The Comfort of Cozies
My latest mystery, A GLIMMER OF DEATH, is a cozy. I’m introducing a new character, Odessa Jones, who is quite different from Tamara Hayle. I loved creating and writing about her. I certainly haven’t forgotten Tamara and will be independently publishing WHEN ANGELS MOURN, the latest of the series. The gorgeous cover by artist/photographer Stephan Hudson is featured here. Stay tuned for the pub date.
Many readers have asked me how a cozy mystery differs from my private investigator mysteries. Cozy mysteries are–cozy. Character and setting are paramount. Hard cursing and graphic violence are kept off-stage. There’s more of a puzzle, move delving into characters and the “why” of how bad things happen. Traditionally, cozies take place in small towns or cities. A GLIMMER OF DEATH takes place in a suburban Jersey town close to the one in which I live. It’s imaginary but not completely imagined. Jersey folks who live nearby may recognize the the place–and the once upon a time “sundown town” that borders it.
The protagonist in a cozy is usually an amateur detective, not a police officer or private investigator. Her skills are a combination of intuition, mother wit and keen observation. Odessa Jones, my character, also has a special gift. Here’s how she describes it in the first chapter of the book:
I have what some folks call “second sight.” I can sense, smell and hear things other folks can’t. Hazy auras, sometimes with color that my Aunt Phoenix calls “glimmers” appear when certain people enter my space. I can “read” rooms and know intimate things about their occupants. When bad things are on the way, I can sense them. Every now and the, other people’s words tumble out of my mouth. (That God, that’s not often!)
There’s a reason people turn to cozies when life feels too tough to deal with and for me and so many folks the past few months have been challenging. As a writer, there has been comfort in escaping to comfortable places. Yet a cozy is a mystery, the puzzle is solved in the end. The bad guy or girl is caught but there is a lighter, bittersweet touch. Life goes on in the “cozy” world the writer has created. In my book, Dessa continues to fight the grief and loneliness that overwhelmed her after her husband’s sudden death, but she goes on with life. She leaves work each day to return to her comfortable little house (even though its on the verge of foreclosure!) and her plump little cat (yes, there is often a cat in a cozy mystery!) and her glass or two of merlot (depending on the day) in front of her TV.
I’ve loved bringing aspects of my real life into this book and character. I love to cook and one of my daughters is a chef. (Dessa is a caterer). Our family has a lovable black cat who has snuggled his way into our hearts. (My inspiration for Dessa’s cat Juniper). And I can pay homage to my Aunt Odessa, one of the smartest women I’ve ever known. She was an inspiring woman and a voracious reader who read to me, my sister Pat and cousin Karla each night and drew us into the magical, glorious world of books that we all grew to love and never left.
I hope you enjoy reading A GLIMMER OF DEATH as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. It can be pre-purchased on Amazon.com. And for those readers who miss Tamara, Basil and Wyvetta–they’re right around the corner!