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Debbie Mirek
(Interview conducted via email in January-February 2004)

Star Trek fans know Debbie Mirek from her co-authorship of the first edition of the Star Trek Encyclopedia. Debbie also assisted Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda with research for the Star Trek Chronology.

Tyler: When did you become a Star Trek fan? Do you enjoy other genre productions and/or publications?
Mirek: I have always been a sci-fi fan...from Heinlein to Bujold and Asimov to Zimmer-Bradley. Anytime there is a new SF show or movie, we always go see it (my current favorite is Stargate SG-1). So, I watched Trek the first go around (when I was just a wee one) and in re-runs and saw all the trek movies and of course, saw the TNG when it came out. Knowing someone who worked on it made it even more interesting...
Tyler: What is your opinion of Star Trek today? How do you believe that it has changed over the years?
Mirek: I think as the "property" gets older and as we get farther away from Roddenberry's original, it becomes more about making a quick buck or using some new cool effect than about actually staying with the established universe....It amazes me how the current series (Enterprise) continually screws with well established facts (it's not like anyone has ever written them down or anything;), because the current writers can't be bothered to check facts with Michael [Okuda] or Rick [Sternbach], who still work at the studio...
Tyler: How did you come to know Michael and Denise Okuda?
Mirek: Denise and I are both nurses by training. We used to work together at a hospital in Orange County CA. I knew Denise for a year before she met Michael. (I didn't meet Michael until their wedding!) When she moved to LA, she knew no one and we used to write back and forth (actual paper letters!) She invited me up to the studio several times to have lunch and just hang out. Mostly, it was just friends hanging out and finding out about what Mike did at work. I always found the tech aspects of the show way more interesting that the actors;)
Tyler: How did you become involved in researching the Star Trek Chronology?
Mirek: Roddenberry asked Mike to write up a chronology to keep the facts straight between TOS and TNG. I think at the time, he thought it would be about 7-10 pages of dates. Well, Mike (and Denise and ME) is a pathological overachiever. He felt to do the treatment justice, we would have to watch each episode and take notes.... we ended up with about 10 pages of notes for EACH episode and the chronology was born.
Tyler: How did you catalog all of the chronological data in every Star Trek episode and feature film? Did it ever seem like an impossible task?
Mirek: We had a worksheet that Mike developed (which we all added to as the "learning curve" got taller). We filled out the worksheet for each episode (I still have them...they are funny!)
It didn't seem impossible, just a weird task that only anal retentive people would enjoy. My kids were little then and would sit and watch the shows with me and draw pictures. They would tell people they were "reswerchin". I still have the picture of Worf my then three year old son drew for us...
Tyler: If you used a standard "worksheet" for cataloging information for the Star Trek Chronology, then would you please describe its format for would-be genre media chronologists?
Mirek: It started with episode title and internal episode number (the production number designated by the studio.) We would list any new ships, planets or new technology.
The biggest part was devoted to date tracking. Not only when dates were listed, but when things were refered to as happening "100 years ago" or "two centuries ago". We had established an actual date for each episode, so we could back track historical things from there. We also listed characters and the actors who played them (helped enormously by call sheets). Finally, we listed anything else we thought might be pertinent.
Tyler: How did you become involved in co-authoring the Star Trek Encyclopedia?
Mirek: Michael asked if I wanted to do it (ranked as the second most stupid question he ever asked me;) and I said yes.
Tyler: How did your level of involvement with the Star Trek Encyclopedia differ from your involvement with the Star Trek Chronology?
Mirek: It was less pleasant.
Tyler: How did cataloging information for the Star Trek Encyclopedia differ from researching the Star Trek Chronology? Did you approach your research for the chronology with the foreknowledge that you would also work on the Star Trek Encyclopedia?
Mirek: We again worked by episode, but used the scripts as a reference tool (once they were matched to the aired version of the episode). We catalogued terms, not just chronological data.
We did the chronology for the sake of the\ was only afterwards that the idea for the encyclopedia came up.
Tyler: If you used a standard "worksheet" for cataloging information for the Star Trek Encyclopedia, then would you please describe its format for would-be genre media encyclopedia writers?
Mirek: We continued to use the worksheets from the Chronology, as well as using the scripts as a reference for terms we wanted to define.
Tyler: Why did you decide not to co-author subsequent editions of the Star Trek Encyclopedia?
Mirek: We had some personal issues we couldn't resolve. It got ugly, so I decided to come back and live in the real world.
Tyler: Do you anticipate another update to either the Star Trek Chronology or the Star Trek Encyclopedia, or do you think that the next chronology-like and/or encyclopedia-like Star Trek publication will be an entirely new work?
Mirek: Anything that will make more money for Pocket will probably occur....
Tyler: Why was the animated Star Trek television series not included as reference material in the Star Trek Chronology and the Star Trek Encyclopedia? It has been said that in later years, Gene Roddenberry asked that the animated series be discounted as not being part of the "official" Star Trek fictional milieu. By that reasoning, wouldn't Roddenberry's specific objections to the second through sixth Star Trek feature films be taken into account, and wouldn't his lack of involvement in Star Trek productions that followed his death be of relevance? What qualities of the animated series made it less usable than any other Star Trek television series or feature film?
Mirek: I am not really sure why it was discounted. I believe Roddenberry did not like the animated series, and Michael, who respected the man enormously, valued his opinion. Gene was largely out of the loop for TNG, in my opinion, so what happened with ST:2 WOK and onward, shouldn't be attributed to him. Mike worked on all those films, and they have to be recognized as part of the "universe".
Tyler: What was your level of involvement in the Star Trek Omnipedia CD-ROM?
Mirek: My work was used, but I wasn't credited or conpensated.
Tyler: Have you been involved in any other Star Trek and/or other genre productions or publications?
Mirek: Only through Mike and Denise. I used to get calls about medical questions for scripts and had one very memorable conversation with Ron Moore about childbirth [for "Disaster" (TNG)]. Also had another, not quite so pleasant conversation with the TNG props master about medical props they were borrowing from the hospital where I worked. He was a snot.
Tyler: Have you met Michael and Denise Okuda in person?
Mirek: Yup, been at their house, played with their dog...
Tyler: Have you met any other contributors to Star Trek and/or other science-fiction productions?
Mirek: Yeah, and they are very nice people. Most of them are really normal, too!;)
Tyler: Have you ever encountered, shall we say, overzealous fans or critics of your works? What have those experiences been like?
Mirek: Well yeah, I think anyone even remotely involved has met people who were, well, a little "off".
I had a surreal experience at a Con once where a fan, not realizing who I was, tried to tell me how my name was pronounced. (it's "my-wreck", not Mir (like the space station)-reck).
He was wearing full Scottish regalia at the time, which just added to the whole oddness of the situation.
As part of the prep for the Omnipedia, I got to read and catalog all the letters generated by the encyclopedia. Nothing like reading two thousand letters telling you how wrong you are to make you feel humble! :)
Tyler: If there were one question you'd like to ask Gene Roddenberry, what would it be? If there were one question you'd like to ask the folks at Paramount, what would it be?
Mirek: Why do you think the people who watch Trek are stupid????
Tyler: Is there anything you'd like to say to Star Trek fans, about the Star Trek series or films, your works, fandom, or just general comments?
Mirek: You are keeping Paramount in business. Remember that. If you don't like where the series is going, stop watching and go watch something else.
Interview copyright 2004 by Greg Tyler and Deb Mirek.

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