That’s right, folks: this month marks the 10-year anniversary of my first novel, In the Name of Honor, being published. While it wasn’t my first professional, paying writing work, I suppose one could argue that it’s still a milestone deserving of mention.
So, um, here’s me…mentioning it.
I still recall the afternoon that John Ordover, at the time the editor overseeing the bulk of Pocket Books’ Star Trek output, called me at my office in the fall of 1999 to tell me that he was buying my story “The Aliens Are Coming!” for the third edition of the annual Star Trek: Strange New Worlds contest and its resulting anthology. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was something along the lines of, “Okay, I’m buying your story. This is your third sale, so you can’t enter the contest anymore. I think it’s time you wrote a Star Trek novel for me.”
To my credit, I didn’t actually say that into the phone, but I’m sure my response was something equally cool and composed. Once I hung up the phone, though, the rest of the work day was pretty much shot, as my mind began to swell with ideas, half-baked notions and other weirdness which I would soon be trying to distill and organize into something resembling a story outline for John. This would be a challenge for me, as until this point, I’d never written anything approaching novel-length. Naturally, I kept that sort of shit to myself, thinking John might change his mind and offer the gig to somebody smart enough to keep their damned mouth shut.
We spent the next couple of months in an e-Mail back-n-forth as I honed my outline into something with which John would be satisfied. After he gave it his stamp of approval, John sent the outline to the licensing folks overseeing Star Trek tie-ins, and once their questions were answered, I got my first ever novel contract in the mail, which soon was followed by my first-ever novel advance. Then, we were off and rolling as I set out to write said novel. Owing to my complete newbie-ness, John gave me plenty of time to finish the thing, and owing to the craziness that is tie-in publishing in general and Star Trek tie-in publishing in particular, it would be almost a year between the time I handed in a completed manuscript and when the finished book hit store shelves.
Along the way, opportunities began to present themselves. Even as I continued to work on the novel and after collaborating with friend Kevin Dilmore on an article for the Star Trek Communicator magazine, the two of us found ourselves working together on what would become Interphase, a 2-part story for the still-minty fresh Star Trek: S.C.E. (Starfleet Corps of Engineers) series. That project would in turn open other doors for us as a writing team, even as my work on In the Name of Honor eventually would create an avenue by which my first original SF work would be published. By then, the train was rolling pretty good. It’s been an odd journey since then, but one for which I’ve loved every minute.
(Okay, there was that one time I’d like to forget, but John swore he’d never do it again, and that all the pictures were destroyed.)
When people ask me which of my novels–ones I’ve written solo or in collaboration with Kevin–is my favorite, I usually try to deflect the question with something along the lines of, “You can’t make me choose between my kids!” On the other hand, so much of the good fortune that’s been visited upon me can be tracked back to this first novel. I’ve been and remain grateful for the opportunities it’s presented, and to John Ordover, writer and Strange New Worlds editor Dean Wesley Smith, and Paula Block (at the time working for Viacom Licensing, which is now CBS Licensing) for making it all possible in the first place.
I guess I should think about writing another novel at some point, eh?