Interview: George Mann on writing The High Republic: Tales of Enlightenment

George Mann has written many stories within The High Republic, collected in the latest book 'Tales of Enlightenment'
Star Wars The High Republic Phase III promo image. Image Credit:
Star Wars The High Republic Phase III promo image. Image Credit: /

From his canon short story collection Myths & Fables to his many contributions to The High Republic publishing initiative, George Mann has become one of Star Wars' most prolific authors. In The High Republic, Mann has written short stories, comics, audio dramas, illustrated children’s books, and novels. His most recently released work is the short story collection Star Wars: The High Republic: Tales of Enlightenment, with each tale set on Jedha in the tap bar known as Enlightenment.

After reading Tales of Enlightenment, which you can see our review here, we had the chance to interview Mann about these stories, their connections to other eras of Star Wars, and the overall experience of creating stories within The High Republic. Check out our interview below:

Dork Side of the Force: Star Wars: The High Republic: Tales of Enlightenment and Star Wars: The High Republic: Tales of Light and Life partially serve as an epilogue to the story of Rooper Nitani, who first debuted in your novel Star Wars: Quest for the Hidden City. Does Rooper’s story feel complete to you, or do you feel that there is still more to her story?

George Mann: Well, I feel like we’ve seen a good chunk of her story, and if we were going to stop here I’d be happy she’s had a good showing. But saying that, I would LOVE to tell more stories about Silandra and Rooper, if the opportunity arises. I think there are so many more stories to be told about the Pathfinders in general, and so much more for Rooper to discover about herself and the galaxy at large.

Kradon, the owner of Enlightenment, is a Villarandi, a species never seen in Star Wars before. How is the process of creating a new species different from creating other new characters?

Well, in this specific instance, it was my colleague Cavan Scott who created Kradon, for use in his Marvel Comics series. When it became clear I was going to be working closely with him on the overall planning and execution of the Battle of Jedha, we got together and discussed how things were going to work. 

In general, the addition of new species is something we tend to do when there isn’t an existing species that fits what we’re looking for in terms of storytelling and diversity. In those instances, it tends to start with character. Who is the individual and why are they different? Once we have that there’s sometimes a process of getting concept art created.

It's not something we do just for the sake of it, but when it feels appropriate or necessary.

What do you think happens to Enlightenment after Phase II? Is it still there during Phases I or III, and is it still around by the time of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story?

I’d like to think the bar goes on to survive right up until the events of Rogue One. Who’s behind the bar at that point? Who knows? But I suspect Villarandi are pretty long lived!

The Path of the Open Hand and the Brotherhood of the Ninth Door are two antagonistic groups in Phase II, including in Star Wars: The Battle of Jedha. Why did you want to feature members of these groups in less antagonistic roles in Tales of Enlightenment?

That’s an interesting question! It was very purposeful. I’m not a big believer in the idea that cultures, societies or sects are just black and white, monoculture good or evil. Look at any group of people, even those brought together by a common cause, and you’ll see a huge variance in the outlook of individuals. I wanted to capture some of that in these stories. To show the perspective of someone from the Path in a way that wasn’t painting them as extremists, or simply people who’d fallen for the manipulation of the Mother. The story in Tales was an attempt to show readers something more about their perspective. With the Brotherhood, it was about showing that someone isn’t fundamentally bad just because they’ve embraced the dark side – it’s a dangerous path, but one that might be walked for reasons other than a hunger for power. People might turn to the dark side out of fear, or guilt, or the desire to do what’s right. So, I wanted to explore a bit of that here.

Tales of Enlightenment and The Battle of Jedha provide insight into the Church of the Force, which was first introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. How does the Church of the Force change from The High Republic era to the time period of The Force Awakens?

I think it’s repressed and suppressed by the Empire. So during The High Republic era it’s a recognized religion, but with clear support throughout the wider Republic and beyond. By the time we see them in the sequel era, they’re hiding from the First Order and basically outlawed. They’ve had to go underground.

Keth Cerepath is one of my favorite characters in all of The High Republic, and his friends Piralli and Moona get more of a chance to shine in Tales of Enlightenment. What do you hope audiences take away from the arcs of Keth, Piralli, and Moona in Tales of Enlightenment and The Battle of Jedha?

I love those guys. I really wanted to show the perspective of some of the local people on Jedha in these stories. We tend to see everything from the perspective of the heroes and villains, the Force wielders and planetary governors. I think this was about showing that normal people can be heroic too, in many different ways.  That they have to live through the events set in motion by all these legendary characters, and that it impacts their lives every bit as much as it does a Jedi, or a politician, or an ambassador.

You’ve written The High Republic short stories, comics, audio dramas, illustrated children’s books, and novels targeted to different age groups. Which of these mediums is your favorite, and is there a particular medium that is more challenging or rewarding for you?

I love writing for them all! Each format or age group gives its own particular rewards, and I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity to write so widely for Star Wars and The High Republic

I suppose my background is in writing adult novels, so that’s probably my comfort zone, and I had a great time writing Star Wars: The Eye of Darkness, but some of my favorite things to come out of my writing for the series are the short stories in Tales of Enlightenment, too.

But then, Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures: The Nameless Terror series from Dark Horse Comics was another highlight…

You see the problem! I can’t choose.

The truth is, I just love writing Star Wars, in all its many forms!

What is the better establishment – Enlightenment or Dex’s Diner on Coruscant?

Ooh, tough one. I’d have to vote for Enlightenment, of course… but I love Dex too!

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Star Wars: The High Republic: Tales of Enlightenment is on sale from all good book shops, comic stores, and online NOW! This special edition contains six short tales, including a bonus story exclusive to this collection, as well as a complete guide to the award-winning second phase of The High Republic, and interviews with a selection of the authors!

And you can catch all-new and exclusive The High Republic Phase III stories in the current issues of Star Wars Insider.