Rebecca Roanhorse is no stranger to writing worlds and realities beyond our own. A speculative fiction writer of both novels and short fiction, she is a recipient of both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award. Her work often features indigenous characters as the leads; such as her Sixth World series where a Dinétah monster slayer navigates a post-apocalyptic world filled with gods and monsters of legend.
But now, Roanhorse is about to make her debut into the galaxy far, far away. Set prior to the events of the upcoming The Rise of Skywalker, her Star Wars novel, Resistance Reborn, will explore how our heroes work to rebuild the Resistance.
While Roanhorse has been a Star Wars fan ever since her childhood, she was never as into the Expanded Universe. As she elaborated in a recent phone interview, “I hadn’t read a lot of the books. I didn’t really get into it as much as a lot of other fans do. So I really had to get into it when I got the opportunity.”
Following the publication of the From a Certain Point of View anthology in 2017, Roanhorse took to Twitter and wrote about how she would love to see a Native writer write a story for the Star Wars canon; especially given how much influence is pulled from different Native American tribes for the universe (an example being the Ewoks being influenced by the Miwok tribe from Northern California).
Her Twitter thread did not go unnoticed. “Star Wars authors were very supportive and they were like, ‘Yeah, let Rebecca write a Star Wars‘ and I never said me specifically, but that was really nice,” she recounted. “And then my editor said, ‘Yeah, Rebecca, you should do Star Wars.’ So January of this year, the folks at Del Rey [Books] and Lucasfilm got together and said, ‘Hey Rebecca, do you want to write a Star Wars?’ And I said ‘Absolutely!'”
Although initially intimidated at the task of contributing a story to the ever-growing franchise, Roanhorse eventually strategized her way into the world initially through Leia; who has lost so much to war throughout her entire life, and yet still perseveres even with all the emotional and mental baggage she has.
“That was sort of my door in,” she said. “That was my understanding of the emotional resonance of the franchise, and the characters I approached. I took the same approach to Poe. I tried to get his emotional center in what he has done, and who he is, and how that sort of manifests.”
In Roanhorse’s work, she regularly exercises her ability in creating characters with ambiguous intentions, with intense world-building as the backdrop. Asked how she brought these traits over when writing Resistance Reborn, and her focus, at the end of the day, remains largely on the characters luring the readers into the story.
“I focus on the character rather than the world,” she explained. “I’m not going to do some big dump of information. The characters are going to ground you in the world. If you see the things that they interact with, and need, I can make this story. So that’s sort of my approach. Hopefully I did that there.”
If there is a message that Roanhorse hopes for readers to take from reading Resistance Reborn is to realize that one can still find a way home, despite their actions they’ve committed. “I think the thing with Star Wars in general — I think you know — don’t give up hope, and that you keep fighting. I think also particularly is that people can be forgiven. That you can do terrible things but still find a way home. It’s never too late. No one should ever be thrown away.”
Resistance Reborn will be released on Tuesday, November 5.