During San Diego Comic-Con 2018, Fanbase Press’ Bryant Dillon spoke with Star Wars writer Michael Kogge (Star Wars: The Force Awakens Junior Novelization, Star Wars: The Last Jedi Junior Novelization) regarding fan theories surrounding Rey’s ability to “download” Kylo Ren’s knowledge and skills, and how this relates to his adaptations of the films featuring these two characters.
Bryant Dillon, Fanbase Press President: Bryant Dillon here with Michael Kogge at Comic-Con 2018, and we’re going to talk about some Star Wars fandom news.
Michael Kogge: Alright. Alright.
BD: Star Wars fans have been speculating about something in regards to your junior novelization of The Force Awakens. For people that are watching and don’t know, there was a comparison posted online by one fan, a Redditor known as egoshoppe, regarding the fighting styles of Rey and Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi. It was in the form of a GIF, and the suggestion was that their fighting styles were incredibly similar, almost purposefully so. Furthermore, in an article posted at the geek news website, io9.com, examining the GIF received a response from egoshoppe, who referenced your adaption of The Force Awakens. Apparently, you describe in the Rey/Kylo interrogation scene how Kylo attempts to pull knowledge from Rey’s mind and how she pushes back, accessing his knowledge and potentially gaining some of skills.
Editor’s Note: The actual passage in Kogge’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens Junior Novelization reads as follows:
Kylo had retreated at finding Rey in his head – had practically fled from her. But that had not been the end of that strange, sudden connection. She had seen more – far more. Somehow, almost instinctually, she knew how he accessed some of the powers at his command – even though she didn’t understand them. It was as if his training had become hers, unlocking and flinging open door after door in her mind.
BD: Can you tell us a little about where that came from and why you included it in the junior novelization?
MK: Absolutely. One of the great things about a novel is that you can get in the interior mind of a character. For example, in that interrogation scene, what you don’t see in the film, you can show something else on the page. I thought it was a great opportunity to show Rey’s character and demonstrate her strength. When I was writing it, I asked myself, since he’s probing her mind, how do I show that she pushes back and fights him? I wouldn’t say she’s his equal when it comes to power, but she has a power of her own. I wanted her to push back and she does that in the movie visually, but I get to do it on the page, so, how do I express that on the page?
What I remember, having written this a couple years ago, is that my intention was that she would press back into Kylon Ren’s mind and discover out more about him. I also have to say that this is just my own interpretation of that scene. But that’s the nature of a shared universe: when you have multiple writers working on the same story, you produce slightly different iterations of the same scene, which is something I love about the process. It opens the door for rich and creative discussions such as this. It’s amazing that fans are reading so deeply into this moment and having this conversation. It’s a great way to interpret why Rey’s doing what she’s doing.
To take this a little further, there’s another scene in the junior novel of The Last Jedi after the moment when Rey tells Luke that she doesn’t know who her parents are. I have Luke go back to his hut where he thinks about the first time he confronted Vader in the cave on Dagobah. He returns to that memory and realizes that he may have known who his father was even before his father said it on Cloud City. I wanted to impart the sense that at the time he couldn’t articulate it, but that children sometimes know, instinctually or emotionally, more than they can express. It doesn’t change anything, because it’s older Luke looking back at younger Luke, so the memories and interpretations can be varied, especially since he’s looking at it from a different perspective. I just thought it could be a good parallel to talk about Rey denying who her parents might be and Luke reflecting on his own past with his father, his own struggle.
BD: That makes sense because, in that scene with Kylo when she finally admits it, it is more of an acceptance. It’s not so much a revelation. I mean, he says, “You know, you’ve always known.”
MK: Yes. Exactly. One of the great things is there’s a lot of wiggle room here. There’s a lot going on. It’s open to interpretation, and it leads to more creativity.
BD: In The Last Jedi, where Rey’s training near the huge rock with a lightsaber on Ahch-To, cutting around it without touching it, and Luke is seen looking disapprovingly at her, gruffly. Fans were initially thinking he’s just simply like, “I wish this student would just leave,” but now, because of egoshoppe’s GIF, some fans are wondering, “Oh, is Luke recognizing Ben’s lightsaber style? What is this? Is that recognition another brick in that wall that makes him feel like, ‘I don’t want to go down this path again?’”
MK: See, that’s another interesting way to look at it. I don’t think that specific direction was ever given for that scene, but it’s a great interpretation. I like that conversation.
BD: As a fan, you’d be fully for the idea that maybe someone can actually take someone’s knowledge as a Force user or be given it?
MK: I wouldn’t want to say it concretely. You know, I think when we make those hard and fast rules about the Force in Star Wars, sometimes, we end up classifying everything in a manual.
BD: Sure. It’s restrictive.
MK: Right. It’s restrictive. I think the Force is beyond just a rules-based system. I think it works for individuals and every individual has their own way to tap into it. At least that’s what I’ve contemplated when writing about the Force in the Star Wars saga. You know, the Jedi Order codified the Force and they had their own approach to the Force, but maybe that’s not the only way access the Force. Those who use the dark side, the Sith, they have a different method.
BD: You could argue that all of the movies have been an evolution of the Jedi thought process in regards to that approach to the Force. And thank you so much for geeking out with me about Star Wars. It was fantastic.
MK: Of course! I love talking about the books and the movies like this. It’s positive way to approach the material and break it down and think beyond it. And it gives the material value.
Among other works, MICHAEL KOGGE is the writer of Empire of the Wolf, an original graphic novel about a war of werewolves in ancient Rome. Fanbase Press interviewed both him and artist Dan Parsons about the creation of the graphic novel in 2018. He resides online at michaelkogge.com or on @michaelkogge on Twitter.