From Star Wars to Victorian England
During my time with Walt Disney Records, I had the great fun of writing storybooks and audio programs based on Disney characters and on film properties licensed from other studios, including Lucasfilm, the producer of Star Wars. You can read about it here.
As a Lucasfilm licensee, I was invited to visit Skywalker Ranch, George Lucas’s newly built headquarters. Not knowing what to expect, I flew to San Francisco and drove over the Golden Gate Bridge into the rolling hills of Marin County, just north of the city. A country road wound its way among trees and around lakes into Lucas Valley—named, surprisingly, not for George but for John, a nineteenth-century rancher.
The big surprise, though, was the headquarters itself. With profits from his futuristic films, George Lucas had built his studio to resemble a Victorian estate, with a sprawling main house and outbuildings on a lake.
Entering the house, I was greeted by a tall woman with sandy hair and a friendly smile. She was Lucy Autrey Wilson, who coordinated publishing licenses and would be my contact at Lucasfilm. She walked me around the property, describing how “George” had imported artisans and craftspeople from Europe, and they had lived on the property during its construction.
Wilson, it turned out, had been Lucas’s first permanent employee, handling everything from accounting to typing the first Star Wars script. At a desk piled high with books, she told me about her plans to create a Star Wars publishing program. She would have been surprised to learn that, today, the program includes more than 1,500 titles, including 63 New York Times bestsellers.
I was privileged to work with her on a few of those books and to spend time with her at Skywalker Ranch, that beautiful place where Star Wars meets Victorian England.
You can learn more about Lucy Autrey Wilson, an icon of publishing and SF fandom, in this recent interview.