This past Saturday, novelist Christie Golden was named Grand Master of the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers, a professional organization for people who write fiction based on video games, movies, and other content. The same organization also presented her with two Scribe awards for her books Assassin’s Creed: Heresy, based on the Ubisoft game, and Assassin’s Creed, a novelization of the film.
These are high honors for Golden, the author of over 50 novels set in a variety of worlds, among them that of the Star Wars saga. The most recent of her novels is Inferno Company. Released today, the novel tells the backstory of the elite company of Imperial warriors to be featured in the upcoming video game Star Wars: Battlefront II. We spoke with Golden at SDCC 2017 to learn how she made the Star Wars saga’s most high profile villains into heroes — of a sort.
UW: Alexander Freed’s Star Wars: Battlefront: Twilight Company was one of my very favorite books in the Star Wars universe. Did you read it? Is Star Wars: Battlefront II: Inferno Squad a follow-up to that? Is it connected in any way?
CG: I skimmed through it to get an idea, but we were really tight on time. My main focus was on the original material for Inferno Squad: the game’s script, and analyzing how the actors spoke. My novel isn’t related to the first one: It is a complete standalone. You can pick up one and enjoy it without the other.
UW: I know that there isn’t a whole lot you can talk about because the game hasn’t been released, but can we discuss what kind of book it is? I’m assuming it is military science-fiction.
CG: Yes, it is definitely military science-fiction. It’s a prequel to the game that is set four years prior. In this book, the characters get to meet each other and go on their first missions together. Sometimes those don’t always work out as planned. They are faced with a really brutal one where they are up against some people who are not exactly the nicest in the world. It puts them in the heart of things.
UW: Who is or isn’t nice is a point of view in this book.
CG: From a certain point of view? Absolutely. Yes it is. That’s one of the things I really like about playing with this. Traditionally, the Empire has always been the bad guys. My job is to make you care for these characters who are very much what the Empire should be. They’re up against what’s left of Saw Gerrera’s Partisans, and everything is quite gray in this.
UW: Do you like these kinds of stories, generally, or do you prefer novels where the characters’ allegiances and morals are much more defined?
CG: I really do like it where people are being people first, and their attributes are something that comes along with that territory. I have two themes that I find myself writing about again and again. One of them is what makes some people keep going when other people give up? They keep getting up and other people don’t. The other theme is what makes good people do questionable, almost evil, things? How is it that people we like are capable of doing terrible things? How do they make it okay? What is the mindset?
UW: I think those are questions we have to ask about others and ourselves, sometimes.
CG: Absolutely. Nobody is perfect all of the time. Nobody is absolutely evil all of the time. It is interesting to focus on that. What is it? Is it a big thing or a little thing? Is it something that is gradual, or is a sudden shift when something happens?
UW: Say something nice about the Empire.
CG: It is very orderly and very productive.