If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Light(er) Side of Murder

Today on Salad Bowl Saturdays we welcome Liz Mugavero whose debut cozy, Kneading to Die, was released in May. She shares with us her story of how this series came to life. The Amazon link for KNEADING TO DIE is here.

I’ve always been a dark writer. Even as a kid my first few poems and stories tackled, in no particular order, a haunted woods that lured people in and never released them; a missing person stuck on a desolate road in the freezing cold who lost limbs to frostbite; and of course, the token suicidal teenager with devastating life problems by age fifteen. Sunshine and rainbows never appealed to me. There was something about the gritty, dark and angst-filled fiction that beckoned much more seductively.

Dean Koontz, Jonathan Kellerman and Stephen King guided me through my teen years. In college at Salem State in Massachusetts (Witch City, for those not familiar), I read lots of Poe and historical accounts of the madness that plagued the area back in the day, complementing my efforts with ghostly tours of cemeteries and other witchy landmarks. I diverted briefly in grad school to women’s fiction, albeit the heavy stuff - Joyce Carol Oats and Sue Miller - before re-embracing crime, horror and murder.

I rekindled my love of mystery and began writing in earnest. Oddly enough, the first idea I had for a series started out as light, humorous, maybe a little fun. By the third rewrite, it was as dark and brooding as the authors I immersed myself in.

I spent hours with the likes of Dennis Lehane, Laura Lippman, John Connolly, James Lee Burke. I was in my glory when I discovered R.J. Ellory and Tana French. I wrote darker and darker, and concentrated on getting those books published.

And then, an opportunity dropped into my email box, in the form of an agent looking to the Sisters in Crime New England group for writers interested in developing cozy mystery proposals. I thought about it for all of three seconds before I threw my hat in the ring. Why not? I figured. An opportunity was an opportunity, after all, and while I had come close to getting published, I hadn’t made it yet.

I spoke with the agent, John Talbot, and after we hashed out my interests (animals, coffee, wine and shopping, along with the obvious murder and mayhem) and matched them to his sale prospects, we settled on a series proposal for gourmet pet food-themed mysteries. It sounded delightful - and fun. I wrote the proposal and first three chapters in two weeks, putting all of my ‘good’ energy into creating a fun, small town with interesting people, lots of animals and good old murder. And lo and behold, the proposal sold. The Pawsitively Organic Mysteries were getting published.

Then the panic set in. What was I thinking? I wasn’t a fun writer. I was dark. Twisted.  My idea of fun was Burke’s Dave Robicheaux visiting Lehane’s Shutter Island for a new perspective. And now I was on the hook for at least three lighthearted mysteries. Yikes, I thought. I better start figuring out this new concept.

With my deadline front and center in my mind, I agonized. How fun was it supposed to be? Could I have more than one murder? Did I need more than one murder? How dark were my villains supposed to be? What if I complicated the storyline too much and couldn’t pull it off? What if I disappointed cozy fans everywhere?

But then there were the writing sessions when I forgot to panic and just immersed myself in the small town I’d created, in the characters’ trials and tribulations, no matter how minor. If anyone had told me my main character would solve the problem of missing honey at a local farmers’ market in my books, I would have called them crazy. But that’s what I was doing, and giving it the same amount of attention any of my more deeply layered problems would have received.

After weeks of this, I realized I was - dare I say - having fun. My characters were too, aside from the pesky murder putting a damper on their weekend activities. Yes, there was only one murder. And I was okay with it. I found myself wanting to visit my fictional town of Frog Ledge and meet some of its crazy inhabitants - their problems weren’t so dire. The bonus: I was able to work one of my passions, animal rescue, into the storyline.

Kneading to Die was released on May 7. This whole process has been a great learning experience. It taught me to never put myself in a box - writers can write whatever they want as long as they’re willing to experiment and learn. It taught me to have more faith in myself, and not stress out over every little thing - life is working out the way it’s supposed to. It taught me that it’s ok - preferred, even - to have fun, in writing and in life. And that was the most valuable lesson of all.

That said, I anticipate many more dark stories in my future.


Liz Mugavero is a corporate communications consultant and animal lover from the Boston, Mass. area, whose canine and feline rescues demand the best organic food and treats around. She’s also a former journalist, marketing and PR specialist, and assistant to a homeopathic veterinarian. Currently based near Hartford, Conn., she’s had plenty of exposure to the small town craziness of the Nutmeg State, and saw numerous opportunities for murder.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Salem State College and a Master of Arts in writing and publishing from Emerson College. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Sisters in Crime New England, Mystery Writers of America, and the Cat Writers’ Association.

Visit her at www.lizmugavero.com, on Facebook and Twitter. She also blogs with a group of wicked cool authors at www.wickedcozyauthors.com


James Montgomery Jackson said...


The best of luck on your light(er) adventures. Congratulations on not consigning yourself to a box, but seeing other possibilities and taking the risk to explore them.

~ Jim

Kim Fleck said...

Can't wait to read more about the adventures of Stan, Nutty and all the other furry friends; along with all the murder they dig up =) Well done!

Warren Bull said...

I'm glad you answered when opportunity knocked. It's fun to stretch your abilities and try something new. Thanks for joining us at WWK.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Liz, congratulations and welcome to the lighter side! I look forward to reading your book.

KM said...

What an inspiring story! Thanks for sharing it. I'm sure you can look forward to continued success.

Gloria Alden said...

Liz, isn't it an incredible amount of fun to create your own small town with unique and interesting characters. I'm glad you were given the opportunity to go this way with your writing. Good luck and much success.

Liz Mugavero said...

Thank you to everyone! It's been wonderful and I am in love with my series. I hope to be able to write many more!