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Ask Martok - The J.G. Hertzler Q & A

Page Two

8-4-7-2 asks:

Was it a hard decision to kill Sirella? She is a great character and I was a bit angry that she died. While I understand the intention to break Martok, I think it went too far. Did you have any doubts about that?

On the contrary. I strongly felt that nothing else would do. Sirella was simply the most important person/thing/belief in Martok's life and to lose her would cost him more than life itself. Her death and his loss is the cost that Martok had to pay to achieve his destiny, notwithstanding whether he wanted to achieve it or not. Everything in life has a cost. I adored Sirella. I hated to sacrifice her for the Empire. But I had no choice if I wanted the story to be as emotionally powerful as possible.

Did you ever think about making the battle on Boreth more mechanized? It was well written and fit with what was seen on TV, but in my opinion it would have been great to see something like a tank battle with infantry among it.

Never considered it. The Klingon way is not, at present, about machines. It is about personal challenge and hand-to-hand combat. I agree that war machines are interesting. That's why the batíleth is particularly interesting in this arena of futuristic warfare.

If you donít mind my asking something about the TV show? Is it true that you knocked out a camera guy or someone with a batíleth in a fight scene because the eye patch decreased your field of vision?

I did not knock anybody out. I merely knocked head over heals while he was running the camera. I would like to see those outtakes. He never really forgave me, but he never really understood that I simply could not see him once he changed his position from the rehearsal of the fight to the actual shooting of the scene. I assumed he was 15 feet away, but he was only about a foot away and hit him square in the breadbasket and camera with my shoulder. It was a great hit! Back to my linebacker days.

Both Tom and 8-4-7-2 asked:

I know it's not related to the books, but something I've been curious about that only you may answer is this - in DS9 'You Are Cordially Invited', there is a scene between you and Avery Brooks. Now, during the scene, you (as the one-eyed Martok) started to reach for the baseball on the desk. Now, it seems that you're acting hesitant to reach out and take it, and seem a bit off when you actually closed your fingers around air while Avery Brooks reached out and plucked it up off the desk.

Now, was that because you didn't have depth perception with only the one eye uncovered, or were you just acting like you didn't have depth perception?

It's funny you should ask. That little moment was one of my favorites on the show. Its really about two actors playing with each other and has little if anything to do with the show. Technically, it could be called "secondary action" in terms of the METHOD...but in this case, it was merely Avery and I having some fun with the world around us. Surely, Martok had never seen a baseball before and may have correctly identified the covering of the call as the hide of some kind of animal...for all he knew it could be Targ. But Martok was very curious about the markings on the ball and the way it was made, meanwhile they were discussing an attack on Cardassia or some such monumental topic, and distracted by a baseball. Sisko may have been afraid Martok might have thought it to be food and taken a bite out of it...or some such action. So, we toyed with each other a bit and that is what we ended up with. Thanks for noticing the by-play. That's the story.

Jonathan Polk asks:

What prompted the deaths of Martok's wife and children? Did you want to strip away all of what Martok held dear? Was the only reason Drex spared so that he could be used in other novels like his appearance in Diplomatic Implausibility?

I have a daughter who will be four in two weeks. It was not until I became a father that I realized just how dear and how vulnerable a child is. She depends on her mother and me for everything as all offspring of every species do. For we humans, and I include humanoids in this thought, nothing is more dear than one's son and/or daughter. At least that is what I feel. So to take that away from Martok along with his beloved Sirella was meant as motivation as well as cost. Shakespeare did the same thing so well when in the Scottish play, he wrote the death scene of McDuff's wife and children and then wrote the scene of McDuff being told about it. Pretty heavy moments. But I never realized how heavy, how powerful until the birth of my daughter.

As for Drex, we simply did not want to add to Martok's loss in that way. Too many deaths, too much loss and in a way, each death, each deprivation becomes lessened some how. Again, just my take on such a thought. For that matter I would have preferred to keep Pharh alive, but was outvoted by the powers that be. As a work for hire, writing a Star Trek novel requires considerable compromise and that is really a pretty good lesson for life in the collaborative world of show and business. I must say though, I would have loved to see another story in the saga of Pharh and Martok. So...there ya go...thanks for reading the books and for the questions.

Keith R.A. DeCandido, J.G. Hertzler and Jeffrey Lang at Shore Leave, July 2003.  Photo Taken by Jackie Bundy.

Robert Thomas asks:

How did you and Mr. Lang come up with the names of the Klingon ships other than Neg'var and Rotarran (which I know are Trek canon) and do they have any meaning?

The names B'Moth and Orantho were names of Klingon ships mentioned in the series. Martok himself also mentioned the Chítang. The ships in the books may be recommissioned versions of these ships...that was left largely unresolved. In other cases, Jeffrey or I just searched our own minds for an appropriate name. That is one of the great blessings of writing, you can literally make it up!

The scene where a armored Ezri Dax presents the Sword of Kahless to Martok is reminiscent ( to me at least) of when the Lady of the Lake presented Excalibur to King Arthur. Was that scene inspired by the Arthurian legend or was it coincidence?

The entire saga of LofHD is a transmutation of Morte d'Arthur. Many of the characters could be construed to function as did the major characters in the Arthurian legends. Merlin, Pellinor, Guenevere, Lancelot, Mordred, Nimue, Morgan la Fey, Arthur Pendragon, his father, etc etc. Ezri is definitely the lady in the lake.... perhaps my favorite pay off in the novel.

Was there any other (if any to begin with) legends or mythology that you and Mr. Lang drew inspiration from when working on this book?

We may have included references without deliberately doing so, since mythology and legend creeps into one's psyche...(Note the Greek Goddess of than name)...without one's awareness.

How did you two come up with the Katai?

Just deciding on the name was kind of interesting. Originally, I wanted the name of these mystical Klingon warriors to be the Dahar. An explanation of the title "Dahar Master"...a title that Worf and Kor and a few others had been awarded during the series, but no one had adequately explained to what did it refer. I wanted to answer that question by creating the Dahar, a warrior-priest sect that was formed around the time of the original Hurq invasion of Qo'nos, a sect dedicated to preserving ancient Klingon knowledge and Klingon culture during a time when the entire planet was in danger of being destroyed by these unbeatable alien invaders. But I was overruled by the editors who felt it might not be useful to co-opt the Dahar Master title...perhaps because someone else might have been writing a Klingon story related to the Dahar.... I do not know. But an alternative name for this sect became Katai, which appealed to me and so we went with it.

What do you like most about Martok?

His crankiness. I always admired that quality in Doctor McCoy on the original Star Trek. I was glad to see it develop in Martok.

In the book, Kahless seems to echo sentiments found Sun Tsu's "Art of War". Have you ever read it or took inspiration from it to shape LHOD?

No, I am loathe to say, I have not read it. I should. The thoughts of Kahless are an amalgam of all those who worked on the books, Jeffrey, our editor in chief, Marco Palmieri and myself. Marco offered a great deal of help on everything, but Kahless was perhaps the greatest example of Marco's input.

Keith R.A. DeCandido and J.G. Hertzler at Shore Leave, July 2003.  Photo Taken by Jackie Bundy.

Adam Turner asks:

During the course of writing the book was there anything about Martok's characterization established in the episodes you wished to alter?

I cannot really suggest that there are things I would have altered. Over the period of time that I was performing Martok on DS9, the writers continued to add levels and colors to Martok's personality. I was very appreciative and thankful for that. It is a rare thing that an actor gets to develop a character over a period of years. That element of time is incredibly useful in adding flavors to one's portrayals...unfortunately, one has only a finite number of years to develop such characterizations...and any actor is very lucky to hit upon a role with which he or she connects so viscerally and successfully that a chord is struck out there among the audience. It is a very nice feeling to have felt that, at least once.

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