Author Ken Liu speaks at final “Star Wars” event

Ken Liu, author of “The Legends of Luke Skywalker”, talks about his book displayed on table. COURTESY ETHAN COSTELLO.


Wednesday Nov. 29 marked the end of a series of Star Wars themed events put on by UW-Parkside’s College of Arts and Humanities. The college invited award winning writer Ken Liu, author of the recently published The Legends of Luke Skywalker, to speak about his new book, engage with students and offer advice for aspiring writers.

New book takes a new look

The tier-leveled lecture hall was packed full of students and faculty after attendees grabbed pizza and refreshments. Dean Leslie Walker opened the event by expressing her gratitude of the turnout and welcomed Liu to the campus. Jacqueline Kenny, assistant editor of Straylight Literary Magazine, introduced Liu with a brief account of his accomplishments and career. Following a hearty applause, Liu took the room and began his talk.

Liu summarized the concept of the book. The story revolves around a cargo ship crew who recounts tales they have heard about Luke Skywalker. Liu explained that the concept of this collection addresses concerns and doubts critical consumers may have about a historical or legendary figure; concerns about the truthfulness or validity of these stories are surrounding these legends.  

High school visit day

Liu’s visit to UW-Parkside coincided with a high school visitation day. Mary Lenard, Chair of the English Department, stated that the college’s annual high school visitation day has “been very attractive to art students and not so much to humanities’ students.” To appeal to students interested in humanities, they scheduled the talk with Liu, which brought in more visitors than any previous year.

Engagement with campus community

One of the groups were represented at the talk including Straylight Literary Magazine. Straylight has previous involvement with Liu. The magazine recently interviewed the author about his previous works for their upcoming issue which comes out at the end of the fall semester. Kenny was excited for the opportunity to meet Liu in person. Kenny stated, “It’s always a great experience to hear from an established author, especially such a well established one. His visit was a wonderful opportunity for all students, not just English majors, because it enabled them to learn more about the literary world.”

Encouragement for young writers

Kenny was not the only one ecstatic at his visit. Many students and faculty asked a number of questions about his career, his process and his motivation. One student asked Liu how a writer might overcome self-criticism of their own concepts, questioning how they would ever appeal to an audience and attain success.

“There’s so much conflicting advice… ignore all that. The only reader whose mind you have to is your own. You can only write for that reader in your head,” said Liu. Despite the many methods and processes members of the writing community attempt to impress upon others, Liu stressed that a writer should first satisfy their own internal critic first, and then the audience will come.


Star Wars Extravaganza events

The series of events began on Nov. 18 with a performance by the Symphony and Community Orchestra, followed by many events on Nov. 19 including a lightsaber combat workshop and a screening of Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens on Nov. 21.

On Nov. 29, Liu spoke to a host of young writers, students and university faculty about his new book in room CART 131.

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