THE COZY MYSTERY
COZY MYSTERIES are also referred to as ‘cozies’. In England they are called ‘Aga Sagas’ because they are read sitting by the Aga stove on a blustery evening (or afternoon).
I’m drawing to the close of my third complete revision of my cozy. Round of applause, please. It’s been gruesome and exhausting.
One of the members of my writing group had only a vague concept of what a cozy was even after years of critiquing my work. I asked this person to read one that had influenced my choice of fiction, and then he could critique me. After reading twenty-eight pages my fellow writer was completely saccharined-out.
Cozies can have that affect on some people. There are cozies, and there are cozies, just as in any other genre. They run the gamut from Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers down to. . . well I won’t say down to whom, but they are out there, complete with misspellings and main character name changes in the middle of the story. One cozy I read misspelled leech throughout the book, and the poor leech was a secondary character.
Usually a cozy takes place in a small community where everyone is known to each other, though not necessarily intimately. It’s a cliquey sort of environment, and emotions can run high for extra tension beyond the tensions the prerequisite murder have caused. If you think of how a movie is rated for S, V, and L, a cozy will come in at a PG. Sex, Violence and Language are virtually absent from the page, only referred to so the reader will know that S and V have occurred in some less savory quarter, or to an unsavory person who uses L.
The protagonists are usually female, as are the readers of cozies. Almost always they are amateurs when it comes to dealing with crime. They continue this charade even if the series runs to ten or a dozen books. It’s an appealing shtick.
The protagonist sometimes has an interesting side-line that can be part of the mystery, or an aside that the followers of that series enjoy reading about. Examples are: innkeeper, caterer, animal breeder, bookbinder, herbalist. The list stretches on.
And the protagonist usually has a friend in the police force who aids her in the search for truth and justice.
I fought against it, but my protagonist has been working with a policeman. He wants to retire, preferably in the arms of the heroine, but that, and anything else un-cozy, will never darken the pages of my story.
Unless there is a sequel.