When Star Wars: The Clone Wars introduced the Nightsisters in season three, fans sat on the edge of their seats. We wanted more. At first, we visited the past to satisfy our craving because the witches of Dathomir stepped into the Star Wars galaxy years before The Clone Wars. They appeared in numerous Legends books. Then we thankfully got more stories about the sisterhood and Mother Talzin in the animated series. Anyone still longing for more space witches needs to read E. Anne Convery’s “Bug” in The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark.
The new anthology from Disney-Lucasfilm Press collects stories that revisit key events in The Clone Wars. Different writers explore momentous episodes from various points of view, thereby enriching what we saw happen on the screen. “Bug” certainly connects to some big happenings in that time period, but Convery spins an original story that ends the book.
“I did tie it into ‘Massacre’ and that Nightsisters arc you have going on with Ventress, and Talzin, and Daka. I just wanted to kind of do what I do, which usually has more to do with mythology and fairy tales, but do it in a Star Wars context,” Convery told Nerdist. “And I didn’t want to have to worry too much about established characters. I did my research for sure. And I have a good bead on Talzin, but it’s hard. And so what the other authors did, I think is really impressive because I think that’s very hard. I got to play in a new way and bring in new characters and these characters have so much more room and leeway.”
A girl called Bug, so named because she befriends a little beetle, leads Convery’s tale. She hasn’t had an easy life. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say she hasn’t experienced much in the way of kindness from others—not even her parents. Stuck on Sídi, a remote Outer Rim planet, Bug indulges in her curiosity about the galaxy by listening to an abandoned military tower near her family’s inn.
“Lonely girls in a tower are a consistent stock fairy tale thing, Rapunzel and all that. Bad parents or stepparents are also necessary. So all of those elements, your base elements from your fairy tales are there,” Convery says of her influences for Bug’s character. “I don’t know if I was thinking of any one in particular with Bug. I mean, she’s got a little bit of Cinderella. She’s always sweeping. The planet’s full of ash. But what’s interesting about the creation of a character like that is you sit and you let things arise.”
And it’s Bug’s interest in the communications tower and the messages she can sometimes tune into that leads to an encounter with a visiting Nightsister, Falta. She comes to the inn with her black tooka cat in true witch style. When Falta uses her magicks to craft a dejarik piece to complete the game set in the inn, she connects with Bug (who has a passion for the chess-like game). Plus we get insight into a different kind of Nightsister magick. We’ve typically seen Ventress, Talzin, and their sisters on Dathomir use their talents for darker purposes. But Falta uses her skills to create. Convery drew upon the Nightsisters’ long history to help shape the character—from books, to video games, to tabletop games.
“I love the Nightsisters,” Convery says. “I think they’re badass. And I think Ventress is amazing. And I think Mother Talzin is such a great baddie. But they’re just kind of one aspect. They’re very man eater, right?” Convery explains. “And I’m thinking ‘That’s not all. It’s a whole planet. There has to be more going on than that.’ So I thought about: what would be the opposite of all these warlike assassin women? And it’s a lady who just wants to hang out by herself, be a solitary witch, and make stuff.”
In a mesmerizing scene in the inn’s common room Falta tells Bug her story and why she’s on Sídi. The fire burns nearby as Falta uses her magicks on the dejarik piece to show her history. Convery recalls, “I was just fixated on the idea of her having this little shapeshifting dejarik piece that she could play with and we could see some real magic happening, however small. And that’s where it started. And then, I just started bringing in more because what I realized is that I could have a little magic, or I could have a little more magic, or I could have all the magic that I want.”
She continues, “Basically writing the story was: ‘How hard can I make this story on myself? How many layers can I add? Oh, I’m going to put a story in a story now. Great. And I want it to have a first person telling, so I have that within it.’ So, that was the thing in storytelling in that grand style—you’re sitting by the fire, let me tell you a story. That just has always made sense to me and my own work in psychology and the writing I did around that for my master’s degree was about fairy tales and their construction and what they still mean to us and how they’re like mirrors for our imagination and our own processes.”
I don’t want to go into what Falta tells Bug, because you know, spoilers. But I do want you to know “Bug” is a story of discovery, mothers and daughters, and agency. And it’s just one of many delightful tales in The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark. The anthology is available now from wherever you buy books.
Featured Image: Lucasfilm