In our most recent book club episode we discussed the oft-requested novel Dwellers in the Crucible, by Margaret Wander Bonanno. Now we’re excited to bring you an interview with the authors! Huge thanks to Margaret for taking the time to answer our questions.
W@W: How did you first start writing Star Trek fiction?
MWB: I started writing Star Trek fiction because I’d always loved the show, and because other avenues of fiction were closed to me after my first publisher went bankrupt. My agent warned me there were only six Trek novels published per year at that time, and it did take several years and a couple of spec pieces (and three different editors) before Dwellers in the Crucible finally saw the light of day.
In Dwellers in the Crucible it mentions that part of the inspiration for the “Warrantors of the Peace” in the Federation was a pacifist idea from 20th-century Earth. Was this a concept you yourself encountered? What inspired you to bring this idea into the Star Trek universe?
It was actually a custom that went back to ancient times. In order to secure against invasion, local leaders would send one of their sons to be raised by a former ally. If either side invaded anyway, the boy was sacrificed. Seems rather primitive by our lights, but I guess it worked most of the time. Very often the boy would grow to manhood and become a permanent part of his adopted household, intermarrying and strengthening the alliance.
A few online reviews say that Dwellers in the Crucible is essentially a re-imagining of the Kirk/Spock relationship but with women (Cleante and T’Shael) in their places. Was that your intention? Why was it important to write about these women?
That’s exactly what it was. I wanted to explore a relationship between two very different women, both civilians, and see where the friendship would go. Surviving an ordeal often forges lifelong friendships, and that’s what I was going for. Besides, this was written before Lara Croft or other strong female protagonists were the norm.
How would you define the relationship between Cleante and T’Shael? Were they romantically and sexually attracted to each other? Was it friendship? Or something in between?
A lot of readers have suggested a sexual attraction (possibly because of the proliferation of K/S fiction…which I never got into). No, I think what you see is what you get…two people from different backgrounds learning about each other and willing to make sacrifices to save the other’s life.
At one point you had put forward another novel featuring Cleante and T’Shael. This eventually became a much different story: Probe. Can you tell us a bit about your original concept and how and why it changed?
The published novel Probe is only 7% mine. The reasons are too complex to go into here (but I’ve told the story on my site www.margaretwanderbonanno.com if you’re interested). What I’ll do here is attach Music of the Spheres, which is the novel I actually wrote.
Again, many thanks to Margaret Wander Bonnano for taking the time to answer our questions, and especially for including her manuscript for Music of the Spheres, which you can download here – PDF.