from the archives: it was twenty years ago today….

This ran on my blog on this day in 2014, celebrating the 20th anniversary of my first published fiction.


In November 1994, exactly twenty years ago, Berkley Books and Byron Preiss Multimedia Company co-published a short story anthology in trade paperback entitled The Ultimate Spider-Man (this was six years before Marvel debuted their “Ultimate” line). With a cover by Mike Zeck & Phil Zimelman, and with Stan Lee as Editor, the anthology featured a bunch of Spider-Man short stories by a variety of folks ranging from science fiction authors like Tom De Haven, Dean Wesley Smith, Craig Shaw Gardner, Lawrence Watt-Evans, and Greg Cox to comics writers like Peter David, Ann Nocenti, David Michelinie, Robert L. Washington III, and Stan Lee his own self.

Also in that anthology, as the penultimate story, was “An Evening in the Bronx with Venom,” written by John Gregory Betancourt and Keith R.A. DeCandido. We wrote that story at the 11th hour — hell, past the 11th hour — because we needed a Venom story and didn’t have one. Stan’s name on the cover notwithstanding, John and I were the actual editors of the anthology, and we’d been having trouble getting a proposal approved that featured Venom. Since Venom was a) on the cover and b) by far Spider-Man’s most popular villain in 1994, we had to have a Venom story in the book. We finally built our story around a one-sentence springboard that the person at Marvel who was doing the approvals (one of the assistants in the Spider-Man office — after a year, the approvals were transferred from Marvel editorial to Marvel’s Creative Services section) sent us.

It was an intense collaboration, one that happened in less than a week. There are parts of that story I know I wrote (the fight scenes), there are parts of the story I know John wrote (the initial scene in the safehouse from Detective Hawkins’s POV), and there are parts of that story where I haven’t the first fucking clue who wrote what because it was that intense.

That was the first piece of my fiction that was ever published.

Twenty years later, I’ve written 60 more stories that have also been published, in anthologies, collections, and magazines. I’ve written 50 novels and a bunch more novellas, comic books, reviews, and articles. I’ve won a Lifetime Achievement Award, I’ve appeared on more than one best-seller list.

From that first story, which came about from the most ridiculous of circumstances, I have built a career I’m extremely proud of. And I hope it keeps going for a lot more than 20 more years………

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