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 Lieutenant Junior Grade Charlena Vanlith playing a Risian female Engineering Officer assigned to the USS Veritas.
GALVEN: Thank you for allowing me to interview you! Could you tell us a little about yourself for our readers out there
VANLITH: Right well. I’m born and bred in London and have never been far away from London for more than a few months. I’m work in a school now but have had my fair share of different professions over the past couple of years. I’m dabbling more into my musician side recently playing for an RAF Voluntary Band for the past year.
What has been your favorite moment writing with UFOP:StarBase 118?
I’d have to say my favourite part was the creation of BAXTER. In creating my backstory I gave Charlena a disabled brother for whom she built gadgets and where her desire to be an engineer came from. BAXTER was originally intended to be for her brother however, by chance and a bit of inspiration he became used in a mission and now he is a definite part of the Veritas crew.
Do you take any inspiration from movies/TV/books when writing for your character?
I try to rely on myself as much as possible when it comes to this. Whilst knowing some Star Trek I wouldn’t say I know a lot of it and so if I am completely stumped on inspiration I look towards an episode I know may have relevance to the mission or I trace my steps back to where a character like my own would respond to something. Even it’s small things to try and provide something for others to use.
On your wiki page there’s a unique section where you’ve added that Vanlith’s mood is depicted on her different hair features. In what ways has that helped her character development?
::chuckles:: Well that has been quite interesting. It was pointed out to me early on that I used her hair to hide behind and well I ran with the notion. It makes for fun writing. The idea that someone would have to actually know Charlena well to know what she is thinking. It has helped me create the idea of relationships and how they would develop by having people be able to ask her about how she is based on those interactions.
I made the decision to put these on the wiki page to provide a unique point to Charlena but also because it meant that it was able to show what was intended by the use of hair when I do use it. The last thing I want is any misunderstanding from it but also to make it clear to anyone new to the ship or if I even move ship what they are and so allow them to interpret them however the character would whilst they know what I truly mean.
And lastly, out of all the number of duty posts, you chose engineering officer. What advice can you give new and older members who want to choose that particular duty post?
In all honesty advice isn’t my strong point especially with this. My choice of engineering was rather spur of the moment and I at the time was just thinking about what I possibly felt most comfortable to write. I guess my advice would be you don’t have to know all the specifications of every ship to be an engineer. I definitely don’t but there are resources out there to help you. But also relax. Sometimes it can be easy to feel like you’re doing something wrong (especially if that is the mindset you have for whatever reason) but you should remember that there are people out there trying to help you and whilst it may not always be obvious to you at the time people do want to support you in all of this. It is meant to be fun after all. 🙂
Thanks for your time, Lieutenant JG Charlena Vanlith!
You can read more about Lieutenant JG Charlena Vanlith on the wiki.