Shh… don’t tell anyone, but I’m having fun with rabies. And I’m not the only one. When I told Jessica, the publisher of Poisoned Pen Press, that I was researching rabies, she got nearly as excited as I was. After all, it’s a fascinating disease. What other viral infection has an incubation of anywhere from 10 days to seven years? A virus that can be stopped by a vaccine (these days, usually through a series of four shots), but if its not, makes its inexorable way to your brain… from which it cannot be cured. (And,yes, people have survived rabies recently – thanks to some risky treatments, including medically induced comas, but its still overwhelmingly fatal.) What other lethal disease can be contracted nearly anywhere in the world? Even the UK, where rabies was virtually eliminated for years, is now falling victim: rabies-infected bats have been found in Scotland. It’s a disease so innately terrifying that you’d think Pru Marlowe, my bad girl animal psychic/animal behaviorist, would take it seriously. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

You see, I shouldn’t be doing this now. I should be celebrating my new Pru Marlowe pet noir, Cats Can’t Shoot. After all, it’s officially out this month from the Press, and I’m very excited about it. I have already made notes on the talk I’ll give at my book launch at my local indie, Harvard Book Store tomorrow, and have traded some ideas with my fellow Sisters in Crime panelists for our presentation at the Popular Culture Association‘s annual conference (to be held on Friday the 13th, hmmmm…). But what I’m really caught up in right now is the next book. Yup, Pru #3, a lovely little adventure I’ve been calling Parrots Prove Deadly. And its for this book that I’ve been reading CDC pamphlets, talking to vets, and bugging my local hospital to show me the needles used in this famously painful (ok, they say the newest version isn’t that bad) shots. So, yeah, I should be living in the moment. Celebrating my new book. But really? I’m out in the field, helping Pru save a raccoon who may or may not have just signed her death warrant.

Oh, did you know that you don’t even have to be bitten to be infected? That’s right. And the symptoms? Well, they start with anxiety, maybe a little tension or excitability. Before long, the thirst will get to you – the muscle spasms and the inability to swallow. But don’t worry, really. By the time the convulsions start, there’s really nothing you can do anyway. Rabies… the gift that keeps on giving.

This blog originally ran on the Poisoned Pen Press blog: