Liz Mugavero is the author of the Agatha-nominated Pawsitively Organic Gourmet Pet Food Mysteries, a delightful series set in fictional Frog Ledge, Connecticut. She serves on the Sisters in Crime New England board and is a member of Sisters in Crime National, Mystery Writers of America, and the Cat Writers’ Association. Her brand new series, The Cat Café Mysteries, set in New England, features Maddie James and a frisky rescue cat, JJ. Liz writes the new series under the name Cate Conte.
I met Liz for the first time in 2012 at Writers’ Police Academy, an annual event where mystery writers experience hands-on, how-to scenarios as demonstrated by members of law enforcement.
At that time, her first book, soon to be Agatha nominated, “Kneading to Die,” had not yet been published, but as soon as it was, I was a fan for life. Who can resist an author that comes up with a plot line involving kibble on the body?
Liz Mugavero has a Master’s degree in Writing (she wrote a novel for her Thesis) and works by day in Marketing and Corporate Communications. But, early mornings, before heading to the office, she can be found devising and solving the next murder (on the page, folks) at home. Mugavero is always accompanied by at least one of her pets while she creates the sleuthing women. Depending on her mood, she works either at a desk or settles onto the bed with a laptop and a cat. Rumor has it that she attends a yearly retreat with other authors, where they collectively dream up murder and mayhem for their books. Ah…to listen in on those sessions. 😉
Mugavero’s heart is firmly in New England. Born in Massachusetts, now living in Connecticut, and having a deep love of Maine, the affection for the area, no matter the weather or the season, comes through the pages in descriptions of the scenery and quirky, small town characters.
Mugavero is a member of the Wicked Cozys, a New England based writing group whose wonderful work I have reviewed at Nightstand Book Reviews on many occasions. Each of the six women has a successful cozy series and they share writing duties on their website, posting articles about the writing life (and their own series) every week. Catch them at www.wickedcozyauthors.com. In a recent post, Mugavero spoke about the differences between the two women protagonists in her two series.
Stan (short for Kristan) Connor, from the Pawsitively Organic series, and Maddie James, from the Cat Café Mysteries, are dissimilar in several ways. Stan’s relationship with her family is always a challenge, her slow growing pet food business is a work-in-progress, and her love life is embodied in a hunk with a big, sloppy (lovable) dog. Maddie, on the other hand, has a warm, supportive, close knit family, owns a successful juice bar in California, and has two great guys who happen to catch her eye. Often. But, Mugavero/Conte writes both lead characters as gals we would like to have as friends in real-life.
It’s obvious from reading Liz Mugavero’s work that she truly, deeply, loves animals. Long before penning the books, that love translated into an involvement in animal rescue.
Liz revealed: “I had two cats when my mother found a litter of kittens on the side of the road one day. We rescued them and I called a bunch of shelters thinking they would be delighted to take them, but none of them could because it was kitten season and there were so many – what I know now is all too common a story. So, I placed two and kept the other two (Pumpkin and Gypsy) and after that I decided to go volunteer so I could see what it was really like to be an animal rescuer and understand their challenges.”
Meet two of Mugavero’s happy rescues:
Junkyard Johnny (JJ) the inspiration for the JJ in “Cat About Town.” In the book, he seems to lead Maddie James in all the right directions to help solve the crimes.
Tuffy, the inspiration for Stan Connor’s cat, Nutty, in the Pawsitively Organic Mystery series. Nutty always has a comment to make, sometimes with an imperious look, sometimes with a flicking tail.
Each book in the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries includes recipes for pet food, and some of them look good enough for people to eat. There are pet food gurus behind the tasty treats, and in keeping with Mugavero’s goal to have pets eat healthier and live healthier, the recipes call for simple ingredients.
Here’s one from Mugavero’s site:
(Recipe adapted from “My Baking Heart,” originally from “The Dog Ate It”)
Apple and Cheddar Pupcakes
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup Traditional Rolled Oats
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 cup Applesauce
1/2 cup Water
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
2 tbsp Honey
1 Apple – peeled, cored and minced
1 cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder and baking soda.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the applesauce, water, oil, honey and eggs, then stir in the apple and cheese. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir until just barely blended.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling almost full (you may have a couple spoonsful of batter left over). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the tins for a few minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Really. Don’t you want to bake them for yourself? 😉
The http://lizmugavero.com/wp/for-the-animals/ section of Liz’s website includes links for pet shelters and organizations in several states around the country, along with more of the healthy pet food recipes.
Mugavero’s animals snack on their healthy kitty/puppy treats, but she has her own faves. In addition to potato chips, she noshes on sushi as often as she can. Favorite flavor? Spicy tuna rolls!
I discovered that Liz also writes short stories (published internationally) and magazine articles. She mentioned that she is now finishing the second ‘Maddie James’ book and then will work on book #7 in the ‘Kristan Connor’ series. More fun to come for the readers! 🙂 With the engaging leads, colorful supporting characters, and clever plotting throughout the two series, we look forward to everything Liz and ‘Cate’ write.
To learn more about Kristan Connor and the book that started it all (with kibble on the body) read the review of “Kneading to Die” here.
Read the review of “Custom Baked Murder,” the fifth book in the series, here.
Read the review of “Cat About Town,” the first book in the new series, here.
Title #6 in the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries, “Purring Around the Christmas Tree,” will be published late September, 2017. I am so looking forward to it!
First Photo of Liz Mugavero by Meg Manion Photography
Photo of Edith Maxwell and Liz Mugavero by Patti Phillips.
Please visit www.lizmugavero.com for more information about the talented author, Liz Mugavero/Cate Conte.