When Dan Zehr walked into his English classroom on Tuesday at Washington Community High School. he found it fancied up with Star Wars decorations. At least, more decorations than usual.
His students asked him if it was his birthday. But it wasn't. It was the birthday of his new book: "The Star Wars Book." It was published on Tuesday, now available at stores like Barns and Noble and on Amazon.
He said it's an achievement that is unbelievable.
"It's amazing," Zehr said. "It's absolutely a dream come true and yet, paradoxically it almost feels exactly like what I'm supposed to be doing."
He's been a fan of the sci-fi franchise since he first saw the original movie in 1978. He holds the title "Star Wars Expert," writes for starwars.com as a freelancer and has a weekly podcast, "Coffee with Kenobi." All this led to Disney and publisher DK approaching him to work on the book.
"Other books have been what Star Wars is, but I think of this book as the how and the why," he said. "It's this big huge canvas so this takes that entire mythology and ties it all together and makes it fit."
When the series captured his imagination as a child, Zehr said he was drawn to its deeper meaning of family values and bringing people together from different walks of life.
"It shows you got more in common than you do differently," he said. "And working together for the common good and standing up when something isn't right and I just think that's endlessly fascinating. Plus, lightsabers are really cool."