Field Report:
Timothy Zahn Book Signing
Borders Books & Music, Novi, MI


We seem to make excuses to go to the book store at least a couple of times a week. A few weeks ago when we were checking out, we noticed that the Jedi Master of Star Wars novels, Timothy Zahn, was scheduled to visit our local store to sign his latest addition to the GFFA literary universe.

It also occurred to us that a fellow Huttie's birthday was coming up. What a golden opportunity to make the gift a bit more special with a personalized message! The date was duly entered into the calendar and the day planned accordingly. Store staff had recommended purchasing the books to be signed ahead of time. We bought ours a whole week ahead and got the special sticker indicating we could bring the books back into the store for the signing.

The event wasn't scheduled to start till 7 PM, but knowing that members of the local chapter of the 501st would be in costume and wandering around the store, we made a point of getting to the store early to get our line ticket for the first group of people allowed to line up for the signing. Then we went to grab a quick dinner.

Previous experience at book signings for Tyler Florence, Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, and Giada De Laurentiis prompted us to hurry back and mill around waiting for the store staff to set up the signing area so we could grab seats. There are never enough. While we waited we saw the members of the 501st start to arrive and disappear into a space provided by the store to change into their costumes.

We claimed our seats and struck up a conversation with a fellow fan who had a whole bagful of Zahn's books both SW and not, hoping to get them all signed. That turned into an "Oh, duh ..." moment. It had not even occurred to me to bring my own copies of Zahn's other Star Wars books to be signed. Oh well ... Store staff had said that to begin with Mr. Zahn would sign everything, but that could change if there got to be too many.

As the time for Mr. Zahn's appearance drew near, a fan dressed as an ATAT crew member came up to the microphone. He declared Zahn to be a "god among SW writers," and asked us to greet him with the melodious chant the Ewoks used to greet C3PO. The audience gamely did a practice chant, but were too distracted by the members of the 501st and Rebel Alliance who escorted the author to his place before the audience.

Numerous Jedi, storm troopers, TIE pilots, Rebel pilots, Boba Fett, Grand Admiral Mitth'raw'nuruodo, Mara Jade, Mirax Terrik, and Darth Vader look-alikes stood as honor guards while Zahn answered questions for about 20 minutes before starting to sign books. It was like being at C3 again!

Zahn pointed out to the younger members of the audience that LucasFilm owns all of the Star Wars characters so he had to wait to be asked to write another book. He also mentioned that this book was practically inevitable. His off-hand mention of the Outbound Flight in the first Thrawn trilogy and then again in the Thrawn duology was originally a throw away line, but so many questions came up about it over they years that he had to write the story eventually. It was a matter of waiting for NJO to finish up. Another question asked was how he felt other writers handled his characters. His answer was diplomatic, "Just fine." Then of course, he elaborated. He said that he never used any other writer's characters except those of Michael Stackpole because he and Stackpole were friends and beta-read anything having to do with each other's characters.

There were many young children in the audience, both in and out of costume, but their patience began to wear thin so Zahn himself brought the question period to an end and started to sign books. With our red line tags, we were in second in line in the first group allowed to line up — although the guy with the bagful of books was ahead of us. Good thing he got in there quickly — before writer's cramp set in.

As Zahn signed my copies of the books, I told him I thought they read like the movies — in a good way; lots of action and interesting characters. He seemed pleased. I'm sure he knows not all of the Star Wars books published measure up to his standard.

Once our books were signed we were free to wander around and photograph the cos-players. They were happy to pose for pictures and the costumes looked really really good — although the lady Thrawn's red eyes looked painful!

The Force is with you, Master Zahn!

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