How 'Star Wars' Novel Pulls Back Curtain on Poe Dameron
Poe Dameron fans are about to learn more about the hotshot pilot, including questions raised about his past in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The upcoming novel Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall will reveal more of the backstory of the fan-favorite character played onscreen by Oscar Isaac, and how he’s connected to Zorii Bliss, Keri Russell's Skywalker character.
" It's an epic, action-packed crime novel in space. At least that's what I was thinking about as I wrote it. Heists, double-crosses, space battles, surprises and deadly odds," writer Alex Segura tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Just what you'd want to see in a Poe Dameron adventure … and if you left the theater after seeing The Rise of Skywalker with questions about Zorii Bliss, the Spice Runners of Kijimi and many of the teases you saw on film, you can look forward to them being answered in the pages of the novel."
Heat Vision breakdown
THR can exclusively reveal artist Phil Noto's cover artwork for the title, as well as pull back the curtain further in a conversation with Segura.
How did you get involved with writing Star Wars? I know you're a fan, and you're also the man behind the Pete Fernandez novels and a lot of Archie Comics, but how did you end up crossing the streams on this project?
It came together quickly, but the roots of the project have been around for a while, if that makes sense. I've known and been friends with [Lucasfilm Publishing creative director] Mike Siglain at Lucasfilm for a long time, dating back to our years at DC Comics — and we'd kept in touch. The news of my Pete series ending seemed to dovetail with us chatting again, and he asked if I'd ever consider doing some Star Wars, to which I immediately said yes! Because … of course.
I was in the early moments of figuring out my next novel, and this came at the perfect time — it felt like a really natural next step. I've always loved sci-fi and Star Wars, and having the opportunity to not only play in that universe but bring the skills I honed in the mystery genre to a wider audience, well, that was impossible to pass up.
To me, Poe feels like the ideal Star Wars character for you to handle, as he's the closest to one of your own characters, if that makes sense — but what is he like to write? And what's it like being the writer who gets to fill in the blanks on one of the major characters of the new trilogy, especially coming on the heels of revelations from The Rise of Skywalker?
Of the characters introduced in the new trilogy, I definitely felt the most drawn to Poe, especially with the details you learn in the comics by Charles Soule and in the prose novels by so many great authors like Greg Rucka. He's a hero, but he has a scoundrel side to him — a glint in his eye that tells you he's not afraid to cut corners or bend the rules to get what he needs. But he also has a heart, and he's loyal and driven. That's a lot!
I always wondered what his story was — what made him this way. There's just a lot of fertile ground to cover. Poe is a complicated person — and when we meet him in The Force Awakens, he's such a defined, charismatic, and powerful presence — to have the chance to go back and fill the blanks and show how Poe came to be the man we meet on the big screen, well, that's a huge honor and responsibility. It's certainly not something I took lightly, and I did my best to immerse myself and revisit a lot of the source material. And, of course, I walked hand in hand with the great team at Lucasfilm and Disney Books, who were invaluable in terms of being a sounding board and making sure I had everything I needed.
But to go back to your original question … Yes, Poe does feel like the kind of character who wouldn't seem out of place in one of my crime novels. If there's a theme to my novels — even comics, like The Archies and The Black Ghost, and Lethal Lit, the podcast — it's the process of becoming something else, of achieving your destiny. The journey to establishing yourself. That made a task like this, where I'm basically revealing Poe Dameron's origin story, feel very normal and while, yes, daunting, not completely alien.
I just wanted to do justice by him and give readers a chance to meet an earlier, less defined version of Poe — but one that still retains all the things they'd easily recognize and root for. It's clear from page one of the book that this is a Poe Dameron adventure, and a very important one that reveals not only details about him, but key characters in his life.
You're standing on the shoulders of giants when it comes to Poe; beyond J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson, his backstory to date includes contributions from Greg Rucka and Charles Soule, among others, as you pointed out. What kind of research did you do ahead of the project — and how much knowledge of that material do readers need before picking the book up?
I owe Greg and Charles a ton — I felt like I spent a lot of time in their heads, rereading their Poe-centric comics and prose work, not only to get the details right — but to get Poe's voice, and the voices of so many of his key supporting cast, like his parents and L'ulo. I want someone to read this book and feel like it connects to everything else seamlessly, but also adds something new and unexpected.
In terms of research, I not only wanted to get the facts right, as it pertained to Poe, but I also wanted to make sure what I wrote felt like it belonged on the same shelf as books by people like Zoraida Córdova, Delilah Dawson, Greg Rucka, Rebecca Roanhorse, Alexander Freed and Daniel José Older — books that take elements from the film canon and add and build on it to create a much larger, canonical tapestry.
As someone who has a comics background, I'm blown away by Star Wars as a piece of pop culture — it's a really impressive feat to create this expanded and layered universe through so many different mediums. Getting the chance to add a bit of my voice to it was a thrill. In short, I read/re-read a lot of Star Wars comics and books, and it was the best kind of research gig I could hope for, because it was truly a pleasure.
That said, I don't think you need to do a lot of your own homework before you pick up this book. There are plenty of Easter Eggs and nods to the past, but they don't slow down the narrative — if you only know Poe from the films and are curious about his beginnings, then you'll be fine. It's really meant to tell that tale of where Poe started and what defined him, what led him to become the Poe we're more familiar with.
That's a pretty good lead in to this, then: What can you tease about what happens in the book for fans, without giving the game away?
It's an epic, action-packed crime novel in space. At least that's what I was thinking about as I wrote it. Heists, double-crosses, space battles, surprises and deadly odds. Just what you'd want to see in a Poe Dameron adventure … and if you left the theater after seeing The Rise of Skywalker with questions about Zorii Bliss, the Spice Runners of Kijimi, and many of the teases you saw on film, you can look forward to them being answered in the pages of the novel. Though I can't promise new questions won't be raised!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall will be released Aug. 4. Look below for the full cover for the book.
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