Award winner – Chochmingwu Cheveyo-Arma, USS Astraeus (Pilot’s Sextant)

Award winner – Chochmingwu Cheveyo-Arma, USS Astraeus (Pilot’s Sextant)

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 Chochmingwu Cheveyo-Arma, playing a human Mission Specialist/Helm Officer assigned to the USS Astraeus. She won the Pilot’s Sextant: This is awarded to Helm officers who have proven themselves to be the best of the best, dedicating themselves to improving their specialization. 

From finding a safe route home to flying an emergency atmospheric landing, pilots who have earned this award know the importance of staying focused on their task at hand, and place their ability to make spectacular manoeuvres at the service of their ship and its mission.

Nilsen: I begged for this assignment because we can just talk helm (coolest station on the bridge) but first, introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where in the world do you hail from & what do you get up to in your spare time?

Cheveyo-Arma: Thank you for the opportunity. I’ve always really enjoyed reading these articles and getting to know my fellow writers a bit better. The writer behind the character? I’m from Arizona in the United States and I’m always on the go, so I don’t get much time to spare. But I don’t mind that. I enjoy my role as a wife and mother of two boys. My oldest will be graduating from sixth grade and my youngest is in second grade. During the day, I work as a fourth-grade teacher at a rigorous public charter school. I’ve been blessed with an exceptional husband and a purpose beyond anything I could have imagined. 

Nilsen: How did the character Lieutenant Commander Chochmingwu Cheveyo-Arma come to be? 

Cheveyo-Arma: As much as I love Lael Rosek, I was going through a difficult time in my life–one of transition. I’d experienced an unexpected turn in my career and was in the process of healing from this. Lansa was an outlet to work through those feelings of isolation and uncertainty. Like me at this time, she began as a character who had challenges with releasing control and opening up to others. This affected her relationship with her husband and her ability to connect with others. She worked so hard at building walls to protect herself that she ended up exhausted and more lonely than ever. Many of my feelings about my situation at the time were reflected in her journey. Through writing for her, I was able to process what had happened and to see it with clearer eyes.

Nilsen: Helm is one of the hardest roles to write for, not only do you need to be clear in your ships manoeuvrers but you also need your sims to entertain and get the crew safely to where they need to be. What’s your guidance for new Helm officers? 

Cheveyo-Arma: So many people believe that Helm is all about flying. However, its so much more than “go here at this speed”. Through the Helm officers eyes, readers can visualize the sensations of the ship or craft moving through space, the inertia of gravity gluing you to your seat. Another piece that anyone who hasn’t written for Helm doesn’t realize is that these writers can notice things about a situation which can add to the story just like any other writer. I encourage anyone writing for Helm: don’t be afraid to toss in a plot twist. The key with any duty post is to give other writers something to respond to. You don’t have to be a Science officer to write your character detecting something on sensors and seeking confirmation from the Science station. Last but not least, any duty post has a basic knowledge of most other duty posts and can offer insights beyond just recommended warp or impulse speeds and course corrections. Helm officers shouldn’t be afraid to offer opinions and thoughts regarding other areas that relate to the ship’s systems.

Nilsen: And on the other side of the coin, what should helm officers avoid? 

Cheveyo-Arma: Helm officers, in my opinion, should avoid thinking of themselves as just pilots. Yes, they maneuver the ship. Yes, the control the speed of the ship and where it goes. But like anyone, a Helm officer has personal experiences beyond just flying the ship. This is just as valuable to resolving situations as a Security or Science officer’s opinion. If your character has a valid thought, don’t be afraid to speak up (respectfully, of course, allowing others to express their opinions and respecting their right to do so).

Nilsen: Is there a particular moment at the helm you love that you want to show off

Cheveyo-Arma: A couple years back, we ran a mission while we were still aboard the Chin’toka before the transfer to the Astraeus where we were trying to divert a star on a collision course with an inhabited planet. The ship was under severe strain and we were fighting to maintain enough power to our tractor beam. It nearly tore the ship apart. No fancy maneuvers, really. But it really showcased the versatility of the Helm role and how it’s so much more than speed and location. Being a Helm officer requires intimate knowledge of a ship’s limits and how to push those to achieve a vessel’s maximum potential. There are many opportunities for great roleplay if a writer is creative enough to recognize and exploit them.

Nilsen: What’s next for you and your simming career?

Cheveyo-Arma: At one point, I was on track for Commander and have always wanted my own ship. Some curveballs derailed that, but it’s still my hope to be a Captain and an inspiration to others as my mentors over the years have been to me. I’m passionate about Starbase 118 and its mission to create not just a group of writers making up stories together, but to inspire a community where people from all walks of life can come together and build a world and, in a lot of ways, a second home for people just looking for someplace to belong. I can’t imagine a better use of my time than serving others, helping them to not only become better writers, but to become better versions of themselves along the way.

Thanks for your time, Lieutenant Commander Cheveyo-Arma

You can read more about Lieutenant Commander Chochmingwu Cheveyo-Arma  on the wiki.

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