Dayton Ward Interview: “Peaceable Kingdoms”

We last spoke with Trek author Dayton Ward last July in anticipation of his Original Series novel From History's Shadow -- and now he's back to talk with us about Peaceable Kingdoms, the final chapter in 2013's Federation-spanning crossover miniseries The Fall.

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TrekCore: Thank you very much for speaking with us again -- we've very much enjoyed The Fall and are eager to get your take on the series, and your book, Peaceable Kingdoms. You've mentioned before that you’re “batting clean-up” on this series. What has the process of wrapping up the various threads been like?

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Dayton Ward: It was fun, as well as challenging. These mini-series events bring an added level of complexity, because you’re working to remain consistent with what the other contributors are doing with their own books.

All of you also are trying to “stay in formation” and respect everything that’s come before, both in the on-screen “canon” as well as the previous novels which have led up to these books. So, there’s a lot of homework when you write books that have a great degree of interconnectivity. But, that’s also part of the fun!

TrekCore: While reading The Fall novels, I couldn't help but see parallels between what is happening in the books and what goes on in the day-to-day politics of the “real world.” Were there any particular inspirations that you drew upon for Peaceable Kingdoms?

Dayton Ward: I guess it’s no mystery that the greatest real-world parallel to the plots driving many of these books are the 9/11 attacks and the United States’ response to those tragic events. It’s not a perfect parallel, of course, but In the case of Peaceable Kingdoms, our nation’s heightened security state is obviously a point of inspiration, depicted largely in Picard’s shifting perspectives with regard to the Federation’s diplomatic policies and Starfleet’s role in the aftermath of the Borg invasion and the rise of the Typhon Pact.

TrekCore: Going forward from The Fall, what kind of fallout can we expect to see? Are things mostly resolved in this series, or will we see repercussions affecting the overall story in the future?

Dayton Ward: The Federation’s relationship with the Typhon Pact will continue to factor into future storylines as appropriate, as will the situation with the Cardassians. As for fallout from President Ishan’s fall from power and grace, I’m not sure just yet how that will play out, or who might be the writer tackling it.

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TrekCore: Based on the events of Peaceable Kingdoms and the preceding novels, a number of characters have seen their circumstances change considerably, Riker perhaps most of all. If you have any insight into future goings-on, what does this mean going forward for the Titan series?

Dayton Ward: Riker and the Titan, Sisko and the Robinson, Dax and the Aventine, Julian Bashir and Deep Space 9 soon will be revisited with new stories, and I honestly don’t know anything about any of those characters. I left certain things purposely vague because I didn't want to hamstring the authors who end up writing post-Fall stories for the different ships and crews. Even the exact nature of the Enterprise’s new mission was left unexplained, so the next writer would have as much freedom as possible to develop their story without having to adhere to anything I might establish. I guess we’ll see!

TrekCore: The end of Peaceable Kingdoms sees Admirals Akaar and Riker issuing new orders for the Enterprise, seemingly heralding a new era of greater exploration. Does this represent a sea change in the 24th century book line? Will we be seeing fewer political stories and more tales with an exploration or “new worlds” aspect to them?

Dayton Ward: As I said, the Typhon Pact is still out there, and they’ve been uncharacteristically quiet while much of the aftermath of President Bacco’s assassination played out. I can’t imagine we won’t see political stories from time to time, but Star Trek still needs to be about exploration, too, and that includes the trouble our heroes can find when doing that exploring. So, while Picard and the Enterprise will soon be warping off to “see what’s out there,” but that doesn't mean they won’t be recalled if something big happens back home.

TrekCore: Since the last time we spoke, the Trek literature world has been rocked by the announcement of Seekers. How has your work on that project been progressing?

Dayton Ward: David Mack, Kevin Dilmore, and I are tremendously excited at being able to write what’s basically a spin-off of the Star Trek: Vanguard series, with which we had so much fun. There’s been a great feeling of “getting the band back together” for this new series, and the three of us worked together to create a series writer’s guide as well as develop the story which spans the series’ first two books.

Kevin and I delivered our manuscript for the second book, Point of Divergence, during the first week in February. David Mack’s finishing up his review of the copy-edited manuscript for Second Nature, the novel which will launch the series. So far, everything’s on track for both books to be published this summer. If the sales are strong, you could see at least one and possibly two Seekers novels on the 2015 schedule.

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TrekCore: In our last interview, you mentioned a Trek novel on the go for early to mid-2015. Are there any further developments about that one that you are willing or able to share?

Dayton Ward: This is a separate project from anything Seekers-related, and while I did sign contracts a couple of weeks ago, I've not yet been given the green light to talk about this book, which is probably good because at this point I really have nothing to say beyond the characters it might feature. I’ll be writing an outline for the novel between now and the middle of March, and likely writing the novel during the late spring/early summer months. Stay tuned!

TrekCore: Simon and Schuster will soon be releasing a tongue-in-cheek Star Trek title, “Fun with Kirk and Spock,” modeled on the old “Fun with Dick and Jane” primary readers. On your blog, you mention that you wish you could have written it. Are there any other “whimsical” books you would like to see? If you were given a Trek project to work on with no restrictions whatsoever, what would you like to write?

Dayton Ward: I absolutely love it when Star Trek products embrace a bit of whimsy, be they stylized or caricature figures like the Pop Vinyl offerings or the Quogs or Mr. Potato Heads, or comics stories crossing Star Trek with Doctor Who or the Legion of Super Heroes, to lighthearted books that go for humor. I have a few ideas for books in this mold, and I’m actually finishing up a proposal for such a book to submit to a publisher in the coming weeks. As for a Trek project I could write with no restrictions, I’m going to go with my favorite answer for this: Captain Proton novels.

TrekCore: Are there any other projects that you have on the go that you would like to tell us about? Shameless plugs are always welcome!

Dayton Ward: I recently contributed an essay for anthology to be published by the Sequart Organization, New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics, later this summer. It will feature essays from several writers, including a few names familiar to fans of Star Trek fiction and comics. The essay I wrote takes a look back at the second run of Marvel Comics’ Star Trek offerings from the late 1990s.

TrekCore: As always, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. I'm sure we’ll chat again as the release date for your Seekers novel approaches!

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