Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mitch Malone Mondays -- Victoria Heckman

I’m not much of an animal person. There is a dog in the fourth Mitch Malone book but I don’t even want to think about that adventure. What does that have to do with Mitch Malone Monday’s? Glad you asked. Today’s guest is Elizabeth Murphy, a creation by Victoria Heckman. Victoria, who I gather through our email conversation, is a bit shy about her talent and wanted the character to appear. I’m good with that. In BURN OUT, Elizabeth talks to animals and with the furry creations, she solves crime. Elizabeth, can I call you that? You don’t have a nickname?

Elizabeth is fine. When I was little people tried to shorten it to Liz, Beth, and the best was Bit. That's not even a name. I corrected them, so I'm told. "My name is Elizabeth." So, that's what stuck!

Okay. Let’s get to the heart of the matter. You talk to animals? It’s not just a dog or cat that shares your living spaces, but any animal out on the street? How does that work?

I can communicate with other animals almost better than my own sometimes. I hear it's like your kids. Tig and I don't have kids yet, but we hope to. Anyway, I talk to Teddy and Edward, our cats, and of course our neighbor's pug across the street, Buster. However, sometimes strangers (strange animals!) are better at giving and receiving. Some animals ignore you, like some people do. I have learned a lot from being a good listener. I think most people really could communicate with their animals better if they tried. I mean, their pets/companions are always trying to tell them something. I guess I'm just the translator! Also, I find that what the animals are saying stems from things their *people* do, and often the owners/humans don't like that--that they have some responsibility in their pet's behavior.

Now I understand you have a husband who is a firefighter. Does he know? Does he believe you or do you have to get your point across in other means. I picture the department’s Dalmatian adding a little emphasis to your points on your significant other’s butt. Can you get animals to do things?

When we first met, I didn't tell him. I mean, how do you say that on a date? But it sort of came out as all secrets tend to do! He knows I talk to the animals, but it wasn't til recently that he really bought into that I could understand what they were giving back to me. It's not like they bark and you can say, "Oh, Tipsy's saying I like liver but not chicken." They tend to send me pictures and sometimes I have to really work to figure out the problem. Animals who are domesticated are easier for me. Every communicator is different (yes, there are a lot of us out there) but I find the animals around humans have figured out the best way to talk to us. Wild animals have a whole other perspective. Think of a camera for a movie. If you are talking to a bird, you might get some nice aerial pictures, but if you are talking to a small dog, he is not going to show you pictures of the problem on the roof. Unless he's been there, of course! As far as getting them to do things, not really. They like something in return, so most of my successes in information or behavior involve a concession on my or the owner's part. Some dogs, for example, just LIKE fetch or bringing in the paper. Most of the time, the animals are not going to do something just because someone wants it. The real exception for both animals and people, is love. If they love you, they will work very hard to make you happy. And if you love them back, then it's a win for all.

Cool gift. Is this a big secret or do people know and call you into service to say find their stray cat?

I haven't had success consistently with finding animals remotely. I know of some who can, I'm just not one of them. I need to see and hear the animal, especially the first time I chat with it. I can do it by phone after that, but it's a lot harder for me. However, if the animal was already a client I can do that. I am better at finding out behavioral issues, which is why most people contact me. Animals always have a reason for doing what they do, and it makes sense to them, even if their owners don't like it. I had a call once from a lady whose cat was peeing on the bed. Can I say peeing here? Anyway, she didn't know why and of course wanted it to stop. I'm glad she called after just the first couple times because her cat had a urinary tract infection and was in a great deal of pain. The woman worked a lot and the cat never seemed to mind but she thought it was because the cat was lonely. Nope, Kitty didn't care, just wanted her person to know something wasn't right.

Now where can people get their hands on this story?

Print copies are available at all your local online shops. The E book will be available from Smashwords any day now and at Amazon shortly after that.

Now Ms. Heckman also writes another series called KO’d in Hawaii. How do you differ from Katrina Ogden, the main sleuth?

K.O. is some of me... most of the ridiculous things she's done, so have I. Embarrassing but true. She's braver than I am, however. She's also taller and thinner!

Thanks so much for being my guest and talking about your gift. I’m a little gifted myself and know it can be difficult to disclose those personal details. If you want more on Elizabeth, Katrina or Ms. Heckman, please visit


  1. Nice, Elizabeth. I'll be looking for this book for my Kindle.

  2. Oh Elizabeth, wish I had more of your gift! Loved Burn Out, great read, and you're a character I really like.


  3. Thanks for stopping by Barbara and Madelyn.

  4. This Friday I'm moderating a panel with pet mystery writer Judi McCoy on it. I really know nothing about this niche in the genre, so I was glad to read your interview! Your cover's great, too.

  5. Jenny: Thanks for stopping by. Wendy