"Evil? I've fought evil and it was easy: I shot it. It's apathy I can't stand."
A forensic archaeologist by trade, E.K. Johnston started writing fan fiction in 2002 and published her first book in 2014. She published five young adult novels, earning accolades from the New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, and more, before getting the opportunity to write in the Star Wars universe.
Her first Star Wars novel, 2016’s Ahsoka, tells the tale of Anakin Skywalker’s former padawan between the end of the Clone Wars and her reemergence as a rebel operative. After the chaotic events surrounding her departure from the Jedi Order and the conclusion of The Clone Wars, Johnston follows the popular character across the galaxy as she tries to stay one step ahead of the Empire and find her place in a galaxy turned upside down.
In the 2017 anthology From a Certain Point of View, Johnston revisited one of the characters she created for the novel, Miara Larte. After her experiences with Ahsoka, Larte settled as a refugee on Alderaan. She had become a starfighter pilot and a member of Alderaan’s consular security forces. Along with other Alderaanians, she had a place of honor at the front of the assembled Rebel forces in the old temple on Yavin IV where Luke Skywalker and Han Solo are recognized by Princess Leia for their role in destroying the Death Star. Johnston paints a picture of a rebellion mourning its losses while celebrating its heroes, and so far, the story is one of the strongest links between Anakin’s former padawan and his children.
Johnston makes no secret of her fondness for the prequel films and love of Padmé Amidala. In an interview with The Living Force Podcast, she notes that The Phantom Menace premiered on her fifteenth birthday and that she liked to think George Lucas had personally given her a birthday present.
Johnston’s first novel to feature Padmé, Queen’s Shadow, was published in 2019 and shows the former monarch’s transition from the throne of Naboo to the Galactic Senate. Fans of The Clone Wars series will enjoy seeing the beginnings of her relationships with the likes of Mina Bonteri and Bail Organa. We also get a close look at the friendship between Padmé and her closest friend, bodyguard, and decoy Sabé—and Johnston leaves us wondering if there are more stories to tell about Sabé in the years after the fall of the Republic.
Johnston’s next book, Queen’s Peril, came out in 2020 and serves as prequel to both Queen’s Shadow and the prequel trilogy itself. We see the young woman’s election as Queen of Naboo, and the formation of her group of handmaidens. For a group of individuals designed to blend in and be indistinguishable, Johnston excels at giving each their own personality and strengths—and then goes on to show them putting their talents to work as she deftly interleaves her narrative with the events of The Phantom Menace.
After the events of Order 66, survivors of the Jedi Purge must navigate the galaxy undetected. It's been a year since Ahsoka Tano watched the Galactic Republic fall, and she's leaving yet another planet to dodge Imperial suspicion and start over. Again. Something strange is happening, however, and she can't help but let her curiosity get her into serious trouble.
E.K. Johnston's young adult novel builds an important bridge between the Ahsoka we knew from The Clone Wars and the Fulcrum we meet in Star Wars Rebels. It's in this story that our hero must come to terms with her past and discover the role she is meant to play in her darkened galaxy's future.
What does one do after ruling an entire planet? For Padmé Amidala, that answer came easily: move on to even bigger things. However, transitioning from the throne on Naboo to a seat in the Galactic Senate is not without challenges, especially at such a young age. Uneasy alliances, ruthless media, and hidden agendas not only leave her wondering how she can possibly hope to instate positive change in the galaxy, but also how she can survive long enough to do it.
EK Johnston’s story bridges the gap between the Padmé fans see in The Phantom Menace and the one they see in Attack of the Clones. It largely expounds upon Naboo culture, including the fashion, government, and the role of the handmaidens.
In this prequel to 2019’s Queen’s Shadow, EK Johnston follows Padmé through her election as Queen of Naboo, her introduction to Captain Quarsh Panaka, and the assembly of her entourage of handmaidens. In individual vignettes, we see Panaka recruit each one and get a glimpse of the unique strengths each brings to the group, and the novel shows how they integrated into a cohesive team to serve and protect their Queen. Johnston deftly weaves this arc into the events going on in the galaxy at large, and we see how the foresight of Padmé and Panaka pay off as the handmaidens each play vital roles in the momentous events about to embroil their homeworld.
Along the way, Johnston successfully imbues each of these characters with unique personalities despite their work in a calling that demands they blend into the background. She also excels at portraying an ensemble of strong female protagonists who succeed because of their distinctly feminine strengths.
A truly unique and heroic feat in Star Wars publishing, From a Certain Point of View is a compilation of forty short stories by more than forty incredible authors to retell the story of A New Hope in celebration of its fortieth anniversary. Not only did Del Rey assemble a massive team consisting of their catalog of regular Star Wars writers such as Chuck Wendig, John Jackson Miller, and Claudia Gray, they managed to rope in many award-winning authors to pen their first stories in a galaxy far, far away. Such authors include Ken Liu, Sabaa Tahir, Zoraida Córdova, and Rae Carson. All of the book’s authors donated their pay to First Book, a nonprofit dedicated to improving literacy.
The stories represent the points of view of many of the notable side characters from A New Hope, such as Wedge Antilles, Greedo, and Grand Moff Tarkin. But they don’t stop there. The book benefits from forty years of expanding the Star Wars universe, and as such many characters not originally in the original film provide perspective in creative ways–Lando Calrissian, Yoda, Breha Organa, and even Qui-Gon Jinn! It is a compilation not only of characters and authors, but also styles and tones. At times heartbreaking, hilarious, and head-scratching. Some stories will connect differently with different readers. It certainly has something for everyone and is a remarkable read.