Recently I caught up with author Dr. Travis Langley at the Chicago Wizard World convention, where we talked about his upcoming book, Star Wars Psychology: Dark Side of the Mind. Langley, author of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight also recently edited The Walking Dead Psychology: Psych of the Living Dead. I got to ask him a few questions about what we can expect and I have no doubt that you will be reserving a copy of the book. I know I have. (Note: Legion contributor Dr. Janina Scarlet and editor-in-chief Jenna Busch are also contributors to the book.)
Legion of Leia: How do you choose which characters will make it into Star Wars Psychology: Dark Side of the Mind?
Dr. Travis Langley: We start with the movies, most of the audience is going to know six movies, especially three of them so we start with the movies first. Next we have the animated series because they are canon. The Expanded Universe is a tricky thing because it’s not canon anymore but okay it’s its own massive sprawling bunch of stories that people love. So what I would tell the writers is to concentrate on the six movies and if you are referring to something else it depends on what point you are trying to make. If you have something you can say by siting an example from some of this other stuff that you can’t say with the movies then go right ahead.
Legion of Leia: When you take on a book like Star Wars Psychology: Dark Side of the Mind how do you approach it?
Dr. Travis Langley: Well, as fans we all speculate on these things. We all talk about these things and when you say, “That’s not how that character would act!” You are already thinking about psychology when you say something like that; you are just not using some of the terms that we do. With these sorts of books different people are approaching different topics in different ways. Some are approaching it more clinically and some are approaching it with more social psychology. The Psychology of how people interact or personality psychology; what kind of personality does it take for someone to wind up going to the Dark Side or the Light Side. The psychology shapes Star Wars itself. George Lucas was having trouble finishing his original story until he discovered the works of Joseph Campbell which were based on the works of Carl Jung which had to do with architypes.
Legion of Leia: Is the material in your book accessible to everybody?
Dr. Travis Langley: Yes! That was really important to me. Back when I did the first book about Batman two different publishers were interested. One was very academically oriented and one was for general audiences. I chose to go with the one for general audiences because that’s what interests me. Being able to converse with anyone about these things is important and I pulled together groups of people to work on the books we are doing now. I have people I have done conventions with and Psychology Today bloggers. A majority of them fall into those two groups. I know they know their psychology and I know they know their popular culture. They know how to talk about it for a general audience and how to write quickly. We are fans of the topics we are doing while still being objective when talking about the material. Every single chapter has an author or co-author that is a psychology professional. It is more like a magazine article in the tone while still having the chapter construction.
Legion of Leia: How do you differentiate between the original Star Wars Trilogy and the Prequels?
Dr. Travis Langley: There is the original trilogy, that wonderful wonderful trilogy of movies and I would have loved to have seen the real prequels that we all had in our heads when we were watching that trilogy. I did not re-watch the Prequels until we were working on this book. There was one exception, I watched Backstroke of the West, which is Chinese dubbed version of Revenge of the Sith. Other than that I had not re-watched any prequels until we were working on the book. I am not a fan of the Prequels. I had a friend lend me the original trilogy in theatrical form and he lent them to me so I could watch them in theatrical form while working on the book.
Star Wars Psychology: Dark Side of the Mind will be out in October of this year and can be found on Amazon and at your local book store.The Walking Dead Psychology: Psych of the Living Dead is available right now. Make sure you check out Dr. Travis Langley on Twitter and at his website. As always, go read something.