What's it like releasing a Star Wars novel?
Terrifying: the pressure to meet fan expectations, self-imposed or otherwise, is very high. Of course, you've worked as hard as you can at making this a success (at least as hard as you would on one of your original novels) and you have the support of the entire team at Del Rey, Lucas Licensing, etc (whose work this also represents), but there are no sure things. You could produce the next Darksaber, or you could fall on your face in a pile of bantha scat. The wait for reviews is agonising.
Thrilling: because the story you've been working on for so long is finally in the public domain. The lead-times for such novels can be alarmingly quick, but they can also be very long, particularly if the projects they're attached to are delayed. Knowing secret stuff about the birth of the rebellion for nigh on two years can give you an ulcer. Sometimes you want to stand on a rooftop and shout it out to the world. Once the book's out, the internet will do just fine.
Fun: Star Wars is popular with the kids. They come to the launches. (See the photo below, taken in Malibu last week.) Maybe they're less there for the book than for the costumers, but who wouldn't want to be part of that anyway? Who of our generation--those most likely to be writing Star Wars novels today--doesn't remember being a kid when Episode IV first hit the screen and wishing they could experience some of that magic for themselves? That, perhaps, is the ultimate buzz. You may not be Darth Vader, and you may not have the cool costume, but by god you've written dialogue for him and you've lived for a while in his head. If that doesn't fall under the definition of "fun" (perhaps "terrifying" too) then what does?
Exhausting: if kids love Star Wars, so do the media. It's good to take interviews and even better to go on tour, but for a writer more used to sitting behind a desk all day, it can be kinda tiring. You've got to pace yourself and remember that it'll all be over soon--because when it is over, you'll miss it. We are a perverse bunch. On principle.
Mind-blowing: when your editor emails you to tell you that your book will debut at #1 on the New York Times hardback bestseller list--and they're excited--where do you go from there?
The answer to that question is always: onto the next book. Star Wars is the cream on the cake--hell, it might be a whole tray of desserts. But original work is part of the writer's balanced diet, and at some point you have to get back to it. It's what got you to this point in the first place, remember? Star Wars doesn't hire authors without an existing solo track record. They know--as you should know--that fuelling one stokes the boiler of the other.
So get back to it. You've got another book out next week (The Dust Devils) and plenty of others to promote besides (hello The Crooked Letter trade paperback; welcome back Earth Ascendant). Grip the sides while the roller-coaster is rolling, and maybe you'll come out the other side intact. And vibed. And grateful. And writing.
All these things, and more.
ETA 1: I celebrated by drinking Bollinger, ordering in pizza, and watching Episode IV. What could be better than that?
ETA 2: More discussion here.
(Excuse the mobile-phone grain. I'm too lazy to carry a real camera with me, even to such important events as this. When will I learn?)
Listening to: Biosphere - Birds Bly by Flapping Their Wings