Join us for another in a series of interviews with winners of awards from our recent 2022 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 J.G. Sera playing a Vulcan female Engineering Officer assigned to Starbase 118 Ops. She won the ‘Xalor Clan Xifilis Award’: Awarded to simmers who overcome a disadvantage throughout simming.
Fairhug: Hello Lieutenant! Let’s start with an introduction. Tell us a little about the writer behind Sera.
Sera: I wish I could say I was a glamorous, exciting individual; but I’d like to think I’m a reasonably OK person to be around. I suppose it depends on who you ask, really. I work as a medical provider (Acute Care NP) at a Level 1 Trauma Center in Virginia. It’s a new-ish job and a new role for me…so it’s kind of like life imitating art (pertaining to the Xalor Clan Xifilis Award). I’m having to overcome being brand new at my role, and it’s quite a learning curve working in a different specialty than what I’m familiar with. I went from a subject matter expert to a novice again. It’s been a humbling and challenging time, but I am enjoying what I do overall.
I joined SB 118 after I finished grad school because—and this speaks to my weirdness—I found that I missed writing, and I had a lot of free time on my hands. (Also, I was tired of fighting The ChildTM for television rights.)
Your PC, Sera, is Vulcan and I happen to know that you are somewhat of an authority on Romulans, too. What is it about the Vulcanoid Star Trek species that you find particularly appealing?
Sera: Well, that’s quite the question…I think I was first drawn to them because they were different. I’m, well…different. There were aspects of the species that resonated with me, I suppose. I enjoy that they are alien. They’re not ‘humans’ with pointed ears; they have completely different thought processes, biological drives, cultural and social mores – and as their world(s) have been expounded upon through television/books/fanfiction/etc. – they become even more fascinating to me.
I chose a Vulcan because I knew it would be a challenge to write her effectively; and I’m still struggling with conveying her thoughts, words, and actions in a manner that is different from humanity. It has been fun however – and what I enjoy most is expounding upon her thought processes—even if IC, none of the other characters know what’s going on beneath her placid expression and for the most part quintessential Vulcan responses. “The Secret Internal Lives of Vulcans.”
However, you are correct regarding my insatiable need to know more about these pointy-eared space elves. Romulans are my all-time favorite Trek species; and they are also very poorly fleshed out for the most part. I recently undertook a personal project to amass what I could find regarding the Rihannsu. It’s the largest written document I’ve ever worked on to date (larger than anything I completed during my master’s program, that’s for sure!).
I’ve taken all the canon I could find, and then expounded upon that through various writings on them (Diane Duane and Michael Chabon are notable sources). I also personally added parts that I felt melded with the Rihannsu mindset – such as clothing and housing styles in the various clans on ch’Rihan, foods/drink, the arts, trust and marriage, and even recreational drugs (just to name a few of the sections).
I’m also considering doing the same for the Vulcans as well – there is a lot of information out there; and much of it has been generated by fans – but I would like to bring it all together to one space. (I do this for ‘fun,’ mind you.)
At last year’s Awards Ceremony, you were one of the recipients of the ‘Xalor Clan Xifilis Award’, which is presented to simmers who have overcome a disadvantage throughout simming. What did it mean to you to receive this award?
Sera: I had absolutely no idea I had been nominated for such an award; so, to be honest I was surprised as hell to be a recipient. It was an honor – and somewhat of a Sally Field moment for me, “You like me. You really, really like me!” 😉
To have someone think my contribution was worthy of such recognition is a little humbling. It’s important to me to positively contribute in whatever it is I engage in, so it was a wonderful validation to have someone put my name forth, let alone to be chosen as a recipient.
In the presentation speech by your Commanding Officer at the time, Fleet Captain Oddas Aria said: “Sometimes the biggest challenges are those that come within, the doubts, the anxieties, and the constant fears that what you are doing is not enough among your peers.” Fleet Captain Oddas went on to say that you “destroyed” these doubts and fears. How do you think you achieved this? Do you feel like you’ve overcome these feelings permanently, or is it an ongoing process?
Sera: Well, the work I undertake in medicine often places me into uneasy, uncertain situations where I must perform regardless of how I feel. I’m talking palm sweating, gut clenching discomfort sometimes (when you have your finger in someone’s chest for the first time to make a hole for a chest tube – you can feel pretty uncomfortable.)
In regard to simming; I found it a challenge to write with other people at first, especially when I knew nothing about them or their character – it’s kind of like being the new kid in the front of the classroom on the first day of school. Fleet Captain Oddas Aria really hit it on the head describing the challenges that are faced. I simply applied what I’ve learned in life – that if you do something enough, eventually the fear melts away and things become more natural and easier to perform.
This is an ongoing battle for me – my doubts and fears regarding belonging or being seen as a value-added component to the sim is something I still contend with. The only thing I know I can do is keep writing and trying to grow my character and attempt to make those connections with others – that’s really when writing magic happens.
Also in the presentation speech, Fleet Captain Oddas mentioned that one of your crew mates said in their nomination: “I feel like I’ve been able to be more comfortable with my own struggles…because of Hope’s friendship.” One of the best things about SB118 is the community and the friendships we make both IC and OOC, it must be a rewarding feeling to know that you have had a positive impact on another writer?
Sera: Are you kidding me? That has such apositive impact! After I finished grad school and found I had far too much free-time on my hands, I began looking for a community of individuals that shared a unique love for things Star Trek…that I have been able to connect with a few people IC/OOC has been such a lovely bonus – and it has been beneficial for my self-worth, that’s for sure. 😊 I’m truly honored that I had a positive impact on someone. I’m really quite socially awkward at heart – I just mask it well…sometimes (doing the uncomfortable thing until I don’t want to puke anymore).
Many use creative writing as a means of catharsis. Is that something you feel is present in your own writing, whether consciously or subconsciously?
Sera: It’s my fantasy world to be honest. I have an active imagination – it’s kind of a problem sometimes. Writing for Sera is a chance to ‘live vicariously,’ in a way. It’s exceptionally cathartic to creatively write – and being able to engage with others using writing gives a kind of connectivity I lack IRL.
Finally, do you have any words of encouragement for others in the Fleet who may be experiencing fears, doubts and anxieties about their simming, or any other aspect of being a part of our community?
Sera: I would say don’t be afraid to write something that makes you uncomfortable; and then when you’re done – hit send. Some of the most profound writing I have put out in email has really made me nervous to hit the send button . Challenge yourself; challenge your character. Don’t be afraid to get them into tough situations – and as you write them going through it, consider the road not taken. It can be so exciting (and/or terrifying) to write against the grain. That’s where the growth happens – and that is where we can begin to ‘destroy those doubts and fears.’
Thanks for your time, Lieutenant J.G. Sera!