I am glad to welcome Becca Benjamin as my guest for March 2017! I met Becca through the Star Wars Twitter community (so many amazing women there!).
NG: How were you first introduced to Science Fiction?
BENJAMIN:My parents. My Dad watched Star Trek a lot, but it never really clicked with me. It wasn’t until the summer of 1978 where it sucked me in. I was going on my fourth birthday when I first saw the original Star Wars and it was my first theater experience too. I’ve been hooked ever since. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
NG: What place does Science Fiction have in your life?
BENJAMIN: What place? Well, to be honest, all of it. It’s something I just do, it’s kind of … a verb. From blogging about it, to podcasting, and just being a normal fan of it.
NG: What are your three favorite Science books, movies, and TV shows?
BENJAMIN: That’s a hard one. Especially, since I mostly read Star Wars for review purposes, so that brand tends to take up most of my time and of course, my favorite slots.
Books: The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyers, yes, it is considered Science Fiction/Fantasy, Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray, and Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover (I tend to reference this one a lot).
Movies: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story holds the top spot right now, it surpassed all my expectations tenfold, E.T. the extra-terrestrial, and Harry Potter: The Deathly Hollows (Parts 1 and 2).
TV shows: Stranger Things, yes, I binged watched these in 24 hours. It’s that good! Salem on WGN, I’ve always had a thing for witches and this show is the remedy to my fixation. Unfortunately, I don’t have a 3rd Science Fiction TV show, but I do have an addiction to Vikings on the History Channel.
NG: What do you like most in the Star Wars universe?
BENJAMIN: That’s not an easy nor a fair question lol! But, if I had to choose one thing, I’d say the “lore.” Right now, is a great time to be a Star Wars fan! Seriously, we are learning so much about the Force and its many different factions that exist throughout the galaxy.
NG: How did you start writing about Star Wars?
BENJAMIN: I started writing about Star Wars shortly after Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith came out in theaters. I couldn’t get the relationship of Anakin and Padme out of my head, so I began to jot down my thoughts in a notebook. Not long after that I subscribed to a blogroll on the official Star Wars site (back then anyone could blog on StarWars.com, so long as you had a paid subscription. Eventually my notes turned into fan-fiction and caught the attention of Lucasfilm artist, Steve Anderson and that’s how I began titling his LE Star Wars Celebration prints.
NG: Can you tell us about your experience with the Cantina Cast, Tarkin’s Top Shelf, and Coffee with Kenobi?
BENJAMIN: Well, that could be a blog all on its own. Ok then, I guess it’s best to start at the beginning, so I’ll begin with Coffee with Kenobi.
As you know, Coffee with Kenobi is run by Dan Zehr and Cory Clubb, and their podcast launched alongside a literary companion which is the website. That said, I met Dan Zehr years earlier on the official Star Wars site through the blogging circuit, and we had remained friends even after the blogs were shut down. So, when he approached me on contributing to his new endeavor it was an immediate “yes” from me. Shortly after that, I was approached by The Cantina Cast to guest on their show, and possibly help them launch a website that would act as a complimentary piece to their existing show. Long story short, I accepted and became their Editor-in-Chief for their web page. Of course, this gig eventually grew into something much more as I began to do more, and more book reviews. The new canonical novels became a feeding frenzy to a lot of Star Wars fans and written book reviews weren’t cutting it. And that is how Tarkin’s Top Shelf came about. However, there was one hiccup, my fear of public speaking. Let’s just say, that’s all water under the bridge now and my little literary podcast has turned into something far greater than I thought possible. Mark Sutter, my cohost, and I very proud of the show!
NG: In light of Carrie Fisher’s passing in December 2016, what influence did she have on you?
BENJAMIN: I’m still struggling with the reality of this and it hasn’t really gotten easier, can’t even begin to fathom what her family and friends are going through. Carrie was beyond special for so many, many reasons and as her brother Todd said, “Leia was just the vehicle,” Carrie was so much more … If you don’t mind, I’d like to attach the tribute I wrote in her honor that expresses and explains in length, my respects and regards for the late Carrie Fisher. (NG: I don’t mind at all, thank you so much for sharing it!)
NG: Do you think that Science Fiction is a genre welcoming to women?
BENJAMIN: I think it is more so now that it was a decade ago, and it’s continuously making strides to be more inclusive to all, not just women. Of course, it still has a long way to go.
NG: Do you think Science Fiction helps fostering discussion about women’s issues?
BENJAMIN: Well, as I said above, it’s making strides, but it still isn’t quite there. Not yet. But, Star Wars has stepped-up to the challenge with the newest films i.e. Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Jyn, in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. But, it’s not just the films, the new books, both YA and novelizations have been featuring equally strong female leads, and have also included a mother and daughter connection which is new to Star Wars (Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel).
NG: What are you mostly looking forward in the future of the Star Wars franchise?
BENJAMIN: Well, right now? I’m looking forward to The Last Jedi. But, in full scope, I’m excited to see where Kathleen Kennedy and Co. is going to take us. I’d love to see exactly what connection or hold, the Force has on the Skywalker family, and what that means for the future of the galaxy at large. That said, I hope they continue with the diversity of casting going forward, it broadens the universe and it only adds to George’s ongoing theme of ambiguity. After all, that’s why this franchise is the way it is. It’s generational and it seems to never run out of questions. So, the more it expands, the more we can expound upon on it. And that, is what makes it a phenomenal fandom.
NG: Thank you very much for accepting my invitation, Becca! I am sure my readers will be glad to check out your different projects!