I will begin this by saying that the Pi cat is alive and well, or as well as a 19 year old cat can be.
But of late, she has decided that the hike down the stairs to the always cool basement where I work is not to her liking. She spends most of her days snoozing now on her cushion in front of the fireplace, even when there is no fire there. Her greatest joy is when my granddaughters arrive to fuss over her and brush her endlessly and tell her how beautiful she is.
So, for a time now, I have been writing by myself.
I should point out that Pi appointed herself as the writing cat shortly before I began writing Assassin’s Apprentice. She was there when the first Robin Hobb book was created, and has always been on hand (well, on lap) for writing every book since then. She learned to come and sit on my lap for company after her dearest cat friend died. Prior to that, she had little use for me except as a vehicle for serving catfood.
But once she had decided that I would have to do, she took her duties seriously. As soon as she heard the Microsoft chimes when I turned on the computer, she would come running to the office. And when she heard the chimes that announced I was turning off the computer, then she would hop off my lap and head for the bedroom.
A few days ago, I was surprised to find Princess AKA Falcor sitting on my desk chair when I came into the basement. I put her off, and began my night’s work, but she insisted she had to come back up and sit behind me in the chair. Since then, she has shifted to my lap. And now, just as my Pi cat did, she occasionally reaches up to add a letter or space to whatever I’m writing.
So, I believe the torch has been passed. I don’t know how Pi conveyed to her that it was her turn in the barrel, but Princess has been faithful about helping me write each evening. She has not yet learned to follow me through the house yowling when I attempt to take a night off, but I am sure Pi will eventually teach her that duty as well.
I do not know if the change in writing cats will turn up as a change in prose. Pi is a black ‘tuxedo’ cat with an interesting kink in her short tail. Princess is a not really white; she has apricot/Siamese markings, with large blue eyes. And she is a BIG cat, much heavier than Pi.
I have decided that from now on, when I over run my word count, I will give that as a reason. Bigger writing cat= longer books. Seems obvious to me.
She is also a hopeless stoner cat. During sunny days, she can be found absolutely wallowing in the cat nip patch.
So, any lack of coherence in the books on her watch can be easily explained also.