Barbra J. Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: The Fanboy Comics staff and I are very excited about your upcoming book, Star Wars: Imperial Handbook! Having already written and released The Jedi Path and The Book of Sith, what inspired you to take on this guide for Commanders of the Imperial Military?
Daniel Wallace: The tech? Seriously, a huge percentage of things that make Star Wars cool are Imperial things. Stormtroopers, AT-AT walkers, TIE fighters, Star Destroyers, the Death Star . . . these are iconic elements that arguably present the "villain" perspective of the Star Wars universe better than Book of Sith. It was almost inevitable that we'd cover the Empire in this series.
BD: Imperial Handbook is a uniquely collaborative project, as it was produced by Lucasfilm and becker&mayer! and also features artwork by several Star Wars illustrators. How did this partnership come about, and how would you describe the shared creative process?
DW: The Deluxe Edition of the Imperial Handbook comes with an electronic case and removable items, just like the Deluxe Editions of The Jedi Path, Book of Sith, and Bounty Hunter Code. What this means is that the designers at becker&mayer! play a huge role in the final product, from figuring out what kinds of items are okay to include to designing the unlocking mechanisms that make these books feel like artifacts from the Star Wars universe. As writer, I help consult on those decisions, especially during the outline stage. But, most of the credit for the packaging and design belongs there. The artists also make these books really shine. I usually see the artwork after I've already submitted my main story text, during a later pass when I have the opportunity to add captions. It's always great seeing diverse artistic takes on Star Wars.
BD: Given that portions of the book are written from the perspective of “in-world authors,” including Grand Moff Tarkin, High General Cassio Tagge, and Wedge Antilles, how would you describe your approach to voicing these characters, and did you have a favorite “author” for which to write?
DW: Tarkin is probably the easiest to get a handle on, since he has the most lines in the movies and, therefore, it's easier to hear his voice inside your head. There's not a huge amount of variance in how the Imperial writers sound, since they all come from a shared militaristic culture. There's more variance in the annotators, who are Rebels like Han, Leia, and Mon Mothma. It was fun to write in Han's voice, but I ended up having to dial it back a little since there's a limit to how much.
BD: What can readers anticipate from this deluxe edition of the book by way of its special features, and what do you hope that they will take away from the project?
DW: The case is very Imperial--sleek and black with a huge Empire logo right in the center. Opening it causes the case to split in the middle, with lights and sound effects, revealing the book. There's a removable "Rebel artifact registration card" that was placed within the case by the Rebel Alliance investigators who added commentary. And, underneath the book is a medal, the Imperial Order of Glory. Hopefully, it will really convey the Empire's stark authoritarianism and cold power.
BD: As the author of books like Man of Steel: Inside the Legendary World of Superman, DC Comics Year by Year, and Iron Man Manual, it is clear that all things geek are near and dear to your heart. Are there any properties within the geek genre that you hope to take on as a writer?
DW: So many! Everything I'm a fan of, I always want to write for. Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, or Adventure Time, or Doctor Who, or a million other things. So stay tuned, you never know!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
DW: I'm working on some Star Wars things, but I haven't seen them announced yet, so I'll stay quiet. Released earlier this year were my books The World According to Spider-Man and Spider-Man Character Encyclopedia. Just released this month is DC Comics Super-Villains: The Complete Visual History.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Star Wars: Imperial Handbook?
DW: You can go right to ImperialHandbook.com!