I blame Kim Harrison.
The nom-de-plume of author Dawn Cook, Kim Harrison writes the Rachel Morgan series of urban fantasy novels about witches, demons and vampires. We’ve had a correspondence for a few years and I was on her Facebook page one day looking at her status. I recall the conversation went something like this:
Kim: I had a nice bubble bath today and came up with lots of great ideas!
Me: Anything involving rubber duckies?
Kim: You got me. Demon ducks are the next big thing. You heard it here first.
Me: Devon the Demon Duck vs. the Burning Bunnies from Hell! Hehe.
And that was it. That little joke got me thinking about an idea that wouldn’t go away. What if there was a duck possessed by a demon? There’s nothing funnier than a duck. Ducks are funny by design. Don’t believe me? Just look at that bill and those feet. Hilarious!
I began thinking of a short story set around Halloween. I was cat-sitting for my sister in October of 2009 during her trip to Hawaii. I had the whole house to myself and nothing to do but write. I was planning to work on my fantasy series but the damn duck idea wouldn’t go away. I had to get it out and bring it to life. I figured it also might help me get the attention of an agent; I could use the story like a honey trap and spring my other book series once I had them snared. Muhahaha!
Now, I had never done a comedy book before. I’ve always been told I am funny, but I never thought of myself as a particularly entertaining person when it came to funny stories. Nevertheless, I ploughed ahead as usual. I made sure Kim wasn’t actually going to use a demon duck, and I got her permission to include burning bunnies in my story (she uses a burning bunny image as a kind of trademark). I kept it to five pages per chapter and knocked out about 25,000 words in a month. Devon was a demon trapped in the body of a duck by a spell gone wrong, and Annie was the only person who could understand his ominous quacking. Together they would battle other possessed animals in their adventures. I thought it was cute.
My test readers only had one question: “What happens next?” It seems I had a hit on my hands. Devon wouldn’t die. He had charmed his way into peoples’ hearts like only a talking duck could, and now I was stuck with him. I had the sinking feeling that my serious fantasy story would never become big and I’d be known as the guy who writes the funny duck books. Well, there are worse things to be known for I guess.