Writing William Shakespeare’s The Force Doth Awaken was unlike writing the previous six books in the Shakespeare Star Wars series (the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy), because like everyone else I encountered The Force Awakens for the first time on December 17, 2015. No, I didn’t get any advance knowledge of the script and I had no prescreening of the movie—I bought my ticket like any other fan.
Unlike other fans, though, I was watching with an eye toward how Shakespeare—or at least my approximation of him—might tell the story.
And then the writing began. As in my other books, I enjoyed playing with language and giving different characters unique patterns of speech. The Force Awakens introduced a new cast of heroes, and each of them has something unique to their lines: Rey’s longer soliloquies reference fan theories about her lineage, each line Finn speaks includes the letters of his stormtrooper name, BB-8’s lines can be deciphered using a skip code, and each of Poe Dameron’s lines includes a phrase from the poems of Edgar Allen Poe. (I couldn’t resist that Poe/Poe connection. If you’re keeping score at home, I literally referenced every single Poe poem in Poe Dameron’s lines.)
Those elements are related to characters in The Force Awakens, but other things I threw in was purely for fun. Part of the joy of not actually being Shakespeare is that I get to add stuff to my books that Shakespeare never would have. Ever since my first book, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, I’ve sprinkled Easter eggs throughout my books to amuse myself and the observant reader who finds them. I won’t give everything away—you’ll have to go hunting if you want to find everything in William Shakespeare’s The Force Doth Awaken—but here are a dozen things to watch for:
- Max von Sydow, who plays Lor San Tekka in The Force Awakens, is known for so many wonderful roles. I dropped a reference to one of my favorites in one of Lor’s lines.
- The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is one of my favorite shows—pure joy on screen. So of course there’s an Easter egg for Kimmy.
- I have a weak spot for Taylor Swift, and included a reference to one of her songs that was popular while I was writing.
- The Proclaimers’ biggest hit gets a mention in a speech from Finn.
- In introducing The Force Awakens to the world, Lucasfilm announced that their Expanded Universe would be going away. I pay brief tribute to the EU in one of Han’s lines.
- Ernest Shackleton’s journey to the South Pole was advertised in newspapers with a remarkably honest description. That description is found as a character in William Shakespeare’s The Force Doth Awaken describes a similarly perilous life.
- “Be calm and carry on” has been parodied and memed to death in the last few years, and now I’ve done it, too.
- As we all know, Daniel Craig had a hidden cameo as a stormtrooper guarding Rey. Did I pass up the opportunity to acknowledge 007? Of course not.
- At one point, talking to Han, Finn references an Indiana Jones line because why not?
- During one of Rey’s speech, my Shakespearean parody takes a decidedly Dickensian turn. I have no idea why—it just sort of happened.
- No one is a bigger fan of the musical Hamilton than I am (no, you’re not, nice try). So of course there’s a Hamilton
- Chewbacca, in mourning his fallen friend, borrows lines from a famous Walt Whitman poem.
Happy hunting! If you have half as much fun reading William Shakespeare’s The Force Doth Awaken as I had writing it, my work here is complete. OUT NOW FROM QUIRK BOOKS.