A cozy writer. And reader.
There. I said it.
I am working on a new idea for a series, and it is a cozy/traditional mystery. That means that any violence takes place off stage, or is downplayed. Usually the sleuth is an amateur. And frequently (at least these days) there are recipes involved. There are different types of cozies, and some are edgier than others. But generally, they are a confection on the banquet of fiction.
This week I had a great conversation with one of my students about populism and capital “a” Art, and whether they can co-exist. I think that they can, but it is a razor’s edge that is tough to walk. Art that tries to “appeal to the masses” can be pandering. And work that only exists to appeal to the lowest common denominator is often frustrating in its lack of ambition. That razor’s edge, that place between the two, is where I want to work.
But it is tough navigating it. How do you create a comfortable place for readers, while pushing the boundaries a bit? How do you create a world and characters that people will want to spend time with, and come back and visit again (and again, and again), but make them real and not saccharine? And how do you balance writing for the market, but creating work you want to do?
I am working on answering all those questions for myself. And though it is challenging, I am having fun figuring out what that balance means to me. I know the rules (I read the genre), but do I follow them all? Or can I layer in some “more”, whatever that means. It is a wonderful puzzle to work out. And I will let you know how it goes. But I thought a good step would be to admit to you, our wonderful readers, that I write cozy.
And I may need recipes.
J.A. (Julie) Hennrikus is the Executive Director of StageSource. She will be the President of Sisters in Crime New England in 2013, and is on the New England Crime Bake Committee. And she writes cozy.