Star Wars Insider, and I’m sure I’ll be involved in Celebration Europe II. And, as you now know, there’s all sorts of big things brewing at Lucasfilm that promise to make 2013 extremely busy and interesting.
Special thanks to Pablo Hidalgo for taking the time to do this interview. For the wittiest Star Wars tweets, follow Pablo Hidalgo on Twitter. The Essential Reader’s Companion is out now.
EUCantina has interviewed some of the best Star Wars authors, editors, and voice actors. To read previous interviews, please click here.