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 Kudon playing a Vulcan male Engineering Officer assigned to the USS Resolution.
GALVEN: Thank you for accepting to do this interview with me! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself for our readers out there?
KUDON: Happy to share! I live near the Boston area in Massachusetts. I’m 41 and I teach high school history and economics. I grew up and went to college and grad school around Boston and am finally starting to branch out with some travel outside New England, which sadly COVID has put a limit on for now. When it’s over I want to go back to Montreal. But right now I’m using my summer as a teacher to do my simming, take some online classes in French and acting, and get some reading done that I often do not have time for when the school year starts.
You don’t play the typical Vulcan and write him figuring out emotions. What do you set your style of character development with when you begin writing?
It was challenging at first, because I was not quite sure how much about my character I should plan in advance. But you and others in Starbase 118 OPS both gave me great advice to let the character unfold naturally. Acting classes I have taken in the past year and a half actually helped a lot, since when I was writing my first sims, rather than thinking too cerebrally, I would just ask myself questions like “How would Kudon react to this situation?”, “What kind of things would he say?”, or “How would he talk?” and my emotional instincts basically carried me along to develop a more consistent character. He has decided to explore emotions, but he never had role models, since growing up on Vulcan, just about everyone suppressed emotions. So what I did at the start, and still do now, is think to myself “How would someone behave who had little guidance regulating emotions and had to figure it out on his own?” A large number of my sims flow from how I answer that question.
Do you take any inspiration from movies/TV/books when writing for your character?
In some ways, no, because in choosing to play a Vulcan who wants to feel emotions I purposely wanted a character who was extremely unique. However, in writing I sometimes have taken inspiration from the newer Star Trek movies that have a younger Spock who is not the stoic adult we came to know. Although those movies are not among my favorite manifestations of Star Trek, moments where Spock gets very angry are very much similar to what I imagine Kudon sometimes feeling.
You’ve been with the fleet since March and you’ve grown so well in that time on StarBase 118 Ops and now on the newly commissioned USS Resolution. What has been your favorite moment writing for UFOP: Starfleet 118?
My favorite time so far was the shore leave after my first mission, because I was able to interact with so many different characters. While the mission was amazing and a real source of character development for Kudon, it was awesome on shore leave to be able to interact with such a wide variety of people. This was especially the case because after the first mission I had a much greater knowledge of other characters than when I first arrived. Especially significant were two conversations Kudon was able to have to help him process his experience of the mission: one with Lt. Commander Galven and another with Lt. Commander DeVeau. These two conversations were of enormous significance for Kudon’s character development, since he really needed mentors to help him deal with what it was like to feel fear during the mission. On a lighter note, he also got to have Lieutenant Casparian, Ensign Drevas, and Crewman Swenhart over for dinner, as well as a nice Engineering team lunch with Lt. Commander Hael and Lieutenant Casparian.
Out of all the number of duty posts, you chose to be an engineering officer. What advice can you give new and older members who want to choose that particular duty post?
To be a successful Engineer, you want to allow your character to be extremely creative. If you think about all the Engineers on the shows (LaForge and Torres are my personal inspiration), they are always coming up with solutions to impossible problems and they do it by being using their imagination and a lot of trial and error. So when your superior officers ask you to deal with a challenge, have fun and develop a creative solution. Additionally, I find it helpful to do a little research online on Star Trek canon, which can really help add details that one can run with. This is actually how I developed Kudon’s specialty in the efficient interaction of warp drive and fusion reactors.
And lastly, do you personally have aspirations in the fleet? Are there any OOC activities you’re associated with, or any you’d like to join?
I am excited to be on a great team with the USS Resolution and helping that crew launch a new ship! I have not yet done any OOC work, but once I’m settled in on the Resolution I look forward to either writing some news articles and/or contributions to the Journal of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers. It also would be great to add to the wiki section on Starfleet Engineering!
Thanks for your time, Lieutenant Junior Grade Kudon!
You can read more about Lieutenant JG Kudon on the wiki.