Each month we interview a First Officer of the fleet as part of our “First Officer in Focus” column to get to know them better and learn more about what their positions entail.
This month, we’re interviewing the writer for the First Officer of the Starbase 118 Ops crew, Lt Commander Alora DeVeau, a Human female.
Promontory: Tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where in the world do you hail from and what are you up to when you’re not engaged with SB118?
DeVeau: I’m a Georgia native (USA) who went to school in Illinois and Texas. I originally majored in Japanese and vocal performance, then when I transferred to Texas, it was just music. During that time, I got married and started having children. Currently, I’m a stay at home, homeschooling mom to four kids. My husband and I have been married for 21 years, a couple of 25 years, and friends for 26 years. We have four cats, and have made our homes in Texas, Maryland, and now Virginia.
I love to read (we do a lot of that in school!), write (of course!), sew (quilter!), do crafts, music (of course, I’ve even done a couple of filk/parodies for SB118), and help out with a local baseball league where I’m an assistant commissioner and assistant to the head of concessions, as well as scorekeeper. And I think I like using parentheses way too much.
(Or do you?)(Who’s to say how much is (much) too much!)(Editor’s note: you can read more about filk music here.)
You’ve been simming with SB118 for quite some time. How do you think you’ve changed as a writer since you were an Ensign aboard the USS Mercury a decade ago?
I honestly feel people like Tony (V’Airu), Rich (Vataix), and Emma (Reynolds) might answer that question better than I could because they’ve all seen me from my beginnings here at 118. I would *like* to say my writing has improved, that I have a better mastery over English, but I’m well ware I could just be deluding myself. 😀
I do know my character has changed quite a bit. Alora still is an optimist at heart, but she’s faced a lot of trauma over the years, which has made for interesting stories and character development. That optimism is tempered a bit with reality, but she’s also the sort of person who eventually bounces back and will still seek out the good and joyful.
That time covers some 5 ships and a Starbase. What are the things that you find similar across the fleet? What are things you find unique on certain ships?
Funnily enough, most of that time was under Tony and Rich as captains, but I still think it’s easy to see that there *are* differences. Now I’m under Jamie, who has a very different style herself. Each brings a unique character to their ships and bases, but they’re all successful and long lived COs, which I think says how *good* they are at what they do. What remains similar is the desire by the COs to make sure that everyone under their care is having fun and good stories are told. Each one wants every individual to have an opportunity to shine, to work well with their staff and the rest of their crew, as well as balance all that with keeping the game not only alive, but *fun*. It’s a hard job, but they do it well.
Sometimes, the differences aren’t easy to put into words. The approaches are different, but how do I quantify that within the limitations of the English language? I really can’t. That being said, the installations themselves lend themselves to unique aspects. When I was on the Veritas, the area required limitations due to how warp could affect the surroundings. That meant travel took longer, and we had to stick closer to home. Where a ship’s ‘home’ is, does affect the stories that are told, as can be seen there as well as on Ops, where we have a lot of missions on the base itself and alternate that with missions that require ships. Those tend to be shorter missions, but we also have the opportunity to do longer arcs because we’re based in a static environment.
Currently, on the Oumuamua, there’s a different side of exploration because the vessel is based in the Gamma quadrant. Not only does this mean we can utilise species we’ve seen in DS9, but it allows us to create more and expand the universe with new species because this area of space is less explored.
In what ways (if any) has your character surprised you?
Oh gosh, that’s a good question. The reality is, she surprises me more than I expect. There are times I go ‘okay, so she’ll do this’, but then I realise, no, she *won’t* do that, she would react differently. Her life has also gone in directions I didn’t expect as missions and events have influenced and affected her. And yes, I know it’s all from my brain, but I’m still surprised at times! I make plans, but they don’t always come out the way I expect, and not just because I’m writing with other people (though that is often a catalyst).
I know when I was coming back from a year long LOA back in 2020, I was asked to figure out what Alora was doing ICly during that time. I’d had another year long LOA several years prior, and she’d just continued her education, delved a little more into medical, but this time, it didn’t feel right. I kept asking ‘all right, so what happened?’. A couple of days later, her story popped into my head and I said ‘okay, this could be interesting’ and went with it (after submitting to Tony for advice over it because I do second guess myself far too much).
Commanding and executive officers have more responsibility to help enhance the writing of their ‘subordinates.’ In your current role, how do you help your fellow simmers craft scenes and develop characters?
For missions, part of this includes discussion with other staff about the goals of the mission and where to put people that 1. Make sense because of their character’s skills, 2. Balance out the teams so we don’t have too few or too many people in a scene, and 3. Give people an opportunity to do something interesting and shine. And yes, that’s harder than it looks!
During shore leaves, I try to see who’s in a scene and who isn’t. Since Discord is now used as a primary means of chatting, I will DM people and ask if they have anything they want to do with their character, or if they want to do a scene with my PC or with one of my (many, many, many) NPCs. I will also offer to create an NPC specific to the story that person wants to tell. I also ask a lot of ‘what ifs’. For instance, there was someone who had a character who didn’t get along well with his dad. So, what if Dad showed up at the base one day? That led into other questions that we had to answer. Why would he come to Ops? How would we give him the motivation? Where would the two run into each other and find out they’re in the same place? Answering those questions helps us build a foundation where we can start a scene. I use the same questions for thinking about missions as well.
What advice would you give others who aren’t sure if being an XO is right for them or their character?
There were some things I had to sit and think about before moving into a leadership position at all – any position, not just XO.
Do I want to spend time outside of simply writing for my characters so I can help grow and support this community, or would I rather simply just write? This is a game, and so there should always be an element of fun, but the only reason this place is so amazing is because of all the people who have spent time and effort outside of having fun to make it that way.
Am I willing to work with others who have very different personalities from my own and work through difficulties with the goal of making sure everyone finds a way to have fun as well as keep things peaceful? Because we’re all human and yes, we’re going to have those kind of days. It’s hard to remember sometimes, but we have to be willing to strive toward working things out, because conflicts can and will happen. The only way to avoid that is to avoid people all together, which doesn’t work well in a collaborative environment. 😀
Can I manage my time so that I can keep up with the Out of Character responsibilities *and* the writing responsibilities? Yes, the administration part is necessary because it keeps the wheels oiled, but simming is important too. Without that writing portion, there is no game, and if the leadership isn’t keeping up with the requirements, it’s a bad model for others. So time management (and I include good organisation as a part of that) is critical.
If you are yes on all those, have a conversation with your command team and find out what they are looking for. I don’t know of anyone here who doesn’t want to help those interested work toward their goals within our community!
Thanks for your time, Commander DeVeau!