Join us for another in a series of interviews with winners of Duty Post awards from our recent 2018 Awards Ceremony. Our goal is to give you insight into how our fleet’s best simmers write, and imagine their characters.
This month we’re interviewing the writer behind Lieutenant Commander Randal Shayne playing a Human male chief engineer assigned to the USS Eagle. He won the Voyager Medallion: “Named after the USS Voyager, this award is presented to those Operations officers who have shown great skill in keeping a starship in working order despite near-impossible circumstances. The officers receiving this award have advanced the field of Operations, making sure duty rosters, provisions, gear, and even recreation time are available… no matter what.”
GALVEN: First off, thank you for taking the time with me and answering a few questions. Could you tell us a little about yourself for our readers out there?
SHAYNE: Thank you for having me! My name is Quinn, and I hail from Chicago. I’m a full time student, closet philosopher, couch potato and Star Trek fanatic.
Congratulations on winning the Voyager Medallion! The award is presented to people who have advanced the field of Operations. Could you explain how through Randal Shayne you have accomplished just that?
Allow me first to properly state just how touched I was to receive this distinction, and how grateful I still am. I genuinely didn’t expect it, which makes it difficult for me to reflect accurately on what I might have done to earn such recognition. One thing I noted going into the role of Ops Officer was the freedom it afforded, the ability to make strange connections and to do very nearly anything you wanted, within reason. I suppose it was that mentality, and the brilliant plots my fellows helped create around me, that granted me the opportunity to explore, to try new things, and to experiment, in character and otherwise.
Captain Theo Whittaker mentioned in his presentation that you bring the role and character to life with such beauty and that it’s often breathtaking. Do you take any inspiration from films, television, or books when writing your character and his actions?
I don’t think I’ve ever blushed harder than when I’d read that. It’s definitely true that I take a good amount of my inspiration from canon characters. Shayne is never idle, and that’s the vibe I get from many of the officers in the show. I’m particularly fond of Miles O’Brien’s rolled-sleeve approach to his work- someone who’s got an immense amount of experience, and some prejudices as a result, but will always come through in a pinch. He takes enormous pride in his craft- it’s a part of him. That devotion to Starfleet and its aims is what I feel in my heart, and wish to emulate through Shayne.
With so much enthusiasm and drive into your character, what’s been your favorite part about simming an Operations officer so far?
Oh, it would have to be the everyman aspect. Ops is a role designed to be extraordinarily flexible, which can make it extremely fun in a set plot. One moment, you’re on the bridge repairing shields, the next, you’re piloting the ship, the next, you’re in a completely different scenario you never planned for. There’s always something to be repaired, or recalibrated, or enhanced, or patched, or done better. What’s so wonderful about Ops is that you can play it as you see fit. If you want to dive into minutiae, this is the role for you. If not, that’s fine as well. Beyond the plot itself, though, Ops can be such a catalyst for character building. Pitting your character against small, irritating issues, and then watching as a disaster unfolds, or a relationship is struck up, is an absolute treat. You can reasonably go anywhere on the ship, play almost any role, perform almost any task. Someone’s lost a cat? Let’s find it! Someone needs to move quarters? Groovy! A conduit on Deck 5 has blown out? Goody! Essentially, my favorite part is that I can make it mine, and anyone can as well.
And finally, Captain Theo Whittaker said that Operations can seem to be a rather dry role to take on, but obviously you’ve made it exciting! What advice can you give to other Ops officers in the fleet who are striving to sim realistic characters?
Honestly, the best advice I can offer is have fun! Create your own subplots- a recurring problem with the ship, or a finicky piece of machinery. Build off of your fellow writers! Latch onto minor points of interest that can be expanded upon. Don’t let opportunities pass you by- make them if none are to be found. Own the role that you want to have, and the world is your oyster. If a character has pride in what they do, and the ship they care for, and the uniform they wear, you’ve already got everything you need.
Oh, and never, ever misplace your hyperspanner.
Thanks for your time, Lieutenant Commander Randal Shayne!
You can read more about Lieutenant Commander Randal Shayne on the wiki.
(Image source: Gazomg at DeviantArt)