The world of Star Wars is about so much more than the movies, and that was on full display at this year’s Star Wars Celebration held in Chicago earlier this month. While the movies were certainly a popular topic, the books and comics were on the minds of most convention-goers, too, proving that Star Wars is much more than a thing that many of us enjoy — for some of us, it’s a lifestyle.
That lifestyle has, in part, been shaped by the works of John Jackson Miller, a former editor-in-chief of the “Daily Beacon” — yes, the Volunteers are being represented in a galaxy far, far away.
A 1990 graduate of the University of Tennessee, he’s been with Star Wars since before the 2012 purchase by Disney, writing various books and comics under the famed golden-yellow logo. He is the co-author of “Star Wars” novel “Canto Bight,” and author of other "Star Wars" novels such as “Kenobi,” “A New Dawn" and contributed a short story to “From A Certain Point of View,” a book composed of stories from different authors, telling the events of the beginning of “Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope” from different characters’ perspectives. He has also written for the “Star Wars: Legends, Knights of the Old Republic” series. This man knows Star Wars, and well.
In Miller's own words, he’s an author of “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” “Halo” and “Mass Effect.”
“I’ve done a whole lot of different things … but before any of that, I was a journalism student at the University of Tennessee,” Miller said. “I used to say I was majoring in ‘Beacon’ — I was skipping class so I could work on articles.”
As most journalists know, you have to be prepared for everything all of the time and the start of his “Beacon” journey is a testament to just that.
“'The Beacon' was a bit of an adventure. I had trouble, in the beginning, finding my niche,” Miller said. “I was in the office one day and the editor ran down and said, ‘The governor is upstairs!’ No one was in the office except for me, and so I grabbed my pad and ran upstairs. The governor at the time was Lamar Alexander … starting with that event, I decided that I liked being on the front page.”
When asked about how reporting for “The Daily Beacon” had helped him in his career, he said helped him work under a deadline pressure.
“'The Beacon' got me used to hitting deadlines, to writing for an audience,” Miller said. “As I said to the staff when I came back (to the Beacon) in 2014, the most important thing you can do is to write for someone who will read it.”
Most aspiring journalists and authors would love to work with a franchise that we love, and Miller is doing just that: working with a franchise that he has loved and been invested in for most of his life.
“It is kind of fun to be able to technically go to work in a galaxy far, far away,” Miller said. “The things that you worry about on another job are not nearly as fun as the things you worry about here: How does the Force work? How do lightsabers work?”
His biggest regret from his time at “The Daily Beacon”?
“I tried to get people to say “Beacon speakin'’’ when they answered the office phone,” Miller said. “It never caught on.”
You can purchase Miller’s works wherever fine books are sold or visit his website.