You Always Remember Your First

Romulan_StratagemA rule of advice to authors is to kill your darlings. You might love a line or a character or a scene but if it does not help the overall work, it should ruthlessly be excised without looking back. But, authors are infrequently asked about which of your darlings would you save. Who is your favorite? Most authors will tell you it’s like asking which of your children you love most. You love them all the same, you tell people.

The truth is we don’t love our written works with equal fervor. Recently, I addressed Time Station Berlin, a work I wish I had a chance to redo.  I’ve written books with zero editorial direction and while good, could have been better. Even with good editorial input I know I could have written a few better but circumstances interfered.  I’ve written books as a favor to the editor so it was a job. I wrote a book on desserts, easily the most boring book I’ve written, because no one else offered me work at the time. So no, I don’t love them all differently.

I’ve written some pieces to take on the personal challenge, as I did when I tackled The Nature of Energy. Not being a science guy, I figured if I could make sense out of it for myself, I can convey that to middle schoolers. A huge baseball fan, I wrote the biography of Wilt Chamberlain just so the editor could see what I can do and be in her mind when a baseball opportunity rolled around leading to the Lou Gehrig assignment.

Out of personal pride, I loved working on The Essential Batman Encyclopedia which may be a bit of esoteric for some but a labor of love and something I remain incredibly proud of. Similarly, I dove into the research with deep interest and feel out of all the young adult work I have done to date, the Bataan Death March was the best of the bunch.

But, do I have an all-time favorite?

Well, you always remember your first. In this case, it was my first solo novel, Star Trek: TNG – The Romulan Stratagem. Having cut my fiction teeth on collaborations, the time had finally come to write something on my own. I relished the notion that we had not really seen Jean-Luc Picard lose a conflict with an opposing race. From that simple concept, I spun a story that brought in the then-underused Romulans and even the emotionally charged figure of Sela. It worked out pretty well and I note over at Goodreads that it remains one of my best reviewed works, which I think still holds up.

And maybe the next one I write will bump that off the pedestal.

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