The types of stories you most enjoy are good indicators of the types of stories you’re destined to write. After all, you have no guarantee that anyone else will get a chance to read your masterpiece… might as well make it the kind of book you’d like! This week’s guest blogger Lynn Cahoon waxes eloquent on her greatest love: cozies. Follow her lead, and you just might discover—or reinvigorate—your authorial calling.
I didn’t know what I was reading, but I liked it.
When I moved to Illinois almost ten years ago now, I was unemployed. Reading was my past time as I waited for returned calls from job applications. I kept checking books out of the mystery section at the library. One, I would love. The next, not so much. Turning to the spine, I wondered why the two books that couldn’t be so different had the same sticker: mystery.
Finally, I realized the books I loved were softer, less gritty, and all about the characters. Kind of like the Nancy Drew books I grew up reading. They were cozy mysteries. And when I started writing, that’s where my interests fell.
So why cozy?
The books often circle around a hobby. Knitting, crochet, sewing, and even scrapbooking; they’ve all had series where the main character and her/his friends are involved with said craft. Or they are about food. I like stories where food and food preparation are a big part of the plot. One long-running series just ended—Julie Hyzy with the White House Chef Mysteries. And Laura Bradford is moving from writing about the Amish to launching a dessert food truck mystery this year: Book One of the Emergency Dessert Squad series, Éclair and Present Danger, releases in June.
Most cozy mysteries center around what would have been called in the 70’s “the home arts”. (Yes, I’ll admit to taking Home Ec, Sewing, and even Crafting as high school electives.) There seems to be a resurgence of taking up crafting like knitting or quilting, and not just with women. All you have to do is check out Pinterest. Add in a dog or a cat, and the series is sure to sell.
All kidding aside, the main reason I write and read cozy mysteries is that I love the characters. My Tourist Trap series is set in South Cove, a fictional California tourist town. Writing about my main character Jill Gardner’s adventures in South Cove gives me a chance to catch up with the rest of the gang. What’s going on with Aunt Jackie? Is she still dating the overweight antique dealer, Josh? And who’s Toby, the part-time deputy/barista, with now? Why does Greg’s ex-wife care about who he’s seeing? Okay, maybe only Jill’s wondering about that one.
Yep, I’ve admitted it. I love the gossip. Real or fake, the small town chatter keeps me going back to learn more about my characters and the new ones that wander into South Cove. The fact that the bad guy gets his due at the end is just icing on the cupcake. (I sometimes worry I might be driving away real tourists from the Pacific Coast Highway, writing so many murders in one small central California coast town.)
Truth, justice, and the cozy way. Now that’s my kind of superpower.
For more of Jill’s adventures, check out my new cozy, Murder on Wheels, releasing February 2, 2016, in which robbery, vandalism, and murder sour South Cove’s brand-new food truck craze…
Lynn Cahoon is the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. Guidebook to Murder, book 1 of the series won the Reader’s Crown for Mystery Fiction in 2015. She’s also the author of the soon-to-be-released Cat Latimer series, with the first book, A STORY TO KILL, releasing in mass-market paperback September 2016. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about, with her husband and two fur babies. Sign up for her newsletter at www.lynncahoon.com
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