Join us for another in a series of interviews with winners of Duty Post awards from our recent 2020 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 Samira Neathler playing a human female Chief Security and Tactical Officer assigned to the USS Gorkon. She won the Natasha Yar Pin: “Named after the Chief of Security of the USS Enterprise-D, killed in the line of duty, this award is given to those Security officers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in protecting and preserving the lives of their crewmates, even at risk to their own.“
Tierney: Tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where in the world do you hail from?
Neathler: Thank you for the interview. I’m born and raised in Belgium, one of the smaller countries on the European Mainland. After taking a break from simming, I stumbled on Starbase 118 about two years ago. It’s one of the most enthused and vibrant communities I’ve found so far and wished I had found the place a lot sooner.
In her presentation, Rear Admiral Reynolds notes that your writing allows you to expertly include Neathler in sims while allowing fellow writers to contribute creatively. How do you walk that line between driving the story while allowing for collaborative writing?
Well, you mentioned it yourself, simming is all about collaborative writing. So as a writer keep that in mind and think of ways how your character can interact with others. A lot depends on the situation my character is in.
If it’s during a mission, you can help move the plot forward while thinking of how to interact with the others in the scene. For instance, your team encountered a problem. Look at the people in the scene, pick up on their expertise, ask their help instead of trying to solve a problem by your own or simple ask for their opinion or ideas in order to obtain the best solution.
When my character is having a conversation with other people, try to avoid questions that can be answered with yes or no. Ask things that lure the other character into revealing something from themselves or something of their past or whatever situation they are in.
What I also like to do is add enough narrative in my sims, something that others, if they wish, can implement in their own sim. And it works vice versa, if there’s something in the narrative from another sim, that I know my character can use or do something with, I’m more likely to use it.
It can even be scenes where your characters weren’t present. Like during one of our last shore leaves, a few of the crew took some cooking lessons. Non of my characters were present in that scene, but I do remember I used that fact in a sim of my own.
Security can often be seen as a position that gets called in when strength and guns are needed. How do dispel stereotypes such as this?
By keeping in mind the previous question. Remember that you are writing with other people, give those folks the opportunity to write their part too. Allow them to add their role to the plot and shine in the story. I remember a situation where an alternative version of Samira was attacked by a few Cardassians, Sami took out one, but couldn’t get a clear shot on the other Cardies, allowing the other persons in her team to have some fun with the remaining Cardassians.
Did you gather inspiration from a particular character or person when you created Neathler?
Her attitude is pretty much similar to another character I once used to write for. Although that other character didn’t have a detailed background as Samira currently has and even though I have written her for almost two years now, her background still isn’t finished. There’s still a lot of detail to discover. I’ve also had the opportunity to write for Sami’s brother during a mission, which was a fun thing to do and who knows, maybe we’ll see the rest of the Neathler family one day. And a character always grows, every situation Sami encounters will have some kind of influence on her.
What has been your favorite part about simming the Chief Security and Tactical Officer?
The whole journey actually, starting as an ensign moving through the ranks (something Samira still struggles with) and become head of the department. But also giving the opportunity to her assistant chief to be able to do things too. Recently we had an influx of new security people on the ship, so instead of dealing with all of them, spread the task and give the assistant chief the chance to greet some of the new folks too.
What advice would you have for a writer working on a security or tactical officer character?
Not every situation should be solved with pulling out the big guns. Read what other people have written and incorporate that into your own sim. Sure you can handle a hostile situation with shooting the bad guys, but it is far more rewarding to be able to write with people, see where those bad guys take the plot and having to use your wits to solve a certain situation. And my last piece of advice: make sure you have fun.
Thanks for your time, Lieutenant Commander Neathler!
You can read more about Lieutenant Commander Neathler on the wiki.