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Michael Sweeney
Shift Happens
The following is an email interview between Christopher Filippone, creator and primary writer for the fan fiction series Paradigm Shift.

Shift Happens
A TWG Interview

TWG - How long have you been writing fan fiction?
Well, if TWGuild is turning 6, then I guess I've been writing fan fiction for 6 years! I was there at the beginning and I believe initially tried my hand at writing a couple Voyager stories before starting Paradigm Shift.

TWG - What type of writing style do you think you took up when you started writing? Did you have a type of story you wanted to tell?
I'm not sure I have a style, per say. I originally tried my hand at writing Voyager stories since I was sure I could do at last a good a job at writing a Voy story as those appearing on my TV every week. As for a style, I'm not sure I have one. French style? Italian style? No, those are dressings.

TWG - You captain and crew border on the silly at times, was this a conscious decision or did it just turn out that way? Did you pattern your style after anyone?
Yes, the off-beat crew was a decision I made before I started writing "Paradigm Shift." It seemed to me that most, if not all, the characters of all Star Trek series were these over-achieving goody-goody types. I wondered what it would be like to have a crew of under-achievers, which became the basis of "Paradigm Shift." If I had to pick someone I patterned my style after, I guess it would have to be Douglas Adams. As most fans of his writing know, his characters seem to stumble blindly though his stories. For me, it was an appealing concept to adapt to Trek.

TWG - You placed your crew on an experimental science ship, something of a common theme in fan fiction. Did you realize the pitfalls of making your ship so very unique, or was there any consideration for that?
Placing my crew on an experimental ship is common to fan fiction? Come to think of it, I guess you're right. To tell you the truth, I was dead set against designing my own ship, but I had little choice. I wanted to go with an Oberth-class starship. I liked the Oberth class because it was different looking and small, allowing for a small crew. But since there weren't a lot of Oberth-class ship images to put on my website, I decided to design my own.

TWG - How about your ideas? From where do they come? Do you simply sit down to write, or do you have to be "inspired"?
That's a tough question. I suppose I needed inspiration to hit me. I was never one of those people who could just sit down and start writing. I would say TOS was a source of inspiration. One of my biggest inspirations would be science news stories. If I saw an interesting science news item on MSNBC or MSN, I'd immediately tried to think of ways to adapt it into a story. But, since my stories mostly revolved around the crew, in most cases the science was merely wallpaper.

TWG - Do you read a lot of fan fiction, Star Trek or otherwise?
I'm embarrassed to admit it, but no, I don't read a lot now or ever. That is to say, I never ran to my computer to read the next installment of some series. I did read a lot of the "Special Ops" stories, and a smattering of other trek fan fiction. By and large I don't read a lot of any fan fiction.

TWG - Who are your favorite professional authors?
That's easy. My most favorite professional author is Isaac Asimov. Started reading his 'Foundation' and 'Robot' novels early on and have been hooked ever since. I'm also a fan of Douglas Adams, and Arthur C. Clarke.

TWG - Do you have aspirations towards publication? Any non-Trek work of yours around we can devour?
Well, as you know, I have not written serious fan fiction for a few years now. Much of my writing is now directed toward science-fiction and not fan-fiction. Although I'm not a prolific writer, many of my stories are located on DistantWorlds.net. Even though I don't do much fan fiction writing anymore, I still find myself drawn back to it. Regarding aspirations towards publication, it is my dream to someday have a novel published. I'm in the process of writing something. Who knows if I'll ever finish it.

TWG - Do you have any plans for new stories?
I always have plans in the back of my mind for new Paradigm Shift stories. I have one or two 'Lost' episodes I'd like to write. (One of which is sitting half-written.) I'd also like to give the series a decent ending - closure. Before I pseudo-abandoned the series, the ship and crew were left a bit hanging. The crew is stuck in the Delta Quadrant and, in the first half of 'It's an Awful Life' (of which there is no second half), I marooned Captain Reming in 21 century Earth, in a parallel universe in where his 'Universe' is really just a TV show called "Star Trek." I'd really like to explore that side of things and, in the end, bring him back to his universe. I had ideas on how to do it, but never did. I don't know. Maybe it's for the best. Reming was never happy as a Starfleet captain. Maybe he's happy where he is now.

TWG - The last episode of Paradigm Shift was guest written, and the one before that has credit attributed to another author. What was it like working with someone else? Did your styles conflict? That wasn't the first collaboration for you? Can you tell us what was different between the two times?
The few times I did collaborate with other authors were by and large good experiences. Each time the co-authors shared a similar vision as I held for the crew of the Condor. It never bothered me too much if our style of writing conflicted. After all, each writer has his own style of writing. As long as the author stays true to the characters and themes, variations in style don't matter. Sure, there may have been moments of frustration. However I have to say, the collaborations each turned out to be fun experiences.

TWG - If you had the chance would you go back and do anything differently? Change the ship, crew or setting?
I really don't think so. I always liked the conflicts between the crew members. I liked the way the ship emerged as a character all its own. Besides resolving the cliff-hanger plot lines, there's not a lot I'd change.

TWG - Many Star Trek fans get very excited when they read Paradigm Shift and the other popular fan fiction series at TWG. What would your advice be to them if they wanted to start their own series, or tell an exciting adventure?
Wow, that's a tough question, too. My main advice would be to have your plot pretty well thought out before writing. Have in your mind (and you don't need to write an outline) a beginning, a middle and an ending. If you don't have these three things at least thought out, then don't start because you'll probably get stuck half way. (At least, that's what used to happen to me.)

TWG - Of all the writing mistakes, typos, grammos or errors, what are your personal favorites? Can you list five? Ex. their vis-a-vis there, mistaking "your" for "you're," etc.
God, I've committed so many of those kinds of mistakes I couldn't list them all. However, the funniest mistake I made was, and this was not a Paradigm Shift mistake but from a non-fan fic story, when instead of having a character 'screaming', I had them 'creaming', which when you think about it, is a whole other situation.

TWG - Thanks for your time, Chris, and best of luck with your future work, both Trek-related and not.
Thank you, sir! Let me just say I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you. Star Trek fan-fiction writing was and is a great and enjoyable experience for me. Without the experience of fan-fiction writing, I wouldn't have gotten involved in creative writing and would have never known how enjoyable writing can be.

 

Check out the fan fiction of Christopher Filippone at Trek Writer's Guild Paradigm Shift


Posted: 2004.02.22
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