Cavan Scott is something of a Star Wars veteran. He is the author of IDW’s five part “Tales from Vader’s Castle” comics series as well as the popular “Star Wars Adventures” series. He also wrote the middle grade Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space series.
As if that wasn’t enough, Cavan is the mind behind Lucasfilm’s new Choose Your Destiny book series, which gives readers the power to choose their path, whether they’re flying the Millennium Falcon with Han Solo and Chewie, or on a Jedi mission with Obi-Wan and Anakin adventure in the newest book that just published at the end of March.
Each action packed choose your own adventure style book is fully illustrated by Elsa Charretier. Take a look:
About Star Wars: An Obi-Wan and Anakin Adventure out now:
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are on a mission for the Jedi Council, but they need some help! With over twenty possible outcomes, readers will have to think like a true Jedi to keep Obi-Wan and Anakin safe from Separatist threats, bounty hunters, and much, much more! With so many different story paths, the adventures never end!
To get a look into the process of writing a Choose Your Destiny book with Lucasfilm, we caught up with Scott and asked him a few questions.
This is your first foray into interactive fiction. Was it challenging?
Cavan Scott: It’s certainly a new way to think about writing fiction. Prior to writing the first book in the series, my only experience was reading Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid.
The Fighting Fantasy series back in the 1980s was a particular favourite of mine. So, faced with the challenge of constructing my own gamebook, I reversed engineered one of the Fighting Fantasy titles, mapping out an adventure to see how it was done.
Do you break the stories in the same way, or do you have to come at it from a different angle?
I start in the same way, working out the main beats of the story, but leaning heavily into action as Choose Your Destiny need lots of derring-do and excitement.
Then, once I have a central plot, I go back and work out where I can add forks in the narrative, spinning the narrative into new paths.
And what do you write the books in? A good old fashioned word processor, or do you use any branching narrative tools?
I start by mapping out the plot and the various paths using a mind-mapping programme called Scapple. Then, when it comes to the actual writing, I transfer over to Scrivener, which is my writing software of choice for prose.
Each section or scene has its own ‘card’, which can be easily moved around. Once I’m pretty happy with a draft, I output it to Word, which puts everything in order and allows me to edit it as a whole before submitting to Lucasfilm Publishing for their notes.
Has the experience of building a narrative in the choose your path format allowed you to build any particular skill that you’ve applied elsewhere? Or, has it shaped how you perceive of writing in any profound way that you can put your finger on?
It’s certainly made me think about the choices that my characters take in my standard writing. Also, after getting to do radical things such as destroy the Millennium Falcon and blow up R2-D2 in the alternative paths, I’m now desperate to write some ‘what if’ tales for Star Wars.
I actually think that was one of the most fascinating aspects of Jason Fry’s The Last Jedi novelisation. The book opens with a look at what would have happened to Luke if he hadn’t accepted Ben’s call to adventure.
After years reading Marvel What If? comics, I would love to see something similar in Star Wars.
You wrote the recent Tales from Vader’s Castle comic series AND this new Anakin book. In one, he is the Star Wars Universe’s ultimate villain, and in the other he is a hero. Are you keeping this in mind, or are you looking at the character completely differently for each story?
I absolutely think of him as the same character.
When writing Anakin I always bear in mind the man he becomes, as it often dictates how he will react, even as a young Jedi. The seeds of Vader are sown throughout his life, his future mask a constant shadow.
Also, were you writing both at the same time? How weird was that?
I’d finished Tales from Vader’s Castle by the time I’d started the Choose Your Destiny book, although I think I was working on the plots for both at the same time.
I then went straight to writing solo stories for both Obi-Wan and Anakin for the issues of Star Wars Adventures that are coming out right now, so feel like I’ve spent a lot of time in their company recently.
Three Choose Your Destiny books – and numerous comics – into your writing in the Star Wars universe, do you have a favourite era in the timeline to write stories in?
That’s a really tough question. As a massive Clone Wars fan, I do love writing in the prequel era, although the kid in me always gets a thrill writing for the original trilogy, especially when it involves Luke, Han and Leia.
I think the prequel era is so fascinating as you get a sense of the glory days for the Jedi, which was always so compelling when you hear Ben talking about ‘a more civilised age’ in Episode IV.
I’m intrigued by Jedi culture and would love to explore it more. Beyond that, I’ve not had so much experience writing for the sequel trilogy characters… yet.
Thanks Cavan. Congrats on the books.
Anytime at all.
[Editor’s Note: Since this interview, the next book in the series has been announced here]