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 Tagia Jutto playing an Ariolo female HCO Officer assigned to the USS Constitution.
GALVEN: Thank you for allowing me to interview you! Could you tell us a little about yourself for our readers out there?
JUTTO: Thanks for asking me! As you’ve said, I’m a relatively new member writing an officer on the Constitution. I really like both the creative and community aspects of Starbase 118, and even though I haven’t been around all that long I feel very comfortable here (and the Constitution writers are universally lovely and welcoming people).
I deliberately chose a lesser-known species for my character, as I find fleshing out that kind of thing really fun.
What has been your favorite moment writing with StarBase 118?
I’ve generally enjoyed the whole thing! My group have just moved into a period of shore leave, which means there are lots of little plots going on rather than one big one, and I’m finding that really fun particularly.
Do you take any inspiration from movies/TV/books when writing for your character?
Not consciously (apart from Star Trek media, which I do draw on for technical ideas especially), although I’m sure I get inspiration from just about everywhere.
What are your thoughts on what you’ve learned in the Academy as you look back compared to now?
I think the Academy worked really well as an example of what day-to-day mission writing is like. It helped a lot with nailing down the basics and so on, and the staff were really helpful (which is also true of everyone I’ve interacted with). I’d actually potentially be interested in being an Academy helper myself eventually, although I appreciate that’d be a long way off.
What is your process for ideas regarding character development?
I try to be a bit fluid with things like that. I have some long-term ideas, but there’s so much that can change in the meantime, especially with all of the different situations and characters we encounter while we’re writing. I do like it how the process of a new character becoming familiar with their crew mirrors that of a new writer joining up, and I suppose you could say that I channel some of my own experiences into the character (wanting to make a good impression and get involved with lots of things, for example!).
And lastly, what kind of advice would you give those who would like to sim in your specific duty post?
It’s certainly an interesting mixture. The Helm side is probably the most straightforward, although of course it doesn’t fit every situation. Communications can be a bit like Science, in that you’re acting as the eyes and (especially with Communications!) ears of the ship, which means there’s a lot of narrative potential tied in with the post. Finally, Operations is arguably the vaguest part of the role, as it largely deals with day-to-day inner workings of the ship that aren’t always the most cinematic (and so rarely gets the detail something like Engineering or Medical gets in the show), which leaves a lot of room for creativity.
In a way, an HCO Officer can sort of be a jack of all trades, so it’s important to be careful about areas where its responsibilities overlap with other duty posts, especially Engineering, so that you don’t seem excessively competent at everything and other writers get a solid chance to contribute.
Another option, one I’ve taken, is to choose one of the three parts to specialise in and one of them that your character is just passable at. In Tagia’s case, she’s mainly on the Operations side of things, and she’s an unexceptional pilot (although very good with navigation).
Thanks for your time, Ensign Tagia Jutto!
You can read more about Ensign Tagia Jutto on the wiki.