Alan Dean Foster
Author: Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye
Interview: December 2020
In november 1976 the very first Star Wars book was published: Star Wars: from the Adventures of Luke Skywalker was the official novelization of the movie that was released 6 months later, on May 25. It was written by SciFi author Alan Dean Foster, who would also write the first Star Wars sequel (and first Expanded Universe book) Splinter of the Mind’s Eye (1978). For this website Mr. Foster answered a couple of questions regarding his Star Wars publications.
You wrote the novelization of the first Star Wars movie in 1976. What were your thoughts back then, did you believe this movie (and the book) had potential?
I immediately thought the film had potential. I also doubted George could ever get all of it up on screen the way it was written in the script…but he did.
When did you see the movie?
My wife and I saw the final cut at a cast and crew private screening a week or so before the film appeared in theaters. We thought it was wonderful. My wife kept trying to get me to talk to the scruffy-looking guy seated behind us. It was Alice Cooper.
You had meetings with George Lucas where you discussed the story I guess. What do you recall of those meetings?
Actually, no. George was far too busy working the film. I went off and wrote the adaptation (and Splinter of the Mind’s Eye) on my own.
There are several things in the novel that aren’t in the movie, mostly things to flesh out the backstory. Did you have total freedom or were there certain guidelines.
Mostly, yes. I would not have been hired to write the book if the producers didn’t trust me. I’m always very respectful of the original story.
After Star Wars you wrote Splinter of the Mind’s Eye which was going to be used for a low budget sequel in case Star Wars would flop. How did you approach this task?
I was told simply to write a sequel set in the Star Wars universe, with the exception that I could not use the character of Han Solo, since Harrison Ford had not yet signed on for any future sequels in any form. I set most of the story on a fog-shrouded planet in order to minimize the cost of backgrounds. No CGI back then.
How did you come up with the ideas, storyline and characters in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.
I was particularly interested in the whole idea of The Force. Also the relationship between Luke and Leia, which was subsequently redefined. And I like rainforests.
Because Star Wars was such a success, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was never made into a movie. What were your feelings towards this, not seeing your story turned into a film.
Naturally I was disappointed. I always felt it would have made a good movie. But it’s not my universe.
I was wondering if you’ve ever read the comic adaptation of Splinter.
Yes, I did read the comic adaptation of Splinter. A long time ago, in…well, you know. I thought it was pretty good indeed, especially considering that it came out so early in the Star Wars universe with not much background info for the guys to work with.
You didn’t write the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back. What was the reason for this?
You would have to ask the publisher. I do feel that they (quite rightly) did not want anyone other than George and the actors to become too closely associated with the productions.
Recently you said that since the Disney takeover you hadn’t received any royalty payments from them. Have there been new developments since then?
In 2014 ago Disney declared the Expanded Universe was no longer canon. It became ‘Legends’. What do you think of this, seeing your book Splinter of the Mind’s Eye suddenly become non-canon?
As a writer I think they made a mistake. If I was running a studio, I’d think it was the correct decision. As it stands, they can pick and choose bits and pieces from the Expanded Universe. The planet Mimban from Splinter, for example.
You have written many other books. Which one stands out as your personal favorite?
I have a soft spot for my short stories. A novel is like a whole diamond. Short stories are like facets.