Building Your Empire One Book at a Time
How did you become a Star Wars fan?
I saw the movie for the first time when it came out in 1977. I was 6 and didn't understand it all. But I saw it some more, played with the action figures and got the amazing Roscoe Lee Brown-narrated audio version...which I memorized. Remember, this was before VHS, so that cassette tape was the closest thing to watching the movie again.
How did you get the idea to write a book about origami Yoda?
I saw a picture on the Boing Boing blog of Fukiami Kawahata's incredible Yoda. But I knew it was too hard for me to fold. I'm really not that good at origami. So I dabbled around and made a very simple one, which turned out to work as a finger puppet. From there the idea of a kid taking the puppet to school just evolved.
Did your story always include an origami Yoda or did you ever consider using any other kind of finger puppet or prop?
Yoda was the inspiration for the book and was the focus as I wrote it. But later, when we thought Lucasfilm might not let us use Yoda we did consider using a non-Star Wars puppet. Thank the maker, Lucasfilm was 100% fantastic and gave us permission.
What was your angle when you pitched your book idea to the publisher?
I remember asking my agent to tell the publisher that the book was about wanting to believe in something.
How did you decide to structure the book in a case file format?
Originally, the book was just going to be short stories about Origami Yoda. But then the story arc came along and that sort of required one character to be pulling all the separate stories together. My editor really crystalized the idea of a case file.
What kind of research did you do before writing the book?
Well, I went to middle school for three years. Three LONG painful years.
You are a columnist for the Roanoke Times in Virginia. How did the process of writing The Strange Case of Origami Yoda differ from writing for the newspaper?
When you write for a newspaper you can't make stuff up. That sounds obvious, but it can really be hard to tell a story when you don't know basic stuff. "See Jimmy run." Do you know for a fact that he ran? Maybe it he just walked fast. etc... It's a big pain. So much more fun to just make up whatever you want.
"Always in motion the future is..."
What's your favorite Star Wars character and why?
Yoda. He's pretty important to me. People might be surprised to hear this but I do not like Yoda jokes, parodies, etc... I have a deep respect for Yoda and his message of turning away from anger and hate.
SWBookZone recently interviewed Chris Alexander, a Star Wars origami artist that you link to on your website. Have you met him?
I haven't met Chris yet, but I'm hoping he'll be at Celebration [V]. I think his origami Millennium Falcon is absolutely incredible. I have one on my desk and look at it in amazement from time to time.
What's next for you?
A trip to Star Wars Celebration V to teach people how to fold Origami Yoda, Vader and Ackbar!
A big thanks to Tom Angleberger for taking the time to share his story with SWBookZone.com. For more information about Tom and The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, visit Tom's website at origamiyoda.com.
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