Join us for another in a series of interviews with winners of awards from our 2023 Awards Ceremony. Our goal is to give you insight into how our fleet’s best simmers write, and imagine their characters as well as their out of character contributions and achievements.
This month we’re interviewing the writer behind Lieutenant Commander Gogigobo Fairhug playing a Male Bardeezan First Officer assigned to Starbase 118. Fairhug has won multiple awards this year.
Nilsen: Before we dive into ALL of your awards, tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where in the world do you hail from?
Fairhug: I hail from London, England. I have moved around and travelled a fair bit, but have eventually found myself back where it all started, now happily settled with my wife and two cheeky children.
Let’s kick off by talking about the Combs Cross, This is awarded to individuals who bring their ships to life with well-rounded PNPCs, without detracting from the main story and characters of the sim. My question to you is, how do you make a well-rounded PNPC?
First of all, let me just say that this may be my favourite award of all and I feel particularly honoured to have won it. Jeffrey Combs is such a legend and has portrayed some of my favourite characters in the Star Trek universe.
As to your question, I suppose my answer would be not to rush it. I love creating PNPCs and sometimes I feel a bit frustrated when I want to create one, but don’t have any specific ideas in mind. However, in these cases, I remain patient and wait for an idea or some inspiration to come my way.
It’s also a case of two different approaches, the first of which is the old “write what you know”. For example, my Marine PNPC (Corporal Francisco Villa) is Filipino and the Philippines is a country I am very familiar with since my wife is from there and we visit regularly.
The second approach (as those who know me have probably noticed) is to choose a species that there aren’t many canon details on and develop them from there. The perfect example here is my most recent PNPC Ensign Nagazi, who is Grizzela – a species only mentioned in passing in a single episode of TNG.
This ties nicely into your second award, the B-Plot Award, which awards to simmers who, despite the demands of the core storyline, illustrate a substantial portion of the character’s life. How do you get that balance between simming the main quest and pushing the other stories forward?
In every sim I write, I try to think about my character’s reactions and feelings about what is happening, how this will affect them going forward and how it ties in with things that have happened to them in the past.
A lot of the ideas I have come up with over the years have come from inspiration I have taken from missions or things that have happened to my character as things have gone along, rather than already having a specific story arc in mind.
Just as in real life, you can plan as much as you like, but it’s often the events that you’re not expecting that shape your future.
For example, Gogi was recently involved in a mission where he came into very close proximity with a Bajoran orb. I had not planned for that to happen at all, but I have since used the event as inspiration for a side plot in which Gogi is going to explore the Bajoran faith and possibly even find a love interest from it.
Your Khan award shows that you can do villains as well. We all love a good villain but they are much harder to write than the main character, it’s so easy to write one that is too powerful, or too weak. How do you go about writing a good villain and what advice would you give simmers who want to write a villain for their group?
Another award I am very proud to have won. I feel like I ticked off a lot of my SB118 bucket list this year!
Personally, I love writing villains and although I take your point about making them too weak, or too powerful, I actually find them easier to write – I hope that doesn’t say too much about me!
Villains have the advantage of not being constrained by Starfleet rules and regulations…or even morals! I find this means you can get really creative with them, although, as you have alluded to, you have to be mindful not to go too over the top with it.
I think the most important thing is to really understand the motivation of each villain, as well as what is wanted/needed from them in the context of the mission. Flesh them out – even if it’s in your own headcanon – that should keep them from being too one-dimensional or cartoonish, but remember to keep them vulnerable. As is often pointed out in Star Trek, Starfleet’s strength comes from diversity and teamwork, whereas most villains are self-serving and willing to betray whoever they need to at the drop of a hat to achieve their goals.
Of course, that’s not always the case. Some villains see themselves as the good guys and may even be doing whatever it is they’re doing for what they consider to be noble reasons, so that goes back to understanding their motivations and what is required of you as an MSNPC for the mission.
You have also won the Semper Fidelis Award and this year you won it a second time and were recognized for your continued dedication to Marines. When most people think of Star Trek, they don’t think of the Marines. So why do marines fit perfectly into the Star Trek universe and what do you love about playing a marine?
This is a funny one because I had never intended for Gogi to become a Marine, but a series of events led to him becoming Marine CO on Starbase 118 Ops a few years ago now and I wasn’t sure if I could do it justice at first, but I decided to incorporate that into my writing – having Gogi initially feeling like an outsider and eventually winning over his fellow Marines through his willingness to get stuck in and become one of them.
Eventually, I came to consider Gogi just as much as a Marine as a Security Officer or FO and it’s definitely become part of who he is.
As we are reminded regularly on screen, Starfleet’s mission is primarily one of exploration, but being a Starfleet officer is extremely dangerous and to me, it makes perfect sense for ships and installations to have Marines – people who are trained and dedicated to protecting others – stationed on them to take at least some of the burden off of the other departments.
I hope we get to see more of the Starfleet Marine Corps in Star Trek canon in the TV shows or movies soon!
Thanks for your time, Lieutenant Commander Fairhug
You can read more about Lieutenant Commander Gogigobo Fairhug on the wiki.