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 Rel Cassi playing a female Bajoran Medical Officer assigned to the USS Juneau.
DeVeau: Tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where in the world do you hail from?
Rel: Well I come from Texas, but I’ve lived in a lot of places in the U.S., recently Hawaii, and now California. I’m in the Navy so we move around every once and awhile.
I work in the IT field in a submarine, but I love writing. I self-published a book a few years ago now, trying to work on a sequel. I also like building and tinkering. I have a small collection of models I’ve put together.
Most importantly I’m a family man. I’ve been married to my lovely wife for five months this May the 4th. I have the cutest little girl in the world, she’s almost two and runs around everywhere. And my wife is pregnant with our second little one now. We’ve got a dopey pit-bull named Gimli, and three cats that are totally not named after Marvel and Star Wars characters (really).
What was your first introduction to Star Trek?
My dad was a huge Trek fan. When I was a kid he got my hooked with the First Contact movie, followed by some TOS classics like “Arena”. I started borrowing his DVDs and going through the whole library. DS9 has always been my favorite series, and I cry manly tears every time I watch “The Visitor”.
What about roleplaying? How did you get started in that?
When I was younger I stumbled upon a Harry Potter forum based RPG that I was on for years. As a home-schooled kid I made my first real friendships there and I always look fondly on memories and characters that I remember with loving detail. That’s also where I got into writing as a whole.
What brought you to Starbase 118?
Google! I had to really think about joining, as I have a hectic schedule as is frequent underways on my sub where I’m out of contact for a while. But I went ahead and signed up (after quite a few weeks of character planning) and now I couldn’t be happier that I’m here. My shipmates on Juneau are a great bunch, and I really love simming with them.
I know when coming into the SB118, sometimes people have a duty post in mind while others struggle to make a choice. How about you? Did you know what you wanted to do? Why a Medical Officer?
Honestly I didn’t have a plan at first. During character development I did some research on what the Fleet needed, and medical was one post with the most openings. While my training leaders told me that everything was open and I could choose any duty post, I decided to stick with medical. I find it really rewarding, especially since I really don’t have any real world medical experience.
What drew you to make her a Bajoran?
I had been re-watching DS9, and at the same time listening to some “Mission Log” podcasts that were discussing DS9, and I realized how rich a culture and understanding we the viewer have of Bajorans. I felt it would be fun to explore that. Another draw was to the religious side of Bajorans. I am not religious, but I do have an appreciation of them. Much like Ken Follet writing “Pillars of the Earth”, I wanted to explore a character who has a faith that I don’t.
Would you share some ways how you’ve explored that faith in your simming?
So far it’s been quite subtle. A backstory post here, some meditating there. Just little verbal or thought cues about if the Prophets would approve of this or that. As Cassi grows as a character, I’ll continue to delve more into it.
What do you see in the future for Rel Cassi the character and you as her writer?
As I am a sea duty sailor, there will be times when I will be away and unable to play with my crew. I’ve already talked to the chain of command about this and I intend to do some solo stories with Cassi when I’m away to further explore her family issues, medical conventions, and other ideas. Is like for her to one day be the CMO of a ship or station, and I want to continue to build on her religious side. Luckily there seems to be more than a few other Bajorans that she can play off of already.
As for me, I just want to keep writing, get better at it, help others to do the same, and enjoy the time I spend in the Starbase 118 universe with my new friends and shipmates.
Thanks for your time, Ensign Cassi!
You can read more about Ensign Rel Cassi on the wiki.