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 Maria Alvarez playing a Human female Operations officer assigned to the USS Arrow.
Taybrim: Tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where in the world do you hail from?
Alvarez: First off, thank you for reaching out! It’s a pleasure to give back to this community however I’m able.
I live in Colorado, where I work in tech. I really feel writing here has been a way to explore and express a creative side I don’t always get to flex at my job, and I’ve been really enjoying that aspect of it. I have loads of other hobbies, including games, hiking, and music.
What duty post are you playing, and how did you choose it?
So Maria is an operations officer, and that duty post is a combination of what I, the writer, feel comfortable writing, and what I have pictured in my head as the sort of job she’d gravitate towards.
Operations is sort of a curious duty posting, perhaps the most generalist and nebulous space-job aside from ‘mission specialist’. The best two examples in canon are Data and O’Brien, and the second one is really in engineering. The cool thing is that it lets me define a very unique role for Maria, and explore a side of trek we haven’t seen much on screen.
From the start, I wanted to write someone that approaches problems differently than the average officer. So, instead of being a crack engineer (which is already a little too close to what I do in real life), I decided to make Maria a little lax when paying attention to those pesky details and more interested in the big picture of how stuff works together. This led me to giving her an interest in logistics and supply. Next I decided if she were an unconventional officer, she’s probably getting in trouble a lot, so she’ll need to get really good at law and interpreting it in a different way than usual so she can get herself out of trouble. I continued in this way, trying to build out a sensible, if disconnected tapestry of skill sets that fit her personality. From there, I realized operations was by far the most sensible choice with the flexibility it offered, and fortunately there was a slot on the Arrow to fill this niche.
Honestly, now that I’ve gotten into the operations role, it’s hard to imagine playing another posting where there’s more rules, but that might just be my taste in writing. I know some writers struggle with too much freedom, and that’s not a bad thing – just different. I’ve really enjoyed writing a sort of midfielder who’s good at a lot of things, but great at very few. Someone who gets to be the eyes and ears of the ship. She’s eventually going to grow into the role that simply greases the whole ship along, and kind of have her work slip into the background a little (when it isn’t preposterous shenanigans). Of course there will be rerouting power, amplifying sensors, so on and so forth, but honestly I take joy in some of the little things in the trek universe, and I feel this posting lets me explore that.