What’s a Cozy Mystery to You?
For some readers, cozy mysteries (or cozies) were born from crime fiction. We’re talking about those classic pulp fiction books where the investigating fell to private dicks who had to save a dame.
For other readers, cozies sprung from classic mystery writers like Agatha Christie (Miss Marple & Hercule Poirot), Dorothy L. Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey) and Patricia Wentworth (Miss Maud Silver).
For even others, cozies found their newest foothold due to television shows like Murder She Wrote.
The Cozy Facts
- Amateur Sleuth, who usually uses their unique skills (which are rarely police or forensic skills) to solve a murder.
- Set in a small quaint town or contained community.
- Murder happens ‘off screen’ – nothing gory or sensational is described.
- Main characters have a theme that influences the series. It can be a hobby that shapes their approach to the murder. Examples: baking, sewing, crossword puzzles, home renovation, book clubs, sports, fishing, fashion and pretty much any kind of craft. The main character’s job can also drive the thematic hook, including any kind of small business owner, like a bookstore, a bakery or an antique shop. In my new series, the main character is a Fitness Instructor. The thematic thread can even come from being twins to a witch to a beloved pet.
- Content stays away from violence, bad language and any of that steamy romance novel stuff. While love interests pop up, and add to creating a full life for a compelling main character, they never drive the story in a cozy. Can romance mix with mystery and mystery mix with romance? You bet! But a traditional cozy is not a romance.
- Main character’s story focus: solving a mystery.
- The storyline uses clues to let the reader figure out the mystery.
Rules Are Meant to be Broken
Pushing the facts aside, creativity should never be boxed and wrapped up like a present. The Cozy Mystery category is worthy of its own sub-genres. I’ve enjoyed cozies with a little more romance, humor and a supernatural twist. Amazon now offers special categories: Animals, Culinary and Crafts & Hobbies.
And what about the idea that cozies are only for mature female readers? Hmm… it’s more like smart people read cozies. The crafty ones that like to ‘play along’ and figure out who done it! (At least, that’s my take on the cozy market.) Readers come from all age groups. Why set limits? YA readers are also finding their way into the cozy market. If you write it… they will read!
Wherever your cozy mystery writing (or reading) takes you… checkout the Ultimate Guide to Cozy Mysteries at The Cozy Mystery List Blog. They keep an extensive list that I’m only beginning to get through. It’s amazing and the Cozy Mystery List Lady, Danna, deserves a high-five and standing-O for all her hard work to compile such a comprehensive list. Brava!