Keith R. A. DeCandido
Thanks go to Keith for letting me interview him and for giving us some tidbits about himself and the books he has coming out.
LCARSComNet: First, give us a little background about yourself, your feelings about Star Trek, and your history with Star Trek.
Keith R.A. DeCandido: I was born in a tiny fishing village in Cuba.
No, not really. I was rocketed to Earth as an infant to escape the destruction of my homeplanet.
Would you believe I was raised by a pack of wolves in South Australia?
Seriously, I was born and raised in the Bronx, and I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was very very young. Luckily, things worked out that I got to be one.
I started watching Star Trek from birth — if not before, since my mother watched it when she was pregnant with me. I watched TOS religiously as a kid, saw all the movies in the theatre, and was a devotee of all three spinoffs when they first started up.
My professional involvement with Star Trek started modestly. I did some cover copy and some research for John Ordover, and also did some freelance work for Simon & Schuster Interactive on the various Star TrekCD-ROMs. I also had a best-selling Buffy the Vampire Slayer novelization, two Young Hercules kids’ books, a Spider-Man novel, and several short stories under my belt — and John tells me he wants me to do a Star Trek novel.
The rest, as they say, is history.
LCN: Which is your favorite Star Trek series?
KRAD: Deep Space Nine.
LCN: And your favorite character?
LCN: You’ve written the TNG book Diplomatic Implausibility due out in February and one of the Star Trek S.C.E. eBooks and the Wildstorm comic miniseries Perchance to Dream. Which do you find easier to write, a paperback, an ebook, or a comic, or is there even a difference?
KRAD: I personally find prose much easier than the script format of a comic book. For whatever reason, I’m just more comfortable with the prose format.
There’s no real difference between writing a paperback or an eBook — it’s still prose. The only difference is, the S.C.E. eBooks are novelettes rather than novels. But aside from that, the process is pretty much the same.
LCN: You co-developed the S.C.E. line of eBooks with John Ordover and wrote the second S.C.E. title, Fatal Error. What is S.C.E., and what does the future hold for it?
KRAD: S.C.E. stands for Starfleet Corps of Engineers. It’s an eBook-only sub-franchise. Pocket wanted to branch out into the nascent eBook format, and we wanted to do something different from the usual Star Treksetup. So what we’ve got is a group of specialists who basically troubleshoot technical problems within the Federation.
The S.C.E. group is led by Sonya Gomez, from TNG’s Q Who and Samaritan Snare. She serves on the U.S.S. da Vinci, which is under the command of Captain David Gold, a kind but no-nonsense older gentleman with a large family (think Col. Potter on M*A*S*H, and you have the right idea). The team includes a variety of engineering and scientific specialists, plus a full security detail. A couple are characters we’ve seen before — Duffy from TNG’s Hollow Pursuits,Stevens from DS9’s Starship Down, and Dr. Lense from DS9’s Explorers. We’re also using two alien races — the Bynars from TNG’s 11001001, and the race that M3 Green from the animated episode Jihad came from.
In the first three books, the S.C.E. have to investigate an alien ship that attacked the Enterprise for no good reason, fix a world-controlling computer that’s gone haywire and thrust the world into chaos, and rescue a planet from a ship that seems to have gone insane. There’s an upcoming two-book series that will be a sequel to TOS’s The Tholian Web called Interphase, and there are plans for other nifty things in 2001, some of which I’ll be writing — including what I hope to be a trilogy of stories that tell us what the crew of the da Vinci was doing during the Dominion War. The plan is to release one S.C.E. novelette per month, starting in February 2001.
LCN: We know Diplomatic Implausibility is a Worf book, but are there any TNG or DS9 regulars (or not so regulars) in it? Since the book explores unchartered character development, what kind of boundaries were you given (besides not being able to kill off Worf)?
KRAD: The Enterprise is in the story briefly at the beginning, and Picard, Riker, and Beverly all play small roles, as does Martok. The bulk of the action of the book, however, takes place on a Klingon ship, the I.K.S. Gorkon. Most of the senior officers on the Gorkon are Klingons we’ve met before: Klag (TNG’s A Matter of Honor), Drex (DS9’s The Way of the Warrior), Leskit (DS9’s Soldiers of the Empire), Kurak (TNG’s Suspicions), Toq (TNG’s Birthright) — and Rodek, the man who used to be Worf’s brother Kurn.
I wasn’t given any specific guidelines as to what I could and couldn’t do, but I didn’t do anything they wouldn’t let me do. I was just trying to further Worf’s story. He’s gone through more than any other character in Star Trek’s history, with the possible exception of Spock. Becoming the Federation Ambassador to the Klingons is a very interesting — and, to my mind, appropriate — new chapter for him, and one that isn’t likely to be explored except in prose, since he’s probably only going to be in one more movie.
LCN: Your Deep Space Nine book, the fourth in the post finale series, is entitled Demons of Air and Darkness, which is actually 4th in the Gateways series which spans TNG, DS9 and VGR. What can you tell us about your book and the Gateways crossover?
KRAD: Conceived by Bob Greenberger and John Ordover, this crossover will deal with the Iconian Gateways that were introduced in TNG’s Contagion, and also seen in DS9’s To the Death. The first two books — the TOS book by Susan Wright and the Challenger book by Diane Carey — will be prequels. The TNG, DS9, VOY, and NEW FRONTIER books — by, respectively, Bob, me, Christie Golden, and Peter David — will all take place simultaneously, and the TNG, DS9, and NF parts in particular will be very carefully coordinated. The story will involve a major galactic crisis that will involve all of Starfleet, and each book will show how each crew deals with it.
LCN: And you are also co-authoring the last book (#7) of the Gateways crossover What Lay Beyond with about a dozen (5 actually) other writers. How is that working out?
KRAD: You’ll see.
LCN: How were you brought onboard for Demons of Air and Darkness?
KRAD: Well, Marco was gearing up for the DS9 relaunch. I had talked to him about what he was doing, and we’d been bouncing ideas off each other. Marco knew I wanted to work on the relaunch and he wanted someone to do the DS9 portion of the crossover who could coordinate easily with both the crossover and the ongoing DS9 narrative. So far, it’s working out great. It’s fun bouncing ideas back and forth among the various authors and editors. It really sparks the creative juices.
LCN: By the time you book comes out, we will have been introduced to the four new characters. Do you have a favorite, above the regulars of the series? What can you tell us about him/her/it?
KRAD: I can’t really say — I’m enjoying writing each of them, for what it’s worth. Probably what I’m enjoying most is the interaction between one of the new characters and Nog. Actually, Nog is rapidly becoming my favorite DS9 character.
LCN: Where do you see the DS9 book series going (storyline wise)?
KRAD: Anywhere and everywhere. There are plenty of stories still to be told about Bajor, Cardassia, Ferenginar, the Gamma Quadrant, the wormhole, and the price of tea at Quark’s. And Paramount has given Marco carte blanche to keep the story going. DS9 as a TV show contained multitudes, with a magnificent supporting cast and a rich history, and the novels will almost definitely reflect that.
LCN: Was the subject of Sisko coming back brought up?
KRAD: Not for my book.
LCN: How about Bajor’s entrance into the Federation?
KRAD: That’s part of Marco’s long-term plan, certainly. It always irritated me that the last DS9 episode didn’t have Bajor joining the Federation considering that was Sisko’s mission in the first DS9 episode. But, again, that won’t be addressed in my book, really.
LCN: After the DS9 novel, do you have any more Trek books in the works?
KRAD: Yes, I’m under contract to write a duology called The Brave and the Bold. This will be the same format as Susan Wright’s Badlands duology from a couple of years ago: four novellas, one from each TV series, in two books. Mine will follow four pieces of an artifact from a long-dead civilization that were used as the instruments of a tyrant’s rule. When each segment turns up, it causes problems that Starfleet must deal with, and when all four pieces are brought together in the fourth part, it’s really bad.
The theme of B&tB, however, is “starship team-up” — in each book, the crew we’re familiar with will be teaming up with the crew of another ship and crew that were glimpsed in a guest starring appearance, but not seen in depth. Kirk’s Enterprise will work with Commodore Decker and the Constellation (TOS’s The Doomsday Machine). Sisko and the crew of DS9 are aided by Captain Keogh of the Odyssey (DS9’s The Jem’Hadar). Janeway and the brand-new Voyager will team up with the Hood and Captain DeSoto (TNG’s Tin Man), while Chakotay’s Maquis cell teams up with Cal Hudson’s Maquis cell (DS9’s The Maquis). Finally Picard’s Enterprise will team up with Klag and the Gorkon.
LCN: Thanks again for this interview. I, along with the other Star Trek fans appreciate your thoughts and look forward to all your future books — and feel free to come back anytime to let us know what’s in the works!
Covers of Star Trek Books by Keith: