But it’s still something that has happened to me. It can still, in a backhanded way, be inspiring.
The Specifics of Creation
For character injuries, Star Trek always used to go beyond believability and hit a weird Twilight Zone, where everything was magically, mystically cured, with the patient suffering no or nearly no pain.
That’s not how the real world works, and I am so glad Enterprise made it a point of showing cures being neither instantaneous nor perfect.
Well, sometimes. At least , when Malcolm was injured in Minefield, he was still injured in Dead Stop and, in fact, Phlox had the automated repair station cure Malcolm’s broken leg.
For my own work, I have used it as a jumping off point. It is so easy in fiction to make people into super people, and make it so injuries don’t really affect them. This is deus ex machina-style unreality at its worst. Sprains hurt. Breaks make you limp or make your arm hang useless. An allergy (not exactly an injury but certainly a medical condition) can make you stop breathing.
Perhaps the worst injury I’ve gotten is a set of three (hey, if you’re going to do something, go all the way, eh?) meniscus tears in my right knee. While this has not yet informed my fanfiction writing, it has affected my wholly original work. In The Enigman Cave, there is a character with that exact same injury.
In fanfiction, I took the fight from Harbinger and reworked it twice, both times involving Malcolm. Once was with Doug, in Together. The other was in The Three of Us, with Jay (as a reprise of the fight, and Lili even laments that it might be a ‘second harbinger’). In both of my versions of the fight, similar injuries are inflicted on the men, as an homage to the canon scene. There are eye and kidney injuries, just as in the original. However, the addition of Lili to the dynamic means there is a witness and the aftermath is far more problematic. In Together, Lili is pregnant with Marie Patrice and keels over, overcome by intense kicking. Pamela ends up taking her to the Medical Center nearby in San Francisco, and the upshot is an uneasy truce between the men.
In The Three of Us, Archer finds the two men fighting. He orders the men to sickbay where Phlox begins to treat them, but they both continue posturing and refuse treatment. Lili is called in and is alarmed at their conditions. Going beyond the original, in this version of the fight, Jay suffers from a lung injury which results in him coughing, a reference directly back to Penicillin. It’s a fitting internal bit of consistency which also foreshadows that short story’s significance in Everybody Knows this is Nowhere.
Battered and bruised characters should not heal immediately and automatically, I feel. Even with advanced medical technology, it just seems as if that would be too much of a cop-out and would severely impair storytelling.
And that is a crying shame, as nearly everyone has a childhood that is somewhere in the middle.
My own childhood was in the middle. I was not mistreated and, while I am an intelligent person and was as a child, I was not so incredibly off the charts that I would have been considered a Mozart-style prodigy.
As the younger of two, I am more than familiar with sibling rivalry, and so I made Marie Patrice Beckett a big time proponent of it. Empy is not the youngest in the clan, but she is the only daughter and so she is a little spoiled. Hence her younger behaviors continue a bit into adulthood.
Teenaged behaviors such as getting into mild trouble and then getting out of it are reflected in Lili O’Day‘s teen years, mainly showcased in Flip. Lili is given a chance to turn her life around and she leaps at it. But, at the same time, she is overly annoyed at her hovering grandparents and their reminders, which feel like nagging to her.
Doug‘s childhood is somewhat different, but that is the essence of the Mirror Universe. In Paving Stones, Doug’s early life is rather Dickensian, but that is in keeping with my vision of the other side of the pond. Doug’s life also somewhat parallels what life was like for the young in ancient Sparta.
Childhood is a part of everyone’s life. For those of us lucky enough to live far beyond its end, it can often serve as a prelude to our own personal futures. But Star Trek canon rarely seems to show anything other than extremes. It has been my mission to show what’s in the middle.
This is a somewhat different post, as I am (for the first time! Sound the trumpets!) participating in a Blog Hop. I’ve been tagged by Alex Karola, I’ll answer a few questions, and then I will tag three other folks to continue the chain. Those three folks, who I will mention again at the end are Jessica Bloczynski, Katrin Hollister, and MirielOfGisborne.
Without further ado, here are the questions.
1. What am I working on?
Egad, it feels like, what am I not working on? I have a WIP which is wholly original, that I am going to submit to my publisher. If all goes well, it’ll be a trilogy. Well, it’ll be a trilogy whether it’s accepted for publication or not. But I’ll be the first to admit that it could use some tightening.
I’ve got the Barnstorming series. It has stalled recently, in favor of schoolwork, wholly original work, and various short prompted stories. I have a wholly original work in progress for Wattpad that hasn’t been posted yet but I’d like some more chapters before I start. I have The Social Media Guide for Wattpad. The draft is technically done, but I’m always finding more to say.
Hence the answer is – ta da! – lots of stuff.
2. How is my work different from others of its genre?
I tend to add a philosophical bent to a lot of my work. Without getting into the details of what I want to present to my publisher, one of the underlying themes is: what does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be sentient/intelligent? I think when we start to answer those questions, we will begin to understand our own selves better. I like to explore that inner essence (I’m mainly a science fiction author), and that generally isn’t explored while stars and planets are being explored. I try to change that.
3. Why do I write what I do?
Part of it is for my own purposes; I try to write what appeals to me as a reader.
Part of it is also for the purpose of creating art. I like to be creative. A part of it is also to slip some philosophy in there. I think the study of thought and thinking is going by the boards. I see people spouting stuff all the time and it has no basis and no foundation. It’s not philosophy; it’s just a lot of posturing. The real thing is becoming rare. This is not to say that I’m busily slipping philosophy into my works, much like someone might grind up carrots and shovel them into burgers in order to stealthily get people to eat healthier. Rather, it’s a part of the dish/story. Read it for the science fiction, read it for the philosophy, read it for both. I like to think readers will get something out of it, regardless of their preferences or foci.
4. How does my writing process work?
I am naturally overly organized and I wouldn’t be shocked if I were OCD as well. I keep an enormously long timeline (which is published on the site, in pieces) and that is an incredible help. I am able to do things like look at it to determine who is older than whom, who could meet, etc. I also keep a long list of every character I have ever made. These characters are paired with various actors/actresses. For canon, of course, it’s whoever really played them. For originals, I make judgments, and those eventually start to inform my work. E. g. if a character is short, that decides a few things but generally not major plot points.
I keep an idea bank, too, and sometimes it’s painfully scant. E. g. the Daranaean Emergence series was started with a two-word phrase: smart kangaroos. When I have an interesting dream, an idea for a name, a title, a series, a story, all of those are typed into the bank. While I do answer prompts, the bank helps when I am really stuck.
For longer works, I tend to flesh out the ideas, but I don’t go with a formal story line. I tend to have ideas of where I want to go, though, or sometimes scenes play out in my head. Funny thing is, sometimes a scene that I have been thinking of for a long time can end up far shorter than I had thought. In Reflections Down a Corridor, I had a vision of Jay swimming, swimming, swimming. That whole scene is maybe a few pages long, yet I thought about it for months. Was I sick of it? I can’t honestly say.
Sometimes scenes are written in order. Sometimes, they aren’t, although usually that’s because they are standalone short stories. But some of that can be laid at the feet of the timeline. I have ideas of where I’m going with this or that, and I need to go through X to get to Y so I’ll sometimes write Y and then realize, oops, I’d better prefigure that with X.
I have been writing (with considerable time off), in some form or another, for the past 4 1/2 decades, no exaggeration. My initial writings were crudely drawn images in old calendar books that would have otherwise been discarded. Inevitably, they were all about more or less the same thing – anthropomorphized dogs going on adventures.
I used to own (many of them are still in my parents’ house) little plastic farm animal toys.
Many of these came from my father’s business trips to Munich, and they were fairly well detailed. When not drawing picture books, I would play act stories for these toys. Usually, it was some sort of journey.
The toys still exist, but the old calendar books are long gone, in some landfill somewhere (they were discarded before recycling was really mainstream).
As a teenaged girl, I had diaries, but all of those are also gone to a landfill. I did not get back to writing anything resembling fiction until my senior year in High School, when I had an AP English teacher who encouraged such things. I took Creative Writing in college, and a Law School boyfriend also encouraged me to write. Then I set it all aside until maybe 2000 when I did some short works and then started writing fan fiction in 2004.
After a few more short works, I set it aside until 2010. Ever since starting up again (with Reversal), I have written something pretty much every day, whether it’s Star Trek: fan fiction, wholly original works, blogging and/or fiction outlining.
Lessons Learned (in no particular order)
Write to keep writing
While I suffer from writer’s block, just like every other writer, I suffer from it less than I probably should, because I make an effort to write nearly every single day. This keeps it all going.
Take and Keep Notes
I have a large timeline for fan fiction, spanning a few millennia. I have other timelines for wholly original fictional universes. These are kept with MS Excel. Timelines are incredibly useful, as you immediately know things like ages, and if character lifetimes overlap.
I keep wikis (more like informal detailed outlines, as I am the sole contributor) for all major series, and separate ones for wholly original fiction. These are for world-building, and they contain everything from character heights to birthdays to naming conventions for various items. It’s all decided once and the references are at my fingertips.
I also keep a list of plot ideas, which also contains possible titles, species ideas, possible character names, etc. (Eriecho was originally going to be Klingon). This ‘parks’ new ideas so that I can concentrate better on the story I am trying to finish.
Don’t Throw Anything Away
Character names from 1986 have shown up in fiction written in 2011, no lie. A quarter-century later, and in a different universe, the names still work.
Your Work Should be Shared
I belong to several writers’ groups online, both for fan fiction and for wholly original work.
There are a lot of people who are terrified of sharing their work with others. These are not people holding back because it’s work they want to try to have published. They just plain aren’t ready to share anything.
And that’s unfortunate, as their work can stagnate with no feedback. Fiction isn’t meant to be hidden away, locked in a drawer somewhere.
While not everyone will love what I have written, I’ve learned to separate critiques into constructive and destructive, and can tell the difference.
There are those who go into reading a fan fiction who are biased against a particular series, or character or character pairing, etc. They might dislike a certain plot point (e. g. not everyone likes time travel), or they just might dislike all fan fiction.
Most of what these folks say is not worth reading, or repeating. Fortunately, I haven’t run into too many of these folks in my travels.
As for those who engage in personal attacks, they should be blocked without a second thought. No one needs to be trashed in order to be effectively critiqued. Ever.
Do Your Research
In one of my first-ever fan fictions (There’s Something About Hoshi), I misspelled MACO as MAKO, and was corrected by a reader. At the time, I was overly sensitive and felt it was petty. I have since come to realize that of course this person was correct, and they were only trying to help me get better.
Pay it Forward by Reading and Reviewing Others’ Work
Sitting back and expecting everyone else to do the heavy lifting of reading and reviewing is pretty selfish. Writers, of course, should take care not to steal from each other, or plagiarize. But the building, nurturing, and sustaining of writer communities means that you, the writer, need to also become the reader, and the critic. Always be a constructive critic.
Practice and Edit
Not writing does not make you a better writer. Only writing, and reading, can make you a better writer. So do both.
Don’t Crowdsource Your Ideas
I see this a lot, where potential writers, terrified that they have a bad idea, ask their peers for a judgment about whether something is a ‘good’ idea.
This is bass-ackwards. Instead, writers should be writing. Their ideas are, likely, perfectly fine. Why do I say this? Because most ideas are fine; it’s their execution that demonstrates quality, or the lack thereof. Consider the following story idea.
A suddenly disabled man is late for work one morning. Ignoring his new infirmity, he tries to go to work, as he is the sole supporter of his mostly ungrateful family. When they become, by necessity, more independent, they abuse and neglect him and, unappreciated, he eventually dies. They go on without him.
Don’t know that plot? It’s Franz Kafka’sThe Metamorphosis, easily one of the top 100 (if not 50) works of fiction ever written. Ever!
But that plot summary isn’t too promising, eh? It’s in the execution where Gregor Samsa comes to life.
Your ideas are fine, except for the idea that you need others’ approval before you can start writing. Nonsense! Write anyway.
You’re Better Than You Think
Unless you are out and out plagiarizing someone else’s work, there is probably someone out there who will like your writing. That leads to my next point.
Find Your Ideal Audience
Sites which cater to, say, only Star Trek: Enterprise will not appreciate Star Trek: Voyager fan fiction as well as sites that focus on it. That may seem obvious, but it’s a point that people sometimes seem to miss. If your work isn’t being read, try other sites. You might do better elsewhere.
Fix Your Technical Problems Before Posting
Always look over spelling, punctuation, capitalization, word choice (e. g. make sure you are using the right words, and they mean what you think they do), and grammar. A few stray errors are fine, but try to fix most of it before posting. This is a courtesy to your readers.
Not Everyone Wants to read your entire Saga
Readers’ time is as precious a your own.
Their not wanting to read your entire 10 million word saga is less a reflection on your abilities (or their love of your work), and more on their own busy lives.
Expecting your audience to read your entire saga is a discourtesy; you are not being respectful of their time. Respect their time by mixing in some short stories as most people can find the time to read something less than 10,000 words (even better, less than 5,000).
Compete With your Peers
This ups your game considerably. Put yourself out there, and don’t expect to win. Competitions are also a great way to get more people to read and review your work.
Keep Track of your Stats
You don’t have to be as analytical as I am, but it pays to at least have a handle on what’s popular, and what isn’t. These findings will probably differ from site to site, and having objective data means you’ll have a better idea of whether a story will go over well or poorly at a particular site.
Use Your Time Wisely
We all have lives, so writing time often has to be rationed. Determine what you want and need, and how well various sites satisfy those wants and needs. Do an informal cost-benefit analysis – does a site offer ease of posting? Better critiquing? A bigger audience? A better-matched audience to your work?
Build a Readership
When I learned I was going to be published, I told pretty much everyone in my network. A lot of people said they were excited about potentially seeing my wholly original work in print. This is not only ego-gratifying, it’s also, potentially, a source of reads (and even sales) and reviews for professional work. I’m not saying to become a writing mercenary.
Rather, cultivate and nurture your most loyal fans.
That doesn’t just mean being kind to them (which should be a given), and thanking them (another given); it also means listening to them. Do they want to see more original characters? A new horror story? More time travel? Do they think your last book dragged in the middle? Take them seriously. They are really trying to help you succeed. Let them.
I have come a long way from picture books that I showed to no one, and stories that I left to rot in a trunk and are no more. Fan fiction has improved me as a writer, and has taught me to believe in myself. It has led me to becoming a published author. I owe it a lot.
Like most adults of my generation, I have gone out to work.
I’ve had good jobs and bad ones, interesting ones and dull ones. I’ve been challenged, I’ve been browbeaten and I’ve been inspired. I’ve come home exhilarated, weepy, frustrated and exhausted. I’ve had situations that I wished would never end. And I’ve had jobs where I was climbing the walls, impatient to leave already.
These experiences can and do inform my Star Trek fanfiction at times.
Connections to Trek
The best and closest connection is in the HG Wells series. Those stories, in addition to being about Richard Daniels and his enlightenment, and about various romances and of course about time, they are also, very much, about the world of work.
A Long, Long Time Ago contains within it a group interview and then a series of small one on one meetings. Otra conducts at least one of these meetings, and is satisfied with the candidate, until someone else hears her being referred to, by that candidate, as a salad head. That’s a slur, so that candidate is out, and there is no question.
You Mixed-Up Siciliano, meant to be a vacation in time (it’s 1960 Rome) turns into a disaster when Rick and Sheilagh are targeted by an assassin.
We like to think that Starfleet personnel are just brought in, and that the best people are always hired and there is very little effort behind that. To my mind, that never rang true. I think there was effort behind it. And I also think that, sometimes, it’s not the best person who gets hired. Just like real life.
A lot of characters are based, in one way or another, on people I have known. But some are also based on animals.
I am a dog person and make no secret of the fact. The first dog character I wrote in Star Trek fanfiction was the Star Trek: Enterprise canon character, Porthos, in The Adventures of Porthos.
Caitians of course are canon, and they are felinoid. So the idea was to respond directly to that, with a canid species. I had been reading about the marsupial wolf and so the two ideas were combined, and the Daranaeans were born.
Their personalities tend to be canine, too, from their pack-like hierarchy to their desire to sleep communally to the lower castes’ need to serve. The pack structure is shown off in The Cure is Worse Than the Disease and Beta individuals challenging the Alpha are shown in Take Back the Night.
In the upcoming Barnstorming series, their sports are even doglike, including mazes (based upon lure coursing), ring throwing (based upon frisbee) and staggered relay (based on agility).
The hyperactivity of the press parallels, in particular, terriers that I have known. The sentient marsupial canids are great fun to write.
I am allergic to cats and have never had one as a pet, but of course I have known plenty of felines as pets just the same. For Caitian character Parenelsa, her shyness is absolutely based on shy and withdrawn cats, as in The Further Adventures of Porthos – The Stilton Fulfillment. But Ambassador Gopalahr, and the explorer, M’Roan, are a lot more adventurous. M’Roan was shown off to quirky effect in A Single Step.
It’s difficult to write about friendship in general terms without it being just a collection of well-worn phrases.
Complicating matters is the fact that most alien makeup on Star Trek is meant to be light.
After all, the audience will be better able to sympathize with a character if he or she is at least superficially humanoid. Plus recognizable guest stars (and their agents!) want performances to be memorable. It’s not impossible to do that if an actor is all but unrecognizable, but it sure does raise the degree of difficulty.
Yes, yes, I know about the Tripp/Jonathan friendship. But that is more of a relationship of unequals.
When it comes to Malcolm and Tripp, I feel that a big chance was blown there, for they could have been much more of a source of comic relief. Actor Dominic Keating in particular is a real-life cut up, so it could have worked, certainly in the first two seasons of the program. I have revived that, a bit, particularly in Broken Seal, where together they pull a small prank on Hoshi.
Hoshi and Travis
Less cultivated and less explored was the friendship between the two ensigns.
In the aforementioned Broken Seal, the two of them work together in order to prank Tucker back, as Reed has already apologized.
It is easy and, I feel, a bit of a cop-out, to just ‘ship them and be done with it.
Friendships seem to be more complicated, and perhaps truer. After all, how many of us romance our coworkers – particularly if we are stuck with them, more or less 24/7, and can’t resign, even if we want to?
There are, of course, other friendships, and other series. In particular, I think the friendships between Data and Geordi, and between Geordi and Wesley (although that one is more of a mentor/protegé setup) are very believable in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Furthermore, the friendships among Bones, Spock and Kirk in the original series have spawned tons of slash.
But sometimes a friendship is … just a friendship.
Aidan is the good-looking guy, the Tactical Ensign with a fine career ahead of him. It is fully-realized, too, as he eventually becomes a captain in Equinox.
In Where No Gerbil Has Gone Before, Aidan is already slated for Tactical. For the project to improve the inertial dampers, he is brought in for one real purpose, to do the presentation. Because otherwise he doesn’t know a thing about engineering. He is also an eager participant in the second prank that occurs in that story.
Chip, on the other hand, is much more of a jokester. In Together, he dreams of doing standup.
As the self-appointed ‘movie guy’, he selects the films (Aidan is the projectionist), and his taste is reflected in many of the choices on screen. But he is not above silliness and, in Where No Gerbil Has Gone Before, it’s his initial prank that sets the events in motion.
The two are even pranksters in the Mirror Universe. In Brown, they are tasked with removing a rodent infestation from the ISS Defiant. But things don’t go according to plan, as they are both fed up with the Empress.
My own friendships creep in, on occasion. Part-Gorn Kevin O’Connor is based on a person of the same name. Andrew and Lucy‘s daughter is named for a dear friend of mine, as are Jay Hayes’s sister (Laura), M’Roan (in a way), Eleanor Daniels, Crystal Sherwood, Hamilton Roget, Mindy Ryan, Stacey Young and Darragh Stratton. Some are closer than others, who would likely be surprised if they were told that they were being included in some small way.
Relationships between people do not have to always mean lust and romance. Friendship is, truly, just as beautiful, and just as sustaining, and should not be dismissed lightly.
I’m a married woman, and have been so for over two decades. It was natural, to me, for my marriage to creep into my writing a bit.
Oh, the marriage proposal! It’s an occasion for romance and solemnity, but sometimes some silliness as well. In A Kind of Blue, Lili‘s unexpected pregnancy means that Doug drops to one knee when he drops the testing stick – and then he pops the question. In Truth, Bron works hard to convince Sophra’s parents that he will provide for her and love her, and that he won’t physically hurt her, seeing as he’s a Gorn and she’s a Cardassian.
The E2 stories in particular show tons of weddings. Captain Archer is nearly always the officiant, and so he has to learn all sorts of ceremonies.
Because Chandrasekar Khan is Hindu and Hoshi Sato is a lapsed Buddhist, he may have conducted some sort of combined ceremony for them as well, but neither version is shown. He also conducts a Vulcan ceremony for Tripp and T’Pol, but that is only shown for the first kick back in time and not the second.
Cultural traditions or at least something from the Bible (often the Old Testament, and that’s only because I’m more familiar with it) are also inserted into a lot of these ceremonies. For Karin and Josh, for example, it’s the story of Ruth.
In A Kind of Blue, Lili and Doug marry in the more or less traditional Calafan style. This includes not only the two of them standing up and saying vows, but they are accompanied by required attendants. Treve and Miva aren’t exactly Best Man and Maid of Honor. Rather, they are meant to symbolize the openness of those marriages.
In Together, when they decide to open up their marriage to Malcolm and Melissa (and, by extension, Leonora), they copy the Calafan style of doing things. That is, there is a primary daytime male-female twosome union, and a pair of nighttime lovers – one for him, one for her. This arrangement, and the traditional Calafan way of doing things, are both possible because of the psionic properties of the entire Lafa System. With shared dreaming that can often become steamy, married couples can have a second relationship and almost “cheat” but with far fewer consequences. For the Calafans, the cheating aspect was eliminated by keeping the Mirror Universe Calafans on their own side of the proverbial pond. But when the Mirror teenaged High Priestess Yimar decides to throw open the door permanently (it was opened a crack in order to let Doug through to the Prime Universe), things get a bit stickier. The Calafan people initially adapt because interbreeding is impossible between Mirror and Prime Universe Calafans (although it’s possible between Mirror and Prime Universe humans). However, by the time of Richard and Eleanor Daniels‘s births, interbreeding is possible (they are both part-human from both universes, part-Vulcan, and part-Calafan from both universes). I have not yet explored how the Calafan people handled this final barrier being brought down between the two universes.
For Daranaeans, marriage is a commercial affair, as wives from three separate castes are purchased by their husbands. Divorce does not exist; wives are merely sold to others if they are found wanting. Or third caste females are given over for medical experimentation.
Seppa’s life changes when she is sold to Brantus to be his third caste wife. But they love each other, and are a good match, as he is with his two other wives, Anatha and Raelia, in Flight of the Bluebird.
Seppa’s mother, Inta, dies as a result of domestic abuse, and the secondary wife, Mistra, is very nearly convicted of the murder of her unborn male fetus, in Take Back the Night. It is the Prime Wife, Dratha, who helps to get Mistra exonerated.
And in The Cure is Worse Than the Disease, the secondary wife, Libba, and the third caste wife, Cama, are not treated well at all by the Prime Wife, Thessa. The triangular dynamic works in her favor but against the two of them.
There are any number of between the sheets moments for married couples that are covered in many of the stories, particularly in Together and Fortune. In You Make Me Want to Scream, Keiko Ishikawa O’Brien reveals that things with Miles are very, very good. Married people having a good time are also all over the E2 stories, including two instances of characters (one male, one female) losing their virginity.
There’s more to marriage than weddings and sex. There are homes and families to be dealt with. In Pacing and The Gift, Doug works on making a home for Lili. That home is being added to in Temper. In Fortune, Malcolm realizes he needs to do something similar. However, because he’s less mechanically inclined and isn’t around as much, he doesn’t help build the home, whereas Doug helps build his own house, as is revealed in Together.
Children aren’t a part of every single marriage, but when they are, they are of course a huge part of any couple’s (or group’s) life. Tumult covers some of the ways that children can change the dynamic. And older children, as in An Announcement, can change it again.
Later Years, to Death and Beyond
Marriages with longevity mean that people experience each other’s inevitable declines. In A Single Step, Zefram Cochrane and Lily Sloan Cochrane quite literally depart at death, as do Doug, Lili and Malcolm in Fortune. In Candy, Kevin O’Connor is the main caregiver for Josie (Jhasi), his critically ill wife. To honor their marriage, he takes her to renew their wedding vows. Jonathan and Miva are shown in later years in A Hazy Shade.
The E2 stories contain a few calls for divorce, and one during the first kick back in time is conducted by the Captain, between Mara Brodsky and Robert Slater. The cause is adultery – hers – as there is a child who clearly is not Robert’s, and turns out to be the son of Star Trek: Enterprise canon character Walter Woods, who she later marries. In the second kick back in time, this is avoided when Mara and Walter marry and Robert, instead, marries Ingrid Nyqvist. In Together, Lili and Doug fight bitterly and consider divorce, but ultimately decide against it, particularly to protect not only their love but also their son, Joss.
People don’t just ride off into the sunset. And I prefer it that way. They have lives and arguments and privacy violations and sicknesses and sorrows. But they also have kindness, sexiness, togetherness and some pretty profound joys. It doesn’t have to be in the context of marriage, and sometimes it isn’t. But for the characters who do get married, I hope I’ve done their unions some justice.
For the past five years, I have become much more of an exercise devotée. I had needed to lose a lot of weight and, through exercise in part, I was able to accomplish that. Hence exercise has become a part of my life.
A lot of that comes in the form of walking. And by walking around, I see things that I otherwise would not.
And that can sometimes bring on some unexpected inspiration.
For Boris Yarin, I grabbed his name from the Toyota Yaris. I have no particular affection for this car; it just so happened to be a name plate that I saw over and over again for a while there.
Daranaeans are mainly inspired by various dogs I’ve met in my travels.
Exercise also tends to help in terms of working out dialog. I can “hear” it in my head as I walk, and I am away from the keyboard (which means I am away from things like Facebook as well). Plus there’s music. For Pamela Hudson in particular, that character was so defined by her theme music that I received inspiration whenever I listened to Amy Winehouse’sYou Know I’m No Good. I mainly listen to music when I am walking, and I would listen to that song over and over again as I was writing Intolerance and then, later, Together, as Pamela has a cameo in that book, too. It was, in many ways, like taking dictation.
I don’t just walk. Sometimes, I run, and it’s generally in the context of 5K races (I run between 9 and 12 every year these days). Because I am busy dealing with my pacing and timing, I usually am unable to work out dialog, etc.
However, the sheer act of racing has proven inspirational. I wanted one of the Digiorno-Madden-Beckett offspring to have a weight problem, so I settled on Neil Digiorno-Madden. Neil is the only one of the prime universe/prime timeline children to become a chef (Joss Reed-Hayes also becomes a chef and he even succeeds Lili and Will Slocum in that area, but he is from the first E2 temporal kick-back and is not a part of the prime timeline), hence there can often be weight issues when you are tasting food all day long.
I also wanted Neil to be doing something about it, so he was mentioned as running a 5K in Fortune. Eventually just that little story was told, in The Medal.
I truly believe that working out and getting away from the keyboard have both helped a great deal in terms of keeping writer’s block at bay. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, and one word in front of the next and you’ll get somewhere eventually!
I don’t write Star Trek fanfiction in a vacuum. Like anyone else, life gets in the way, it meanders around or my writing does, and the two collide. For what is writing without a connection to real life events?
Dating, Love, Wedding and Marriage
My own marriage and wedding are a bit of fiction fodder, I admit it, and back into dating, too, of course. These are major life events, and the lead up to them as well. A Kind of Blue absolutely evokes the excitement of my own wedding (I was not pregnant) and also a little bit of the uncertainty about the future. You wonder if everything is going to be all right. So far, so good.
I have no children of my own, so my nephews stand in for the kids I write about. Stories such as Tumult give life to the sense of waiting around – seemingly forever – in hospital rooms. Small children are seen there, and in Together, Temper, and Fortune, among other places, including The Facts.
Life at Work
I’ve had any number of work experiences, much like anyone of my age does. In particular, the HG Wells stories evoke work and working conditions. I’ve had bosses like Carmen Calavicci. She’s a bit brassy but she gets the job done. In A Long, Long Time Ago, potential employees are put through a group interviewing process – and I have been through such interviews, too. As the series progresses and the time travelers learn to work together, that also evokes various work experiences. People do not immediately have chemistry. Sometimes you need to really try in order to make things work.
Justice and Mercy
I’ve practiced law (that was a long, long time ago!), and so I’ve seen trials and I’ve been behind the scenes. I wanted Shell Shock to bring a lot of that knowledge to the fore. A pair of trials are also conducted in the E2 stories. I wanted very much for the concept of people trying to do the right thing, even if they don’t necessarily have the means or knowledge with which to do so, to be understood by the reader.
Medical Care and Crises
I have seen people who were very sick and, truly, dying. Of course I don’t just witness such things and take notes for my writing or anything. I am not outside of the moment. But these things do happen, and they are, indeed, remembered. In the E2 stories, and in Shell Shock, characters emerge from comas (in the former, the emergence is overtly included, in the latter, only the aftermath is seen).
For Star Trek to be Star Trek, there are any number of ships, aliens and whiz-bang effects. But, more importantly, there are people. And those people tend to have experiences that are a lot like our own, or at least their experiences should be similar to ours. Otherwise, it’s just a lot of ships whooshing by and a lot of explosions, and not much else. Fine in the moment, but not memorable, and certainly nothing that has survived for over four and a half decades. It’s the stories about people that survive. By placing my own experiences into my writing, I am hoping, if not for immortal stories, then at least for tales with more depth. I hope I’ve achieved a small measure of that.