Meow! My guest today is author Liz Mugavero!
Liz Mugavero started writing at a young age, then went on to get a master’s in writing and publishing and has spent time in journalism, PR and corporate communications. She works in marketing by day and writes her books by night!
Aside from writing, Liz loves animals (she has a houseful), the beach, reading other writers’ masterpieces and Starbucks coffee.
R: Welcome, Liz! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
L – Thanks Rocco! Well, I was one of those nerdy kids (and I say that with love - there’s nothing better than a nerd) who always had her nose in a book. Once I learned to write, I became an instant short story writer, then progressed to my own soap opera, then finally to (bad) poetry in my teenage years. I knew from a very young age I would be a novelist - I even wrote a paper about it for a “future me” assignment in high school. My grad school thesis was a novel, the first one I ever completed. It will never see the light of day, but that’s okay - it was a tremendous learning experience. After grad school, I realized I needed to write what I loved, and that was definitely mysteries.
R: What writers in your genre would you say have made the greatest influence on your writing?
L - I can count so many people as influences. When I was younger, I read a lot of Nora Roberts and I loved the way she made me feel like her characters were part of my family - people I wanted to spend time with and missed when I closed the book. I wanted people to have that experience with my characters. Now, I tend to gravitate toward the darker writers when it comes to influence. I’m a huge Dennis Lehane fan - I love the emotions he inspires through his writing. Same with R.J. Ellory and Tana French - they all have that innate ability to pull you into a situation and make you feel like you’re living it with their characters. I aspire every day to write like that.
R: Tell us about KNEADING TO DIE. Where did that inspiration come from?
L - I’ve worked in animal rescue for more than a decade, and I always dreamt of being able to tie my love for animals in with my love for writing. Plus, I wanted to educate people on things like natural medicine and good nutrition for their animals. When the opportunity to write a series about gourmet pet food presented itself, it was totally a dream come true.
R: How exciting is it to have your first novel nominated for an Agatha? How did you feel when you heard the news?
L - Oh my goodness - SO exciting! I think the woman who called me must have thought there was something wrong with me - I had no idea what to say. I think I mumbled “Thank you” or something not very eloquent. But seriously, I am amazed and thrilled and humbled, and so pleased people enjoyed the book. Out of all the books out there, to have mine nominated is such an honor.
R: You were formerly in PR – which career do you prefer, that or author and why?
L - I’ve had a few careers on both sides of the media fence. I was in journalism for a long time, and still dabble in it today. My time in PR led me to a communications gig in corporate America. I still work there but shifted my focus to product marketing, which is a lot of fun. I love being an author and feel that ultimately that will be my one career, but all these other jobs are fabulous experiences that bring a lot to my writing.
R: Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share? How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
L - I wouldn’t be where I am without Sisters in Crime. For so many reasons - the support of like-minded writers, for one, but it’s where I found my agent. I belong to the national group, and also the New England chapter. Back in 2011, my agent John Talbot contacted the president of the chapter, then Sheila Connolly, and asked her to put him in touch with writers who would be interested in developing new cozy proposals. Sheila put the call out to the whole group. Out of those who responded, a bunch of us (including my Wicked Cozy Author friends) got contracts. And it happened fast! I talked to John in Sept./Oct. of that year. By Thanksgiving I had turned in a proposal, and it sold in December. Then I was off and running!
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
L - It depends on my mood and where I am in the story. Sometimes music helps, sometimes I like quiet. My Chinese Pu Er tea is my one consistent need - that always helps.
R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?
L - Hmmm. I’ve always been fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials. Imagine being there?
R: If a movie were to be made of one of your books, which one would you want it to be and who would you pick for the lead roles?
L - I think it would be fun to see any of the books as a movie. A Biscuit, A Casket (which comes out today!) would translate well, I think - the farm setting offers endless opportunities for hilarity, especially when you’re throwing a city girl like Stan into it. For lead roles, I’m thinking Blake Lively for Stan - she’s kind of what I envision when I’m writing her. For Jake, maybe Charlie Hunnam. For Scruffy, I would vote for Shaggy, my schnoodle - and of course my Tuffy should play Nutty the Maine Coon :)
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
L - I still get VERY nervous before speaking publicly.
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
L - Ha - I don’t think we have space on the blog for that :)
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
L - From this series, I hope they come away with new ideas on how to take care of their pets. What they eat is just as important as what we eat, and plays a big role in their ongoing health. If I can help educate one person on better animal nutrition, I’ve done my job.
R: What are you working on at the moment / next?
L - I’m wrapping my third in the series right now. It doesn’t have an official name yet, but all of our old friends from Frog Ledge are off on another adventure that involves a dead body!
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
L - I used to be a pantser until I had to turn in synopses for the books in this series. At first that was even more daunting than writing the books themselves, but when I was writing the second book I found it really helpful to have a road map when I got lost. I didn’t stick to it, necessarily, but it was there to use as a starting point if I got stuck. So I’m kind of a reformed pantser!
R: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)
L - No party tricks here - I’m afraid I’m kind of boring :) You can find me with my nose in a book, or hanging out at home.
R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?
L - My website, and my Facebook page, and my group blog. I blog with some lovely ladies, the Wicked Cozy Authors, and we all write cozies set in New England. Come check us out at And I’m also on Twitter @lizmugavero and Pinterest .
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
L - Keep at it! Write all the time, write what you love, and never give up on your dream of getting published. Your dreams will come true in the perfect time and space sequence if you persist.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? I love both! I used to be more of a night owl than I am now but I still love the energy of the nighttime. But I’m more productive during the day. That’s a hard one!
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) I’m dog AND cat - if I answer one or the other, there will be a mutiny in my house!
Beach or Pool? Beach, hands down.
Steak or salad? Salad - I don’t eat meat.
Favorite Drink? Tea from my Chinese healer, Dr. Ming Wu.
Favorite Book? Is this a trick question?? Two come to mind instantly: R.J. Ellory’s A Quiet Belief in Angels and Joyce Carol Oates We Were the Mulvaneys.
Favorite TV Series? I’m presently addicted to American Horror Story and The Following.
Favorite Movie? Mystic River.
Favorite Actor: I love Morgan Freeman.
Favorite Actress: Julia Roberts.
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada.
Hawaii or Alaska? Hawaii for sure! I hate being cold.
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be ______Stevie Nicks._____________
If I had just one wish, it would be__That the senseless euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals would stop. ___________________________________
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be… No one - I love being me!
Folks, Liz will give away a copy of A Biscuit, A Casket to one lucky commenter!
To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:
* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link: https://twitter.com/RoccoBlogger)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)
Winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! Contest open to US residents only, ends midnight, April 6.
Coming up: Harley Kozak, Rosie Genova and Rose Pressey visit the blog!