‘The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark’ Author Greg van Eekhout: The Conskipper Interview

Although Star Wars fans have had a veritable feast of material available to them in the form of films, cartoons, comic books, and novels over the past ten years, many yearned to see Star Wars The Clone Wars animated series completed.  

With the advent of Disney’s streaming service, Disney+, Clone Wars was once again available for fans, but most importantly, all of those enthusiastic fans  ended up getting the season seven conclusion that they had been clamoring for.. 

Following up on the series success comes The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark, an anthology featuring eleven authors returning to key moments in the animated series and offering new perspectives on them.  All of the expected characters get their own stories such as Anakin Skywalker, Yoda, Ahsoka Tano, Captain Rex, Darth Maul, Count Dooku, and the stalwart Jedi and mentor to Anakin’s son, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Author Greg van Eekhout was lucky enough to retell the moment when Kenobi faces his darkest temptation, and we were able to speak to him about it (and many other Star Wars subjects) in this exclusive interview.  

How did you become involved in the project?

Greg van Eekhout: I have a great agent!  When I started working with my agent, she asked me to come up with a wish list for pop culture properties and Star Wars was right at the top of the list, with Clone Wars and Rebels being at the top of the Star Wars category.  

What is your personal connection to the Star Wars universe, as a fan and as a writer?

van EekhoutStar Wars has been a life-long influence.  I saw New Hope when I was a kid during the original release and it just blew my mind.  It was akin to an alien invasion that just took over my consciousness.  It has always been a touchstone for me and had a profound influence on me during my formative years when I was watching the first trilogy.  

Later in life, you want to know more about the characters and stories and that is where Clone Wars and Rebels were able to tell more of the stories beyond the films.  Rebels is my favorite “Star Wars family” in all of the Star Wars universe.  They are just a fun and delightful group of characters.  

As a writer, even if I tried, it would be hard to not be influenced by Star Wars.  It is part of my writing DNA.

Your story in the collection is focused on Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Did you get assigned the character or did you select him?

van Eekhout:  When I was asked who I wanted to write, my first choice was Ahsoka Tano, the best non-Jedi Jedi in the Star Wars Universe.  Of course, she was taken, but I asked about Obi-Wan and was surprised that he was still available. 

It was cool to write about Obi-Wan because he is a character that has existed through the original trilogy, the prequels, and Clone Wars and Rebels.  He is a major bedrock character, and although we have seen a lot of Obi-Wan, his story is not that much focused on his inner thoughts, or he doesn’t express them.  

Obi-Wan is in many ways a mirror image of Anakin and he also serves a lot of roles with Anakin as a teacher, friend, brother, and eventually, adversary.  In my story, I focused on how Obi-Wan faces similar temptations to Anakin, but Obi-Wan does not turn (to the Dark Side) when he faces that critical moment of despair regarding Satine Kryze.

I enjoyed writing about Obi-Wan and there are really no bad picks or choices when it comes to Clone Wars

In your story, you get to explore the romantic side of Obi-Wan, which people may not associate with the character.  

van Eekhout: There are two versions of romance.  We usually associate romance with love, but in a classical sense, Obi-Wan is the perfect romantic knight figure.  Not Jedi knight, but Arthurian knight.  He is handsome, charming, witty, just, so he embodies all of the qualities that people have associated with the knight character.

In terms of love, while he doesn’t express it to Satine overtly, Obi-Wan makes it clear that if she asked him, he would leave the Jedi Order for her.

Love and the Jedi rarely, if ever, turn out well.  Thoughts on this recurring motif in Star Wars?  

van Eekhout:  It’s a major flaw in the structure of the Jedi, the dogma.  The basis for the Jedi’s philosophy is a life affirming love, yet they forbid themselves from the most natural of feelings.  And when life isn’t allowed to work the way it’s supposed to work, life will assert itself.  

The science fiction anthology is almost as old as the genre itself.  Why do Science Fiction stories work so well in this medium?

van Eekhout: Science fiction is always based on a cool idea and short stories focus this lens sharply.  They are built in a concentrated way, like little drama grenades.  It also goes back to all of those pulp magazines and their influence on the genre. 

A lot of people believe that we are currently living in a Golden Age of short fiction, with tons of new voices and genres, with a much greater variety of voices represented, especially those that have been marginalized in the past.

You mentioned your love of Star Wars Rebels before.  If an anthology was planned based on that series, and you had your top pick, which character would you write about?

van Eekhout:  I’d probably write about Chopper!  They are all so great, it would be a tough choice.  Kanan is my favorite Jedi of all time, Hera is the best military leader ever seen in the Star Wars universe, Sabine is the best Mandalorian.  She is not only a Mandalorian but a street artist?  You’ve got to love that.  Darth Maul in the Rebels timeline would be great.  So many possibilities with this group.  

Upcoming projects?  

van Eekhout:  Yes, I’m currently working on a novel for a release in the Summer of 2021 and I also continue to do some writing for school curriculum under a pen name.  They are science fiction stories for elementary school children.  I hope to spark their interest in the genre.  I know I would be excited to read a science fiction story at that age in school of all places. 

The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark features the work of van Eeekhout and  Lou Anders, Tom Angleberger, Preeti Chhibber, E. Anne Convery, Zoraida Córdova, Sarah Beth Durst, Jason Fry, Yoon Ha Lee, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Anne Ursu and is currently available in stores. 

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