What’s up with A Date with Death?

The first novel in my Deviant Magic series has a more complicated history than your average cryptocurrency.

I wrote Shotgun, the second novel, first. A half-finished sequel and an even less complete prequel soon followed. They were kind of dumb. I shelved those ideas to focus on making Shotgun the best book it could be. Gotta learn to walk before you learn to run in a zillion directions all at once.

All of a sudden I was about to graduate from college. In hindsight, I should’ve seen that coming, but I was twenty-two and probably intoxicated. At one point I realized I didn’t have a plan for the future. What the heck was I going to do with myself after the big day? I didn’t have a job lined up and there was no guarantee I’d be able to find one. If that didn’t change, I’d have to move back to the tiny, one-stoplight town I grew up in.

That freaked me the fuck out, so I wrote about it. This is not to say that it’s about me or my hometown, just that I and that place served as useful points of reference to build the vibe for the story.

The first chapter–up until the magic starts getting deviant–is mostly unchanged. The initial idea was to have the main character, Kevin Felton, befriend an eccentric novelist living on a yacht parked in his front yard. When I think back on that plan, I know for sure I was intoxicated. Where the hell was that even gonna go? But the idea that the story would feature a cast of colorful local characters all up in each other’s business stuck. That’s just how those sorts of places work.

Then I got a job, and my worries disappeared, and the story got shelved–until I realized I could work the idea into the world I’d established in Shotgun.

See, I’ve always had an interest in exploring the way bigger concepts–like a secret magic world of mystery and intrigue–have on the day-to-day lives of regular people who aren’t directly involved. This was my chance! I merged the settings and thought about what might happen if something magical suddenly changed the lives of that cast of colorful local characters. The answer was simple: they’d find a ridiculous way to try to exploit it as part of some half-assed scheme.

So I added my favorite elf, introduced an avatar of death to my world as a useful piece of long term narrative functionality, and identified a particular off screen situation mentioned in Shotgun as the center of it all.

Boom. A Date with Death was born.