Each month we interview a First Officer or Commanding Officer of the fleet as part of our “First Officer in Focus” and “Captain’s Corner” columns to get to know them better, and learn more about what their positions entail.
This month, we’re interviewing the First Officer of the USS Gorkon, Lieutenant Commander Jo Marshall, a Human female.
Let’s get started!
THORAN: Tell us a little bit about the writer behind Marshall. Where do you hail from, and what are you up to when you’re not simming?
MARSHALL: Thanks for having me! I’m Emily, forged a Royal Navy brat and swiftly moved up to Manchester in the UK – so I wouldn’t try to take over the Admiralty, I suspect. My plans for military domination successfully hampered, fast-forward and I’m working in Belgium (where the chocolate is good and beer is plentiful) as an ICT minion for a General who whistles full Madonna albums. When I’m not putting everyone in simming peril, I’m going out on my bike to get some sunshine, playing volleyball, throwing myself at video games, or strumming guitar in the garden to the consternation of my neighbours.
How is the FO position similar or different from your previous posting?
Ah, you can take the Marshall out of Ops but you can’t take the Ops out of Marshall. As the writer, it’s been interesting exploring this new realm of emotion and thought for Jo. She’s a laid back and happy soul, so to have the weight of the crew she considers her family now partially on her shoulders is sobering for this kid that came on the Gorkon as an Ensign straight from the Cadet Cruise. In Ops, she didn’t have that. Life was a breeze.
In some ways, it’s wildly different. There’s a lot more admin to do and it really opens your eyes to just how much the Captain of your ship does, and the rest of the fleet too! It’s crazy. Like the old iceberg philosophy – you see the top, but not the groundwork that goes into making it what it is. It’s also a huge privilege to be selected for the role and I’m massively grateful for the chance to do it for the Gorkon. There’s so many good writers on our ship, so it’s a real heartwarming thing for me to be able to support us in any capacity.
Is there a particular aspect of your role of First Officer that motivates you in your position?
It’s all about people and what the variety of personalities we have bring to our RP, so what motivates me is helping others develop and achieve their goals and aspirations for writing and developing their characters. I love chucking people into the limelight to demonstrate how creative they can be when they know they’ve got back up. Encouraging and lifting people up is something you can do from any role on the ship and I’ll still be attempting to do just that in any role I’m in. It all comes back to being a team player and an effective leader, inviting everyone to take this journey with you and striving to be an example. Facilitating is a great aspect of this role, so if you throw yourself into the process, the results are amazing.
I’ve also had the opportunity to collaborate more on plot development, and help get the ship achievements implemented, which has been a lot of fun in that it’s given everyone some inspiration to think outside the box and throw themselves (and their characters) into new situations they wouldn’t necessarily have done before. I’ve been actively involved in our ship mentoring, and through that I’ve got to know the people I write with a lot more, mash some ideas together and get some epic writing out of it.
The kicker is that I could’ve done all that without being FO too, so if you’re reading this and you have something in mind that you think would benefit your ship, talk to your CO!
What’s been your favourite plot you’ve been involved in?
Any of my Gorkonite family reading this are going to expect “Skarbek” to come up here and they wouldn’t be wrong. We all woke up as Maquis Resistance fighters, still believing the Dominion War waged in 2395, with memories of living a completely different life. It was a wild mission and prompted some incredible writing from the Gorkonites. It brought everyone together so well – we even got a collaborative playlist out of it! For me, it was the standout mission (so far!) that ramped everyone up to eleven on the amplifier, challenged to see what they could really do when given a blank page, and most, if not all, poured out a glass of gasoline and set it on fire.
Tell us more about your writing style. What’s your process for putting together a sim?
The old tried and true method of copying the latest sim into Google Docs and slamming it with a sledgehammer. I tend to go along, writing in my narrative descriptions and dialogue in a splurge of creativity fuelled by coffee, copious music, and croissants, then go back and edit. Reread it, revisit a selection of narrative, and taper it down so you’re writing with the reader. My aim is to stick a sentence in there that carries the weight of two – what I mean, and what the reader interprets. A boiled down method of “show, don’t tell” and I don’t always get it right, but I like to think that when I do, it resonates.
It also depends on which character I’m writing as to how it all comes out as well – Jo tends to be funny, with humorous observations of everything going on around her and interspersed with witty dialogue, while my other characters could be more emotional and grumpy. One character I write for is a dancer, so getting the chance to relate some of what he sees, feels and thinks into dancing is challenging, but it’s worth it when it comes together.
Following all of that, I throw it through a grammar editor to clean up any mistakes I’ve made, give it a final once over, then send it. It takes time but you get a finished sim that’s polished and easy to read. Hopefully.
Looking back on your experience so far, what would be one piece of advice you’d give to anyone who’s just joined?
Just one?! Man, that’s tough. It’d have to be integrate and communicate. Technically two but I’m going to duct tape them together since they feed one another. Your ship is a living, breathing, lively entity with real people behind the characters they write for. Take a running leap off the cliff into the denizens of your fellow writers, make friends (and you will make lifelong ones), communicate with everyone you can find, and learn why they do what they do. Fall in love with the journey you’re about to undertake and the pages will fill themselves.
Thanks so much for your time!
You can read more about LtCmdr Marshall on the wiki.