Good popular writing requires more than
an academic doctorate, since communication skills are not necessarily
emphasized in graduate departments (indeed, they are sometimes discouraged).
To learn popular communication from the best people in the business,
Phaeton's David West Reynolds took a position in marketing and communications
at George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch for two years, where he also became
a Lucasfilm author. Reynolds continues to write Star Wars books for
Lucasfilm, treating the fantasy world of Star Wars as "a culture from
another time and place to explore." Reynolds' efforts in this non-academic
field gave the archaeologist a New York Times #1 best-seller with
the Star Wars Episode I Visual Dictionary. "So I accomplished what
I set out to do in that area," Reynolds says. "My first efforts after
that book were to turn the skills Lucasfilm had taught me to non-fiction
subjects. My APOLLO book [Harcourt, 2002] is the first result of this
experiment in cross-pollination." Meanwhile, Reynolds' painstaking
yet lively approach to Star Wars arcana has made him a "fan favorite"
in the words of Amazon.com.