Inspiration – The Physical World
What do I mean by the physical world, and why should it be an inspiration for Star Trek fanfiction?
Almost every single day, I go for a walk around my neighborhood. This walk takes anywhere from twenty to ninety minutes, on average. I live in an urban area, but there are a lot of wooded areas. I see wildlife quite a bit of the time. My eyes are open, and I am often inspired by what I see.
Because aliens need to eat, they need food animals. In Reversal, I established that the Mirror Universe members of the Defiant‘s crew often go hunting, as the rations there are so bad. The idea is enlarged upon in Fortune. Hence they had to have something they could hunt. A hunt is even shown (although it’s in our universe) as the opening scene in Temper.
I already had elekai (a large flightless bird) and I already had perrazin (a blonde buffalo with fangs or tusks). But I wanted something smaller, a kind of quick and easy hunt. Plus the perrazin are omnivores. Therefore, they needed something that they could readily hunt. I was seeing bunny rabbits on my walks. Therefore, I hit upon the idea of linfep.
The idea of a plant that would change its flavor, due to its degree of ripeness, isn’t exactly original. After all, underripe fruits taste differently (usually, they are more sour) versus ripened ones, and overripe ones can be cloying or even nauseating. Olowa, however, was written to much more radically change flavor. A part of that was simply to be able to use the idea for double and triple duty. A fruit that tastes like pears can become preserves. When it tastes like peanuts, it can be mashed into a reasonable facsimile of peanut butter. And when it tastes spicy, it can be used in Mexican or Thai cooking.
Another plant, which would grow up fast, was based in part on bamboo (and tofflin is meant to look a bit like bamboo). However, the idea that a portion of the plant is poisonous was taken straight from the reality of
rhubarb, which has poisonous leaves (just like tofflin).
Scenery and Visuals
Strange other things have proven inspiring. The name plate on a Toyota Yaris inspired the idea of the surname Yarin, as in Doctor Boris Yarin. A sign for Rebecca’s Cafe ‘n Catering brought forth a name for the E2 stories – Scafen (he’s a Xindi).
What I have found, as I go on in life, is that there’s something out there, almost every day, that can be inspiring. You just have to look, be open to it and – probably most importantly – write it down.