A conversation with author Ian Doescher, who turned “Star Wars” into an Elizabethan drama.

Ian Doescher wrote three “Star Wars” and Shakespeare mash-ups in two years, making his way onto the best-seller lists. He will speak and sign books on Sunday, July 20, in Tulsa.
by Ken Raymond Modified: July 11, 2014 at 6:40 pm •  Published: July 13, 2014
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“Star Wars” fans have Ian Doescher to thank for giving them another way to experience the original trilogy. As the author who transformed the scripts into Shakespearean plays, he could be considered the bard of Alderaan.

In rapid succession, Doescher published “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars” (July 9, 2013), “The Empire Striketh Back” (March 18) and “The Jedi Doth Return” (July 1). The latter’s cover features a memorable illustration of Jabba the Hutt in full Elizabethan garb.

Doescher, 37, works for a marketing firm in Portland, Ore., where he lives with wife Jennifer and two young sons. One of the firm’s biggest clients is in Kingfisher. Doescher isn’t a Shakespearean scholar. He’d never written a book before. Yet he managed to write three best-selling plays in iambic pentameter — Shakespeare’s meter of choice — in about two years.

The plays, published by Quirk Books, are frankly absurd, but therein lies their merit. Conflating Shakespeare with George Lucas — infamous for his heavy-handed writing — is ridiculous on every level, yet Doescher’s tales cast the “Star Wars” films in a different light, more melodramatic in parts and yet overall far funnier and well worth the read.

Consider, for example, the famous battle at the Sarlacc Pit in “Return of the Jedi.” Luke, Han and others are on a floating skiff, about to be dumped into the pit to suffer the torment of being slowly devoured. Leia, still in her metal bikini, is chained to Jabba. Suddenly R2D2 fires a lightsaber from a hidden compartment, and Luke easily catches it, transforming from victim to predator. But Luke doesn’t know that Boba Fett is about to shoot him. Here’s how Doescher wrote what happens next.

FETT I have thee in my sights now, Jedi. Thou shalt

Feel the pow’r of my rockets, and be no more.

CHEWBAC(CA) Egh!

HAN — Boba Fett? What Boba Fett, and where?

(Han Solo moves and activates Boba Fett’s jets,

sending him flying into the pit.

FETT Alas! The greatest Fett shall not die like this!

O horrid Fate! Where is now my great reward?

Boba Fett falls into pit and dies.

Doescher will talk about his work and sign books from 2 to 3 p.m. July 20 in the Connor’s Cove room at the Hardesty Regional Library, 8316 E 93rd St., Tulsa.

He spoke with The Oklahoman in advance of his visit. Here is an edited transcript.

Q: How did you come up with the idea to rewrite the “Star Wars” trilogy in Shakespearean language?

A: A couple years ago, I watched the “Star Wars” trilogy with some good friends of mine and then I read “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” — one of those first mash-up books — and then right after that I went to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival with my family. So I sort of attribute it to having those three things all running through my head at once. It was at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival that I had the idea to write it.

Q: I was going to mention that your books remind me of other Quirk books, specifically “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.”

A: It’s something that’s become this sort of mini-genre, mash-ups, and I knew that it was quirky, stuff like “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.” So I did a little research and came up with Quirk Books’ name, and a couple months after I looked them up and approached them about the idea.

Q: Obviously they were receptive.

A: What happened is the editor’s name is on the website, so I just wrote him and said I have this idea; what do you think about it? He said, “Well, it’s an interesting idea. Did you actually write any of it? Let me know, and I’ll take a look at it.” That was enough motivation for me to settle in and write the first act of the first book. I sent it off to him, and here we are.

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by Ken Raymond
Book Editor
Ken Raymond is the book editor. He joined The Oklahoman in 1999. He has won dozens of state, regional and national writing awards. Three times he has been named the state's "overall best" writer by the Society of Professional Journalists. In...
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