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 Doz Finch playing a female human Engineering Officer assigned to the USS Gorkon.
DeVeau: Tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where in the world do you hail from? Anything you’d like to share!
Finch: Hi Alora! Firstly, I love the Lower Decks series of interviews, so thank you for doing them.
I hail from the bustling city of Liverpool, in the UK. Made famous for its big time musicians and TV stars like the Beatles and Cilla Black. Here in this wonderful place I make a living as a flight attendant, and so can usually be found flying over the skies of Europe and occasionally other locations too. A lot of the experience that contributed towards me stepping into this career came from working first as an overseas representative for a travel company, and then from returning home and working on the ground for an airport here. I love what I do because I get the best of both worlds. I get to travel around, but still come home at the end of the day to my kooky cat Zinnia and our candle-filled home.
Before any of that though, I was a stage kid through and through. I spent most of my time rehearsing for and acting in all sorts of different theatre shows, and when I wasn’t doing this then I busied myself with other creative pursuits and hobbies, such as doing voice-overs and making or editing films. I could go on and on about this in greater detail, but we would be here all day!
What else can I tell you? My favourite film is Matilda, I love the colour orange, and I’ve got the biggest sweet tooth on planet Earth. Boom!
What was your introduction to Science Fiction in general and Star Trek specifically?
I’m a big fan of films that combine sci-fi with horror, so I think that my first introduction was probably with the Alien film franchise. I just love Sigourney Weaver, but who wouldn’t?
As for Star Trek, I was a latecomer. All I can remember is that, despite not knowing any Trekkies, I was vaguely aware of what Star Trek was and in my search to find more out about it, I discovered Voyager and was instantly charmed by it, and after watching a few seasons developed an affinity with the ship and its crew. It potentially goes back to my love for slightly darker themes; I was fascinated by — and as a teenager probably related to — that sense of alienation, and how Voyager managed to really capture the true scope and dangers of space. And of course, as a lover of strong female leads, I was bound to adore it. To this day Kate Mulgrew remains the only famous person I would go out of my way to meet.
What is your experience with roleplaying?
My first taste of actual roleplay was in the noughties, in a forum thread run by a game moderator in which we were all allocated characters and abilities within a developing murder mystery that was inspired by the TV show LOST. I then later went on to roleplay inside the virtual reality Second Life, which makes up the bulk of my experience, as this stretches back around fifteen years. Some of the themes I have roleplayed in are Pandora (from Avatar), Star Trek and Harry Potter.
Starbase 118 is actually my first PBEM roleplay — and I have to tell you that it wasn’t easy at first, as it is quite the technical hurdle to get over. But thanks to all the amazing writers on the Gorkon, and the friendships I have had the pleasure to find there and elsewhere in the group, it all continues to click into place and feel more natural with each passing day.
What brought you to SB118?
I was so ready for change. Virtual roleplaying can be a bit of a physical inconvenience, especially when you have responsibilities that make accessing a computer not always possible. So I had wondered if a place existed that was more convenient and “on-the-go”, as a small ember of creativity still burned inside of me. I had a gander on google, found the group, and here we are. Bada bing bada boom.
The group’s rich history, its highly organised and structured layout, and its massively creative visual element such as the wiki are all things that brought me here. I’m always looking at the fleet roster and exploring and reading everyone’s pages, so I’m really glad that we have that.
Why did you choose this specific character and duty post?
I’m thankfully very aware of what I like and what I dislike, and one of the things I do like is to write characters that are generally older, who have already lived out some of their lives. I tend to have a lot more fun with it, and I find it more interesting psychologically. This isn’t to say that I won’t write for a younger character in the future, but to begin with I knew that I had to listen to what my heart was telling me I would enjoy the most. Oftentimes people believe that the older you get, the wiser you get, but I don’t think that this is always true. In the case of Doz, many of the feelings and memories she repressed over these last forty something years, happily distracted by her work as an enlisted engineer, have started to rear their ugly heads, and are revealing things about her that not even she was aware of. That is a story I can really sink my teeth into.
When choosing her duty post, there was a mixture of influences. At first she was going to be a science officer, entirely inspired by Janeway. But the more I thought her up, the more I realised that she was actually an engineer. It was gut instinct. Luckily, another favourite character of mine is B’Elanna, so I didn’t mind making the switch. That often happens when I write a character. I have one idea, then all of a sudden the character comes to life and tells me what they want. Nightmare!
Thinking back, though, it’s also possible that my water tank that had broken at the time and was in need of repair had something to do with it too. I’m one of those people who will fall down a well of information when I become obsessed with something, and at the time, it was the functionality of water tanks! So naturally, now being an expert in water tanks, I had to go with an engineer duty post. I told you it was a mixture of influences.
Where do you see your character five years from now?
Phwoar! That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Here is what I do know. In five years from now, Doz Finch will be fast approaching her 70s! Believe it or not though, this doesn’t phase her (badumdumcsh) in the slightest, and she has absolutely no intention of ever retiring. Starfleet is her life, and is really all she has ever known. But will she still have her sleeves rolled up, with a hyperspanner between her teeth, fixing and maintaining engines? That depends on a lot of factors.
I would like to see Doz either continue on and expand her range of responsibilities as an engineer or in another specialised capacity within Starfleet that allows her to carry on working (and surprising the audience and myself!). Her backstory is the driving force behind the choices she makes, and her arrival on the Gorkon is one that began some short time after the death of her closest friend Murphy. Dealing with that and the reemergence and reminders of the life she left behind over forty years ago will determine what direction she ultimately goes in.
In many ways, I think of Doz as my bridge to other characters. She has enabled me to experiment and figure out how to properly write sims, and is my navigator through Starbase 118. So we will have to see where the story takes her. I am open minded — anything is possible!
Thanks for your time, Ensign Finch!
You can read more about Ensign Doz Finch on the wiki.