Q&A with Dayton Ward, author of Star Trek The Next Generation – Pliable Truths

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Dayton Ward’s latest novel, Star Trek The Next Generation – Pliable Truths, is a intricately woven web of familiar characters in new situations. Pliable Truths tells the story of what happened from the moment the Cardassians withdrew from their Occupation of Bajor and the transfer of station management on what would come to be known as Deep Space Nine. I was thrilled to ask some key questions about Ward’s latest novel on behalf of The CloneStar Podcast. Enjoy!


This Q&A contains spoilers. Proceed with caution.

What inspired you to write your twenty-fifth Star Trek novel, Pliable Truths?

After being approached by my editors at Simon & Schuster to write a Next Generation novel that was set during the television series and also would act as a crossover with Deep Space Nine, I decided that gap of time between the TNG two-part episode “Chain of Command” and the DS9 premiere episode was an interesting place to insert a story which would fulfill what my editors were asking of me. The idea of writing Captain Picard in the aftermath of his experiences in the episode was too interesting to pass up. Then it was a matter of developing storylines which would give the rest of the cast something interesting to do.

How important is research when writing a Star Trek novel like Pliable Truths? What resources do you utilize to create a new Star Trek story?

As with any writing, research is necessary here. The episodes and films are the primary sources so far as researching Star Trek lore, but other resources like the Star Trek Encyclopedia play an important role, as well. Then there are online websites like Memory Alpha and Memory Beta which can be extremely helpful, though I tend to use them as an aid to help guide me toward those aforementioned primary sources.

What is the significance of the Cuban proverb epigraph?

“A lie runs until it’s overtaken by the truth.” It’s a comment on how quickly misinformation (or disinformation) can travel if left unchallenged or unobstructed, to the point that it can become the truth to some people. This seemed a fitting quote given the Cardassian actions in the wake of ending their occupation of Bajor. It also felt rather timely, given the current state of social media and how fiction and outright lies are passed off as “truth,” often in such a way that it’s far too easily accepted by far too many people.

You introduce several new characters in the book, but one familiar character has a strong presence in the story. Did you find it difficult to portray Captain Picard during this period?

I’d written for Picard across nine different novels by the time I sat down to work on this one. I’ve always enjoyed getting into his head, and tackling him at this vulnerable point just after his experiences in “Chain of Command” presented something of a new challenge.

There are several on-planet, on-space station, and in-space sequences in the book that highlight the strengths and weaknesses of many familiar Star Trek characters. Was it difficult creating a balance for all the characters in this novel?

As I wanted this to feel like something akin to an actual episode, that meant finding ways to spotlight the other main TNG characters as well as prominent secondary characters like O’Brien before his transfer from the Enterprise. It seemed obvious I needed to create plotlines and problems that put them in their element and yet provided a challenge like they’d encounter on the TV series. Then there was the need to bring in key characters from DS9 at a point before we meet them for the first time, and have them mesh with their TNG counterparts in a way that felt natural for both sets of characters and their respective TV shows.

How important was it to have Captain Picard express throughout this novel the internal struggle of having been a Cardassian prisoner? Were Counselor Troi and Kai Opaka easy choices as the guardians of Picard’s well-being?

Having him navigate that struggle while having to put on a strong façade for his Cardassian counterparts on the other side of the negotiating table was very important for me. I felt like the aftermath of his experiences in “Chain of Command” deserved further exploration in the TV series in a matter similar to how he recovered from his Borg assimilation in “Family.” Since the show didn’t get a chance to do it, that left a juicy plot thread just waiting to be pulled and played with. I knew I wanted Counselor Troi to be involved in that, and it was my editor who suggested I also bring in Kai Opaka. Those were some of my favorite scenes to write.

Several main characters from Star Trek The Next Generation, and Star Trek Deep Space Nine are present throughout this novel. How did you decide on which characters would interact with each other to tell this story?

I thought having Miles O’Brien work with La Forge on station repairs helped (in my mind, anyway) lay the groundwork for his eventual transfer to DS9. I also was intrigued by the idea of partnering Kira with Dr. Crusher, and adding Keiko O’Brien to that mix made it even more fun.

The novel deals with a specific period in Star Trek history that has never been told but has had a significant impact on the Star Trek timeline. What challenges did you face in bringing all the pieces of this period together?

Setting the story where I did meant I wouldn’t be using Sisko and the other Starfleet characters from DS9. I also had to avoid having Worf meet anyone from the DS9 cast, as we see him doing that when he arrives at the station in DS9’s fourth season (“The Way of the Warrior”). So, there was definite tap-dancing to hopefully have everything fit in the right way.

How did you arrive at the title for this novel, Pliable Truths?

I thought it was an appropriate title given the established penchant for Cardassians to be rather “economical” with the truth. Their habits of secrecy and compartmentalizing of information are obvious examples of this, but for the novel it certainly applied to their actions in the wake of ending the Occupation both on Bajor and in other locations, such as the planet where much of the story takes place.

What do you hope readers take away from reading Pliable Truths?

I hope readers enjoy this “story between stories” that we managed to craft, and come away thinking it’s not just a “gap filler” tale but instead connects several storytelling dots between TNG and DS9 including how the latter spun out of the former. In particular, I hope they come away with a new appreciation for why Chief O’Brien made the jump between shows, and how Picard continues to recover from his own ordeal.

Star Trek The Next Generation – Pliable Truths by Dayton Ward is available now from Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster in paperback, eBook, and audiobook.

LLAP & Go Boldly

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Fueled by coffee and willing to charge into a nebula for more. I’m a lifelong musician and creative with a love for all things sci-fi. In a universe where you can be anyone, be a Trekkie.

Go Boldly & LLAP

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