'Star Wars: Women Of The Galaxy' Author Amy Ratcliffe On Creating Her Essential Resource For Fans

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The women of Star Wars have always been one of the most marvelous parts of the galaxy far, far away. The only problem is that if you've only dipped your toes into the original canon, it might seem like there aren't that many of them. Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia was a groundbreaking, Hutt-slaying, smart-mouthed, badass heroine, but other than her, the original trilogy was scarce on women with speaking roles. In the prequels we got Princess Amidala, but it's once you delve into the larger world of Star Wars that you really get to explore the brilliant women of the galaxy.

Luckily for all of us, huge Star Wars fan Amy Ratcliffe and Lucasfilm have put together an absolutely splendid hardcover encyclopedia and art book that's filled with the fantastic female characters who inhabit the galaxy that we love so much. Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy is available now and we were able to speak with Ratcliffe about how this whole endeavor came together.

Finding Star Wars

Ratcliffe found her love for Star Wars in her twenties, and from there, the vibrant space opera became a major passion:

"I didn't see Star Wars until I was about 16 when the original trilogy was re-released in theaters. I just wasn't exposed to much sci-fi beyond Star Trek: The Next Generation in my household, and I don't even remember ever hearing of Star Wars or seeing toys when I'd play with my cousins as a kid. Then, I didn't fully get into/become obsessed with Star Wars until Star Wars: The Clone Wars arrived in 2008. I enjoyed the hell out of the original trilogy and the prequels when I saw them, but it just didn't click until later. When The Clone Wars came out, I was at a different place in my life (figuratively and literally as I had just moved from Ohio to Los Angeles). Being involved with Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, and SG-1 fandoms online (LiveJournal shout-out!!) made me more comfortable with expressing my geek loves openly (I had held onto memories of being the awkward kid reading fantasy novels in high school), so I was ready to engage with fellow Star Wars fans when the animated series came out and then I fell head over heels and revisited the films multiple times."

One of the things that made her fall so hard for the franchise was a certain Padawan introduced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars:

"Ahsoka Tano one hundred percent played a role in my becoming a Star Wars fan. Here was this Padawan of Anakin Skywalker's that we had no idea about, and she's sassy, sometimes bratty, and just relatable with her flaws. She's thrown into this weird kind of worst case scenario when the Jedi are fighting in a war, and she has to not only grow up, but learn how to be a warrior type of Jedi and lead hundreds of beings into battle. And she makes mistakes, learns, picks herself up, and rises to the occasion again and again."

When it came to putting the book together, getting the chance to highlight some of the lesser known women of Star Wars was a huge draw for Ratcliffe:

"Once you get into the animated series and then into novels and comics, so many female characters are part of the story. I read and watch as much Star Wars as I can, and I especially love the different types of stories the novels – both for adults and young adults – tell, so I was thrilled to include so many characters from the books such as Jas Emari, Ciena Ree, and Rae Sloane. All of them are remarkable. Like, Rae Sloane in particular, has a path that crosses the events in the films so many times; she plays a huge role in the Empire's last moments on Jakku and then forming the First Order. My hope is that fans who maybe aren't familiar with those characters will be inspired to track down their stories and learn more."

Star Wars and The Clone Wars in particular shaped Amy's life in a way that was totally unexpected and led to her thriving journalistic career:

"It's because of The Clone Wars that I figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I've always enjoyed writing the occasional essay or travel diary, but wanting a place to discuss my Clone Wars feels, led to me realizing like, duh, I should start a blog and write about all the nerdy things I enjoy. I joined Twitter at about the same time and sought fellow Star Wars fans to geek out with. Many, many hours of writing and a few years later, I started contributing to StarWars.com and then Star Wars Insider magazine. Those experiences definitely helped me get a little more insight into the galaxy and the people working on telling stories within it."

From Fan to Creator

Making the leap from fan to creator is one that many of us dream about, and for Ratcliffe it was the chance of a lifetime to work with the company that had created so many of the stories she loved:

"My editor at Chronicle Books reached out to me about 'a big upcoming book project' and asked if I was interested. He gave me a brief description of the project in that initial email. I was in disbelief. I'd dreamed of working on a Star Wars book, so I was hugely excited. I submitted some samples, and then we moved forward from there. I'm so thankful for the opportunity."

Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy is a smorgasbord of strong female characters for the whole family to enjoy, and Ratcliffe tells us she was particularly passionate about including heroes from the entire spectrum of the galactic canon:

"Chronicle Books and Lucasfilm worked together to come up with the list, and they were kind enough to entertain some suggestions and ideas I had. We really wanted to be inclusive of characters from across all the different mediums of Star Wars storytelling, even up to recent releases like Solo and Star Wars Resistance, and to highlight women beyond the heroes and villains, e.g. Leia and Phasma. I wanted to showcase the wide number of professions and alignments, if you will, in the universe."

The Unbelievable Art

The book features an unbelievable lineup of 18 incredible artists: Alice X. Zhang, Amy Beth Christenson, Annie Stoll, Annie Wu, Christina Chung, Cryssy Cheung, Eli Baumgartner, Elsa Charretier, Geneva Bowers, Jennifer Aberin Johnson, Jen Bartel, Jenny Parks, Karen Hallion, Little Corvus, Sara Alfageeh, Sara Kipin, Sarah Wilkinson, and Viv Tanner. And Ratcliffe was quick to gush about the radical roster of women and non-binary creators who bring the characters to life in the pages of the book:

"Oh my gosh, the art in this book is incredible. I cannot get over how gorgeous each portrait is. The 18 artists who contributed to the book really crushed it with their work. They each illustrated the characters in their own style, and it makes the book unique because you've never seen the characters illustrated like this (or in the case of some book characters, e.g. teenage Phasma, you've never seen them at all). So much personality comes through in each image – personality from the artist and the character. This project is so meaningful because if you look back at the original trilogy, it's hard to imagine the galaxy having 75 female characters we could profile in a book. And now, we couldn't even include all the characters we wanted to. We're learning about new characters with every story released. I know how much that counts for me, and that feeling, I think is why it's important to have these particular artists as part of the book."

The Women of the Galaxy

Though Ahsoka Tano was the one who made Ratcliffe fall in love with Star Wars, there are plenty of other wonderful women she wanted to celebrate in the pages of the book:

"I've already gushed about Ahsoka – she's my absolute fave and I just want to be her best friend, okay – but I'm delighted to highlight other women I adore. Mon Mothma is one of them. I find her fascinating because she once wanted to sort of quietly rebel by trying to work against Palpatine within politics, the 'right way' so to speak. But she can't. She ends up speaking out about Palpatine's horrible acts, even though she knows it will put her on a most wanted list. She carries a heavy burden through the Galactic Civil War, but even more so later once the New Republic starts. She's lived a life of service, which is selfless and I think very inspiring. And also, I have huge heart eyes for Derla Pidys, a sommelier and savvy businesswoman who knows how to play the game in Canto Bight and also has an impeccable palate. Maybe I actually want to be her best friend.

I definitely had some surprises while researching the characters in this book. In a couple of cases, I was surprised because I wasn't familiar with the character, like with Princess Trios. She first appears in the Darth Vader comic, and I admit that I fall behind with the comics here and there because I wait for them to pile up so I can do a proper binge. She's an interesting, calculating character who finds a way to work with and kind of use Darth Vader despite being afraid of him. And then in other cases, I'd forgotten about some details in a character's history. For example, once when someone called Asajj Ventress a 'pretty bald babe,' she just killed him."

And Ratcliffe is equally as exhilarated for fans to meet the sterling cast of characters included in the book's pages:

"I cannot wait for fans to see the art in this book. Flipping through the pages and being greeted by one stunning illustration after another is truly a gift. I feel like the book practically glows. Beyond that, I hope they find some inspiration from these women whenever they need it."