When Rogue One premiered late last year, it introduced fans to a group of characters they quickly fell in love with… only to eventually learn they would not get a chance to follow their stories again.
However, that doesn’t mean those eager to learn more about the rebels won’t get to. Thanks to authors Beth Revis and her book Rebel Rising, and Greg Rucka’s Guardians of the Whills, fans can now get a little extra backstory on Jyn Erso, Chirrut Imwe, and Baze Malbus.
In the former, readers can now learn how Jyn (under the tutelage of Saw Gerrera) went from being the young girl at the beginning of the standalone Star Wars film, to the more-than-capable young woman midway through, while the latter delves into Chirrut and Baze’s lives on Jedha before the events of the film as they reckon with the Empire’s effect on the Holy City they call home.
While both authors were dealing with their own stories, there was a common theme they both wanted to incorporate, however lightly, in both their books: Hope.
“Many scenes throughout all of the Star Wars movies has always been about hope,” Revis tells EW. “Rogue One is a very sad story, but there is still a thread of hope running through it.” Adds Rucka, “The movie leads into A New Hope!”
In honor of Star Wars Day, EW caught up with both Revis and Rucka to discuss what it was like writing about their Rogue One characters.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was the most exciting thing about writing these books and these characters? Was there anything, in particular, you wanted to focus on?
BETH REVIS: The most exciting thing was piecing together Jyn’s history because you get glimpses of it in the movie, but I was able to really figure out how she became the person that she became. It was almost like being an archeologist — just seeing where she ended up, and figuring out how she got there.
GREG RUCKA: I wanted to focus on Baze and Chirrut’s relationship, but also on the spiritual life of Jedha and the significance of the Holy City because the movie moves so quickly and we only get glimpses of this city in incredible pain. There are obvious parallels to be drawn to real-world analogs, but I really wanted to make it clear that before the Empire arrived, this had been this very precious place in the galaxy where all of these faiths, which at their root venerate the force, had come together to pay respect to or pursue their faiths in different ways.
Was there one thing, in particular, you felt like you had to nail when it came to these characters?
REVIS: For me, the biggest thing was capturing Jyn’s relationship with Saw. That was touched on in the movie, and you see that they had a relationship, but not really what the context of it was. So bringing together what I knew of Saw first in the Clone Wars, and what kind of a person he was, and his background, and combining that with Jyn, that was the most exciting, was building that relationship and showing how they became the people they were.
RUCKA: The one thing that was absolutely unequivocal, no matter which one of them I was writing, was their commitment to each other. That relationship, which just sings in the movie, had to be there on the page so you could see how these two people have moved through the world in very different ways, and yet, their connection is so unbreakable.
Was there anything that challenged you when writing these books?
REVIS: When I saw the list of charges that brought Jyn to prison, I thought it would be really cool if you know she didn’t start off with all those charges, and how prison life affected her. I just wanted to show what each of those charges were and how the empire would punish her for them. All the instances revolved around her list of charges. [It was interesting to figure out] the charge of forgery because Star Wars is in the future, and, like, there’s no paper. It’s difficult to forge something. I had to put in this whole system of, like, electronic forgery and it was really, really fun, but also it was such a challenge.
RUCKA: Chirrut’s blindness. Because I wanted to be really, really honest to it. The reason the chapters are ordered the way they are is so we start with Chirrut not to establish the status quo on Jedha, but to establish his status quo and how he perceives the world… The first question the Star Wars universe demands is, “What is his relationship with the force?” He can perceive it, so how do we allow him to be blind and honor and not diminish that, by turning it into a lazy character point. Over the course of the book, he can’t see, but the way he compensates for that in his life and both spiritually and personally and with the aid of technology is something that I felt was important to address right off the bat.
Did you learn anything about Jyn and Chirrut and Baze now that you’ve written a book about them?
REVIS: I feel such a close and personal connection to Jyn. Like she’s my sister. I just want to hug her all the time. That sounds so sappy. But what I learned the most about her was just that even when we feel like we’re the weakest, we still have strength, and she really showed that. Like, I really broke her in that book that she still stood up in the end of it, and that was amazing.
RUCKA: I’ve learned that I’d like to write more about them! [Laughs] I would love to write for them some more because there are so many questions that arise. I would love to see them both younger. There’s a story about why Baze is no longer a guardian and how Chirrut lost his eyesight and what brought him to his faith. He wasn’t born with it, but faith is so unwavering, not only on the course of the book but absolutely in the movie. Where does that come from? Those are stories somebody is going to tell and that I want to read.
What is one thing you want other people to know about these characters?
REVIS: A lot of stories about the big heroes and big villains, but Jyn is just a person. She has to go through hardships and she struggles to fight for herself as opposed to a greater cause. That’s the thing that really stood out to me. She’s a real, everyday person.
RUCKA: Most of the characters we meet in Star Wars are either young or old. Baze and Chirrut are clearly in their 40s and 50s and are set in their ways. I wanted to play with that. The Empire has invaded their home, but they know everything about themselves and each other that they need to know. They’re not going to do anything that surprises one another.