The Greatest Gift was originally published in the anthology Angel Love.
There’s an odd story behind the novella.
I was trying, desperately, to come up with a story idea. I couldn’t think of a scenario in which an angel could be considered a hero. I mean, an angel is dead, right? (Little did I know that I would face a similar challenge with vampires later.)
That night, I dreamed of a scene in Pompeii, and a man who had lived a life of hedonism. Before he died, however, he helped hundreds of people escape Pompeii as it was being destroyed by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius. I woke up, went to my computer, and wrote the story as I dreamed it. Frankly, I loved it.
One day, about a year after the anthology was published, I was thumbing through a book on angels, thinking that I wish I’d had the book as an inspiration when I’d needed it. I stopped and stared when I came to one image. It was a lithograph of a mural found at Pompeii. A picture of an angel. Too weird.
I bought the book, and had the lithograph framed. It sits on my bookshelf as a reminder that things happen that are sometimes unexplained. Or that angels really exist.