Okay, first we have to talk about FREE STUFF.
In celebration of the recent release of my fifth Home Crafting Mystery, Wined and Died, you can enter to win a FREE Author Website ($900 value!) from the creative folks at Bizango Websites for Writers until July 29, 2011. The winner will also receive 2 years of FREE hosting. For more details and information on how to enter, please visit my Hearth Cricket blog.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…
But they’re crafting mysteries. I was on a panel at Left Coast Crime once that discussed exactly this issue. One of the questions was, “Do the subjects of your books make them cozy?” The idea was that if you’re writing mysteries about crafts (me), antiques (Jane Cleland), or gardening (Rosemary Harris) then they must be cozies. Two panelists were unable to attend, and Reed Farrell Coleman stepped in to balance out the panel (because of the wine connection in his Moe Prager mysteries, I assume). It turned out that despite our subject matter and the fact that we were all considered cozy writers (well, all except for Reed), none of us particularly related to the cozy label.
There’s outside evidence that I color slightly outside the cozy lines. There was that cozy author I asked to write a happy little blurb for one of my books who refused to be associated with it because it featured a stalker, a possible rapist, and an elderly woman was attacked. For a (very) brief moment there I felt like Hunter S.Thompson or Harry Crews. Another blurber was somewhat taken aback by the untraditionally fast pacing.
By the way, that thing about the pacing will make my writing buddies crazy, because they’re always telling me to speed things up. “But it’s a cozy, “ I say. Even if I only kinda, sorta mean it.
“What does it mean to know someone in the biblical sense?” is the opening line of Wined and Died, and it comes from an eleven-year-old girl. Throughout the series, serious issues like alcoholism, clinical depression, cancer, suicide, abuse – oh, and murder, helllooo – keep cropping up. In Wined and Died we’ve got us a little problem with some backwoods marywanna growers, drug dealing, and addiction.
Not terribly cozy fare, though it’s generously sprinkled with soap making, herb craft, gardening, how to make dandelion wine and ginger ale, information on mead, cooking, plenty of recipes, and, I hope, a bit of humor. There isn’t any explicit sex but two main characters are recently married, so there’s reference to their sex life. There was before the wedding, too. Wined and Died doesn’t have a lot of gore, but others in the series have had their share. Now that I think about it, the then acquisitions editor asked me to tone down the first page of the first Home Crafting Mystery because the description of the dead body was too graphic. (She was right, too – I totally went overboard on the ick factor.)
Yet middle school librarians stock my books. I rate them as PG 13 on Authors Den. At nearly all of my signings, at least one teenager buys a book, and I always tell the parents that there’s some mildly bad language and references to adult behavior. “Worse than television?” And I have to shake my head and offer them another molasses-oatmeal signing cookie.
So now I call my books contemporary cozies, because I guess that’s what they really are – a little faster, a teensy bit more edgy, not – as Robin put it in her recent post – “pink.” But they’re still about colonial home crafts, and that is cozy fare. Kinda sorta. Pretty much.
There are a lot of books out there that I’d call contemporary cozies. Or do you think “cozy” has been redefined over the last decade and that modifier is unnecessary?