Stormtroopers, Stories, Star Wars … and Perspective
“I, Stormtrooper” was something I’d written a couple pages of notes about while still a middle-school student. I planned to write a story — perhaps even a novel — by that name. It was to be a telling of the original Star Wars trilogy from the perspective of an Imperial stormtrooper. Just a regular foot soldier, upset at the terrorists going around and shooting innocent recruits. (Those terrorists, of course, were Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and the rebels.)
I often caught myself pondering the perspective of innocent bystanders in movies. They guy who gets pushed out of the way and into the water when a high-speed chase zips by. The person who flees for cover when a shootout occurs. We follow the action, but I’ve always speculated: what was it like for that guy? Did he go home and tell his wife and kids, “you won’t believe what happened to me today!”
That’s something I find interesting in fiction. How does something like that leave a mark on an everyday person?
Perspective was something I played with in my writing often, but it wasn’t until I discovered the “novel in stories” format that I found a way to really put it into play.
It’d read connected stories before, but Joan Silber’s Ideas from Heaven really put it into perspective for me, so to speak. Each story connected to another in the book. Sometimes only as a paragraph or a line or two. The main nemesis of the first story is the main character of the last story—and in his own story he’s not nearly as bad a guy. That idea excited me. Again, it’s all about perspective.
Most of my longer fiction up to that point was strict novel. My short fiction was not connected. I had recently written three stories that, coincidentally, all had scenes on a train. That’s when I realized I had the perfect vehicle for my own novel in stories. Thus Tracks: A Novel in Stories was born — each story in the novel from the perspective of another passenger on the train, but all interconnecting — the side character of one story becoming the main character in another, one person’s story continuing as an aside in that of another passenger.
At the moment, I’m at work on another novel, this one more A to B with one main character. But I know that I won’t be able to help myself. There will be another novel in stories in my future.
As for “I, Stormtrooper …” it looks like J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kadsan beat me to it with Finn in the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If only I’d gotten my manuscript to Lucasfilm first. That sort of puts things in perspective.