I finished writing and editing A Fistful of Frost a week before my cat passed away. She had been a part of my life for 15 years, and my constant companion. She wrote with me, she slept with me, she watched TV and played tag with me. She could read my mind. She was Mr. Bond’s soulmate and sibling, and rarely a day went by when they didn’t spend some of it cuddled.

She was the real-life version of Dame Zilla, and losing her soured A Fistful of Frost for me. The book became entangled in my loss. Dame Zilla had only just come into the limelight in Frost (though she made a cameo in books 1 and 2), and now my Dame Zilla was gone. It made me bitter about the whole series, really.

After I powered through pre-release marketing and the launch, I eagerly turned away from Madison’s world. I’ve been neck deep in gargoyles and elemental magic with Leads & Lynxes ever since, and it’s helped.

However, over the last two days, I’ve been polishing “A Pocketful of Tranquility,” the bonus Madison Fox short story that’s about to be unlocked. It blessedly doesn’t feature either of the cats. It’s an amusing story about some trouble Rose gets herself into, and Madison and Jamie rush to the rescue.

Through “Tranquility,” I reclaimed some of my original love of the world. It’s fun. It’s light. It has characters I enjoy spending time with.

Working on this short story has helped curb my knee-jerk cringe at the thought of returning to this world for another novel.

I spend so much time in these worlds while I’m writing and editing them that they start to feel real. Bringing my cats along for the adventure seemed like a good idea when I started, but I hadn’t considered how painful it would be to have the literary version of them prevail long past their real-life counterparts.

I’ve learned my lesson: I will never fictionalize another real-life animal.