Today is RA THE MIGHTY’s book birthday! It’s my sixth book, so you’d think that book birthdays would feel very routine by now. Not so. They’re a cause for celebration every time — and maybe especially this time.

When the idea for this book came to me, I was in the midst of a truly terrible year. I’d had my first emergency ride in an ambulance, multiple hospital consultations, surgery far from home, serious surgical complications, flu, pneumonia, pleuritis, further complications, and a flare-up of lupus. And the year wasn’t over yet.

On top of all that,  I felt burned out as a writer. I’d just finished a YA trilogy written under grueling deadlines, and then I’d written a book that my agent didn’t want. I thought I might never write a book again.

But then one day a cat showed up. An imaginary cat, true — but one bursting with personality. A cat who made me laugh. Soon I discovered he had a scarab beetle buddy, who made me smile, too.

Write a mystery for us, they begged. A funny mystery.

I’m sorry, I told them. You’ve got the wrong writer. Maybe I could do a mystery, if I got my health back and I worked hard. But I can’t do funny.  I wish I could, but humor isn’t one of my gifts. You’ll have to find somebody else.

But the cat and the beetle stuck around. Just give it a try, they urged me. It’ll be fun. You’ll see.

So I finally did. And they were right. It was a joy to write their book.

Happy book birthday, Ra and Khepri! Thank you for seeing me through a dark, dark time. It’s wonderful to see you in living color.


My writing mascot watches over Ra and Khepri’s book

That isn’t the end of my gratitude. All books take a village, and I send warmest thanks to all of mine, especially to Kit Sturtevant and Paula Harrison and my husband and daughter, who read drafts and laughed in all the right places and kept my spirits up. To Sarah Horne, whose art amazes me every day.  To Paula and Mo O’Hara, who wrote such lovely blurbs for the cover. To my agent and editor and the people at Holiday House, who are Ra and Khepri’s champions.

And thank you, dear readers and dear friends. I’m grateful to you all.