In 1996, the Star Wars Expanded Universe was off and running with many critically acclaimed books and other tie-ins under its belt. It was around this time that Mike Stackpole’s “X-Wing” series of novels were released and started to fly off the shelves. These centered on the famous Rogue Squadron, founded by Luke Skywalker. Stackpole found it hard to keep up with the workload, and so another author, Aaron Allson, was brought in to assist. Instead of continuing the story of Rogue Squadron, however, he created his own group of pilots dubbed Wraith Squadron. A band of misfits and criminals, they are hell-bent on thwarting Warlord Zsinj’s attempts at taking over the falling Empire. The first book, Wraith Squadron burst with action and I am sure the second and third will be just as thrilling. I asked Aaron a few questions about Wraith Squadron. (Original Posting: May 16, 1998)
T-Bone: Was it your choice to continue the X-Wing books or were you given a choice as to what area to write in?
AA: I was brought in specifically for the X-Wing series.
T-Bone: Why a whole new squadron? Why not just continue the Rogue Squadron’s adventures?
AA: When I was brought in to continue the series, the original plan was for my three novels to take place at the same time as Mike Stackpole’s four. That meant they would follow one of the new squadrons formed and trained by Hobbie and Janson, whose activities along these lines were mentioned at the start of Rogue Squadron. But we eventually learned that the new novels needed to feature Wedge Antilles as the chief protagonist. This was fine with me, but I had done a tremendous amount of work developing the cast and events of Wraith Squadron and felt it would be a real loss just to toss that material.
T-Bone: We saw cameos from the likes of Leia, Han, and Ackbar in Wraith Squadron. Will there be any more cameos in the next novels?
AA: Yes, there will. You won’t see Leia again in my next two novels – she’s off on the mission described at the start of The Courtship of Princess Leia, and I haven’t yet figured out whether Luke Skywalker will make any sort of appearance. But you can count on others popping in on occasion.
T-Bone: How much research did you do on Wes Janson and his relationship with Wedge?
AA: I read some of Mike Stackpole’s X-Wing comics and made some assumptions. Not much research, really… but their distinctive personalities pretty much dictate their interaction.
T-Bone: Will Hobbie be making his full debut in the future?
AA: He has a little to do in the second novel, Iron Fist, and quite a lot to do in the third.
T-Bone: How do you go about coming up with character names?
AA: A lot of them pertain to my various interests and hobbies. For example, from history and anthropology: Tyria is derived from “tyrian,” an adjective describing the purple murex dye produced in the ancient city of Tyre. Ekwesh is a variant on a number of Indo-European words meaning “horse” (related to equus).
T-Bone: Were any of your characters based on real life people? If so, who?
AA: None of the Wraiths was based on a real person. Kell owes his name to a cat we own; various other characters draw individual traits from specific people, but not enough to say that a real person was a character’s template.
T-Bone: Who is your favorite Wraith?
AA: That’s an easy one – Face Loran. He’s my sardonic voice within the cast of characters.
T-Bone: How long did Wraith Squadron take to write? How many hours a day did you spend writing?
AA: About ten weeks, writing anywhere from four to twelve hours a day.
T-Bone: What’s the longest bout of writer’s block you’ve ever had?
AA: I don’t suffer from writer’s block. I’ve had periods of time when I loathed projects I was working on (none of these times was related to my fiction), and I so exhausted myself writing Wraith Squadron that it actually affected my writing performance for weeks afterwards, but writer’s block has always steered clear of me.
T-Bone: Were there any subjects you were told you could not touch on at all?
AA: There were places I couldn’t deal with, ones chiefly concerned with the three prequel movies. Of course, I can’t tell you what places they were – because then I’d have to kill you.
T-Bone: Wraith Squadron smells of a comic or graphic novel series. Are there any plans or preliminary discussions in the works concerning this?
AA: Not yet. And remember that, with the new movies coming out, the attention of the world of licensed Star Wars fiction is probably going to turn toward the time period of the prequels, which means that it may be a long time before a Wraith Squadron comic series becomes a possibility.
T-Bone: What other Star Wars books have you read? Which are your favorites?
AA: I’ve read all of Mike’s X-Wing novels, the Zahn trilogy, The Truce at Bakura, The Courtship of Princess Leia, the movie novelizations, and Shadows of the Empire, plus a number of the nonfiction books – vehicle references, character references, etc. I’ll have read quite a few more before I finish Solo Command.
T-Bone: What has been the high point in your career so far?
AA: I would have to say that it wasn’t a single incident, but some e-mail I’ve received at various times from people who have been strongly affected by my fiction. Realizing that I’ve really gotten to some people is tremendously moving.
T-Bone: How much time do you spend on the internet?
AA: About half an hour a day.
T-Bone: What are your favorite sites?
AA: I’m not so much interested in web sites as newsgroups; I tend to follow ten or fifteen of them, chiefly devoted to Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and a few other subjects. When I go web-surfing, it’s usually to see what new shareware and freeware are available or to do some online research into a current writing project.
T-Bone: What is your favorite computer game?
AA: Believe it or not, it’s a little puzzle game, an exercise in exclusionary logic, called Sherlock. I’m actually not all that fond of flight simulators, POV shoot-’em-ups, or several other popular types of computer games.
T-Bone: If you could be a droid, what kind would you be?
AA: If I could be a droid, I wouldn’t. If I had to be a droid, I’d want to be one of those rare sorts who could pass as human, such as the one in Shadows of the Empire. Droids in the Star Wars universe tend to have pretty limited options and face many restrictions imposed by human society; I wouldn’t welcome those obstacles.
T-Bone: What would you name your personal R2 unit?
AA: That’s hard to say, without having ever met or discerned any personality traits belonging to the unit. Possibly ”Stowaway.”
T-Bone: What projects are you currently working on?
AA: I’m currently writing Sidhe-Devil, the sequel to my urban fantasy, Doc Sidhe. I’ll be starting on Solo Command, my third X-Wing novel, in the foreseeable future. I’m also working on some role-playing game projects not related to any of the fiction – a standalone role-playing game called Astro-Rangers, and an expansion of my Strike Force game supplement.
T-Bone: What are your plans for the future?
AA: Just to keep writing. After Sidhe-Devil and Solo Command are done, I intend to work up proposals for several more novels and see what my agent can make of them.
T-Bone: Can you give us a little sneak peek at the future of Wraith Squadron?
AA: Well, they’re going to continue in the effort to flush out and destroy the Warlord Zsinj. They’ll be interacting more with Rogue Squadron in my second novel, and quite a lot in my third.
T-Bone: Were you always a Star Wars fan, or was this just a ”gig”?
AA: I’ve enjoyed the Star Wars movies since the first one premiered, but hadn’t read the tie-in fiction, other than the first movie novelization, until I received the X-Wing assignment. So I suppose my answer is somewhere in between your two choices.
I can’t thank Aaron enough for taking the time out to answer these questions for us. I look forward to the next two novels in the Wraith Squadron series with excitement and I’m sure they will be just as good, if not better than the first. Thanks Aaron!
* This interview has been edited from its original form to account for Aaron’s death in 2014.
2 thoughts to “Interview with Aaron Allston
(Original Posting: May 16, 1998)”
I was just here working at my office computer, sipping some tea, and the phrase “T-Bone’s Star Wars Universe” came into my mind. AFTER TOO MANY YEARS TO THINK ABOUT. So I DuckDuckGo’ed and found you here … with this brand new re-post dated yesterday. Does that mean The Force is still strong with me?
Hi and thanks for visiting! I don’t update the site regularly anymore, but I do go in from time to time and add things that have disappeared over the years due to changing different content management systems. I lost a lot of content because I couldn’t export/import to systems that were incompatible. I have a lot of the old HTML sitting around so sometimes I open the old files and add them into WordPress here, which is what I am using now. It’s nostalgic but fun to look down those old roads. I also go through the Cut Scenes material from time to time and clean up those pages when I can. It’s fun.