Having previously contributed to the Star Wars anthology “From a Certain Point of View,” Daniel José Older, know for his Bone Street Rumba series, returns to give us Last Shot, a Han and Lando story (really a Lando story) that spans decades.
I’ve got a lot of feelings about the new Star Wars cannon, but Last Shot helps me reconcile my deep 20ish year hurt. Older’s love of the SWU and the characters that inhabit it shines through in this fast paced buddy thriller, involving killer droids, murdering cyborgs, femme fatales, an Ewok hacker, and complete redemption of the Gungans, no seriously. This is a great book for readers to be reintroduced to familiar faces, while also showcasing characters from the new movies and comics, and of course fresh new ones that enhance the texture and flavors of this galaxy.
The best on a real world note, Older has been dropping hints about this book since NYCC 2017 and I’ve harassed him at every book signing/talk that I’ve seen him at in NYC. The man wouldn’t talk until now.
Carmona: Having known you and your work for a bit, how did you get hooked into the Star Wars universe? Did the folks at Star Wars/Penguin Random House reach out to you or did you pitch to them?
Older: They reached out to me, first for the story in the 40th anniversary “From a Certain Point of View” anthology. That was the first time we were really in contact, they just kind of reached out of the blue and asked if I wanted to be in the anthology and I was super excited. I mean, honestly, I don’t think there is any other IP I would write for because Star Wars is my ultimate fandom. So I was like yes, and after that they followed up with the offer for the novel which obviously I was really excited, I’m positive I didn’t even finish reading the email, I think I saw the words Lando and I was like yep I’ll take it.
Carmona: It’s not always easy cooking in someone else’s kitchen, Last Shot is your second offering, how much fun was it to shake and bake in a galaxy far, far away without having to clean any of the dishes?
Older: It was even more fun than I thought it would be because I was expecting more pushback and just general problems and shenanigans, not that they would be wrong for it, I am very aware of the complications from working in the shared world. I went into it with certain assumption there would be stuff I would have to change up, but that’s not what happened they were very open to my ideas and kind of let me know in advance the general parameters of stuff, but I got to totally come up with my own planets, moons, settings, creatures and everything else, as well as jump into really familiar ones. To me it was a great balance of working in this world I’ve known my whole life and also just bringing my own voice to it.
Carmona: Why Han and Lando? Again was it for the new Solo movie or did you have this buddie story you were itching to tell? How much liberty were you given with plot and characters so as not to spoil or mess with the new continuity?
Older: Yeah that’s definitely a piece of it. It’s obviously not a novelization of the movie but it is a story that bridges the Han and Lando that we know with the Han and Lando that we’re going to see in the movie in terms of younger and older. I was pretty much able to do what I wanted, they gave me a general idea what they were interested in but I kind of filled in the story of it. I was also able to read the script and that gave me a good sense of what I could and couldn’t do, and it was dope to have the script in my hand, it was a beautiful thing.
Carmona: As a proponent of diversity, how meaningful is it for you to see People of Color on the page, on the screen and behind the keyboard?
Older: I mean it really has to be all of those things and I think we’ve seen it as time goes on. Just recently we’ve seen diverse characters are on the rise but diverse authors have not and that’s a clutch piece of this whole question. It’s not enough to have a rainbow of colors on book covers, we also need to have all the different people write those stories which means bringing with it all the complexity that we bring to it of lived experience. it’s an exciting time because it’s happening but there’s a long way to go.
Carmona: If you could fly on the Falcon, would you rather Lando’s crisp and clean version or Han’s scruffy hunk of junk and what would be playing on the sound system?
Older: Well I would be blasting Janelle Monae and I would be in the clean Lando version. I can’t lie that thing is pristine, it’s some luxury I would be riding in that for sure.
After you see Solo: A Star Wars Story, out May 25th 2018, active your nav-computer for coordinates to your local book or comic shop, and lightspeed there for Last Shot and the rest of Older’s other books.