Thursday, December 15, 2011
And the notice of a best selling book!
You know... I didn't even know what a Cozy Mystery was when I started this writing venture, let alone think I could write one.
Elizabeth Spann Craig introduced me to this genre... she described it very well and I'm sure I can't do it justice, but I'll give it a shot. They are the light, funny murder mysteries. Think Miss Marple, because Agatha Christie really led this genre into being. The victim is disliked. The sleuth is an amateur. And the READER is a stickler for the writer being FAIR. The clues have to be there so the reader COULD figure it out (or at least can spot the real keys when they go back over it.) These readers don't like the gore of a lot of mystery and don't really want the deep forensic detail (or perhaps just have a distaste to the cop personality so often portrayed—I fall here—I have read sympathetic detectives, but most of them are either bland or stereotypical).
The amateur sleuth as a WRITER is incredibly freeing. I mean I need to make sure the details are accurate, but I can have a lot of stuff I don't know because my sleuth wouldn't know. The things SHE notices are of a different sort. She is a Public Relations Manager and so tends to really spot the details of where something is going wrong... these are usually social interactions and I happen to have a master's degree in social psychology, so this stuff is FUN FUN FUN.
In addition to needing to be introduced to the sub-genre, I was also intimidated as heck with just the IDEA of mysteries... you know... leaving clues, dropping a few red herrings, pacing it right, dealing with suspects and hitting the right note between impossible to solve and obvious (solvable, but bendy). But in fact there are tons of resources, an reading a lot of mysteries gives a feel. Elizabeth again, plus my fellow Burrower Leanne, were amazing help when I first gave it a try.
And you know what? Going through this process... writing stories that have to be tightly plotted, has improved my other writing. It's cut down a lot on my tangent impulses. I adore it.
So I am currently writing my 3rd Cozy Mystery (I also wrote What Ales Me which is just a little too sassy), and I really really love the genre. I think you should all give it a try. Elizabeth has released several this fall—a few back titles for a series that got canceled when Midnight Ink changed directions, plus her third Memphis Barbeque (and Lulu is fabulous—I've read the other two), so if you don't have any in mind, I think you should look her up. As Leanne says, “she's the queen of little old lady mysteries.”