Day 303 – Amy Ratcliffe
Amy Ratcliffe is the author of Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy. She was kind enough to answer a few questions via email for 365 Days of Star Wars Women.
What was your introduction to Star Wars?
I first saw A New Hope when it was re-released in theaters in the ’90s. The only sci-fi I’d really watched to that point was Star Wars: The Next Generation, but I decided to tag along to see Star Wars with my high school boyfriend. I remember the line going outside of the theater (this was before reserved seating became common); it was the first time I recall ever seeing that in my small hometown.
Who are your favorite Star Wars characters? Are there any scenes from films or episodes from TV shows that you feel are the very best of Star Wars?
The characters I connect to most in Star Wars differ based on where I am in life and what I’m going through. In fact, I didn’t become more invested in Star Wars until 2008, over a decade after I first saw the original trilogy. Anyway, I’d say a handful of constant favorites are Ahsoka Tano, Leia Organa, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. In many scenes, they represent some of the core tenets of my Star Wars, that is, the values I extract the story from my certain point of view: hope, persistence, teaching.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars‘ Mortis trilogy is among the best of Star Wars because of the way it confronts the pull of light and darkness.
Are there any characters you would be excited to see featured in a future Star Wars standalone movie? Or are there any characters you feel are in desperate need of a backstory or a continued story?
The parts of me that are strongly attached to The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels want to see so many of those characters in the spotlight. But I’ll tell you two names that immediately come to mind: Qi’ra for a standalone movie and Enfys Nest for more of a backstory. I like Qi’ra’s decision to stay with Crimson Dawn and imagine she wants to make a name for herself, to be powerful. I need a standalone about what happens after she goes to Dathomir and beyond. And our time with Enfys in Solo: A Star Wars Story was tragically short. We have an inkling of her history, and I hope to see more of her past and future explored through some medium.
When did you decide you wanted to start writing about films and TV shows? For people (and especially women) who are interested in pursuing a career in entertainment journalism do you have any tips or advice?
Though I experimented with writing about food, travel, and personal essays, nothing really stuck for me until I realized, “Oh, I should obviously be writing about my passionate feelings for Firefly, The Clone Wars, SG-1, Battlestar Galactica, etc.” I didn’t really figure that out until about 2009. It was challenging to build my portfolio through my own blog, but I slowly started getting more paying gigs. I advise anyone interested in this career path to be persistent, to develop a portfolio, and to understand that it is not as easy as starting a website and watching the money roll in.
How did you start writing for the official Star Wars site? Do you remember what your first piece for them was? Do you have a favorite piece of yours from that site or favorite series?
Around Celebration VI, I started talking with Matt Martin about coverage. My memory is…well, awful, so I don’t recall my first piece, but other than some convention coverage, I started with a series called Fully Operational Fandom. I interviewed cosplayers, folks who made dioramas, droid builders – anyone who channeled their fandom into making. Those articles are still my favorite thing I’ve done for the site, because I think fans can be incredible.
Tell me about your current podcast Lattes with Leia. Why did you want to be involved with this podcast and how does it differ from other Star Wars podcasts out there? Do you have a suggestion for a first listen episode for Lattes with Leia for people who are interested in checking it out?
I am so grateful to Dan Zehr at Coffee with Kenobi for reaching out to me about doing a podcast on their network and that he continues to give my co-host, Dr. Andrea Letamendi, and I a home. Drea is one of my dearest friends and we often talk about Star Wars anyway, so now we have a monthly appointment to do so. We don’t really cover breaking news and instead focus on characters, ethical questions about droids, the idea of home in Star Wars – kind of whatever strikes our fancy. Drea’s background in psychology and thoughtful insight always mean I learn something while recording. I think that sets us apart. Our episode about droids is a fantastic place to start.
The 10th Anniversary panel at San Diego Comic-Con you moderated was quite something! How did they keep the reveal at the end (that TCW was coming back for another season in 2019) a secret from you? For people who still haven’t seen the show how would you describe its importance to the Star Wars universe and to you personally?
My mind is still kind of blown by the ending of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars panel. The publicist told me the end would be a sizzle reel, which made sense to me given that we were celebrating the anniversary. Dave Filoni completely trolled me before the panel, talking about how he wanted it to be good since it was probably the last Clone Wars panel they’d ever do.
The Clone Wars is my Star Wars. I was at a point in life where I was really embracing and understanding my geekdom for the first time, and it spoke to me. Ahsoka, Padmé, Palpatine, Anakin and Obi-Wan – I enjoyed taking a deeper dive into that time period and those characters to put it mildly.
— TWG – The Wookiee Gunner (@TWGsite) July 22, 2018
You have been a host for a few Star Wars Celebrations and have been announced as a host for 2019 as well. For people who have never been to Celebration can you explain what role a host plays at this convention and what kinds of panels you have moderated on the Behind the Scenes stage previously?
Star Wars Celebration Chicago will be my third time hosting the Behind-the-Scenes Stage, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity. Hosts often moderate many of the panels on their stages and try to provide a welcoming, fun place for all Star Wars fans. In the past, the Behind-the-Scenes Stage schedule has included panels for publishing, toys and collectibles, and presentations from Doug Chiang. It’s the stage I’d spend the most time at anyway.
What are some of your favorite memories from previous Celebrations?
Oh wow, it’s so hard to narrow them down. I remember everything from a delightful young man dressed as Director Krennic at Celebration Europe who let me get his picture with him to stealing a selfie with Gary Fisher in the green room. It’s always a surreal, pinch myself weekend.
How did you become involved in writing the Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy book?
I received a magical email about the project from my editor at Chronicle Books. It’s an email I dreamed about getting but didn’t know if I ever would. He went over the basics, I submitted some samples, and then we went from there.
What was your process while writing Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy. I know I have written about quite a few characters for 365 that I had never heard of before. Did you run into the same issue with this book?
Writing about Star Wars characters means doing the best and worst kind of research. I got to dive back into episodes of the animated series and the pages of making of books, novels, and comics, which is awesome. But then I’d fall in rabbit holes and want to keep watching and reading. Things that are not helpful for deadlines. I started each entry with extensive notes and went from there. A couple characters, particularly Princess Trios and Lina Graf, were new to me.
Were there any entries that were significantly harder to write than others for this book?
Leia Organa was the hardest profile to write. She means so much to me and to so many fans that I just didn’t want to mess it up. My admiration for Carrie Fisher is tied up in all of that. I wanted to do her justice. Though I tried so hard not to write encyclopedic entries for characters, I wanted to make sure everyone knows all the incredible things the character did – in the universe and for fandom. I put off finishing Leia as long as I could.
The art in this book is amazing (I feel like I can say this already even though I’ve only seen a few examples). Do you have any particular favorites?
The art in Women of the Galaxy blows me away. I can’t choose favorites, but I can gush about how very special the make this book. The 18 artists who contributed really brought so much personality, beauty, and ferocity to all the portraits. I feel like all of them jump off the page. And as someone who loves reading the novels, I especially like seeing the illustrations of characters we’ve rarely seen depicted.
Can you talk about any projects you have coming up?
Right now I’m looking ahead to Celebration Chicago!
Check out the entire list of women in 365 Days of Star Wars Women in the Women in Star Wars Index. It includes highlights from each post plus notes which posts include new 365 interviews with actresses, writers, artists, and more.