I thought I’d start out day 2 of NaAgFiMo with a story about the first animal you meet (or don’t meet, as the case may be) in THE CAPITAL ZOO.

Here are the first two sentences of the book:

The first penguin disappeared on a Tuesday.

“I just came in and Kissinger was gone,” Jenny told her boss, pacing in front of him, a bucket full of herring wobbling in her hand.

On the very first NaNoWriMo day in November 2009, I was at an Ithaca meetup at Autumn Leaves, a lovely used bookstore and writing space on the Commons. It was a Sunday and I was going to write a whole book in a month! Here was 100% of the idea I had at that point:

…zoo …

… zoos have animals…

…. are they disappearing?…

And that was it. I looked at that first clean Word document. The fabled blank page. The cursor, doing its blinky cursor thing.

I couldn’t look that blinky cursor in the eye, so I looked up. A biography of Henry Kissinger sat on a shelf across from me.

“He looks like a penguin,” I thought.

And Kissinger, the black and white Humboldt penguin who disappears from the zoo on a sweltering August afternoon, was born.