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 Commander Jocelyn Marshall, aka Jo Marshall, playing a Human Executive Officer assigned to the USS Gorkon. For the 2020 awards, she was the recipient of the Strange Medallion, a duty post award that recognises first officers who go above and beyond the call of duty.
DeVeau: Hi Jo! Would you please tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where are you from, and what other tidbits are you willing to share?
Marshall: Hey! Sure thing. I’m Em, hailing from the merry land of the North in England, where the winter comes from, though right now I’m in Belgium eating many waffles. I’ve always loved writing and roleplaying, running old editions of games back in the day. I enjoy biking when the weather’s good, reading when it’s not, and playing a variety of sports I’ve not been able to for the last year, thanks to all o’ this.
What’s been your favourite part about simming an Executive Officer thus far?
Marshall: I’ve loved all of it! I’ve had the chance to help our crew do some wonderful storytelling, work closely with one of my best friends, and brainstorm over everything from immediate plot points to the far-flung future. If I had to pick one, it would be seeing other players getting better at simming and coming up in the ranks. I’ve been around now to see some fantastic writing and collaborative simming, and had the pleasure to watch junior members (some I trained, which is scary enough) moving up to bigger and better things.
Was there an inspiration for your XO character? Perhaps a Star Trek character or another character from some other franchise or drama?
Marshall: I’d say Riker was the biggest influence for Jo — the fun-loving, bold, loyal, egalitarian officer, friends with everyone, so her fellow crew know when she pushes back, it’s because she cares. She really has this endless fascination with life and love, and just being happy, so obviously when something hits her, it hits her hard. I wanted to explore this typically buoyant character in the Star Trek universe, who has to face challenges which kind of buff that shine of Starfleet off a bit.
Being in this particular duty role can be challenging as there is, as they say, ‘more paperwork’ involved. How do you keep organised and make sure you’re balancing all the balls in the air?
It’s that old adage of enjoy what you do and it never feels like work. It helps that Emma (CO of the Gorkon, writer for Quinn Reynolds) is very organised and on top of everything, so it passed down the ladder. I see how she does things, done in small increments so it doesn’t feel like such an immense burden, and it makes running the ship easier. Don’t get me wrong, there are always difficulties to contend with, and coming into the post can feel daunting, but once you’ve got a handle and a rhythm with your CO, it can work really well. Finding that balance is important.
One of the things mentioned when you received this award was ‘She guides the plot with aplomb, consistently throwing in delightful twists that keep people on their toes’. What are some ways you’ve accomplished this, and how do you come up with your ideas?
Oh man, I couldn’t even tell you. I read a lot? I really believe creative people need to strike a balance between being creative and being inspired, and one of the easiest ways to put the shine back onto your writing and challenge yourself is by reading out of your comfort zone.
For plot twists, I try to pick something out for a character in a mission and centre it around them. Taking the example of our latest mission going to an Orion Syndicate pirate haven called Nassau, our Counsellor Corliss Fortune has a pirate alter-ego called Captain Marisol. When they touched down on the ground, we needed a distraction, and it was a stroke of luck Marisol had been there before and caused a bit of a stir, so when we went back, we found Marisol was a local celebrity, now the protagonist of a popular novel series. They’ve slowly spread through the rest of the ‘Fleet too, which is awesome.
It was a pretty nifty curveball to throw in to keep the team on their toes for the start of their mission, and it set up some cool shore leave stuff, too.
What advice would you share with others who are fulfilling this role in the fleet?
Take your time and find that rhythm with your CO. It really is worth its weight in gold. Be effective and be timely; read the guidance available, and seriously, ask questions. No one expects you to know everything by osmosis. Be a leader and a team player. Sim consistently and sim well. A ship moves at the pace of the staff, so putting that extra effort in goes a long way. Don’t overstretch yourself, either — it’s an easy way to burn hard and burn out fast. It’s one of the most challenging times you’ll face as you start to discover what kind of leader you are, and how much it affects the kind of roleplaying and storytelling opportunities you have.
Ultimately, enjoy the ride! It’s a great time to be an XO in the ‘Fleet with a wealth of experience at your fingertips. And, if you find out you like the chair, keep running up that hill.
Thanks for your time, Commander Marshall!
You can read more about Commander Jocelyn Marshall on the wiki.