This Author Spotlight Friday, Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to welcome Liz Mugavero, author of a number of cozy mysteries featuring felines and food. Liz joined us here at 65 James Street a few months ago for our Feline Forensics Caturday event.
Thanks for coming back to ABSW, at least virtually, for this interview! Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing?
I’ve been writing ever since I knew how to hold a pen. I loved to create stories as a kid, whether it was outside playing with friends or simply entertaining myself. I adored reading and was a huge Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden fan (surprise, surprise!) and used to try to find cases to solve when I was bored at home. I started penning bad poetry as I got into my pre-teen and teenage angst periods, and I loved to write short stories. I wrote a particularly bad one in eighth grade about two people who got stranded in a snowstorm in a car and lost toes to frostbite.
I always knew I’d write novels. I went to graduate school at Emerson College in Boston, where I completed my first novel length work for my thesis. It was pretty bad, but I did it. After grad school I got serious about writing mysteries. I joined Sisters in Crime and practiced my craft, and finally in 2011 I was offered a contract for my Pawsitively Organic Mysteries. It was totally a dream come true!
Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work. Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?
I have lots of furry companions who not only help with the writing process, they are critical to it. My books are based on animals – the gourmet pet food mystery series came to fruition because of some of the things I learned during my long tenure in animal rescue as well as being a pet mom to special needs kitties. I learned how important nutrition is to the health and well being of animals, and how even the most difficult problems can see some resolution with better eating habits. This first-hand research not only gave me good experiences to draw from while writing, but also fueled my fire to educate people about the importance of good food for pets.
How important has the New England setting been to your writing?
I’ve lived in New England my whole life – Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. It’s the setting and a lifestyle I know best, and my stories naturally grew out of that close-knit, small town community setting that is so prevalent in New England. There is so much story fodder, from the history to the people to the places.
My blogmates and I set all our stories in New England, and that’s been a lovely link for us even though we have readers from all over.
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?
I’ve been drawn to crime and mysteries for as long as I can remember. For me, part of it was family influence – my grandfather was a police detective and I loved listening to his stories. I also found myself intrigued by the “whys” of crimes – what makes people do the horrible things they do. And the ripple effects of the crime – how many people it touches, what happens to them as a result. For cozy mysteries specifically, justice is always served at the end of the story – the killer is caught, imprisoned, or in some cases, meets his or her own death. Along with the general feel of a cozy – that small town, close knit place with friends and family you love to spend time with – I think this sense of justice is what draws readers to cozies. They know that even though something bad has happened, all things will be put to rights by the end of the book.
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
I love so many things about writing – coming up with ideas, seeing those ideas turn into a complete story, spending time with my characters, who have become old friends. I love meeting readers, and hearing how my stories have given them pleasure. The business itself is crazy – but a good kind of crazy. I’m just so happy to be doing what I love. My greatest lesson – that’s a tough one. I think for me it would be that everything happens when it’s supposed to, which maybe is more philosophical and encompasses more than just writing! But so true. When I think back to everything that’s happened so far, the timing has all been just perfect, and I’m learning every day to keep letting things unfold on their own schedule.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
Thank you for asking! The third book in my Pawsitively Organic series, The Icing on the Corpse, will be out March 31, and I’m hard at work on book four, called Murder Most Finicky. In addition, I’m so excited to be working on a second series tentatively titled the Cat About Town Mysteries under the name Cate Conte. St. Martin’s Press is publishing it, and I’ll turn the first book in this spring. Tentatively titled Fatal Food Stroll, It takes place on a fictional island in Massachusetts and features Maddie James, a twenty-something entrepreneur, and her new friend JJ the stray cat. Stay tuned a for publication date!
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
My books can be found at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Indiebound, and any of your small, local bookstores. If your favorite bookstore doesn’t carry them, please feel free to ask them to do so!
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
You can find me in a number of places!
My website: www.lizmugavero.com, where you can also sign up for my newsletter. I love to hear from readers, so send me notes!
I also blog with five other fabulous authors at wickedcozyauthors.com. We are cozy writers who all write New England-based stories, and you should check them all out if you’re looking to add to your reading repertoire!
Thank you so much for joining us, Liz! We hope to have you again at the store, and we wish you a lot of luck with all the new titles coming soon.