INTERVIEW WITH V. M. Burns

The Puppy Who Knew Too Much by V. M. Burns is a dog lover’s delight.  The three dogs in the story will make readers laugh and sympathize with the main character Lilly Echosby.  Beyond the dog antics the story has a good mystery with many twists and thrills.

It appears that Lilly is a murder magnet.  The first book in this series has her in the middle of a divorce, when her husband is killed.  She becomes a person of interest and a widow in that moment. Now, in this second book she is also a person of interest when murdered bodies seem to pile up around her. First, her dog Aggie digs up a buried body and then her neighbor is found dead.  It seems she cannot catch a break after moving from Indiana to Tennessee to be closer to her best friend, Scarlett “Dixie” Jefferson. Having the perseverance to move forward, Lilly finds a new house, new job, and new people in her life. She is thrilled when her attorney daughter Stephanie and her current boyfriend, detective Joe Harrison, agree to come down and spend a week with her. Joe hires TBI investigator, Dennis “Red” Olson to keep the daughter and mom safe and to get to the bottom of the murders.

This delightful cozy mystery combines murder and mayhem, with a healthy dose of humor, friendship, and intrigue. Adding icing to the cake is the role the dogs played in solving the mystery.

Elise Cooper:  Why a dog book?

V. M. Burns:  I have dogs and I just love them.  I have gone through a lot of situations that my characters have gone through without the murders of course.  I thought what would happen if…

For instance, my dogs like to dig when we are out for a walk.  I wondered what would happen if they dig up a dead body.

EC:  What type of dogs do you have?

VMB:  I have toy poodles.  This is why I had the protagonist Lilly adopt a little black toy poodle, Aggie.  She named her after her favorite writer, Agatha Christie. A couple of years ago I adopted toy poodles and named my dog after my publisher Kensington.  Her name is Kenzie, who is 4 years old.  A lot of Aggie’s antics are drawn from my real-life experiences.  I wish I could say Kinsey is better behaved than Aggie but she is not.

EC:  You have another dog series?

VMB:  Yes, that series was based on my dog Coco who passed away in 2016 at the age of 17.  I have not been able to write that scene in the books so she continues on in that series.

EC:  You have tidbits of training a dog in this book?

VMB:  I have competed and trained my poodles.  The training and competition in all the books is based on my other two dogs, because I have not had the time to train Kenzie.  I used to have my dogs compete in obedience and agility.  I draw a lot of what I write on my experiences. 

EC: You write a lot about the setting, Chattanooga TN?

VMB:  I live here now.  It is in Eastern Tennessee, about two hours from Nashville.  It is surrounded by mountains that protects us from the really bad weather.  I had to adjust to the Southern lifestyle because I am from Indiana. Although both my parents are from the South, mom from Alabama and dad from Tennessee; I thought I would fit right in after moving from Indiana and Michigan. But it is really a slower pace.  They can spend five minutes telling you about details in their life. 

EC:  You do not only have poodles in the story but this one had a Golden Retriever?

VMB:  I try to take some of the stories from friends who own different breeds.  When I took my dog Coco to a training class there was this German Shepherd who was big.  My little Coco, about eight pounds, rolled him like a ball.  Through my friends I got to know the different personalities of the breeds.  I want readers to understand that not every breed is appropriate for every lifestyle or person.

EC:  Why a Golden in this story?

VMB:  One of my friends raised service dogs for the blind.  She takes the dogs as puppies to make sure they have the correct temperament.  There was this Golden, the most beautiful and best natured dog I had ever seen.  I thought if she flunked out of the training I would take her in a heartbeat.

EC:  How would you describe Lilly?

VMB:  She is a middle-aged woman who is trying to find her new normal.  She needs a happy place in her life.  I think by moving she is able to open herself up to change.  But unfortunately, dead bodies seem to find her wherever she goes.

EC:  Can you give a heads up about your next book?

VMB:  Its title is Bark If Its Murder. It is also based on one of my experiences.  After moving to Tennessee, I had to board my dogs.  I found this luxury pet resort.  The selling feature for me was that there was this pet cam.  I could watch my dogs when I am not there.  I got the idea, ‘what happens if while viewing the pet cam a murder is seen.’

THANK YOU!!