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STAR WARS: BLOODLINE Author Claudia Gray on Giving Leia the Spotlight

STAR WARS: BLOODLINE Author Claudia Gray on Giving Leia the Spotlight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens featured General Leia Organa at the helm of the Resistance. But how did the group form? A new book focusing on Leia and the political landscape, Star Wars: Bloodline, explores that question. Set in the years before Episode VII, the novel by Claudia Gray illustrates a frustrating political state. Fighting within the Republic Senate is impeding progress, and while the government remains in a state of inaction, threats grow. Different factions—the Centrists and the Populists—with contrasting beliefs have developed, and Gray had the opportunity to explore and define them.

The Centrists and Populists have a hard time seeing eye to eye, and as you can imagine, that only contributes to the stagnancy. Each side has interesting points, though. Gray said, “The divide between the Centrists and the Populists came straight from Lucasfilm. However, beyond the overarching philosophies of the group, I had a lot of freedom to come up with details. One thing I did was make it clear that there are left and right wings of both the Centrist and Populist factions; I definitely didn’t want their politics to look just like our own.”

As Gray did with Lost Stars, she showed both factions as equally as she could. She found herself siding more with the Populists as she wrote the book but found the Centrists weren’t completely off the rails. “I felt like the Centrists had valid points to make too. Unfortunately, the Centrist leadership has become corrupt, which works against not only the Populists but also the Centrists, who could do the most good for the galaxy,” she explained.

Leia is heavily tied into the galaxy’s politics and is at the heart of the story. Gray said she couldn’t resist taking on the novel because of that. She said, “At first I thought I couldn’t possibly take on another project at that time, but the moment Jennifer Heddle [senior editor at Lucasfilm and LucasBooks] said, ‘It’s a Leia book,’ I was pretty much in.”

Though Bloodline is about Leia’s role in the government, Gray didn’t want to show only that facet of the character. “The book was pitched as a political book, and certainly Leia’s a politician—but that’s not all she is. Leia kicks ass and takes names. I didn’t want her to be stuck behind a desk the whole time, you know? She’s someone who likes to be where the action is. My very first goal was to put a blaster into her hands as soon as possible. It took a few chapters, but I got there,” she said.

Gray also delved into the long-reaching effects of the destruction of Alderaan. The films didn’t show Leia’s grief, and while other books and comics have certainly touched upon its influences upon Leia, there’s more to uncover. It was important to Gray to face how the event shaped Leia. She said, “This was definitely something I wanted to delve into. One of the things that drives me batty about Episode IV is how nobody ever really acknowledges how staggering that loss had to be for Leia. She has one line about how there’s ‘no time for our sorrows,’ but the movie has time for Luke to mourn Ben, right? So I really felt like they should’ve been comforting each other on the Falcon, instead of just her comforting him!”

She continued, “That’s not the kind of loss that goes away. So in Bloodline, I tried to show how Leia remains haunted by Alderaan’s fate to some degree, and that while she’s obviously gone on with her life, the sorrow remains a part of her. Definitely, it fuels her work… maybe not so much her sense of duty, exactly, though of course that’s a big part of her character. But I think maybe the destruction of Alderaan reminds Leia to stay vigilant, forever. Many people around her have grown complacent during the long peace, but she never will.”

Leia’s personal life was also on the table for Bloodline. The book shows some of Leia’s relationship with Han Solo. Gray enjoyed getting to portray that. “It was absolutely awesome,” she said. “Han and Leia have been beloved to me my entire life. If Lucasfilm came to me tomorrow and said, ‘We want you to write two books a year, every year, that are nothing but Han and Leia hanging out,’ I would sign that contract immediately. And I would be happy forever.”

Images: Del Rey

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