The Star Wars fandom is massive. There are endless films, shows, books, comics, art pieces, podcasts, fan clubs – you name it, they have it. Now, writer/author Amy Ratcliffe has given us something new in this space with her book Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy. In this new book, Ratcliffe gives the spotlight solely to the heroines of the space opera franchise. Essentially, she gives these heroines a voice in the male dominated space known as the Star Wars franchise.
The book itself highlights 75 female characters we know and love. Perhaps a few of these females we’ll learn about for the first time. To clarify, these are 75 official canon characters of Star Wars so, sorry Mara Jade fans, she’s not listed. Still, each of these characters come to life with art drawn by 18 contributing artists. The best thing about these artists? They’re female and non-binary artists. This book is a female and non-binary interpretation of these wonderful female characters.
As a bonus, you can also purchase three notebooks featuring art of Leia, Rey, and Ahsoka Tano with notable quotes throughout them. (There’s even bonus artwork included, so definitely worth it.)
Each character gets at least a page of information including background stories, author insights (including some actress insight into the character), and, essentially, love letters to these women. Some characters like Leia, Rey, Padmé, Jyn Erso, and more get a few more pages but they all highlight the importance of these women. Some of the characters, I didn’t know about as I still have some Star Wars lore to catch up on. Keep an eye out for characters like Sy Snootles and Mama Hutt! This book is a great reminder that there are so many incredible women in the franchise and we should be celebrating them.
The art is absolutely gorgeous – varying in styles to make each new page an exciting discovery which lends to making the book an absolute page turner. I found myself wanting to read more about the characters I love and savoring the lore about the characters I wasn’t aware of. I delighted in the art interpretations of all the character by these talented artists. Reading this book was an absolute joy.
Lucky for us, we were able to talk to author Amy Ratcliffe about the process she went through to make the book.
Hi Amy! Major congratulations on the book! I loved it so much and really enjoyed reading it. It’s definitely becoming a permanent fixture on my coffee table. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions about it.
Erin Lynch: I read that you were approached to write this book, which is amazing. What was your initial reaction? And what made you say “Yes!!”?
Amy Ratcliffe: I was initially in disbelief over being asked about this project. It’s been a dream of mine to write a Star Wars book, so I was flabbergasted. Saying yes was kind of a no-brainer, but what helped seal the deal was hearing from my editor about how they really wanted to take a celebratory tone for the book. Women of the Galaxy was never meant to be encyclopedic nature, so I welcomed the notion of getting to write about the incredible actions these characters have taken and what they mean to fans.
EL: It strikes me as a very tough task to write such an informative book about these characters without sounding like a Wookieepedia entry. You did it wonderfully. How did you choose which stories to focus on with each character?
AR: Thank you for saying that, because it was definitely a challenge. So many of the characters in the book have done a laundry list of amazing things and I wanted to talk about them all, but I didn’t want it to be a bullet pointed “she did this, and then she did that.” To narrow things down, I tried to choose the watershed moments for each character—the kind of things that are cornerstones in their story. For Leia, it was watching the destruction of Alderaan. But beyond those big scenes, I also wanted to pull out quotes and smaller beats that showcase the heart of who someone is, e.g. for Jyn Erso, I wanted to talk about the Forces of Destiny short in which she takes the risk of getting a youth’s tooka-cat back from stormtroopers.
EL: In your introduction you say that Ahsoka is your favorite Star Wars character and that she actually helped you become a writer. I find that so fascinating! What is it about Ahsoka and her journey that continues to fascinate you today?
AR: We’ve been really lucky with Star Wars to get to watch several characters age and grow over the course of their lifetime. We met Ahsoka as a snippy Padawan learner and have seen bits of her story all the way up to after Return of the Jedi, when she’s kind of like a wise Gandalf figure. I’ve loved seeing her learn, fail, succeed, and grow. But what especially gets me about Ahsoka is that, like many of the characters in this book actually, she persists in fighting against what she believes is wrong despite great personal risk. She could have left behind a life of service after departing the Jedi Order, but instead she kept helping others in big and small ways. I find that inspiring and so admirable.
EL: As readers, we get to learn bits and pieces about these female characters in the book. Did you learn anything about any of the characters that you didn’t know before you set to writing about them? If so, what was the most interesting?
AR: I try my best to keep up with all the Star Wars stories that I can in every medium, but I don’t always succeed. That’s to say I definitely encountered new characters and new tidbits about familiar faces, and because my memory is not as reliable as I’d like, I had a handful of points refreshed for me, too. One character I didn’t know at all was Princess Trios of Shu-Torun. She first appeared in Marvel’s Darth Vader Annual 1. Though she’s one hundred percent aware of what Darth Vader’s capable of and she’s afraid of him, she still stands up to him in ways I certainly wouldn’t and carves out a valuable place for herself.
EL: I adore the artwork in the book. Admittedly, Jen Bartel’s work stands out to me the most – and she made it on the cover! Did you choose the cover for the book? And were there any pieces that surprised you?
AR: The art in the book is spectacular. I can’t get over it. The artists all did such a tremendous job of bringing the characters to life in their own, distinct styles. I think the illustrations make the book something truly special. Chronicle Books and Lucasfilm worked together to select the pieces for the book and absolutely crushed it.
EL: A big theme with Geek Girl Authority is Representation Matters. I love that the amazing art was done by women and non-binary artists. How did that come about?
AR: Having this book about female characters in Star Wars written and illustrated by female creators was baked into the description when I first heard about the project, and I believe it’s hugely meaningful that Chronicle and Lucasfilm made that decisions.
EL: How important was it for you personally to celebrate the females of the Star Wars galaxy?
AR: I’ve watched the number of female characters in the galaxy expand for years. Leia kickstarted it all, Legends titles added a lot of memorable female characters in the ’90s and ’00s, and the prequels opened the door a little more. Then with Star Wars: The Clone Wars, we got Ahsoka and a plethora of heroes, villains, and everything in between, and that’s only continued on the screen and in the books, comics, and games. While writing this book, I was struck by just how many different kinds of characters there are—Jedi, Imperials, barkeeps, geologists. I’m thrilled by the fact we can write a book about 75 of the characters and that we still had to leave some out. To get to write about all these women and their personalities and history was an absolute honor.
EL: Any plans for future books?
AR: I don’t have any books in the works at the moment, but it’s something I’d love to do again!
EL: And really quick – a lightning round!
Jakku or Kamino?
Lightsaber or Blaster?
Blaster (much less likely to hurt myself with a blaster)
Sassy droids or quipping Jedi?
Light Side or Dark Side?
Thank you so much for answering my questions, Amy. We here at Geek Girl Authority wish you the best of luck on your future projects and good luck at Star Wars Celebration Chicago!
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