I’ve been highlighting books I’ve written, edited, or contributed to throughout my career, with a new entry posted every Thursday. It’s “Throwbook Thursday,” ya’ll! (But please do not throw books. It can hurt someone and damage the books.)
Back in the 1990s, I was trying to make my first significant sale as a writer. At the time, I’d had a daytime editing job I didn’t enjoy much, while contributing articles at night to a local newspaper, The Oyster Bay Guardian. I wanted to do something more interesting, though, than the cookie-cutter coverage of school board meetings I was writing for the paper—but as it happened, that gig turned out to be key to my achieving that goal.
At the time, I was an avid Star Wars reader, and through my friend Mike Beidler I got to know author Charlene Newcomb, whose Alex Winger short stories in West End Games’ Star Wars Adventure Journal series I’d found very entertaining. Char had written a non-Alex story about smuggler Celia “Crimson” Durasha, who’d appeared in “A Certain Point of View,” published in Adventure Journal vol. 8. The character had debuted in Pete Schweighofer’s “Crimson Jailbreak” in vol. 5, and I’d found the free trader fascinating, especially under Char’s pen.
So imagine my elation when Char invited me to co-write her next Crimson story. The result was “Crimson Bounty,” published in Adventure Journal vol. 14 and illustrated by Steve Bryant. This is where the newspaper articles helped me, as Lucasfilm had a strict rule in place about only hiring published writers. Back then, the newspaper gig was pretty much the only bylines I had to offer—but it counted since it was published work, and I wouldn’t have been eligible for the Adventure Journal without it. So I’m grateful to editor David Criblez for giving me that gig, even if the school board meetings were not overly interesting to attend or write about.
Adventure Journal vol. 14 still holds a special place on my shelves 24 years later, as it was my first published fiction and led to other fun Star Wars projects—which would also not have been possible without the newspaper stint. The book and the school-board coverage got me in the door at Lucasfilm, leading to my writing for several official publications: Star Wars Galaxy Collector, Star Wars Insider, Star Wars Gamer, Star Wars Fact Files, starwars.com, and more, as well as a trio of books for IDW years later (which I’ll discuss in a future Throwbook Thursday).
The story spawned other Star Wars fiction as well: “Lady Luck,” a comic I co-wrote with Darko Macan for Dark Horse’s Star Wars Tales #3 (edited by Pete Janes); and “Lando Calrissian: Idiot’s Array,” a prose story I penned for Star Wars Insider magazine, which ended up being published at Hyperspace instead, with illustrations from the talented Joe Corroney. “Idiot’s Array,” a direct sequel to both “Crimson Bounty” and “Lady Luck,” brought back a bounty hunter whom Char and I had created for our Adventure Journal tale: the cold-hearted Thune, named after my non-cold-hearted friends Michael and Beth Thune. Incidentally, gangster moll Ymile, from “Lady Luck,” was named after my daughter Emily. Thankfully, Em has pursued a far more respectable career path than her namesake.
In addition, Char and I co-wrote “The Contact,” a prose sequel to “Crimson Bounty,” which had been slated for Adventure Journal vol. 18 until West End Games suddenly went bankrupt due to mismanagement on the part of its parent company, Bucci Retail Group. (The moral here: shoe importers should probably stay out of the publishing business. They lack the sole for it. Ba dum tss!) Thus, “The Contact” remained in limbo for years until Joe Bongiorno published it at his fan website, the Star Wars Expanded Universe Timeline.
My collaborations with Char were a great joy, and I would jump at the chance to work with my friend again. We don’t speak as frequently as we used to, but that’s an oversight we need to rectify soon. Star Wars fans will be glad to know she’s as great a person as she is an author, and her invitation to co-create “Crimson Bounty” opened up a lot of doors for me. Without her, my writing career might have taken a lot longer to take off… or it might never have done so at all. Thanks, Char—I am in your debt, pal.