Steve Mollmann and Michael Schuster, the authors of Star Trek: A Choice of Catastrophes talk about their latest book and how they broke into Star Trek writing.
Online Star Trek RPGs and writing fan fiction were the start of a writing career for Mollmann and Schuster.
“I used to participate in play-by-e-mail Star Trek games, and later I ran one myself,” said Mollmann. “I would take the posts people made and compile them into “novels” — the combined posts of the six or so of us created some honking big books. But The Future Begins was the first Star Trek fiction I ever wrote with anticipation of publication; I never submitted to the Strange New Worlds contests or anything like that.”
Schuster began with fan fiction. “Same here. I wrote some fan fiction, first in German, then in English, but I never thought I’d get published, so I didn’t think too much about it,” he said. “Strange New Worlds was never an issue for me, but if I’d been in the U.S., I would probably have tried to get into one of the anthologies.”
The two knew each other online and the Austrian-based Schuster asked Mollmann to collaborate with him when pitching stories. “Back in 2004, I really wanted to write some published Star Trek stories, and the S.C.E. line had traditionally been a place for new authors to show what they could do. I knew Keith DeCandido from online conversations and one day simply asked him if I could send him some story pitches. Surprisingly, he said yes, which then left me to come up with story ideas good enough to send on to him.
“I think it was about then that I contacted Steve (we’d already known each other online) and asked him if he wanted to help me. A big part of it was that I didn’t feel confident enough to write an entire story on my own from start to finish, and in English, too. Too many opportunities to make mistakes and screw the thing up completely!”
A Choice of Catastrophes is a story featuring Dr. McCoy. Why McCoy? “McCoy in a starring role certainly is something we both wanted,” said Schuster. “It also was a lot of fun to separate him from both Kirk and Spock, because that made it very apparent how much each of them depends on the others.”
“McCoy is basically my favorite kind of character to write: crabby and irritable, but he secretly loves what he’s doing, and he might even like you, too,” said Mollmann. “One of my friends once characterized the narrator of a semiautobiographical piece I’d written as ‘in love with the universe and in love with complaining about the universe,’ which I think sums up McCoy nicely.”
Star Trek: A Choice of Catastrophes releases next week.