This is an edited version of an email Q&A, with questions submitted by readers.
We’re now four books in to your series of Voyager novels set after its finale, Endgame. All onscreen Trek told us about the crew beyond Endgame was that Janeway got promoted. If she hadn’t had that cameo in Star Trek Nemesis, what would you have done with the character?
That’s a great question and you know what? I have no idea. I knew about it so early on that it was simply a part of my plans from the very beginning. It’s hard to think about what I would have done if she hadn’t been promoted.
As well as flying solo on the post-Endgame novels, you wrote major event books like the first full-length Seven of Nine novel [Seven of Nine] and the first Voyager trilogy [Dark Matters]. Are projects like those daunting?
The most daunting thing about Seven of Nine was the fact that I had to write it in six weeks. I really enjoyed combing back through the episodes and finding threads I could follow up with, and I like the twist in that book. It’s pretty funny that a few months after it came out, the TV show did a very similar episode, and I started hearing that my novel was a novelisation of that episode… cart before the horse! LOL!
I loved the space the trilogy gave me, and I’m very proud of the science in that one. I did a lot of research on dark matter and shadow universes, and while (as is always the case!) science has changed its mind on some things since then, it was pretty solid at the time. I also loved Jekri Kaleh, and I’d love to write more with her.
I think the most daunting thing I’ve been given was my Original Trek book, The Last Roundup. Eeep! The legendary Kirk, Spock and McCoy! Could I capture them? I think I did and it was a blast to write.
Do you know yet whether there will there be any more Voyager relaunch books?
I’m in discussions with Pocket right now, as soon as I get a contract and it’s all nice and official, I’ll post it on my website!
The branding of the first two relaunch books – Homecoming and The Farther Shore – was unusual, seeming to play down the fact that they were a duology. Do you know why that was done?
Ya got me. That was a decision on Pocket’s part and it’s caused a lot of confusion. My original take was to call both books Homecoming, with the first one being The Farther Shore and the second one being Royal Protocol. We don’t get the final decision on titles. You’ll notice that Pocket made it very clear, by title and cover art, that the Spirit Walk books were part of the same two-book series. I’m sure that helped sales.
What can you tell us about Seduced, your upcoming story in Tales from the Captain’s Table?
Well, obviously, it’s Captain Chakotay… and it’s a love story… but not the type you might think. Look for Sekaya and Blue Water Boy.
There’s been some criticism of the Jarem Kaz storyline, the suggestion being that it’s retreading ground covered by Dax on Deep Space Nine. How would you respond to those claims?
I love Kaz. I imagine in Trill society, something like that has happened more than once. And there’s a lot more to Kaz than that, as I hope readers will see, whereas that was Ezri’s whole angle. We’ve addressed that aspect of Kaz, which was key to the storyline of the second two books, and now there’s lots more to find out about him. I personally can’t wait to find out what! [smiles]
What’s funny is I have been hearing that I have “stolen” things from other books… books I’ve never read… now that’s something to pull off!
Obviously Voyager is your favourite series to write for. How do you feel about its characters?
I chose to stick with Voyager because I really enjoyed the characters and I had gotten so deep inside them it was very easy to write. Obviously I have a few favourites — Chakotay and Tom, and who doesn’t love the Doctor? They are fun because they really practically write themselves. I remember once in writing Marooned where I literally paused and thought, “I am getting paid to write about Tom Paris in an alien bar. Is my life good or what?”.
Which character is the easiest to write about?
I can almost “hear” the Doctor in my head when I write him, so although he’s fairly complicated, I really have “got” him I think.
A few of your books feature Kes quite prominently. What attracts you to her?
I like Kes because she has a very different type of strength than that we see in Seven, or B’Elanna, or even Janeway, although Janeway’s got that motherly thing going for her. Kes is beautiful, delicate, seemingly fragile, and has a lot of courage and passion. She was fun to play with.
It feels like there’s a lot of unchartered territory with Kes: what went on between The Gift and Fury to change her feelings about the crew and, given that she can now change her shape, whether she might also be able to extend her life span… Could she ever return in your writing?
As the reader above noted, I am very fond of Kes. I won’t rule her out, but it would have to be the right story to include her.
How do you go about writing your books in terms of research? Do you rewatch episodes or reread books?
I definitely do rewatch episodes so that I can get the facts straight if I am referencing a particular event. For the relaunch, I set up a lot of threads in the earlier books, and I want to make sure I follow up on those, so I reread parts of the earlier books.
Do you have a favourite Voyager episode?
I liked Author, Author a lot for its affectionate skewering of the crew, as well as the one in which Seska wrote the ending to the holoprogram that Tuvok had created. The name escapes me [Worst Case Scenario] but that was a lot of fun. Very clever. And the one in which Seven has the Doctor trapped inside her [Body and Soul] — proved what a good actress Jeri Ryan is.
Would you ever be interested in writing Star Trek episodes yourself?
Absolutely. I am also a playwright, and though I have never written scripts (been too busy writing novels to study how to craft one properly) I would love to.
Have you ever thought of doing a pre-Voyager book? Perhaps something that explores the Maquis years?
No, but that might be fun. Although I think we’ve pretty well plumbed that in DS9.
You’ve written for S.C.E., which is a book-only Star Trek series. Would you like to create your own Trek series in print?
Perhaps at some point. I’m actually getting to do a lot of that with the Voyager relaunch, as many of the new crew are my own creations. Right now I’m very busy with my five-book fantasy trilogy and the relaunch.
Star Trek: Enterprise has just been cancelled. What do you think the future will be like for Star Trek on screen?
I’m not sure. I think perhaps this might be a good time for the franchise to “lie fallow” for a bit, see what else is going on, and then approach it rested. I’m sure there will be more at some point, and I’m excited to see what it is!
When you write a Trek book, how much freedom and control do you have?
I’m glad for a chance to correct a common misconception — the vast majority of the time, it’s the author who comes up with the plot for the novel. Now and then we’re given a specific theme to pursue, but I’d say 97% of the time we send the proposal to the editors, not the other way around.
So if you like my plots, thanks — they’re mine. [grins] I am really given quite a bit of freedom. Most of the changing comes early on, from Paramount and Pocket, about the outline and things that don’t quite work for them. They usually state their concerns and leave it up to me to figure a way out of it. Once they feel confident that a writer understands the feel they’re looking for, they are generally very easy to work with. I have a surprising amount of leeway, but everything I do does get vetted by Pocket and Paramount.
What have you written other than Trek books?
Get ready — a lot! I’ve done three Ravenloft novels, a Warcraft novel, three original non-series fantasy novels, Buffy and Angel short stories, about a dozen original short stories, and the novelisation and original tie-in of Invasion America.
I’m hard at work at my new great passion — a five-book epic fantasy series from new publisher Luna Books! The first book came out last July and is called On Fire’s Wings. Each book deals with a different element. In September, the second book, In Stone’s Clasp, will come out and I’m all set to begin working on the third book next week. You can visit my topic and chat with me at Luna-Books.com — look for The Lorekeeper’s Loft: The Elements and Beyond. And don’t forget to visit my website, ChristieGolden.com where I have excerpts from the books. I’m a busy person.
Who was your biggest inspiration to become an author?
Hard to say. I was inspired as a youngster by Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, the late and wonderful Andre Norton, and Katherine Kurtz among others. My mom (who turns 80 today!) gave me my love of reading, so that was a very big inspiration right there.
What other projects do you have lined up right now?
Hard at work on that epic fantasy series! I’ll begin work on the third book, Under Sea’s Shadow, next week. I’m waiting for the go-ahead for another Trek book, when that comes, I’ll work on that one next.
Then it’s another fantasy novel, By Wind’s Tempest, and the fifth one, Through Soul’s Desire. It’s kind of funny, I started writing to tell my fantasy novels, but somehow I took that left turn at Albuquerque and ended up being best known for my tie-in work. I’d love it if some of you guys who like fantasy would give the series a try!
Old Wounds and Enemy of My Enemy were released by Pocket Books in November and December 2004 respectively.