As noted, Alan Dean Foster wrote the original Star Wars novelization back in 1977, even though the book was credited to franchise creator George Lucas. But with no knowledge of what the success of this film was to become, Foster fleshed out Lucas’ script so much, expanding the backstory of planets, races, the history, and technology with such detail, that they became canonical to the movies and books that would follow. In 1978, the author released Splinter in the Mind’s Eye, one of the first (though not known at the time) stories that became known as the Expanded Universe. Foster's novel relied heavily on abandoned concepts (that were originally intended as a cheap-to-make-sequel had Star Wars bombed at the box-office) that appeared in Lucas's early treatments for the first film, although a lot of what happened in that book –like the bits dealing with some romantic energy between Luke and Leia- would be later contradicted by later movies.
And while the prolific author has written well over seventy novels of his own, edited a bunch of anthologies, he’s also made a career out of the novelizations of movies, including the Star Trek Universe, the Alien Universe, Alien Nation Universe, Transformers, and Terminator franchise among others; he’s written well over fourteen other stand-alone film adaptations, including Pale Rider, Starman, The Black Hole, and Clash of the Titians.
But since Splinter, the author has written only one other book set in the Star Wars universe, 2002’s The Approaching Storm, a story set between Episode I and II of the film franchise. Now he’s been given a chance to expand the Star Wars universe again with this adaptation of The Force Awakens.
But I suspect, unlike back when writing the original novel, Alan Dean Foster was limited to what he could expand on in the script. But the book does give many answers that fans asked about after seeing the film, including (I hope) more scenes with the critically underused Leia. I’m hoping these scenes that appear here are ones written in the script and just deleted for time and flow. Abrams admits that a lot was filmed, and a good percentage will end up in the deleted scene section on the DVD/Blu ray. But there are no revelations here, but I do think that Rey is probably the granddaughter of Obi Wan (though my wild theory is she really is the reincarnation of Anakin Skywalker). Foster makes no direct correlation to Rey’s heritage (and does very little to expand on her past, though that was written about in Before the Awakening book), but there is an vague, sort of implied but not by dialogue, that Kylo Ren may know whom Rey truly is (because my belief is that when he probed her mind earlier in the film, he would’ve discovered if she had some familial aspects).