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 Tasha MacFarlane playing a Human female Engineering Officer assigned to the USS Gorkon. She won the Phoenix award: “A duty post award that recognizes engineers. Named for the vessel that legendary engineer Zefram Cochrane piloted during his historic first warp flight, this award goes to those Engineering officers who continue this tradition of excellence in the field of engineering. By performing their tasks with enthusiasm, imagination and diligence, by managing to make their equipment perform above and beyond its rated capacities, the officers meriting this award further the mission of their ship by their superior know-how. In short, miracle workers.”
GALVEN: Thank you for agreeing to have an interview with me! Could you tell us a little about yourself for our readers out there?
MACFARLANE: Sure, my name is Theo, and I hail from Middle Earth, more commonly known as New Zealand. I’m currently a student, studying Archaeology, and hoping to pursue a career in the field. I write for Tasha MacFarlane, the cheerful Chief Engineer of the USS Gorkon.
Winning a duty post award that’s based on pure creativity and problem solving must be a great feeling! Do you take any inspiration from films, television, or books when writing your character and her actions?
Every now and again I will remember something I’ve seen in one of the films or an episode, and may draw some inspiration from them, but generally I prefer to go with the flow and allow Tasha to tell me how she plans to solve the problem. If that doesn’t work, Memory Alpha is a good place to go idea hunting, even if it is just to pick the name of the tool that Tasha is going to use.
Vice Admiral Quinn Reynolds said in her presentation for the Phoenix award that MacFarlane was able to build a shuttle from scratch. How did you go about coming up with ideas on how to write such an imaginative scene?
Ah yes, Project UNICORN, the practical test of Tasha’s PhD Thesis. The idea came to me one day as I was writing a sim. I had been saying for a while that Tasha was working on a PhD paper, then one day she simply told me “I need to build a shuttle for the next step”. Who am I to tell her no? From there Tasha discussed the idea with Admiral Reynolds, one thing led to another and Tasha built a shuttle designed to integrate technologies from across the Federation and its neighbours.
In one of MacFarlane’s wiki pages there’s something rather interesting to read which is about her prosthetic arm. What exactly happened that caused her to go through such a surgical procedure?
During one of the Gorkon’s missions we were investigating the disappearance of the crew of Starbase 173. There were strange fissures to another dimension, and from this dimension came a creature which grabbed Tasha’s arm. It was so cold that it set her arm on fire, then it lurched backwards and tore her arm off, an all round nasty experience. Over the following shore leave, Tasha and the medical staff worked to design and attach a cybernetic prosthetic arm as a replacement for her lost limb.
Vice Admiral Quinn Reynolds also said in her presentation that MacFarlane came up with tinkering artificial gravity as well as creating a holographic disguise of the Gorkon’s bridge to protect her team from assailants. What has been your most memorable scene you’ve written and/or been a part of?
The artificial gravity trick on Starbase 173 was fun, Tasha tinkered with the gravity to throw the attackers at the roof, then drop them on the floor again, knocking them all out. A couple of missions later while trying to help an Orion Syndicate Captain to defect, Tasha created holographic disguises for the bridge crew so that they could make contact and not scare away the defector with their Starfleet appearances. My most memorable scene however, was not at all related to Engineering, and remains the moment when Tasha lost her arm. It was unplanned, and the consequences for Tasha have been huge.
What kind of advice can you give new and older members who want to expand on towards other kinds of unique and exciting duty posts such as an Engineering Officer?
Fake it till you make it. If you’re unsure how to Engineer, throw in a bit of technobabble which sounds plausible, allow others in the scene to expand upon the meaningless words you gave them. If that doesn’t work, my other technique is to spend hours on Memory Alpha, Beta, and our own Wiki, looking through the Engineering sections until I figure out what I’m going to write for that section of my sim.
And lastly, what are your goals and aspirations for yourself and MacFarlane as you continue her career moving forward in StarBase 118?
Tasha is pretty happy where she is right now. She is at a crossroads currently, and could go in any direction. I have no firm plans for her, and whenever I do make plans, she tends to steal them and change them into something much better and stranger than I had thought. I shall see what she does over the coming shore leave, and start to plan from there.
Thanks for your time, Lieutenant Tasha MacFarlane!
You can read more about Lieutenant Tasha MacFarlane on the wiki.