Commander Rhys talks with the winner of the last writing competition, Lieutenant (jg) Toni Turner of the Duronis II Embassy. Find out about his foot-in-mouth problems. Commander Rhys Bejain: Today, we’re talking with Lt. Jg. Toni Turner of the Duronis II Embassy. Welcome, Lieutenant.
Lt. Jg. Toni Turner: Thank you, Commander. It was nice of you to ask me to join you.
RB: I’ve not talked with anyone before from the Embassy. How are things going there?
TT: Well, we have just celebrated our first anniversary at the Embassy, and are looking toward another year for SIMing fun. We have a great staff at the Embassy, very creative, so you can be sure it will be exciting too.
Rhys Bejain: So…how did you become interested in Star Trek?
TT: ::laughs:: I’m not what some would call a conventional Trekkie or Trekker. Actually, I know very little about Star Trek. I’ve never been big on watching television, so I missed out on the craze. Since I came to UFoP a three months ago, I have had to research 9/10ths of my SIMs. It’s hard when you don’t know much about the subject, but interesting to learn.
RB: Really? I think that it’s a huge validation of our group that we don’t only attract star trek junkies, but people just interested in writing.
TT: Absolutely. It gives all writers a chance to flex their muscles, hone their skills, and challenge their talent.
RB: Have you started watching the series or the movies now?
TT: So far, I haven’t been able to pick up the series on satellite to watch at home, but I have rented the movies, and watched them more that once. I particularly paid attention to First Contact, as it dealt with the Borg, and at the time the Embassy was under a Borg attack.
RB: How did you find out about UFoP?
TT: Oh, long story.. got a day or two? *lol* Well, to shorten it… I ran across an ad for lesser site in a web based guest book, and decided to see what SIMing was all about. After a month of SIMing, I was hooked, but the site got into some medieval scenarios that held absolutely no interest to me. I became bored, and started looking around for other SIM sites, and that’s when a friend told me about UFoP.
RB: I know what you mean. For someone who has done postgrad work in medieval music, I have little time for the Wizards and Warriors sort of stuff. Give me real medieval history any day. Things like the siege of Beziers or the Crusades, or the various battles of Barbarossa are far more fascinating.
TT: Well, I am only a high school graduate, so my exposure historical literature has been limited, but I do have a wide range of interests – from stories about American Indians (pre-cowboy) to twentieth century wars, and of course, being from Georgia, I’d include the Civil War era. Sprinkle in stories about love and romance, crime and punishment, and biographies, and a host of other subjects and you have my range. Actually, I could be described as knowing a little about most everything, but not much about anything.
RB: Though I think you’ve just had a medieval scenario play itself out on the Embassy?
TT: Oh yes, that was in December when our holodeck caught a virus, but it was basically a freestyle scenario, and we were allowed to bring in a mix of other characters, and that made it fun.
RB: How did you find the training process?
TT: Training at the Academy was a hoot with classmates like Ensign Russ Heston to lead me astray, and well worth the long wait to get in a class. It was my first exposure to script writing, and that was quite an adjustment, but when I got discouraged, Lt. Commander Solan was there to put me back on track. During the time I was in training, I suffered a great personal loss. With support that everyone gave me, I knew that I had found more than just a SIM site… I had found a family.
RB: There you go, Solan. You’ve got a fan!
TT: ::laughs:: Yes, Solan and his Sun Babies.
RB: So I guess you’ve met most of your family through the boards?
TT: Yes, my on-line family. I tend to be skittish about meeting any of them in RL, but they are no less a family, and I love them dearly.
RB: Just so everyone on the same page, I do have to tell a story about the first time I had any dealings with Lieutenant Turner. I’m one of the judges on the writing challenge. Lieutenant Turner had submitted a story. Glancing at it, I noticed that it was *very* short. Maybe 600 words or so of the 3000 words required. So, I arrogantly and brashly decided to drop her a note saying that, so far, no such short entry had won. In real life, I’ve been a university professor, so I always encouraged my students to use every single word. But there is, it seems a great difference between writing for uni and writing fiction. When I actually *looked* at the story, I realized that it was the best story in the competition (and that’s not disparaging the other writers, who were also good). I realized that I had to give it my first choice. I think it was almost a unanimous choice amongst the judges. And so, suitably chastened, I wrote a sheepish email to Lieutenant Turner apologizing profusely and informing her that she’d won. I think she almost dropped whatever she was holding at the time. And, she’s on the judging panel this time, so watch it, you entrants!
TT: *smile* Actually, what you did Commander, is made me take a good look at my work, and when I did, I had to decide if I had confidence enough in it, to leave it in the competition. In truth, I had spent only a couple of hours writing it, and I didn’t have the confidence, but being a little bit on the foolhardy side, I left it in the competition just to see how it would stand up. When I got your note and apology, I had not seen the board, so it came as a shock to find out I had won. And yes, I was so excited I believe I zipped a quick note back to you, dropped everything I was doing, and went to the board, thinking you had been joking.
As for me judging the current competition, no one has anything to fear if they watch their spelling, check their punctuation, and write with the passion they feel.
RB: Tell me about Ensign Turner.
TT: Ensign Turner started out as a Counselor, because it was the easiest job to do, but although she is a basically shy person, she’s a fighter – not afraid to take on any task or face any danger head-on. She was promoted to Lieutenant Jg. in December, and this week she became a Medical Officer. She is quick to size-up a situation, offer a common sense (or hair-brained) solution, and jump into action.
RB: Actually, I’m not sure that it’s the easiest position. I know Rear Admiral Hollis was, for a long time, a Counsellor before he became First Officer and Commander. Being a counsellor means simming fairly hard with the people you work with. I know my Ship’s Counsellor, Lieutenant KitiganZibi sims very hard at that. It’s relatively easy to sim firing phasers at little green men, but counsellors are a breed apart, and one of the most challenging positions. But I do take your point that it’s possibly the position that uses least trek knowledge.
TT: Yes, that is true, and in my case, I love the challenge of heavy subjects, and that made it fun to do. When it is fun, it makes it easy. *smile*
RB: Why did you decide to make Turner as she is?
TT: Turner is very adaptable to all situations, and that is a basic reflection of me in real life. I simply find it more comfortable and fun to write what I know best. That’s why she has a warped sense of humor.
RB: I’ve found a lot of people make a kind of “Uber-me”, if you know what I mean. Rhys is certainly the good aspects of me. Except for the assassin thing. 🙂
TT: Our characters do face a variety trauma that we would not normally be in the scope of our real lives, but that is the beauty of fiction. We put ourselves to a personal test, considering our experiences, then write our SIMs according to how we think we would react.
RB: What were your initial impressions of the Embassy on Duronis II?
TT: The Embassy offered a unique situation in that it was not a Starship. That, in itself, attracted me, because of my lack of technical knowledge.
RB: What’s happening on board now?
TT: Well after defeating the Borg, and dealing with a Holodeck gone awry, the crew is on Shore Leave for the week. Most of us are using the time to set up for the next mission, and to “flesh out” our characters. For me, the latter is the most difficult, because Toni Turner is just my main character. I have eight NPCs… (oops I forgot the one I added yesterday), so that’s nine.
RB: Damn… you’re a one-woman ship unto yourself.
TT: *lol* Well, no, not hardly. I made my NPCs so I could SIM more. The nature of my RL work keeps me on-line, and I tend to SIM a lot. On average I SIM one to three times a day, and on a good day that count may go as high as four to five. The first two characters I made were to make it possible to SIM while I was waiting for a response. But then it got to a point that my three characters were limited to four SIMs a week each. To find a comfort zone for my enthusiasm, I began SIMing in Laudean characters. Laudeans are the people the Federation Embassy is trying to woo, but very few were being portrayed. Giving a look into their lives opened a new portal to my writing abilities that I didn’t know I had.
RB: What advice would you give a new ensign arriving on a new ship?
TT: The best advice I could give is not to get discouraged. This has been the most difficult thing for me to deal with since I am easily bored when I’m not challenged.
RB: So it’s just as well you’re on a fast-simming ship. I know Captain Rocar well, and he’s a terrific chap. (Even if you did beat us in the Cricket, you swine!)
TT: Yes, Captain Rocar told me that Duronis II Embassy was the fastest SIMing group on UFoP, but still my SIM rate has still posed a problem at times. Working on the Embassy Wiki, making graphics, posting on the forums, and the Writing Challenge, and now judging, have helped some, but still I have all these ideas floating around in my head that yearn to take flight.
RB: I’m actually so pleased that there’s an embassy in the group. I gather our last attempts in this direction didn’t go so well.
TT: I was not here when the first Embassy existed, but I understand it was blown up in a terrorist attack. I don’t think that it will happen again, as the Embassy writers are a quick-witted and a dedicated group.
RB: What are your future plans for Turner?
TT: Right now, Turner is in a difficult situation, and dealing with a trauma that most women fear most.
RB: What? She’s fallen in love with Leonard DiCapricio?
TT: No, he’s not her type. She tends to like older men. *grin*
RB: I like her already.
TT:Actually, the trauma was rape, and I want to portray her with as much realism as possible, so she comes out of it with dignity. My feelings are that reality does have a place in fiction, and if we can help others through our words, then we have truly accomplished something wonderful. Beyond her getting through this crisis, I will play it by ear, and let the chips fall where they may.
RB: Thanks for talking with us, Lieutenant Turner. You sound like you’re enjoying yourself, and that’s what we’re all here for, after all. Best of luck to you.
TT: Thank you, Commander. Good luck to you and all the other SIMers on UFoP who have made it such a great place to spend time.