Community News

Lower Decks Interview: Ensign Addison MacKenzie, USS Veritas

We’re here with another interview with a newer member of our community. The title of this column is “Lower Decks,” hearkening back to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode titled “Lower Decks,” in which junior officers aboard the Enterprise-D speculate on the reasons for recent unusual actions taken by the command crew near the Cardassian border.

This month’s interview is with the writer behind Ensign Addison MacKenzie playing a Human female medical officer assigned to the USS Veritas.

GALVEN: Thank you accepting this interview with me! Could you tell us a little about yourself for our readers out there?

MACKENZIE: Thanks for the invite! My name is Matt, I’m 31 and from Cleveland, Ohio (in the United States). I’m a professional musician and love all things Trek – but I have to say I’m more a fan of the TNG and VOY eras. I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but I haven’t seen any of Discovery yet (I know, I know), and I never finished the final season of the Enterprise series. Rest easy, though – they’re on my list of things to get to before the summer is over.

How did you find out about StarBase 118 and what made you choose to ultimately stay with the community?

Well, I’ve been writing [for a lot of] sims/organizations since I was in high school. …I was figuring it out the other day, and I think it’s been about 18 years. Recently, I had been writing for a few sims in another fleet, but the progress was so slow (it took about a year to finish a mission), and the quality of the writing wasn’t that great. I got bored quickly and started looking for other places to write.

Google came through for me.

As a seasoned writer, I have to admit I wasn’t big on the idea of needing to go through training, but when I got in and saw the formatting was different, I totally understood why. The quality of the writers here is fantastic, and the commitment to detail on an organizational level is something to really be respectful of and admired. What Starbase 118 can offer a potential writer to develop a character (or characters) is something special. I haven’t encountered anything quite like it anywhere else.

When writing as a medical officer, is there any TV show, movies, books, anything else you take inspiration from?

Definitely. I remember watching TNG when it was originally on… (I was born the same year that the first season debuted, but I remember watching some of the later seasons, and then catching the beginning in syndication.) I remember very vividly being struck by the Beverly Crusher character, especially as they started letting her have more significant character development. Looking back, I’m still struck by the display of her knowledge, which was not typical of many female roles at the time, and the humanity she exhibited. She’s still one of my favorite characters in the Trek universe.

I’m also a big fan of Grey’s Anatomy, especially the earlier seasons. My character is physically (and perhaps loosely emotionally) based on one of the characters who had a brief stint on that show.

I’ve always been fascinated with medical shows, both fictional and those based closer to reality, and I’m a voracious reader – I’ll read anything I can get my hands on. One of the things I love about portraying a medical officer is that I have absolutely NO medical experience, so when it comes to writing the detailed medical scenes, I have to really do my homework.

What’s been your best simming experience so far?

I love the sense of community here. All of the writers are very collaborative and really open to the development of your ideas. For example, one of the other writers on the Veritas had an idea for a small bit of character development, and what was originally just going to be a tiny collaboration between the two of us turned into a much larger plot arc involving a lot more people. Here, one person’s idea, even a junior officer, can be transformed into something even they didn’t envision. I’ve never been involved with any other writing community where something like that is possible.

And lastly, what kind of advice can you give to people who are thinking about joining our community and want to choose the medical duty post?

If you’re interested in SB118, I think you have to have an honest conversation with yourself about how much you want to invest in developing your skills as a writer. This is a very high-volume community, so if you’re looking for something more casual, this might not be the place for you. That having been said, the total opposite is true – if writing and character development is something you really enjoy, and you want to be around writers who are serious in their knowledge of the Trek universe, then there’s really no limit to what you can achieve here.

As far as medical posts go, I think they’re definitely not the easiest officers to portray (even though they’re the only type of officer I’ve ever written for). Medical issues aren’t as easy as throwing a band-aid on a cut and sending someone on their way… You have to really be committed to digging deeper and doing your homework for the writing to be successful, or you’ll get burnt out quickly.

Thanks for your time, Ensign Addison MacKenzie!

You can read more about Ensign Addison MacKenzie on the wiki.