I'm not into the extended universe, unfortunately. Kinda thought they were stretching the story beyond its limit.
Thought that too before I read my first book. I was pleasantly surprised though. You can't tell me for instance that after seeing Episode III you wouldn't want to know the story of Darth Plagueis.
Han Solo as Roddick sounds like a good pick.
Tomic could be the young version of Anakin. Perfectly arrogant.