Michael Piller, known to Trek for his work on The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager, authored a ‘textbook’ on screenwriting, based on the production of the feature film Star Trek: Insurrection. That book was never published and thought to be lost to time after Piller’s passing. Now for the first time ever, Piller’s Fade In is officially available in published form at michaelpiller.net.
Artifacts and relics lost to time are not uncommon, especially for a franchise that is 50 years old. However, one item that was not necessarily lost, but unavailable, was Michael Piller’s book, Fade In: The Making of Star Trek: Insurrection – A Textbook on Screenwriting from the Star Trek Universe. Michael’s wife, Sandra, told StarTrek.com that she made it her mission for his book to be published after his tragic death in 2005 at the age of 57.
“I wanted to help Michael’s dream come true,” Sandra explained to StarTrek.com. “When he wrote it originally, there were objections from Paramount because they wanted to keep the behind the scenes secret. Since then, I believe they see how much people do want to know and how it keeps them interested.”
Joining Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1989, Piller’s appointment as showrunner in season three brought a stability and leadership that had been missing during the show’s first two seasons. Piller worked with Ira Steven Behr, who would go onto to run Deep Space Nine, and Ronald D. Moore, who co-wrote the screenplays for Star Trek: Generations and Star Trek: First Contact and resurrected Battlestar Galactica.
Piller and Behr would go on to become close professional colleagues as well as personal friends. Behr even contributed to the book, writing a letter to Michael, which was very important to Sandra, who said she was “proud and honored” to have it included.
Helping to launch DS9 and Voyager, Piller left the writing staff of the latter show in 1996, before coming back to the franchise to write the screenplay and co-produce Insurrection. During his script writing process, Piller kept notes and a daily journal, as preparation for writing his book. It was his continuing effort to detail the writing process, not just for Star Trek fans, but for all aspiring screenwriters.
Sandra is quick to point out that Michael did finish the book before he became ill and notes how much her husband relished serving in a mentor role to young and aspiring writers. Her hope is that Michael will still able to provide that guidance with the publishing of Fade In.
“I hope whoever reads it enjoys learning about Michael’s personal experience in this process of writing and rewriting, and the meetings and the throwing it out and starting all over again,” Sandra told StarTrek.com. “The real experience of it. The process. One secret I just remembered might help you understand…Michael always gave his writers books like Zen and The Art of Archery, or Tennis or Mechanics, or whatever to help them reach that place inside that lets them be calm and hear those voices of the characters speak.”
Hitting the convention circuit to promote the book’s availability, as well as make it available to fans, Sandra has attended Star Trek Las Vegas, as well as conventions in Cherry Hill and Chicago in the past few months. Fans will have one more chance to purchase Fade In at a convention in Toronto at the Creation Supernatural convention between October 7-9.
You can read the full interview with Sandra Piller at the official Star Trek site.
Fade In is now available for purchase at Michael Piller’s website for $95.00.