10 Questions with Ian Doescher, Best-Selling Author of William Shakespeare's Star Wars

Ian Doescher, photo by Shan Applegate
Ten Question with Ian Doescher,  
Author of William Shakespeare's Star Wars

Today I am honored to host Ian Doescher, friend and New York Times Best-Selling Author (!) of William Shakespeare's Star Wars. My friendship with Ian pre-dates his writing career, and it has been quite the whirlwind adventure watching his burgeoning writing career! He still maintains a nine to five day job, but he and his family are enjoying quite the voyage around the country this summer to launch his book.

William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher

Please welcome Ian and feel free to leave a question or comment for him in the comments section! I'm sure he'd love to connect with fans and future readers, as well as all of you aspiring writers and authors who read this blog.

Here goes!

1. First things first, let's get something out of the way. My mom taught you in elementary school, I'm featuring you on my blog, you're married to my childhood best friend, and you now own my grandparents' house. Let's call a spade a spade. To me, this all means - my family is directly responsible for your genius. Thoughts?

ID: Definitely.  In fact, the idea didn't come to me until al of those events had happened, so it must be due to the perfect alignment of the Garrigues planets.(Ha! Thanks for indulging me.)

2. Kidding! Seriously, you were already a genius. I think. We just get the honor of knowing the man who married the literary titan of William Shakespeare with the film titan of George Lucas' Star Wars in person. Lucky us. :)... So, how the heck did you come up with the idea to marry the two? Did you just see potential dollar signs dancing in front of your eyes with the realization that you are taking the world's two most popular franchises and meshing them into one? This is like real-life literary Frankenstein.

ID: There was a lot of serendipity involved.  I watched the Star Wars trilogy with some friends from high school in April last year, then read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (published by Quirk Books), and right after that went to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival with my family.  It was this mix of things swirling around in my subconscious -- mashup-literature, Star Wars and Shakespeare -- that put the idea in my head.  And of course I knew I was picking two hugely popular cultural icons, so though I can't claim to have had visions of dollar signs, I will admit to thinking there was a good chance it would be successful.

3. Would you say that conjuring up Shakespeare and Han Solo was more inspirational or frightening? Big shoes to fill. Did you ever find yourself crying, "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!"

ID: There were definitely moments when I thought to myself, "I'm having a hard enough time even getting this line into iambic pentameter, to say nothing of being clever or witty or metaphorical or whatever."  I really have no idea how Shakespeare did it.  And I knew I would be watched closely by every Star Wars fan everywhere for how I handled a few scenes.  So far, so good.  I haven't been accosted on the street.  Yet.

4. This is your first book. (Congrats!!) What surprised you about the publishing industry?
ID: First of all I have to admit to incredible luck in getting this book published.  I emailed Quirk Books with the idea, they responded and said they would read a sample, I wrote a sample, and they wrote back and said, essentially, "let's do it."  All just under a year ago today.  It's not supposed to happen like that, and I don't take my luck for granted.  The big surprises along the way are little things I've learned -- things like how complex a literary contract can be, how early a final manuscript is needed to hit a certain publication date, and just how many copies a book sells when it becomes a bestseller (fewer than you probably think).  I was surprised on all three of those, and others.
5. What advice would you have to unpublished writers?

ID: Keep trying.  Don't be afraid to email people out of the blue with your samples.  Find an agent.  Do it because it gives you joy, not because you think it will be a career.

6. What's your next project? Walt Whitman's Avatar? Herman Melville's Titanic? George Carlin's Simpsons? F. Scott Fitzgerald's ET?

ID: I love the idea of Herman Melville's Titanic -- wish I'd thought of that one.  It would have 400 pages of intense details about glacial formations, the Atlantic ocean and the ship itself, and then 25 pages of Kate and Leo's romance.  For my next project, I think it would be great fun to do the rest of the original Star Wars trilogy -- there's more I can do there, I think.  I'm developing a children's book with a friend of mine, too.  So we'll see!  I will say that for the last several months, knowing my first book was coming out, I have felt an intense pressure to figure out what the next one will be.

7. Who are your literary heroes? (Clearly, we already know one of them.)

ID: Alphabetically -- since I wouldn't dare rank them -- and ranging from long dead to still writing: Jane Austen, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, David James Duncan, Tana French, Theodor Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss), Alex Haley, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Herman Melville, Sena Jeter Naslund, William Shakespeare (indeed!), Zadie Smith.

8. Please share your bio in iambic pentameter.


Meet Ian Doescher, now age thirty-six,
Who all his life has loved the Star Wars flicks.
In eighth grade he discovered Startford's Bard,
And for that gentle poet he fell hard.
A Portland native, Ian travelled east,
And spent twelve years in higher ed (at least!).
Now back in Portland, he enjoys his life
With two great kids and world's most awesome wife.
This William Shakespeare's Star Wars, his first book,
Is something that he hopes you'll give a look!

9. Please tell me why everyone should buy your book in iambic pentameter.

‘Tis said that William Shakespeare, all his days,
Hath written only thirty-seven plays.
‘Tis said, as well, George Lucas never slipp’d
To Stratford, so to write his famous script.
But what if those two souls had been as one,
Their works combin’d as not to be outdone?
What if, long time ago in days of yore,
The bard hath written Star Wars, Ep’sode Four?
What if A New Hope were young Shakespeare’s work?
Would not such an event be thought a quirk—
An accident of time and history,
And sign of a galactic mystery?
Good souls, to thee my news I do rehearse:
Of th’Star Wars story penn’d in Shakespeare’s verse.
Hast thou e’er wondered how Luke’s thoughts did run,
When he saw Tatooine’s great double sun?
Or hast thou heard the dirge that Leia sang
Once Alderaan hath gone out with a bang?
How did the knave Han Solo understand
His transformation unto hero grand?
Upon these answers thou shalt have thy looks
In William Shakespeare’s Star Wars from Quirk Books.
The book is at a bookstore near to thee,
And always, friends, the Force with you shall be.

10. Any last words for William Shakespeare, George Lucas or Quirk Books?
ID: Thank you, thank you, and thank you.  All three have have been huge and very kind to me (in different ways) throughout this process.

BONUS Question - This interview is coming out just after you learned your book debuted at #12 on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction best selling list. WOW! Share your giddy joy with the world in a sentence.

ID: The news about the Times list has been unbelievable for me because I'm just a normal guy who had an idea; I am beyond honored to be on the list.  (I cheated and separated two sentences by a semicolon!)

Ian - Thanks for taking this interview. May The (Sales) Force Be With You!

And for all you writercizers out there, may this interview inspire a writercize! Pick an author and match it to a seemingly unrelated film, song or play. See what magic transpires! I always love to see your work, so please share as you are willing in the comments section!

Comments welcome directed at Ian or in response to the suggested writercize.