Editor Betsy Mitchell is one of them.
Betsy has had a great career thus far, one that will continue to help shape the genre as we know it. She’s worked for some of the best publishers and, as a result, worked with some of the best authors. That’s not all. She is also responsible for working editorial on Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn, probably the most influential Star Wars novel ever written.
With the 20th Anniversary Edition of Heir to the Empire published and in fine bookstores everywhere, I thought it would be great to revisit Betsy’s time on the book and how things have changed over the years.
INTERVIEW: HEIR TO THE EMPIRE EDITOR BETSY MITCHELL
Shawn Speakman: Hi Betsy! You have worked on many bestselling novels during your editorship but HEIR TO THE EMPIRE by Timothy Zahn has to be one of the most gratifying and successful. What is it like for you, having seen this book grow in fandom and canon over the years?
SS: In your new Afterword for the 20th Anniversary Edition of HEIR TO THE EMPIRE you write you “knew Tim had the writing skills to handle a big-picture Star Wars plot. Not only that, but he could also recreate the interplay between George Lucas’s beloved characters as well as generate new ones who would capture readers’ interest.” How difficult is it finding the right person for a tie-in project and how does that process work?
When we’ve gotten a short list of potential writers together, we present their bios and previous writing samples to the company who owns the property, since by contract they have approval over every aspect of the tie-in novel (writer, final manuscript, cover art, etc.). They approve a writer, the writer then submits an outline, and usually after a period of back-and-forth discussion, the writer goes to work. Sometimes we’re fortunate enough to sit down with the writer and the property developers and hammer out the ideas in person, or at least by means of an email conversation. That’s the preferred method, but many times the development team is so busy working on the project itself that we deal with licensing people instead.
SS: HEIR TO THE EMPIRE is filled with memorable characters. A fan favorite though is Mara Jade. What is it about the fiery redhead that struck a chord with Star Wars fans?
SS: Out of the six Star Wars films, which episode is your favorite and why?
SS: You are the Editor in Chief of Del Rey books, privy to Jedi secrets. Will the sequels to Heir to the Empire also receive the annotated and hardcover treatment?
The 20th Anniversary Edition of Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn is in fine bookstores now!