Thursday, March 11, 2010

Writing the Not-So-Cozy


Mayhem, murder, and million dollar properties...throw in a red-hot Realtor dodging danger (and closing deals) on Maine's craggy coast, and you have my first murder mystery, set to launch on April 1st. It's suspenseful -- and scary. But is it a cozy? I ddin't think so, until I read my review in Publishers Weekly.


The good folks at that worthy publication liked A House to Die For (thank you, writing Gods!) and called it "an appealing cozy." Huh? That description surprised me -- I thought I had cooked up a soft-boiled suspense novel. Had I really written a bona-fide cozy? Or penned something in between? Or maybe a merger of the two? And did it really matter?


Traditionally, cozy mysteries feature amateur sleuths, usually in small towns or villages, as well as recurring, generally likeable, characters. Violence occurs offstage, and profanity and explicit sex are taboo. Cozies emphasize strong plots and puzzle solving, and are seen as fun, engaging, reads that often revolve around a theme.


For me, a novice mystery writer, the term "cozy" conjured up a specific image: fluffy slippers, knitted afghans, and steaming cups of cocoa by a fire. To my way of thinking, a cozy did not make you squirm in your comfy position on the couch.


Gentle reader, I was selling this subgenre short. Romance -- suspense-- crime -- noir -- humor -- all can be modifiers for the complex cozy. And mine? I hope you'll read it and share your opinion. In the meantime, thanks for welcoming me to Midnight Ink and Inkspot.


10 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Sounds like a great book--cozy, soft-boiled, or traditional! Congratulations on your upcoming release!

The lines are a little fuzzy sometimes with the cozies...some are definitely cozier than others.

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

G.M. Malliet said...

You had me at "Maine's craggy coast." Sounds wonderful...

Welcome to Inkspot!

G.M. Malliet said...

p.s. And that cover!!! Wonderful.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Welcome, Vicki!

I didn't (and don't) think of my Odelia Grey series as cozy either, but most people do. Like yours, it's more soft-boil. But tomato/tamato, who cares, as long as people read them and they garner great reviews!

Alan Orloff said...

Congrats, Vicki, on the release, on the review, on the cover--on everything!

And welcome to InkSpot -- It's a cozy place! (But not only a cozy place.)

Lisa Bork said...

Welcome, Vicki. Cozy or not, your series interests me. I'm totally addicted to househunting shows on TV and now I can read about real estate, too.

Deborah Sharp said...

Welcome to the Midnight Ink authors' clan, Vicki. It also took me a while to get used to my funny Fla. mysteries -- think Janet Evanovich, with a couple of cousins named Bubba -- being called cozies. I like the term ''traditional,'' but as Sue Ann says, people can call them whatever they like. We're just happy when they like them!

Shel said...

Oh, wow, I was JUST looking at this, and put it on my list of "intriguing new books".

Kathleen Ernst said...

I look forward to reading it! And I think a little genre-bending is good for everyone.

Vicki Doudera said...

Thanks for the comments and good wishes, Elizabeth, Gin, Sue Ann, Alan, Deborah and Lisa.

Lisa, those househunting shoes ARE addictive -- I love to watch the couples make the same exact comments each time they enter a new property. ("Oh! Wood floors!)

Shel and Kathleen, thanks for putting A HOUSE on your lists. I warn you... it is not so cozy...!