Interview with Ryder Windham
Ryder Windham and Roxy The Rancor
SWC:How do you start you career in the literary world, and when did you start writing about Star Wars?
RW: I was a comic book editor at Fantagraphics Books and Dark Horse Comics in the early 1990s. At Dark Horse, I edited Star Wars and Indiana Jones titles and also wrote a few scripts for comics. After I left Dark Horse in 1995, a friend at Lucasfilm began encouraging editors to hire me to write Star Wars books. That’s how I became a writer.
SWC: What did you do before you were a comic book editor?
RW: I was a design major in college, and worked for a few years as a graphic designer and freelance cartoonist.
SWC: And, what do you like the most, the person you were before or after you became a writer?
RW: If I hadn’t become a writer, I might not have met so many Star Wars fans, so many good people in the costuming organizations and fan clubs. So I’m very glad that I became a writer.
SWC: Which one of your books it’s your favorite?
SWC: And which one was the hardest to write?
RW: Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle required an enormous amount of work and research. But the real headache came from the fact that at least three editors left the project while I was still working on the outline, and I received conflicting directives from other editors too. Each editor wanted me to change something, to expand something else. It was maddening. The published book looks terrific, and I’m glad I was hired to work on it, but… it was a massive chore.
SWC: When do you get the ideas for your books and from where all the Star Wars references for your books and novels?
RW: Generally, most book projects begin with Lucasfilm. For example, last year, a Lucas Books editor hired me to write a tie-in withStar Wars Rebels. The editor wanted me to write an story about Ezra Bridger before he meets the crew of the Ghost. I thought it would be practical to have Ezra meet a familiar character, and I suggested the bounty hunter Bossk because I imagined a story featuring Bossk and Ezra would have some good action sequences and suspense. As for references to other Star Wars stories, I have a library of Star Wars books, and I use them for information.
SWC: About what and new different topic do you like to write about?
RW: I think of writing as work, the job that I do. I like to write about whatever pays the most money! But I do enjoy any opportunity to write books for children.
SWC: What comes now to Ryder Windham in the future?
RW: I’m currently working on two projects, but I can’t talk about them. They’re secrets! Beyond those two projects, I don’t know what may happen.
SWC: How do you get the idea for the Worldwide Blood Donor Campaign?
RW: I’m a blood donor, and I’d helped organize several blood drives with my local chapter of the 501st Legion, the New England Garrison. I don’t know if “blood drive” translates well, but it’s an event that encourages people to donate blood. Last year, we coordinated a blood drive in Providence, Rhode Island, on the same day that Cloud City Garrison had a blood drive in Portland, Oregon. We “competed” to see who could help collect the most blood, but it was a friendly competition. Cloud City Garrison won! That experience, the bicoastal blood drive, made me wonder how difficult it would be to do an international blood drive with the Star Wars costumer organizations and fan clubs. When I realized that the World Health Organization’s annual World Blood Donor Day would be on Saturday, June 14, I decided that would be the perfect date for an international blood drive.
SWC: Why and how do you know about Star Wars Cali and contact us to join the campaign?
RW: I regret I can’t remember the exact details, but when I was searching for Star Wars fans who might be interested in participating in the Worldwide Blood Donor Campaign, I think someone suggested that I should contact Star Wars Cali. I saw the website and Facebook page, and I wrote to Star Wars Cali. You responded! I’m so glad that we worked together for this good cause. The next Worldwide Blood Donor Campaign is scheduled for Saturday, June 13, and I hope Star Wars Cali will participate again.
Are you a Star Wars Collector? If yes, what item is your favorite?
RW: I have a lot of Star Wars stuff, including many Action Fleet and MicroMachine toys produced by Lewis Galoob. I think those toys are fantastic. But the only things I have on display are a collection of R2-D2 toys and figurines in my office, which also houses my library of Star Wars books.
R2D2 Collection – Ryder´s Office
My favorite item is the Russ Cochran edition of the Star Wars syndicated comic strip by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson, which was signed and numbered by them. I met both Archie and Al several times, and wish I could have known them better. Artist Carlos Garzón collaborated with Al on the art for the Star Wars comic strip, and a few years ago, I asked Carlos to add his signature to my copy of the Russ Cochran edition. I don’t know whether that makes my copy more valuable, but I just love looking at it. I also have a “thank you” card from Ralph McQuarrie, which he sent to me in response to a book that I’d given him. I will always treasure that card.
Ryder Windham with Carlos Garzón
SWC : What do you know about Colombia? Would you like to come here and visit us some day?
RW: In college, I learned about pre-Columbian art. Al Williamson grew up in Colombia, and Carlos Garzón was born there! I’ve read Gabriel García Márquez. In other words, I’m ashamed I don’t know more about Colombia. I would love to visit!
SWC: Which one is your favorite Star Wars Trilogy, the original or the new one?
RW: I can’t say I have a favorite trilogy. I only liked Star Wars (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back. But that’s two-thirds of the original trilogy, so I guess I like that one more.
SWC: What do you think about the Disney acquisition of all the Star Wars Universe?
RW: Obviously, I hope editors will continue to hire me to write Star Wars books. I can’t help being disapointed that Disney didn’t extend the license for Dark Horse Comics to continue publishing Star Wars titles. However, I’ve connected with a representative at Disney Publishing, and he generously donated copies of a Star Wars book that I wrote so I could give away the books in exchange for donations to a charity selected by the 501st Connecticut Garrison. For that act of kindness, I appreciate Disney very much.
SWC: And, because this, what do you think about the “resetting” of the all the Star Wars Expanded Universe, including of course, your books and stories?
RW: The decision to categorize the Expanded Universe stories as either Legends or Canon doesn’t concern me at all. That was a marketing decision. It doesn’t mean that Canon stories are necessarily better than Legends stories, just a way to distinguish old material from new. It’s similar to how Dark Horse Comics used the title Classic Star Wars to market reprints the Star Wars syndicated comic strip and the Star Wars comics that were originally published by Marvel.
SWC: What kind of advice to someone who it trying to become a writer? (an Star Wars, SciFi or any kind or writer)
RW: Anyone who wants to become a writer should first become a good reader. And don’t just read what you like. Read different kinds of books and stories and articles. If you want to write science fiction, you shouldn’t just read science fiction books. You need to open your mind to all kinds of writing. You also need to develop a sense of taste, objectivity, and a good vocabulary, so you can distinguish good writing from bad, and also articulate the writing’s strengths or shortcomings.
Ryder, thank you so much for your answers and we hope to meet you some day!
All Images are courtesy of Ryder Windham. Some images are property of Lucas Film Ltd, Dark Horse Comics and DK Books. All rights reserved