Thursday, December 15, 2011

Three Co-zies

On the third day of Christmas, the Book World gave to me...

Three Co-zies
Two Fabul-Agents
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.”


Trisha said...

I haven't given it a try. But I think I'd feel more comfortable doing so after actually reading some! I haven't read any Agatha Christie at all. Do I not suck!?! hehe

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Funny it's a genre you never intended to write!

GigglesandGuns said...

My favorite genre! Christie is all time favorite reread,
You and Elizabeth are on my Christmas list.

L.G.Smith said...

I'm so ashamed to say I still haven't read anything by Agatha Christie. Even my son has read Murder on the Orient Express. :(

New Year's resolution: to read at least one cozy in 2012 (maybe one with Azalea in the title).

Old Kitty said...

Gosh I'd say Agatha Christie mysteries are far from fun and quite dark and psychologically complex (prime example being "And then There were None" and also "Curtain: Poirot's Last Case" I mean that last scene where he possibly kills himself because he is consumed by guilt..) but then maybe I take her far too seriously!

Awww but yay for your genre and for your writing and your books! Of course Santa will bring you all you wish for cos you are indeed most NAKED! Take care

Tina said...

I like the blog remodeling! Looking forward to reading Azalea Assault. You had me at the title.
Tina @ Life is Good

Hart Johnson said...

Trisha-I like Christie, though I think she is only mandatory for mystery enthusiasts. She has 3 primary sleuths, and I like Miss Marple quite a bit better than the others.

Alex-isn't it? Strange to find something fits so well that way...

Mary-YAY! Thank you!

LG-that would be wonderful!

Jenny-Really only Miss Marple begins the qualification for Cozy--her other sleuths not so much.

Tina-thank you!

Chary Johnson said...

Congrats Tami! this is awesome! I will definitely look up Elizabeth's books. I love the old lady mysteries too!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Aren't you glad you met Elizabeth?

I admire anyone who can write mysteries. My brain just doesn't work that way.

Cold As Heaven said...

As far as I know, the only cozy mystery I've read was a book by Elizabeth. Will check out yours as well. Congratulations with publication >:)

Cold As Heaven