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Aye-Aye Capt'in

June 18, 1995|MARGO KAUFMAN

Writer's Log. Star date: June 1, 1995. There's a convention of U.S. Marshals, not an occupation that you associate with being star-struck, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Marina Del Rey. But they can hardly keep their eyes off William Shatner, better known as Captain James Kirk. He's is doing interviews to promote his Star Trek novel, "Ashes of Eden," the first of a trilogy, written with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens (Pocket Books). I feel like I'm talking to the Mona Lisa.

QUESTION: Captain Kirk is used to star-ship technology. What kind of computer do you use?

ANSWER: I'm totally computer illiterate. I don't even type. I'm frustrated by my inability to type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts.

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Q: Then how do you write?

A: Mostly dictation. There's a creative process in my head. I'm not aware of how it works but I become less astonished at what comes out of my mouth as time goes on. A little Dictaphone machine is very handy. What money buys you is someone to transcribe your notes. It doesn't buy you the ideas. It doesn't buy you the contacts. It doesn't buy you charisma.

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Q: Who does the physical writing of the sentences?

A: I lay out the basic building blocks. Where the novel will start, where it ends, what the theme is. My collaborators, Judith and Gar, connect the dots, and then I'll reconnect the dots.

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Q: What made you write a "Star Trek" novel?

A: I'd been working on a screenplay in which Captain Kirk goes in search of the Fountain of Youth. Then events turned so it became the Next Generation's turn to make films. They killed me. Which killed me. I'd written two books, "Star Trek Memories" and "Star Trek Movie Memories" and they were fairly successful. So the publisher asked, "Why don't you write a fictional novel?" I trotted out the old Fountain of Youth screenplay.

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Q: To what degree do you own the character?

A: Legally, Kirk is a property of Paramount. Emotionally, the character is mine. On the series, I played the character so close to me, because there was no time to think about how to lie as an actor.

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Q: So you wrote it to keep Kirk alive?

A: Yes. And therefore it reflects the thought of encroaching age and how to deal with that. I was divorcing at the time and the reality of loneliness and a lifetime of building a wall around me to make me oblivious to the fact that death comes to all of us was torn out.

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Q: You aren't about to run off with a young woman to the Planet Chal?

A: No. It just seemed that there was reason for Kirk running off with a younger woman. We know from natural studies that the older bull is attracted to the younger, more fertile female for very natural reasons and conversely the young fertile female is attracted to the bull who is still dominant, still wise, still can fight.

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Q: I was glad Kirk finally went some place pretty. It's always bothered me that the Enterprise cruised around the universe for years and never found the intergalactic Bahamas. The entire universe looked like the Century City parking lot.

A: It looks like Vasquez rocks [where much of the series was shot]. There aren't many Luxury Class planets. When I described the Planet Chal, I said, "And we'll shoot it all in Hawaii."

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Q: What are your favorite books?

A: I'm a voracious reader. I love Clancy, Grisham, Le Carre. I wish I could tell you I was reading the great novels of man, but I'm illiterate in that area.

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