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It is a time of conflict and Padmé Amidala finds herself cast in new roles as a wartime senator, a wife, and a rebellious woman on a mission.
But still, there is hope.
In her new book, Queen’s Hope, author E.K. Johnston will complete her trilogy exploring Padmé’s life during her early years on the senate floor, on the throne of Naboo, and ultimately entangled with Anakin Skywalker, Jedi General, during a dark time in the galaxy’s history. While Anakin excels at leading the clone soldiers on battlefronts across the galaxy, Padmé is horrified by the repercussions left behind on war-torn planets. Although the peace-loving senator is still an active member of the Galactic Republic’s lawmakers, she employs her loyal handmaiden, Sabé, when duty calls her to a secret mission that forces her double to serve the senate for an extended period, witnessing the war from the political arena.
And, of course, Chancellor Palpatine plays his part, manipulating all sides of the conflict for his own evil plan to give rise to the Empire.
StarWars.com recently sat down with Johnston to discuss this third installment in her Padmé-centered saga that brings a fresh perspective to a fan-favorite character.
StarWars.com: This is your third time revisiting Padmé! How has your process evolved as you prepare to sit down and write this character again?
E.K. Johnston: Coming back to Padmé for a third time was like three more times than I ever thought I was going to get. Every time I come in to write a Padmé novel it’s exciting, it’s a little bit terrifying, and this one was the most daunting because it’s the war book. It’s the book where things start to fall apart. Up until this point it’s been kind of the upswing of her story, but as soon as Attack of the Clones happens, as soon as Attack of the Clones ends, you start to get into the actual tragedy part and I…I didn’t know how I was going to feel about that. Like, am I still allowed to make jokes if it’s going to be horribly sad? This is the start of the downward arc and I was a little bit nervous approaching it. But there’s still a lot of really good things to get into in this part of Padmé’s story. She’s kind of established herself as her own powerful senator… as someone who has power and someone who is good at it. And then, of course, in her personal life things are getting rather complicated.
StarWars.com: Right! Now she’s married to Anakin Skywalker, of course. Can you give us any hints about what new Anidala secrets and romance we have in store?
E.K. Johnston: I’m going to be real with you: Anakin Skywalker is a bit of a downer for me in terms of writing because everything he touches ends badly. Qui-Gon dies, his mom dies, Padmé dies. The galaxy falls apart. It does not go well for people involved in Anakin Skywalker’s story when he’s the main character. However, he’s not the main character of Queen’s Hope. He is the romantic interest. He’s the love interest. And because of that I was freed up to write him a little bit more fun, I guess. He’s kind of….not happy go-lucky because Jedi don’t really do that. But like his life has literally never been better than it is right now. He’s really good at fighting. He really likes clear-cut “these people are good, these people are bad” conflicts. And he’s married to the love of his life so, ya know, everything’s coming up Anakin at this point, which does make him very interesting to write because, of course, we all know what’s coming. But you get these sort of moments with them where they do have a genuine love. They like each other so much, they just never have any time and that’s their tragedy. They never have any time to talk, they never have any time to work things out, and I got to write a very, very small sliver of that time, which is something I think people have been looking forward to seeing for a while now.
StarWars.com: What does the title Queen’s Hope mean to you?
E.K. Johnston: I wanted to name this book Queen’s Gambit but then there was that thing on Netflix and, you know, we couldn’t name it Queen’s Gambit anymore. But I fell on Queen’s Hope almost immediately because to me that’s what Padmé is about. No matter how hard things get, she gets up and keeps going, which is one of my favorite things that Star Wars characters do. And as a Star Wars fan, as Star Wars readers, we know what’s coming. We know that nothing — nothing — she’s going to do matters in the long run, except having a baby, and that’s important, but it’s not what she set out to do. So we just have this idea that she’s fighting against this oncoming tide and she’s going to drown.
But she has made differences. She’s touched people’s lives in ways they maybe haven’t realized. She’s made differences in ways she didn’t plan to. And for me her hope is the same as it’s always been, it’s always been Leia and Luke, but other people are going to touch a lot of lives, too. Her handmaidens are going to go out into the world, and if you’ve read the Darth Vader comics you know a little bit about how that works. Bail is going to continue. Mon Mothma is going to continue and they are always going to remember her. And for me that’s how I got through writing the depressing tragedy that is looming at the end of this book, because I know that hope endures, that good endures. And Padmé believed it even right up to the end. I like to think I do, too. I’m probably a little bit more cynical. But that’s what Queen’s Hope means to me. It reminds me every morning to get up and keep trying no matter what happened the day before because today might be different.
To learn more about Johnston’s top three Padmé moments, check out today’s episode of This Week! in Star Wars below.
Associate Editor Kristin Baver is the author of the book Skywalker: A Family at War, host of This Week! In Star Wars, and an all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Follow her on Twitter @KristinBaver.
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