TrekGirl Interview with Dave Rogers
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|Title:||TrekGirl Interview with Dave Rogers|
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"Author of the Virtues series, Takeover Bid, Wrong Number, Surrogates, Coffin and the Examination for a Lieutenant series of Drabbles among many many others."
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A little over a year, or all my life. It depends what you mean by writing. I used to write stories at school, but stopped when I specialised in the sciences, although I tend to try and write readable reports and suchlike. I started getting interested in the Internet about four or five years ago, and found myself writing a lot of strange things on the Monty Python fan group, including the alt.fan.monty-python Ant FAQ and my greatest claim to anonymous fame, "The Newbie's Song," which has done the rounds on Usenet for the past four years.
I've really only tried writing Star Trek fanfic, although I have been known to write filks and humorous articles on other subjects; I suppose some of the stuff I wrote a few years ago qualifies as Monty Python fanfic, although I didn't really know what fanfic was at the time. I write Star Trek fanfic because I'm intimately familiar with the characters and situations, because I like science fiction and (I think this may be a big part of it) because it provides a ready-made audience.
[Why do I write about Star Trek?]: Because it's fun. Because I know the Star Trek universe and characters. Because I'm a lifelong sci-fi fan, and Star Trek is as well-realised a universe as there is in sci-fi. Because there's a very friendly and supportive community of Star Trek writers. Because the BBC tends to mess about with the schedules and take off Star Trek in favour of events of major global importance (last year this included Crufts, the national dog show - I kid you not) and I get impatient for a fix. Because I like showing off, and writing fanfic gets attention. Because I like to do unusual things, and writing fanfic is one of the more recent ones.
I think of myself as primarily a P/T writer, and it never fails to surprise me how little of my work actually falls into that category. Paris and Torres are certainly my favourite characters, though. It's rather difficult to say anything new about why they're such interesting characters; part of it is that we know so much about their troubled pasts, and the source of all the emotional baggage they carry around.
As types, they're very familiar to me, to the extent that I've occasionally used P/T writing as self-administered counselling.I tend to use Tom Paris as a Mary Sue, I think, but that's hardly out of character since he's been romantically involved with Janeway, Kes and Torres, has an unusually traumatic past, has saved the ship on numerous occasions and has even died heroically (though he got better). I seem to find it easier, though, to get inside B'Elanna Torres's mind, and I don't really know the explanation for that one. I aim to write her as close to canon as I can, because she's such a well drawn character and has had some superb episodes centred on her personal development.
I've always had the gift of expressing an idea concisely, to the extent that I find it incredibly difficult to write anything of any length. A drabble is the perfect way to express a single idea, or answer a single question, that doesn't necessarily fit into the context of a larger story. Then again, the limitation of exactly a hundred words imposes a very stringent discipline which requires a disproportionate amount of work to the length of the story, so it's probably not the most economical use of my time in terms of words per hour. That said, they are quick to write, and since on the whole I have many more ideas for stories than I have time to write them, they represent for me the most rapid translation from idea to text. The high output is more to do with not being able not to write them. The things are addictive. The filks are nothing more than simple sleight of hand, really. They tend to start out as something akin to a misheard lyric - I know what it really should be but my mind puts another set of words to the tune - and once I've got the general idea, I find the song lyrics, put them in a text editor, and replace them line by line. It's almost more of an intellectual exercise than a creative one.
I write and I read, and Jenn, my beta reader, gives me feedback about what does and what doesn't work. I get feedback from alt.startrek.creative and one or two other online sources, and I try to gauge from that how successful a particular story has been, but there are various normalising factors to take into account; for example, Voyager stories will probably get more feedback than anything in the MIS category. I've experimented with different writing styles a little, although not much recently. I don't, though, have any well-realised strategy for improving my writing, and I don't know whether one would help; I write so impulsively that I'm always wary of stifling the impulse with too much imposed structure.