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Duty Post Award Winner – Rune Jolara, USS Columbia (The Order of the Valiant Award)

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 Lt. Commander Rune Jolara playing a Al-Leyan female Intelligence Officer assigned to the USS Columbia. She won the Order of the Valiant Award: “This award is given to those ship’s Counselor who have shown great skill in protecting the mental health of their crewmates, clearly demonstrating superior ability to care, assist, and comfort those in need. They have gone above and beyond the call of duty in assisting their crewmates with their problems, and in preventing future problems from occurring.

GALVEN: Thank you so much for accepting this interview! Could you tell us more about yourself for our readers out there?

JOLARA: Thank you! I started this life in a small town on the banks of the Mississippi River in Southern Illinois. I left that town as soon as I was old enough to escape and I never looked back.

I really can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing in one form or the other. Even during my childhood I would sneak away and write. Writing, along with painting and drawing, has helped me through some pretty dark times in my life.

My earliest memories of Star Trek is watching TOS with one of my uncles. When TNG came out (yes, I am that old), my interest (almost obsession) in all things Trek was reignited and hasn’t really stopped. Way back in 2005, I found SB118 and jumped at the chance to join a group that combined two things I love. I ended up taking a few years off but came back in 2012 as Rune Jolara.

Out in the real world, I’m a Front End Web Developer with a job I actually love… most of the time. 🙂  I’m also (slowly, very slowly) working on a sci-fi/supernatural novel.

You’ve played a few duty posts in the time you’ve been with the fleet, but mostly a counselor. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Counseling is a tough post, it can be emotionally draining at times if done right, and it’s certainly not for everyone but for me, I just keep getting drawn back to it. I’d have to say some of my inspiration comes from real life experience. I’ve never been a counselor in real life but I have had counseling. When writing, I just try to think about how my own counselor would approach a situation. I also try to put myself in the other person’s shoes, what would I want or think a counselor should do to help me.

Captain Theo Whittaker said in his presentation that you find a way to bring people out of their shell. Could you explain how exactly you do that?

Part of the challenge of writing a counselor is also making it fun because let’s face it, just as with real life, counseling can get pretty heavy and dark depending on the situation. Plus not everyone is willing to just sit down and spill their guts. So I take some unique approaches, such as sneaking a counseling session into a sparring match or having drinks outside the office or even purposely push a person’s buttons to get them to open up. It makes for more interesting writing than just the standard counseling sessions.

With nearly seven years being in the fleet, you’ve been on nine ships and have won several awards. In those years what’s been the most memorable?

There have been so many, it’s hard to name just one. But… One of my favorite is when Rune had her baby and her frenemy, Lt. Commander T’Lea was forced to deliver him. We actually won sim of the year with the joint post we wrote so that was a super bonus.

Captain Theo Whittaker also mentioned in his presentation that he fondly recalls his first encounter with Jolara and how she deals with Klingons. In what ways does she approach them?

Ah yes, there is a rich history between Al-Leyans and Klingons. There were decades of conflict between the two species. Because of this, she isn’t fond of Klingons and she certainly doesn’t trust them. However, since joining Starfleet she has learned that not all Klingons are the same and it’s wrong to blame all for the actions of a few. She still has difficulty trusting them but she no longer hates them. So I would say, she now approaches them with caution, trying her best to give them some benefit of the doubt. However, if they are hostile toward her, she will openly show them the same attitude.

What advice can you give other writers that want to play a counselor? Even an Intelligence Officer and a Federation Ambassador?

Never forget it’s all about having fun. It’s important to bounce ideas and playing off other writers, especially as a Counselor. Things won’t always go the way we expect or even want, but go with the flow. Sometimes that can create the best stories. Explore your character inside and outside of their duty post. Don’t be afraid to get into a little in character trouble or show your character’s flaws.

Thanks for your time, Lt. Commander Rune Jolara!

You can read more about Lt. Commander Rune Jolara on the wiki.