Wow, what a week.
A week ago today, Musetta was still with us. Still herself. But maybe something had already changed. I was sitting at my desk, writing, and she came over and reached up to me – grabbing onto my thigh with her claws and asking to be lifted onto my lap. She hadn't done that in a long while. I hadn't thought about it – or if I did, I attributed it to her arthritis (for which we gave her injections), which made jumping difficult – but I knew what she wanted. I lifted her up to my lap and, reaching over her to my keyboard, went back to work. She jumped down soon and went about her business, but that was okay. I was nearing the end of a manuscript and I had another pending. I had no time to waste.
That night, Jon and I opened a bottle of champagne. I'd had a good offer for a new project, and although the details were still being ironed out, we wanted to celebrate. For us, that meant bubbly with our Friday night Korean takeout and movies. We did wonder why Musetta didn't come downstairs, as usual, to join us and both went up to "her" room to check on her. She seemed fine – alert, and looking up at us in her "do you need me for something? I was napping" way. Still, I woke up around five the next morning and went upstairs to her room (OK, the guest room - but she'd claimed it as hers). She was still lying on the futon, where we'd seen her the evening before, which wasn't unusual, but still... I lay next to her for a while, and when Jon woke and came up to join us, she jumped down from the futon and looked down the stairs at him. Everything seemed normal, and we went back to our own bed, leaving her in her domain.
It was all downhill from there. And while we were so, so not ready, our darling kitty was. At 16 1/2, our little jellicle had lived her life to the fullest and (after vet visits, feedings of baby food and B vitamins, various not-too-invasive procedures, and Jon playing violin for her, a story for another time) on Wednesday, Sept. 20, we said goodbye to her.
Over Monday and Tuesday, my wonderful and caring agent had worked out the details with my new publisher, Jason Pinter of Polis Books. She was very respectful of my feelings, but I had emailed her, telling her that I could use the distraction. Somewhere in there, Jason wrote me a lovely welcome letter, and I gather I managed to send him the bio and photo he needed to make the announcement (I was certainly on autopilot). When he shared the Publishers Marketplace announcement with me yesterday, Thursday, I initially agreed to share it – then realized I couldn't. He got it, and told me to take my time.
I did, and I will. I am certainly still mourning the mighty soul in the little fuzzy body who was my constant companion and muse for nearly 17 years – through my entire mystery-writing career. But I am also, now, excited about the future.
This fall, I have what I think of as my biggest, best book ever – World Enough – coming out. This book is a departure for me, being more noir than cozy, but it is the culmination of decades of writing, thinking, living... At any rate, for me it is huge. Officially, World Enough will be published in the U.S. on Nov. 1 by Severn House, but I'll be starting publicity for it soon (Bouchercon, New England Crime Bake, events at Harvard Bookstore and Mysterious Bookshop, among others - click here to see if I'll be coming to a store or library near you).
The book I have been trying to finish up is a new Pru Marlowe pet noir – the first in two years! Tentatively titled Fear on Four Paws, it should be out next August (from Poisoned Pen Press).
This will follow a third Blackie & Care mystery, which I finished in the spring. On Feb. 28 (UK)/June 1 (US), Cross My Path will bring back my brave black cat narrator as he unravels the mystery of his own life and transformation, all while he protects and aids the fearless girl whom he loves. (Thank you, Severn House, for believing in this series!)
But as this new year dawns, I am now getting ready to tackle a new project, near and dear to my heart: A Spell of Murder, the first in the Witch Cats of Cambridge cozy series. The witch cat series combines so much that matters to me – cats and their people, a touch of magic, whimsy, and a lot of love. I'll tell you all more about this soon, but I have to say, in all my sadness, I am so excited to be going forward with A Spell of Murder for Polis Books. My funny little person won't be sitting beside me for this one. But I like to think that Musetta – like my late, great Cyrus was as the spectral Mr. Grey of my Dulcie mysteries, and in the spirit of Theda Krakow's Musetta, Dulcie's Esme, and Pru's Wallis, whom she inspired – is still with me. I can feel her there now, purring in approval and curled up so comfortably right by my feet that I really must write just one more sentence before I quit for the day...
Musetta, March 28, 2001–Sept. 20, 2017
l'shana tova, folks. Happy new year to you all.