Through the writing of my last seven books, I have had the constant presence of a black labrador retriever on the floor of my office, either sitting and panting while watching me type, or laying in his fluffy dog bed by my bookshelf, snoring like a horse. That dog, Duncan, has been a beloved member of my family since soon after I wrote the first Hero’s Guide book (perhaps you’ve noticed his name in the About the Author blurbs of my books). Sadly, Duncan passed away this month, and his absence has left a huge hole in my heart. But my memories of him will never stop bringing me joy or inspiring me creatively.

In case you were wondering, yes, Duncan the dog was named after Prince Duncan from the Hero’s Guide series. When we first got that tiny handful of puppy (who later grew to a whopping 90 pounds), we gave him that name because he was a silly little pooch who would make goofy faces and stumble into walls. But we could never have realized back then how much he and the lovably eccentric prince would actually have in common.

Our sweet dog was incredibly enthusiastic about everything—occasionally a bit too much for his size. He loved meeting new people and visiting new places, though he was socially awkward and would sometimes give people the wrong impression by coming on too strong. But what it says about Prince Duncan in The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom also applied to his canine namesake: “If Duncan were to become your friend, he would bring a lot of positive energy to your day, he’d certainly make you laugh, and he’d prove himself to be perhaps the most loyal pal you would ever have.”

So, here’s to Duncan, whom I’m sure is getting endless belly rubs from every soul and spirit he comes across in the afterlife. Because when he rolls over and offers you that fuzzy tummy of his, he’s just too cute and lovable to pass up.

We will miss you forever, Duncan.

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