Let’s start from the beginning and let everyone know about your origin story. How did you start to write Star Trek novels, and how did that lead to becoming a consultant for the franchise?
I had written and submitted short stories which were selected for publication in each of the top three Star Trek: Strange New Worlds anthologies. These collections were the result of competitions organized each year, soliciting Star Trek stories of new / unpublished writers. After winning a place in the third anthology at the end of 1999, I had made myself ineligible to participate in future competitions. Publisher (at the time) John Ordover offered me a contract to write a Star Trek novel. It was a Original series delivered, In the name of honor, published in early 2002, and I wrote Star Trek novels (among other things) since.
My current consultancy contract with ViacomCBS was concluded in early 2019. I work for John Van Citters, who is currently vice president of Star Trek Brand development within the largest global franchise management branch ViacomCBS. In this capacity, I consult on various ‘extended media’ projects such as novels, comics, games and other storytelling experiences that extend the Star Trek brand beyond television and cinema. I also stay abreast of all Star Trek series currently in development and production, which includes reading scripts and other material to identify opportunities to expand these shows into the wider media space. It’s as cool a job as it sounds. 😉
You spent most of your time writing in the Original series and The next generation quadrants of the Star Trek universe. What appeals to you about these characters and stories, as opposed to other characters and stories that you’re not used to writing about?
My favorite of the group remains the Original series, as it is Star Trek I grew up. Therefore, writing for these characters is always a lot of fun. Likewise, projects which are “Original series-adjacent “as the Star Trek: The Vanguard and Star Trek: Seekers the novels are there in this same wheelhouse. The next generation is the one that I seem to have the next best level of familiarity with. It is likely that in addition to the way the planning seemed to work for a certain period of time that saw me write several The next generation novels in succession or almost. That said, I would write something for any other show if I thought I had a decent story to tell featuring these characters.
You (and sometimes with your writing partner, Kevin Dilmore) have written parts of book series before, like the Heritage series for the 50th anniversary of The original series. Now your new book has just been released, Separate moments, begins what promises to be a rather special trilogy, Coda, with other installments to come from James Swallow and David Mack. The title of the series involves some sort of conclusion, so what’s the backstory and motivation for this new series?
With the arrival of new Star Trek TV series (and possibly movies in the near future), it quickly became apparent that the continuity established and fostered by various writers across multiple series – especially those set in the Next Generation / Deep Space Nine / Voyager schedule – would soon fall out of step with the new “canon” that was to be drawn to the screen. While the Star Trek novels are not canonical, they are official and endorsed by ViacomCBS, and there is a natural desire to see such works written in such a way that they are accessible to the widest possible audience. Having new novels on the shelf that are consistent with the adventures that take place on screen is an important part of that strategy.
For those of us who have been doing this kind of work for a while, this is also not a rare thing to come across. This is also not new for Star Trek. Go back and read the Star Trek comics published by DC in the 1980s and 1990s, while there was still Original series films in production, and note how their plots had to “change course” to realign themselves with the new information presented in the last film. Why does it seem so important this time around? Maybe because these kinds of transitions happened more frequently in the 80s and 90s when Star Trek was regularly on television and in theaters. In this case, we were given great latitude for many, many years, starting from the time Star Trek: Voyager finished its broadcast and after the release of Star Trek Nemesis. We were allowed to do all kinds of things with the characters and storylines that we could never have accomplished while those shows and movies were in active production. see Jean-Luc Picard or Kathryn Janeway on our TV screens again, but here we are!
For Separate moments More precisely, what was the process of creating the story that put all of this in motion?
Everything was done in concert with James Swallow and David Mack. We developed the entire story of the trilogy together and determined how it would play out in each of the three books. We all came to the table with various ideas and our individual “wish lists” for what we wanted to accomplish, and then kept moving the pieces around the chessboard until we had a clear picture from start to finish. the end. With that in hand, we each wrote our respective plans and checked them together, after which we submitted the entire package to our editors at Simon & Schuster, who then sent them to ViacomCBS for approval.
Then the hard part came, when we each went to our respective corners and wrote our books. We knew the stakes would be high, and this project would likely get more attention than we usually do. Star Trek new efforts, so there was a bit of self-inflicted pressure from all of our parties. I know it sounds a little cheesy to say, but like our readers, we’re huge fans of this material and there really is a certain sense of protection and responsibility that we can’t help but feel every time we do. we sit down to write a Star Trek novel. Once the three manuscripts were delivered, the comings and goings started again. We each gave each other many notes, we helped each other overcome various obstacles, solve problems or solve problems as a team. Everything in each of these three books is there because the three of us – all three – have agreed that this is where it should be. Star Trek: Coda was perhaps the most intense collaborative writing effort I’ve ever been on, but for all the right reasons.
Without spoilers, what is the thing that you are most excited for readers to encounter in Separate moments?
Speaking as a fan of Star Trek and Star Trek books dating back many more years than I want to say out loud, I hope readers get the impression that I – and by extension Jim and Dave – really wanted to stick to this particular landing. Yes, we set out to tell an epic story that takes the reader in so many different directions, where the stakes are high and the risk overwhelming and the payoff comes after an incredible emotional toll. We absolutely wanted to do all of this, but in a way that shows how much we understand, appreciate and even cherish the time and commitment (and money!) That readers have given to this aspect of Star Trek have been publishing for no less than twenty years. The main goal of our readers was for them to walk away feeling that none of it was wasted.
Do you have a general idea of where you might go in the “Novelverse” once everything is revealed at the end of? Coda?
Without spoiling anything, at this point all I can say is that there has been Star Trek novels for almost as long as there has been Star Trek. I don’t see that changing anytime soon!