Star Trek author Jeanne Kalogridis on her novels, Nimoy, and dinner with Patrick Stewart

Star Trek books written by Jeanne Kalogridis
Star Trek books written by Jeanne Kalogridis

Chances are that you’ve seen her work on bookshelves, and you might have read a few of her books. Whether it was under her pen name of J.M. Dillard, or her real name, Jeanne Kalogridis, she has given fans important novelizations of the films and original Star Trek stories of her own.

Kalogridis is known for her fictional books on Star Trek and for working with the late Leonard Nimoy on his autobiography, “I Am Spock.” Her talent goes beyond just the stars of science fiction, as she also created a vampire trilogy, “The Diaries of the Family Dracul.” She’s also written several other novels based in the historical fiction realm.

Jeanne Kalogridis
Jeanne Kalogridis

Though a prolific writer and editor, her path to working as a full-time author was a bit rocky. Her journey started while she was an English faculty member at American University in the 1980s.

“I always wanted to write, and I always adored Star Trek,” said Kalogridis. She said that she bought them right away when she saw the Star Trek book series by James Blish. These were novelizations written by Blish, which were based on The Original Series episodes.

Kalogridis said she was involved with a union at American University and was promptly fired by the school.

“I was vice president of the union, and so they fired me for unionizing,” said Kalogridis. “I had always wanted to sit down and write a book, and my husband said ‘take your time.’”

When the university fired Kalogridis, it was at the start of the new school semester. There were no open faculty positions in the Washington, D.C. area. She decided to use this new time off to write a Star Trek book. She wrote her book “completely on spec,” which meant that she wasn’t assigned to write it by a publisher.

“Really I don’t think I had any hope that it would sell,” said Kalogridis. “But I did all the professional things. I went on Writer’s Market and knew exactly the proper format and the right editor to send it to. I did my homework.”

Kalogridis read every book on writing to get her hands on as she worked on this project. Thirteen months after she sent her manuscript to Pocket Books, she finally heard back from the publisher. At this time, she’s been rehired by American University and was back to teaching English as a second language.

“That was ‘Mind Shadow,’” said Kalogridis, which debuted in 1985. “Mind Shadow” became the 27th book in The Original Series novel collection from Pocket Books. Even with the success of “Mind Shadow,” she stayed on at American University. She continued to teach for a few more years.

“Finally, I got into the flow with the Star Trek thing and came to realize that I am really making a living [at writing],” said Kalogridis. She wrote “Demons” in between semesters of teaching but eventually gave up teaching to write full time.

Kalogridis admitted that she had seen episodes of The Original Series many, many times. When she began a new original Trek story for a book, she thought of it simply as a new episode.

“I was just more in my imagination than I was in terms of being technical in terms of continuity,” said Kalogridis. “Later, continuity did become more of an issue when I wrote “The Lost Years,” and I started working with other writers who had a series of books about the lost years.”

The Lost Years” covers the time after Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise return from their famous five-year mission. Kalogridis details how Kirk accepted the appointment to admiral… a decision he would live to regret.

In the end, she wrote five TOS novels (one with Kathleen O’Malley). Eventually, Pocket asked her to work on the novelizations of the Trek films, starting with Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Working on these projects was different for Kalogridis.

“Novelizations are pretty good, and I enjoy doing them,” said Kalogridis. “What happened when I did the novelizations with Paramount was that they’d send me the script ahead of time. I signed a non-disclosure saying that I would not reveal anything, and they sent it to me a couple months before the movie comes out.”

“During that time, I think it was eight weeks, you take a 90-page, quadruple-spaced script, and you turn it into a novel,” said Kalogridis. “That requires you to come up with some sub-plots and a bit of a back story for certain characters that you don’t get from reading the script.”

Paramount sent Kalogridis photos of characters from the set. She even visited the locations for each of the six films she adapted. But much of what she wrote in these novelizations came from her imagination, based on how she interpreted the script.

“I would buy myself a ticket and go to a movie theater and sit in a crowd and go ‘Wow! So that’s what it looks like!’” said Kalogridis. “There were always differences between the script and what you didn’t expect.”

“Patrick Stewart wins,” said Kalogridis.

After the films featuring The Original Series crew were done, Kalogridis worked on Star Trek: Generations and the three films which followed. This was an exciting time for her, as she was an “original” TOS fan from the start. Now she was writing about Captain Picard and his crew, which she was not such a big fan of. At first.

“To be honest, the reason why I changed and became a big Next Gen fan was because of Patrick Stewart,” said Kalogridis. “I had the chance to meet him and have dinner with him at a convention — and he charmed the socks off me.”

“He was the most charming and considerate person I’ve met [out of all] the Star Trek cast, and I’ve met DeForest Kelley, who was also the most charming gentleman ever born,” said Kalogridis.

“Patrick Stewart wins,” said Kalogridis.

Kalogridis then worked on the TNG novel “Possession,” and the novelization of the first episode of Deep Space Nine, “Emissary.” She also worked on several other Trek novels tie-in books, but very unique job was the “Star Trek: Where No One Has Gone Before — A History In Pictures” book.

“That was a very interesting project,” said Kalogridis. “I was invited to do that project. My editor at Pocket Books suggested that project for me. I went to the Paramount lot and different places, and they shipped stuff to me in boxes from New York. It was a lot of old newspaper and magazine articles and the phone numbers of a couple of people from the original cast and some of the writers.”

Kalogridis created a look at the long history of Star Trek for the book, chronicling the beginning of the show, the “lost” years, the films, and everything which followed.

“I was able to do a combination of interviewing people and also gleaning a lot of stuff from articles that had been written a long time before,” said Kalogridis.

The one project that stands out among all her other Trek-related work was when she helped Leonard Nimoy craft his second autobiography. While “I Am Spock” does not count in the 18 Trek novels and other projects which she’s written, it might have been the most satisfying for her — as a Trek fan. Kalogridis served as an editorial consultant to Nimoy for the project.

This meant she worked with him often and even at his house. It was at Nimoy’s office and home where they talked about organizing and putting ideas on paper. “I Am Spock” was actually the second half of his autobiography, the first being “I Am Not Spock,” which he published in the 1970s. “I Am Spock” hit bookshelves in 1995.

“I did my best not to drool,” said Kalogridis. “Because I’m a total Spock freak.”

“He was gracious and a little bit Spock-like in terms of being a little reserved,” said Kalogridis. “He was warm but a little reserved.”

Kalogridis created a look at the long history of Star Trek for the book, chronicling the beginning of the show, the “in-between” years, the films, and everything which followed.

Kalogridis said that Nimoy was easy to work with, and often they worked together in person.

“I did my best not to drool,” said Kalogridis. “Because I’m a total Spock freak.”

Kalogridis said that she had the great fortune to have dinner one night with Nimoy and his wife, Susan.

For now, Kalogridis lives in California with her do, Django, and is available as a writing coach and editor for others. She said that she is working on a few ideas for upcoming projects, including a return to the supernatural.

“Now I am toying with the idea of doing a sequel to my vampire trilogy,” said Kalogridis. “It’s a fresh take on a great old subject… but basically, everything is. Isn’t it?”