Susan was originally just an ex-girlfriend of Doug‘s. She was meant to be mentioned quickly and then set aside. But she became even more interesting as I wrote more of Reversal.
Susan is played by former Miss Ghana, Yvonne Nelson. Beautiful, intelligent and a little naughty, I feel Ms. Nelson evokes that wonderfully well. She is someone who a lot of guys would lament as being “the one that got away”.
A school teacher, Susan is playful and even rather sexually liberated, according to Jay in the E2 stories and Doug in Together. But all is not right, for in both universes she depends upon synthbeer to get through her days. She has blackouts and, before meeting Lili, it is Doug’s greatest fear and challenge to deal with that. He ends up walking away. Jay, too, cannot take her alcoholism. His departure causes guilt that eats at him at the start of the E2 stories.
With Doug, in the Mirror, Susan is a stabilizing influence, at least to start. They meet on Titania, and are together for a few months. But then she begins to experience blackouts. This causes Doug to panic, and he leaves.
By the time of Fortune, Doug recognizes that she needed treatment and sympathy, and he feels badly for not doing that for her when he had the chance.
In our universe, a similar situation plays out with Jay. In the E2 stories, he reveals a sexually adventurous side of Susan that isn’t explored elsewhere. But he, too, was blindsided by her alcoholism, and unable to cope. Just like Doug, he leaves abruptly. And just like Doug, he is consumed by guilt over that, but more so. Doug is able to get past it and be with Lili. But it takes a lot more for Jay to get past things and, in the prime time period (aligning with canon), he barely does so and, by then, it’s a bit too late.
In both universes, Susan eventually ends up with, and marries, Aidan. For Susan, in our universe, she is accepted by someone who can handle her episodes and, perhaps, help her to heal.
In the mirror, Aidan protects her, and they team up well, in order to parent his son with Empress Hoshi, Kira. With Aidan, her life improves dramatically in both universes. With Aidan, it feels like she just might make it.
As mentioned above, Susan exists in both universes, and is mainly defined by her relationships. In Temper, she is past her prime and the effects of years of alcoholism have taken their toll. But in later stories, such as He Stays a Stranger, she is in better control.
“I’m going to assume you don’t want me dead.”
This character seemed to have all sorts of strikes against her. But she’s a survivor. And there is a reason why she was important to both Jay and Doug and, eventually, to Aidan.
Books, of course, are canon. Even paper books are seen on some sets. But what are people really reading? In the canon Shuttlepod One episode, Malcolm reveals that he’s brought along a copy of James Joyce’sUlysses for diversion. But I’m with Tripp Tucker on that one – it’s just too dense for my tastes.
For my characters, one of the most important works of literature is Jane Eyre. It crops up in all sorts of places. In Together, the paper book is given as a belated wedding gift to Lili and Doug, by Hoshi and Chip. The book even has an inscription – “One good love story deserves another.”– Hoshi and Chandler. This is also the first time that Chip’s full name is revealed. Doug reveals that the work most likely does not exist in the mirror.
However, in Temper, it is Malcolm and Lili who are reading the book together, and are discussing it. It’s probably not a terribly scholarly discussion, but it is more than just “I liked the book. Did you?”
In Fortune, the book passes as a cherished inheritance. First, Lili mentions it to Q, as an evidence of being civilized. Then it is passed from Malcolm to Neil when Malcolm passes. But that’s just the electronic version. When Leonora passes, the paper book is again transferred, and it is given to Marie Patrice, in recognition of Empy as being “… the strong, independent heroine of [her] own life.”
Trek mentionings of Shakespeare are canon; the movies are littered with them.
Mainly, it’s Julius Caesar andMacBeth that are mentioned in my stories. Julius Caesar is evoked as Lili recalls to Q that she had to memorize Portia’s speech to Brutus, about the relationship between a true husband and a true wife. She uses this memory to bring Doug full circle and receive his confession.
References to MacBeth are more fleeting, except as regards to the
meaning of Malcolm Reed‘s first name. Names are important to Calafans and to the Empress Hoshi Sato, so Malcolm’s name’s meaning crops up from time to time. Since Malcolm is a character from “the Scottish play”, there’s the oblique reference. Furthermore, in The Mess, Lili briefly thinks of the line, “Out, out, damned spot!”
There is also the writing of original Shakespearean sonnets, written by both Malcolm (in Intolerance, Fortune and the E2 stories) and Bron (in The Reptile Speaks).
Biblical references abound in the E2 stories in particular. Many of the wedding ceremonies involve short sermons with passages from various Bible stories. The stories of Solomon choosing not to slice an infant in half (to illustrate the choice that the Muslim bride Maryam Haroun made between two suitors, with the help of Doctor Phlox), Adam and Eve (used in Andrew and Shelby‘s wedding), and Ruth (to illustrate a point about the bride, Karin Bernstein, following the groom, Joshua Rosen) are all a part of various ceremonies.
Furthermore, when Jay and Lili wed, Jay refers to a biblical admonition to marry a dead brother’s widow, as this is right after Malcolm’s death.
In Concord, because Charlotte and Jacob are getting on in years and have not had any children, Jacob writes to her, expressing the hope that she could “be the Sarah to my Abraham“. That is, that she would have their first child far later than expected.
Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass
To be sure, the mirror universe is an obvious analog to Through the Looking Glass. In particular, in Reversal, when Doug passes from the mirror to our universe, he is passing through the looking glass and life is, in many ways, reversed for him.
Furthermore, in the old Interphases story, The Puzzle, Travis Mayweather has an experience that involves a bottle with “Drink me” written on it and unchecked growth and a pool of water (although it is water, and not tears) around a table. When that adventure is over, he locates the book and has electronic copies sent to two people he has met, hoping that they’ll enjoy the gifts.
Intelligent characters enjoy reading just about as much as real people do. I’m sure I’ll revisit this topic as more books are cracked open and read by my characters.
This character is, of course, Star Trek: Enterprise canon. The actor, Dominic Keating, is British (he’s from Leicester), but the character is from Malaysia. Repressed, uptight and a lover of big guns and even bigger explosions, Reed was rumored to be the first regular gay character. However, according to Keating, the rumors were Internet hype more than anything else, and homosexuality was never intended to be a part of the portrayal. This has not stopped a lot of fan fiction writers from giving him a slash angle. I do not. Instead, since all of his relationships and possible relationships are straight, I write him as completely heterosexual.
As in canon, Reed is played by actor Dominic Keating.
Canon states that Reed is repressed and shy around women. He’s also very competent at his job, possibly the most competent person behind T’Pol. Self-sacrificing to a fault, Reed is uncomfortable fraternizing with his captain, and feels that the relationship should remain at arm’s-length. Furthermore, Malcolm is afraid of water and is the ship’s chess champion.
So much for canon.
As I have written him, he also has a fondness for Scrabble and various word games and puzzles, enjoying competition but also working to improve his mind. He’s an avid reader (some of that reading is canon), and is particularly fond of Jane Eyre. Whether he sees himself as Rochester is yet to be determined.
A cautious lover and a natural pessimist, Malcolm is a bit afraid of rejection and has a bit of dysfunction at times. He keeps to himself, which tends to make relationships problematic at best. But when he meets someone and he likes her, he latches on rather quickly. However, at the beginning of much of my fanfiction (and in keeping with canon), he tends to fall for women who are either thoroughly inappropriate for him or are utterly unattainable, a fact that he acknowledges in Concord and Together, in particular.
As I write Malcolm, he has two major relationships which define him.
With Pamela, Malcolm feels he may be falling in love, but she pulls him back and tells him, no, you’re mistaken. He finds it freeing when he realizes that she’s right.
But Pamela also stretches his limits, and loosens him up. A part of that is due to her prowess and her proclivities. He finds himself enjoying a bit of naughty bedroom play, and participates in some, but not all of it. At the end of Intolerance they part, assuring each other that they will become, essentially, Friends with Benefits.
With Lili, the relationship is considerably stronger and more loving. Malcolm finds that he can be a lot freer with her than he has ever been with anyone before, even Pamela. He fulfills the destiny that was denied him in the original, canon E2 episode, and becomes a family man when Lili gives birth to Declan (Temper, Fortune). Initially, in Reversal, Lili is denied him, as she goes with Doug.
In later life, he and Lili marry, an event prepared for in Equinox and then shown in Fortune. Their later married life is briefly shown in The Rite.
Lili is also paired with him in the E2 stories I am currently writing. In one scenario, they have a daughter who they name Pamela Morgan. In another, in keeping with canon, they do not have children.
In Concord, Malcolm pines for Charlotte but never truly attempts to win her. Instead, seeing a picture of Lili after his encounter with Charlotte, Malcolm experiences an eerie sense of déja vu.
In Intolerance, it’s revealed that Malcolm is a gifted poet, so long as he has motivation. And Pamela provides that in spades. Malcolm’s medium of choice is Shakespearean sonnets. I have written him three for her, two for Declan (in Fortune) and one for Lili in the E2 stories. Here is my favorite, the second sonnet for Pamela –
A burning ember, burst to flame as kindred souls entwine and merge the knave, he could not be the same falling, ever falling over precipice and verge
Her face was fair, her mind was keen her body offered untold pleasure And yet her heart remained unseen — could the knave unlock this treasure? The Queen, she came down from above
She changed the knave, who did it all for love
Malcolm has a canon counterpart, who I
name Ian and kill off before Reversal. But Ian has a rather rich afterlife, particularly in Equinox and the E2 stories. I’ll cover him in a separate entry.
“It’s the stuff that makes up your life. You have allowed me to be a part of it. That’s almost as intimate as holding your body to mine, touching and kissing and looking at all of your, your secret places.”
For a canon character with a comparatively sketchy background, I’ve been happy to fill in the blanks. I hear his voice better than any of the other canon characters, except perhaps for Jay Hayes. A thousand stories can be told about Malcolm. I feel I have merely scratched the surface.
Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day
Every author needs a character surrogate. I have a few – Sheilagh Bernstein, Eriecho, Gina Nolan, Ethan Shapiro, Seppa, and HD Avery come to mind. But none are as attuned to me, or as similar to me, as Lili O’Day.
I was thinking about writing Reversal for a while before I started, and I needed a name for my heroine. I decided on her full name for a few reasons. First, the name flows and is pretty. But – bringing her down to earth – her initials are CLO’D. Did her parents really mean to refer to her as a clod? Perhaps, but not in a negative manner. Lili reveals, in Fortune, that her mother was a potter, so perhaps the backhanded reference to clod refers to a moldable clod of earth.
I also liked the short name, Lili, as it’s casual yet feminine, but also feels more youthful than Lili really is (Lili started off, in Reversal, as being 48 years old, just like I was at the time).
It took me several months to come up with a real face for Lili, who is described as having eyes that are the lightest blue – nearly white in appearance, although she is not blind – and hair that is straight and platinum blonde. Her body is a little chunky although not too much, with a decent albeit not a knockout figure. Her lower teeth are a little crooked. She is self-conscious about her belly.
After kicking around and, ultimately, rejecting the idea of the actress Jessica Tuck, I went with actress Naomi Watts. Watts is lovely, to be sure, but is also fighting some signs of aging like parentheses lines around her mouth, much like Lili is. Her eyes aren’t light enough; contact lenses would have to fix that. But she also, to my mind, carries some emotional heft. I like it that she’s not an Angelina Jolie.
Personality and Background
Smart yet not overly so, Lili’s talent is in cooking. But she never would have gotten there if it had not been for some seemingly unrelated events, plus sheer determination. At age nine, her parents die in a house fire at their home on Titan, in New France. Lili, at the time, was visiting her mother’s parents, the Ducasses. This photograph was taken a few weeks before. Lili describes it as one of her best and most enduring memories of her mother. Ironically, this picture is first seen in the Mirror Universe. Lili remembers the events leading up to the fire in her dreams, in the E2 stories, and then her subconscious supplies additional, unseen information, such as her father, Peter, shoving her mother to the floor and laying on top of her, one last act of protection.
Initially afraid of fire, her maternal grandmother, Lilienne, makes her cook. Lili explains to Malcolm, in Together, that she was a difficult teenager, getting into minor trouble such as joyriding. She loses her virginity to her High School boyfriend, Paul Mayer – that act is also recalled in a dream. She is close to leading a dull life when she gets a chance to cook for the head of the Mars Culinary Institute. She makes lobster en croute, which is a kind of strained bisque in puff pastry. On the strength of that dish, she is admitted to the MCI and graduates. Her first job out of school is at the Tethys Tavern, where she not only cooks, but also tends bar on occasion.
Eventually, Lili becomes skilled enough, and is in enough demand, that she opens her own restaurant, Voracious, in San Mateo. The restaurant is described in Reversal (again, this is a memory seen through the prism of dreaming) and Voracious, where the NX-01‘s Chef, William Slocum, goes to dinner. He enjoys her Harvest Salad so much that he talks to her about joining up. The Xindi war is raging, and Lili remembers the attack. The city is still in aftershock mode. Slocum brings in Archer (I have not written that part yet) and Lili sells Voracious and comes aboard the NX-01. Her first day is chronicled in Harvest. She has been hired to act as sous-chef, pastry chef and saucier. Her duties include making desserts and birthday cakes, such as is shown in Protocols, plus she cleans up quite a bit. It isn’t until the E2 stories that she gets any help.
Depending upon the story or the series, Lili experiences deep and abiding love, in a way that most of us can only dream of. While she has had boyfriends and lovers, at least twelve before the start of Reversal, she doesn’t really begin to have love until then.
Lili meets Doug as a part of shared dreaming with the Mirror Universe, as is shown in Reversal. Her relationship with Doug is earthy and very physical, but she essentially tames him. When it comes time to exchange I love yous, they are both indirect. He tells her, “It would be really stupid if we were to fall in love.” And she replies, “It’s too late.”
With Doug, her life settles into a domestic routine quickly. In A Kind of Blue, she finds out she’s pregnant, and they quickly wed. In Pacing, and thenThe Gift, she receives a truly meaningful gift from Doug, meant to sustain her for their life together. InLocal Flavor andFriday Visit, their relationships with friends are shown.
In Together, their relationship is challenged, and it finally comes to an understanding in Temper and then in Fortune. Doug and Lili have two children, Jeremiah Logan (known as Joss) and Marie Patrice (often called Empy).
With Malcolm, Lili is different. Their relationship is somewhat freer, but that’s at least partly because, not until much later in life, they don’t live together. Their meeting in Harvest is meant to be a foreshadowing of things to come, as they shake hands for too long, he looks her squarely in the eye and she drops a teacup. Because they are not together (Malcolm is her other fellow in her open marriage with Doug; Melissa Madden is Doug’s side girl in that same arrangement), there are a lot of good-byes and hellos. The homecoming in Temper is meant to be particularly sweet, and their time together at a hotel for a few days after that is meant to almost feel like a honeymoon, as is a shared dream during Fortune. With Malcolm, who is also a factor in the E2 stories, she can trade intellectual quips and insights. They read and talk about Jane Eyre. They play Scrabble and chess together. There is more highbrow business going on than with Doug, who often has trouble expressing himself.
Jay is only a factor in the E2 stories, but the events of Harvest, Penicillin and Demotion foreshadow some of that.
In Harvest, she notices Jay’s eyes when they are introduced, and he tells her that he likes blueberries when she asks about a favorite. In Penicillin, he is coughing and so she makes him (and the rest of the crew) a little Jewish Penicillin, chicken soup with matzoh balls. In Demotion, Hayes disciplines Daniel Chang in front of Lili and her roommate, Jennifer Crossman. He looks and nods at them but doesn’t address them, a prelude to the E2 stories.
In the E2 stories, Jay and Lili circle each other warily (she also circles Malcolm) and do not get together for a few years. He needs to get over Susan Cheshire, she needs to see him as a potential mate. Things are good between them. He is a bit better at expressing himself than Doug, and develops a meaningful pet name for her – Sparrow. In Equinox, after his death, he accidentally refers to her that way, which alarms her. This is because, in Equinox, she doesn’t know about the first iteration in the E2 stories. She only knows about the second E2 iteration.
In Together, Lili reveals to Malcolm that, when they met an NX-01 manned by their descendants, she learned that she had married José Torres. Malcolm reveals that he had not had anyone. His revelation is canon, so this, the second E2 iteration, is the one currently being written so as to dovetail with Star Trek: Enterprise canon.
As an Engineering crewman, José is far from being a romantic guy, which is what Lili craves. But he’s practical, and he cares for her a great deal. Her feelings about him are a lot more mixed, and there is less of the deep and abiding love as is seen with the others. Lili is settling, and she and the reader know it, but there is no one else.
They never actually meet in life. But, as he explains in a dream in Equinox, counterpart to counterpart, he cannot help but be taken by her. In the third of the E2 stories, he meets her on the last night of her life, in a dream, and they dance. And in the fourth, Ian reveals that he has been tasked with guiding her and keeping her company, comforting her in her darkest hours.
She Who Almost Didn’t Breed in Time
This is not only the name of the Xindi Insectoid that Lili kills during an episode of Fortune and feels the aftermath of in The Mess. This is also, in a way, what Lili herself could be called. But she has a total of (as of the time of this writing) seven children, depending upon which stories and series you read.
Joss Beckett and Joss Reed-Hayes
These sons are meant to be nearly identical, with Beckett as the son of the Mirror Universe husband and Reed-Hayes the son of the Prime Universe E2 first iteration husband. Joss is the one she depends upon to keep things together.
Marie Patrice Beckett and Madeline Reed-Hayes
Much like the two versions of Joss, these daughters are, respectively, children of the Mirror or the Prime Universe. However, their personalities diverge more. Marie Patrice is a bit of a materialistic person whereas Madeline grows up to become a Tactical Officer.
Declan Reed and Pamela Reed-Hayes
Both the children of Malcolm Reed, they are in the Prime Universe timeline and the E2 first iteration timeline, respectively. These children diverge the most. Declan is one of my visual artist characters whereas Pamela becomes a doctor, much like Pamela Hudson, who she is meant to evoke but not be named after, as the E2 denizens could not possibly have known about Dr. Hudson.
Maria Elena Torres
As Lili’s only child during the E2 second iteration, Maria Elena (named for Marie Helêne) is a bit of a wild card. As of the writing of this post, I have not yet determined how I want her to be. But the second iteration is meant to be more somber. Maria Elena will be one of the few bright spots in that version of Lili’s life.
Lili is more defined by her subconscious than any of my characters, even the Calafans. When I first wrote her, that first moment, she is in the middle of a dream, and it turns out to be a shared dream with Doug, in Reversal. Her ability to share dreams is enhanced by being in Calafan space and, eventually, she gets dream amplifier alloy to put on her person, in the form of her wedding ring from Doug (A Kind of Blue) and the key charm from Malcolm (Temper). In addition, the Calafans paint her with calloo-like tattoos made from the same material, callidium (Reversal). She is a dream collector and a dream projector in a lot of ways. She interacts in her dreams and utterly believes them.
In the E2 stories, she has no such amplifications. But Ian explains to her that she has some psionic abilities. She’s just not able to really focus them well. Hence, when he is with her in her dreams, she can hear him, and can feel him to hold her while they dance, but she generally can’t see him.
The main characters in In Between Days, except for Pamela Hudson, are all related to some sort of ancient element. Doug is air, Malcolm is water, Melissa is the earth, and Leonora is communication. Lili, because of how her parents died, and because of her skills at cooking, is fire. Doug and Malcolm both refer to her, at various times, as “the white-hot flame”. Jay even mentions that, while on his deathbed.
The Mirror Lili (called Charlotte) is at home during the house fire at the O’Day home on June 12th, 2118. She and her younger brother, Declan, die along with their parents. Jay does refer to seeing her in the afterlife during a dream in Equinox, and he reports that one of the pleasant things about heaven is that you can be any age you like, even ones you never attained in life. It’s a comfort to the grieving Lili (she has just lost Doug) to know that her counterpart can be old enough for real love, and can experience it. Given that Ian reveals that the counterparts are also taken with each other, he could very well be a part of the love that Charlotte might be finally experiencing.
“I figured I didn’t deserve to have survived, like I wasn’t good enough and I hadn’t done anything to be allowed to be the sole repository of my family’s memories and their love and their talents and everything else. I got into trouble and I didn’t face it much. I know now what a difficult child I must have been. It wasn’t until I became a master of fire that I began to process it. I began to have a handle on what had destroyed my family, and I could turn it to something that was almost good. And I began to slowly realize that my hopelessly old-fashioned, ancient and unhip grandparents were doing the very best they could for me, and that I should try and, and make it so that things wouldn’t be so hardfor them.”
I love this character. I cannot describe quite how much I do. But that’s to be expected, as so much of me is in her. Of course I know where the lines are drawn. I have no children; I have a conventional marriage. I am not a professional chef; my parents (as of the writing of this post) are alive and well. But there is something about Lili – from her vulnerability to her superficial fretting about her less than perfect stomach to her sass to her whacking the hell out of She Who Almost Didn’t Breed In Time to how she sings to Joss to how she brings Jay out of his shell and gets Malcolm to loosen up and feel that even he can cry sometimes – all of this, and more, make her, to me, an utterly irresistible character who I cannot stop writing about. I am all characters, and all characters are me, but Lili hits the most marks.
Many – although not all – roads lead to Jay Hayes.
This character is, of course, Star Trek: Enterprise canon. He is a Major in the MACOs and loses his life during the ENT Countdown episode.
In canon, he only has a first initial, and not even a middle initial. I have gone with Jay (a suggestion by the actor who played him) and Douglas in order to dovetail with Doug Beckett.
The main origination point for me was that I enjoyed the character very much, and wish he had been shown more. A rather earthy dream about him was the basis and initial kernel of an idea for Reversal, a story where he is referred to, and is seen in this photograph. However, by the time of Reversal (2157), Jay is already long dead.
As in canon, Jay is portrayed by veteran actor Steven Culp. Culp has said about the character that he is essentially a David Mamet character, in that he is more action than talk much of the time. In canon, he rarely smiles. In fact, I think one of the few times he even comes close to smiling is in this image.
All business, Jay is surprised and genuinely hurt that Malcolm Reed would think that he was attempting to undermine the Tactical Officer’s authority. For Jay, it’s about getting the job done. However, he does so with few niceties. For Malcolm, this is unacceptable, and there is a need for communications and for protocols to be followed. In canon, Jay eventually admits that blindly following the chain of command isn’t as easy as it may seem, nor is it always the right thing to do. For him, the excuse of “I was only following orders” could have rung true, until that moment.
In the E2 stories I am currently writing, Jay is in a state of melancholy, but so are many of the other people, as clinical depression runs rampant, at least at the beginning of those stories. For Jay, it takes the form of regrets about an old relationship with a woman he identifies as his most important ex-girlfriend, Susan Cheshire, and he even writes her a letter that he knows she will never read. But Jay is also unexpectedly kind, such as when he carves a walking stick for an injured crewman but doesn’t make it public knowledge.
His conflict with Malcolm is shown in any number of stories. In Harvest and inProtocols, which both take place during the Xindi war, he and Malcolm bicker a bit. It’s pretty much just about their ideas about dealing with the Xindi threat. It isn’t until the E2 stories that their arguments become about something else entirely, their rivalry over a woman.
In canon, he has no known relationships. I follow on that and, in Together, when Lili and Doug meet with his sister, the attorney Laura Hayes, she confides that he had no one, not even a girlfriend and was “not the marrying kind”.
In my fanfiction, he has three important earlier relationships which eventually lead up to his great love, as is depicted in the E2 stories. The first of these is with Darareaksmey Preap, described as a Cambodian bar girl that he knew when he was young and in Basic Training, near Phnom Penh. Much like Doug, he lies to Darareaksmey and tells her he loves her, and buys her gifts, in order to be able to lose his virginity to her.
The second is Christine Chalmers, possibly known during an assignment. He considers telling her that he loves her until he learns that she’s been cheating on him. The third is the aforementioned Susan Cheshire, who tells him she loves him nearly constantly. But he can’t bring himself to say it in return, and he doesn’t quite understand why until later.
In the E2 stories, he learns to let go of Susan’s memory and embrace the woman who will be his great love, the woman he calls Sparrow. This is evoked in Equinox as well when, even after his death, he communicates with her and accidentally calls her Sparrow.
Jay’s Mirror Universe counterpart is Doug Beckett. Any discussion of Jay/Doug in the Mirror can be found in that post.
“I was a big kid. I was probably gonna be fat if I didn’t do something. I was an ox, a lummox, my dad would call me. My father, he ordered me to ride my bike every day…. He was military, too. And, well, so I did it. ‘Cause you didn’t argue with Jeremiah Hayes. So I used to ride around the reservoir area. It was nice, and there were birds. They would all chatter away, like they were having arguments or telling each other the news or something like that…. Anyway, it was a good place to go, and it was a bit cooler than most places, so I went every day. And then one day, I saw the Ganymede Police there. They had a skiff boat and there were divers. And they were, well … they were dredging for a body.”
Beyond being, perhaps, a bit of a jarhead, Jay has a heart and a soul. You just need to be quiet and listen for them.
While writing Reversal, I needed a female Security crewman who could handle both erotic scenes and provide muscle as needed. Hence Deb was born.
Deborah is tough and tough-minded, but has a softer side, so Katee Sackhoff was a logical choice. I particularly like her no-nonsense look, plus of course she has serious sci-fi cred, having been in Battlestar Galactica.
She also needed to be someone who could clean up well and, at times, appear very vulnerable and feminine.
The look is, to me, believable.
Deborah spends much of her time standing guard, so her mind wanders. In our universe, this means her thoughts are directed, more and more often to Captain Archer, on whom she develops a raging crush, described in both Together and in the alternate timeline story, The Black Widow.
This brings out some of her vulnerability and longing. As a person who mainly stands in the back and watches the rest of the crew working, she is longing to be a part of things.
Once her wrong-headed pairing in Together is finished, Deb is approached by someone she might not have expected to be interested, Chip Masterson. This relationship continues through to Fortune, where it is revealed that it has resulted in a marriage and a child, Kenneth. Her descendants eventually include Richard and Eleanor Daniels and their mother, Chloe Masterson Daniels.
She ends up with Chip during the E2 stories as well.
Ethan grew out of, in part, a desire to show Jewish crew members on the NX-01, but along the way, he became a lot more. I really like this Star Trek: Enterprise fanfiction character.
For The Light, I wanted a character who was facing a circumstance where he would need a minyan. That is, a quorum of Jews for the express purpose of prayers. Having to say Kaddish, due to a death in the family, was the ideal scenario. Ethan was created to be the bereaved crew member.
As is true with a lot of the more ethnically obvious characters, I wanted an actor who would also be a member of that ethnic group. Therefore, I chose Jesse Eisenberg. Ethan isn’t meant to be the greatest-looking guy ever. He isn’t meant to be nebbishy either. This is not Woody Allen on the NX-01. Rather, the idea was to have someone who is not only convincingly Jewish but also is someone who, to be loved, maybe the girl needs to go beyond looks and see what’s really inside.
A little self-effacing, but extremely loyal to his friends, Ethan even defers to Andy Miller when, during The Light, Andrew comments that he’s going to ask out the only Jewish woman on the ship, Karin Bernstein. However, in Waiting, it’s revealed that Ethan is kicking himself for having done that, for he wants Karin.
In the E2 stories I am writing as of the posting of this blog entry, Ethan is even more lovesick and upset.
Ethan doesn’t, truly, have a mirror universe counterpart. In Fortune, it’s revealed that his parents’ counterparts delayed relations for a night, and, instead, Erin Shapiro was conceived. However, there is an earlier Ethan, an older relative, who is likely the person who Erin was named for. Doug reveals to Lili, in Reversal, that that is the name of the second man he’s killed. Furthermore, it is our universe’s Ethan who brings forth this confession from Doug.
Ethan’s relationship with Karin drives some of his behind the scenes activities in Reversal and then in Fortune. In the E2 stories, things go differently for Ethan, and he attempts suicide when he cannot have Karin. When he recovers, in the first kick back, he weds an Ikaaran woman named Bithara; in the second kick back, his Ikaaran bride is named Timinka.
“My Great-Aunt Rachel saw a lot in her long life. She went from an Earth where people could barely get it together to seeing us go out here into the unknown. She used to tell me it was a little like wandering in the desert for forty years. You know, you’re not sure where you’re going, but you trust that wherever you get is going to be good. And I think it’s been good. And I’m glad she got a chance to see that. She was like a link to the past. And now it’s time to, to say good-bye and look to the new.”
As Azar Hamidi says in Waiting, things might have to run their course. But then you might just see that Ethan, he just might be the one.
Inspiration comes from all sorts of places. Because my first exposure to Star Trek was watching the original series in its first run, naturally some inspiration comes from the big flashing box in the living room.
Star Trek itself is, of course, an inspiration, and there are a lot of cross-references among the various series, plus the films. I’ll explore that in another blog entry.
QL shows up in all sorts of places. Richard Daniels’s boss is the feminine version of Al – Admiral Carmen Calavicci. The premise of the Times of the HG Wells series is to put back what a faction has meddled with – in short, it’s the reverse of Quantum Leap. Reversal‘s reference to the Defiant‘s database as being so full of holes that it’s like Swiss cheese is a direct reference. Richard’s original girlfriend, Tina, is another reference, as is him being called “Future Man”, a play on the “Future Boy” episode. Even a calla lily worn in a groom’s lapel is a shout-out to the series.
Culp played Major J. Hayes on Enterprise and so a lot of references swirl around him and various television roles he’s played. References to Desperate Housewives come from E2 characters Bree Tanner and Rex Ryan and Reversal characters Jennifer Crossman and Brian Delacroix are references to Marcia Cross,
Malcolm is a major character in the In Between Days series. Therefore, there are a lot of references around him as well. In Intolerance, the character names Blair, Claymore, Nguyen, Owen and Will all refer to something to do with Keating.
The surname Sloane is a quick shout-out to Cheers – that was Diane Chambers’s boyfriend in the pilot. Chip Masterson‘s real first name, Chandler, is a reference to Friends. So is the throwaway reference to one of Melissa Madden’s sisters – Monica. Her sister Meghan is a reference to The Thorn Birds.
There are more references, and undoubtedly there will be more to come. Can you spot them all?
Crackerjack was originally written as a gift for a younger fan who wasn’t really old enough to be reading my racier material. This fan likes Star Trek:The Next Generation, so I decided to set the story in that universe, but I didn’t want to be on the Enterprise, and I didn’t want to be dealing with too many of the characters.
As a story written for a young person, I wanted a young character, so I hit upon the idea of grabbing Wesley Crusher. He has often – completely legitimately – been criticized as being a “Mary Sue” type of character. This is a character who is impossibly good, impossibly smart, impossibly lucky, etc. It’s a parody of a true character. I wanted Wes to be a bit different.
I also wanted Geordi, as the story was to be about prejudging. Partly that was due to racism, and partly due to his obvious infirmity, blindness. As a pair, I felt they could work together, too, and would believably want to help each other. The title refers, not only to the treat served at ballgames, but also to “an exceptionally good person or thing”. The reader is left to determine just who really is crackerjack.
The story begins with an old man asking his grandchildren if they ever heard of the time he watched Ted Williams hit a home run. They clamor for a story and he obliges. His tale begins with the two friends returning from a ceremony on the Kreetassan home world, when they suddenly run into a strange cosmic phenomenon. The phenomenon throws them back in time, to Earth. Because the shuttle they are in is damaged, they are forced to make an emergency landing. Duke Ellington is playing on the radio, and there’s a reference to fighting in the Middle East, and to British residents needing to go to bomb shelters.
They need supplies in order to get back, so they will need to head into civilization.
They change their clothes so as to mimic period garb, but the visor sticks out like a sore thumb. A decision is made to outfit Geordi with sunglasses and carry the visor along in a duffle, if needed. They replicate some money and follow a river toward what they figure is the nearest town.
While in town, they sleep out in the open. In the morning, they realize they’ve been sleeping in a familiar place, at the foot of the statue of Lincoln, at the Lincoln Memorial. They’re in Washington, DC.
As Geordi waits, Wesley runs out to look for a place to get breakfast. It rains a bit, but then the rain stops. When Geordi puts his palm up to check if the rain has really stopped, someone presses coins into his hand, thinking he’s a panhandler. Wesley finds a lunch counter and leads Geordi there. When they enter, the proprietor refuses them service and they are directed to a sign on the wall that says, Whites Only.
A newspaper then reveals the date – September 1st, 1941.
How do they get to the ballgame? How do they get back? All can be revealed by reading, of course.
Star Trek often covers socially difficult subjects such as racism, so I wanted to confront it head-on. The time period, I feel, is a great one, as it is pre-war and pre-Jackie Robinson, but attitudes are starting, slowly, to change. Plus the presence of a Whites Only sign was very logical for the time and place in question.
Geordi, of course, was a logical subject for racism, in particular because his infirmity makes it impossible for him to actually see why people are prejudging him. Wesley works, not only as Geordi’s companion, but also as a wide-eyed observer who doesn’t understand why the people of the time are acting like they are – and why some are kind or even overly protective. The people of the time aren’t just one big mass. Some care, some act but are inept (such as an anonymous person giving Geordi charity), while others are pettily cruel.
Time and Place
One of the ways I set the scenes was with music of the time. Take the A Train is played, but so are The Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B, Stardust and Frenesi. Each chapter begins with a link to a YouTube video. The music is mostly horn-driven and tends to be from big bands.
The chapters also each begin with a picture. There’s Ted Williams, another is of a streetcar, another is of a row of brownstones, etc. The pictures are all in black and white, not only to evoke the sense of an old black and white film, but also to bring home the idea of racists seeing the world in terms of only black and white.
Furthermore, I wanted to evoke a bit of the old TOS episode, The City on the Edge of Forever, although that one takes place in 1930. One of the backdrops to the story is the prospect of imminent war, where bullets aren’t going to care one whit about the race of the person they strike. In Crackerjack, the bullets are going to be flying at Americans in only a little over three months’ time.
An interphase is a canon construction, and refers to a kind of temporal, spatial or somatic displacement, often without intention. While I handle interphases in other stories, I wanted this one to be more of an engineering problem, rather than a philosophical musing. For Wesley and Geordi, it’s a problem to be solved, rather than a reason to question existence.
Another aspect of the story is framing it as a tale told by an elder. The elder is Wesley, who you never otherwise see as an extreme elder. I wanted it to be his perspective and his long-term hindsight that would shape the narrative. Also, as Wesley learns about racism, I wanted him to be teaching his grandchildren the same lessons, that there are some people who don’t get along with others, and sometimes that’s for the most unfair reasons.
Memory is also key to this story, as it is about Wesley’s memories, but also the memories of the people they meet, and the memory of the reader about that time, or about what they’ve learned of that time, or what they, personally, have experienced of racism, and also of human decency.
But don’t worry about forgetting. Your memory has enough film in it.
The music was great fun to put together.
The story opens with Duke Ellington’s Take the A Train, which is not only used to set the scene but also to evoke motion, travel and distance. In this case, the traveling is temporal as well as spatial.
I was pleased with how this one turned out, but the problems are solved rather neatly and easily. If I were writing for an adult, I probably would have thrown in more obstacles, and I might have made the racism harsher than it was, but I like that it’s not quite as hard-edged. I don’t think I needed to really hit people over the head with it.
Music is almost a constant in my writing. Characters might have individual or couple or group themes, or a story might have a theme, or even a series. Music can be used in order to evoke a particular mood or time period, and lyrics in particular might steer a plot.
For the Wells series, it’s all about time, so music is not only used to set moods, it’s also used to orient the reader as to time and place. Lyrics are displayed, at the beginning and end of each chapter, to continue to bring home the idea of a soundtrack to go along with the set pieces. In addition, character HD Avery is the “music guy” – he can sight-read music and can play piano, guitar and drums. He’s sent on all sorts of musical missions and even, at one point, refers to them as being like Rock ‘n Roll Heaven.
The first mission is about the day the music died, that is, it’s about the deaths of Holly, Valens and Richardson on February 3rd of 1959 in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa.
For Take Back the Night, not only the title should be a tip-off that the Daranaean women are a bit sick of how they’ve been treated, as the first chapter opens with a quote and a link to the Beatles’ Revolution.
For written fiction online, a link to YouTube can provide a missing soundtrack, and a major or minor key cue to the reader about mood.
Funny thing is, I can’t write while listening to music; I end up paying too much attention to it!
I hope I’ve gotten an appealing and appropriate soundtrack into your head as you’ve read. But if anything seems like it might be better, feel free to suggest it.