Bill Bunn's Debut YA Novel is a Coming-of-Age Story with a Little Magic

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Scheduled for print and electronic release on October 20, Bill Bunn's Duck Boy is the first work of fiction issued by Altadena publisher Bitingduck Press. Praised for its characterization and non-stop action, the book tells the story of a bullied teenager who saves his family with alchemy.

Duck Boy cover art

Duck Boy, by Bill Bunn

The greatest excitement for a writer is seeing the book find its audience

Bill Bunn has been working on his debut novel for over a decade. While working as an English professor in rural Alberta, Canada, he set aside each spring to submit his manuscript for publication. Although it attracted a lot of interest, it never quite made it into print for a variety of reasons. Once his literary agent even suffered an untimely death, leaving him again searching for a publisher for Duck Boy, the story of a bullied 14-year-old who discovers an ancient alchemical secret that helps him change his life and those of his family.

It was a cheeky call from a new publisher with a duck in its name that was finally the charm. An equally cheeky note to Bitingduck Press, less than a month after the press's formation, ensured him a read. And all the editors, who almost never agree on anything, all agreed they loved Duck Boy. The protagonist is a charming, awkward young lad from a town that could be anywhere (or at least, anywhere with enough snow to allow bumper-surfing). Everyone can sympathize with the way his insecurities surface at the worst times, making him sometimes botch his escape or rescue attempts. His confidence grows slowly but perceptibly throughout the course of the story, so at the end he is capable of great courage.

Kirkus reviews praised the book's "non-stop action," and YA author Robina Williams calls the book "An exciting read, with vividly realized characters and an intriguing plot that maintains suspense through to the last page." Scheduled for print and e-release on October 20, the book will feature author events in the Calgary area (Sheep River Library) and in Pasadena, home of the publisher.

Being a teacher of writing has allowed Bill to document his voyage of creation to his students. As The Atlantic recently said, "The best writing teachers are writers themselves." From manuscript to draft to galley and now to book, he has shared each step of the process with them, giving them an inside look into a real writer's life. Bill also blogs at the publisher's author site, detailing the long and often touching history of his book for readers.

Duck Boy is Bitingduck Press's first work of fiction. The team has been working very hard over the summer to make sure the book is perfect. "The greatest excitement is for this book to meet its audience," says Bill. "It’s the ultimate end that anyone who writes hopes for: that his or her book gets the chance to live on its own. It’ll find its own friends. It’ll be quite something to watch."

Duck Boy is available for pre-order on Barnes and Noble and will be distributed worldwide. Advance review copies are available on NetGalley until the release date.

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