Ondine Series Origins
by Ebony McKenna
On a television animal documentary series I saw a feature on ferrets doing crazy, adorable things. On my walk that evening, the image of those wascally characters stayed in my head, especially the idea of a ferret up a drainpipe. There was something heroically stupid about that.
More ideas flooded in. Ferrets would make great spies. The imaginary ferret in my head started talking in a Scottish accent.
The ferret needed a companion, and the name Ondine seemed to fit. This is probably the memory of once getting a fabulous manicure from a woman called Ondi, and I always liked the sound of her name. Instantly she was an orphan. A nanosecond later, she wasn't an orphan. If this was to be a 'great book' it needed to be different. I had written seven books by this point, so I had an idea that this one had to be special.
Orphans have been done too often. Instead, I thought back to the most awkward time of my life - my teens, when I desperately yearned for independence but still needed family around me. When you're 15, privacy is gold, but you never get a moment to yourself.
I let the idea settle, wrote a few notes, then ignored it. A few weeks later, the idea hadn't gone away, so I gave in to it. Shambles really let me have it for keeping him cooped up so long. Some ideas worked, others took me down blind alleys.
I took the first chapter to my writers' group to see how it would fly. They laughed in the right places, understood the footnotes, and made sensible suggestions on how to make it really work. After that it was many months of writing, then leaving it for a few months, then looking at it again.