Chuck was kind enough to grant us an interview, proceed at your own risk. Minor spoilers for the Aftermath trilogy are marked below.
Star Wars Veracruz: Can you please start by telling us something about yourself?
Chuck Wendig: Sure! I’m a writer of all kinds of things. Comics, games, but mostly books.
I like books.
SWV: How did you become a Star Wars fan?
Chuck: Saw EMPIRE STRIKES BACK when I was four, and it stuck with me ever since.
SWV: First of all, now that Mexican readers will get a chance to start reading the Aftermath trilogy, what can you tell us about it? Why should it be of interest to Star Wars fans and readers?
Chuck: It helps bridge the gap between ROTJ and TFA!
SWV: In Aftermath, Jas speaks about Pazaak, the card game we saw in the RPG game Knights of the Old Republic. It is being used as a most-wanted individual identification tool, which has been done in real life in our world. What drove you to include this wartime tactic in the novel?
Chuck: I think the best sci-fi grabs things from current life and plays with them in the SFF context.
SWV: What I really like about your novels is the integration of common items into the Star Wars universe, so we can relate better to the galaxy. One of these things is the chatta-ragul, which reads like a Star Wars version of chess. What can you tell us about this game? Is it played on a flat surface as our chess, or on several levels, like the Star Trek version?
Chuck: I’m not sure!
SWV: Another board game mentioned is Galactic Expansion, which reads like a galactic version of Settlers of Catan, and I'd pay good money to have it in a real-life version. What is your interest of having all these games inserted in the galaxy?
Chuck: Games are a part of who I am, both as a player and as a writer, so I like to include stuff that resonates with me.
SWV: The reference to the carbonite frozen desk is amazing, who of us wouldn't want one. Maybe not with our enemies inside, but just as a decoration. What does this say of Surat's character?
Chuck: I think it suggests he’s a rather rough dude.
SWV: Dengar's "space diapers" were totally hilarious. Many of us had wondered about Dengar's clothing preferences, like the "bandage" over his head that we know now it's just a scarf. What was your impression of working with all these fan-favorite characters who get to interact with your own creations?
Chuck: I love to play with these other characters – they’ve been with me my whole life so getting to inhabit them for a little while is amazing.
SWV: And in the same vein, we know that Mercurial Swift is featured more prominently in Life Debt, and probably will in Empire's End. What is the place of bounty hunters in the post-Empire era?
Chuck: I think bounty hunters are having a rough time – the galaxy is in chaos, which can mean opportunity, but it can also mean larger risk. But again, larger risk can mean larger reward, so....
SWV: Gassy eopies are my Star Wars pet peeves, but I have to say I've softened my opinions after your funny reference. What is your take on the prequels, particularly their humor?
Chuck: I like the prequels a lot – I think they ultimately don’t tell the story as well as they could, as the execution feels off. But there’s a good story IN there, and it’s a story made better by the CLONE WARS cartoon.
SWV: Mr. Bones is definitely one of the best characters in the new canon (and you get to work with one of the best too, the Imperial officer Rae Sloane, we'll get to her later). How is that Temmin found Grievous' moves to add them to Bones' repertoire?
Chuck: Well, that’s a secret for a later date, perhaps.
SWV: The themes of Aftermath speak of democracy and the failure of totalitarian regimes. Seeing them in Aftermath, along with other social themes particular of our era, makes me appreciate your book even more. Is the social commentary a must in your work, or was it an extrapolation of the galactic politics as a reflection of our time and place?
Chuck: Both, I’d say!
SWV: I love the "Empire Strikes Back" reference in Sloane's speech at the beginning of Life Debt. It's been a pleasure to watch her ascension in the Imperial ranks. How do you feel injecting new life and continuing the character created by John Jackson Miller? What is the appeal of the character?
Chuck: She’s a strong character, sympathetic and complex, and also a strong woman of color, and i’m glad to see her get a spotlight in these books.
SWV: I've spoken before of SOL-GDA, the prison ship's artificial intelligence, which looks like a reference to Portal's GLaDOS, and I could even read the dialogue with the modulated voice of the game. Are you a Portal fan by chance?
Chuck: Huuuuuuge Portal fan.
SWV: More references include the "choose your adventure" books, as Norra remembers playing in her handheld. How much of an influence in yourself were these books?
Chuck: Also huge influence. 😊
SWV: Regarding your involvement in the comic adaptation of The Force Awakens, we were puzzled that it wasn't released near the launch of the movie, do you know by chance why the change in timelines?
Chuck: No idea – I was hired pretty late to adapt it, and even then, it ended up being less adaptation and more “direct translation.”
SWV: And what is your role in the adaptation as a writer? Few of us are familiar with comic creation, especially for adapting stories. Tell us, how do you choose what parts of the movie to cover and which ones to leave out? What is your intent with this particular adaptation?
Chuck: My role was relegated more to editor – I had to cut stuff to make it fit into the comic, and figure out how to re-edit filmic language into a comic narrative language. But I wasn’t free to really do much adding or subtracting on my own. Which was restricting, but so it goes.
SWV: What was your reaction to having a character you created being on the big screen, and portrayed by none other than Greg Grunberg, one of the preferred actors of JJ Abrams?
Chuck: It’s awesome – though Snap Wexley the TFA character came before my creation of Snap Wexley the novel character.
SWV: Please tell us about your non-Star Wars work, what novels, comics or other projects that could gain the interest of our Latin American readers?
Chuck: The Miriam Black series is big, I think, in that it details with life and death, fate and free will – starting with BLACKBIRDS, it’s about a young woman with the power to see how you’re going to die by touching you.
Which means she’s ultimately pretty tweaked in the brain.
SWV: Have you ever visited Mexico or other Latin American country? Do you speak any Spanish at all?
Chuck: I have not visited. One day, I hope! I speak very little Spanish, though, I’m afraid.