My Name is Julie, and I’m . . .

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.



16 thoughts on “My Name is Julie, and I’m . . .

  1. Your thoughts above struck a chord with me. I’ve often thought about writing in two completely different tracks — the “literary” and the “popular”… still not sure one can do both at once in today’s environment. But I’m eager to see what solutions others come up with!

  2. Such a great question, Julie.
    Personally, I love a good, “cozy” read.
    I’m not much for mysteries (preferring magical surrealism and other fantasy hybrids), but there is a series by Lillian Jackson Braun that I adore – the feature a somewhat cantankerous old coot named Qwilleran and his two Siamese cats, Koko and Yum-Yum. They always make me feel relaxed and entertained. 🙂

  3. Questions that I have asked myself many times. It’s reassuring to know that others also question what you should do versus what you want to do.
    Thank you for sharing!

  4. Hmmm, I say write to Your audience with Your voice. Authenticity usually wins. Sometimes i think we over think. Write from that place within you where you loose all track of time, eat mindlessly or forget altogether, and feel satisfied and sorry when its time to take a break.
    Thats how it feels to me when the story is coming out unhindered and without my inner critic. Its when my voice is right and my work is at its best.
    hmmm, yes, thats what I think 🙂
    Kassie aka “Mom”

  5. I read mysteries, both cosy and the grittier type. I find myself increasingly disturbed however, by the nature of the subject. I read them for the solving of a puzzle primarily. On the one hand, the cosy ones can downplay the unpleasantness of what is basically a truly awful thing, murder, yet on the other hand, the gritty ones can seem to almost relish the gory details. I’d be interested in your take on this topic.

  6. I’ve spent many an hour ploughing through ‘high’ culture novels but what makes me most happy is finding a character that I warm to and care about whether it is the armature sleuth (a personal favourite if mine) or a teenage vampire (ok I admit it, I loved Twilight! ) if you care about them as a writer many more will care about them as readers. Look at the onesie phenomenon…cozy is in!

  7. Julie, I just clicked to follow you. Your words struck a chord with me. I’m beginning my second novel and some of what you say here fits perfectly with how I want to approach my next book. I have a question for you though. It sounds like you are a published author. If that is the case, would you care to share your thoughts on how to get the word out? I just published my first book “Truth’s Blood”, and naturally, one of the greatest challenges is getting the word out. I’m an open book when it comes to learning so feel free to make suggestions.
    Thank you.

  8. I used to worry about that razor’s edge. Alot. In my efforts to “do it right” I found balance myself on that narrow edge was premature and did nothing but create a ton of stress. It was inhibiting, overwhelming and intimidating, to the point where I wondered if I was cut out to be a writer.
    I admit I haven’t figured it out. Sure is one of our greatest challenges, isn’t it?
    Recently, I decided to take a different approach which is to NOT worry about the balance. Not yet, anyway. Just write the story, I tell myself. Don’t think about it as Art or about whether it’s marketable. That comes later. Write and write and write until it’s as pure and honest and it can be.

  9. Pingback: What I Learned at Malice Domestic | Live to Write - Write to Live

  10. Pingback: What is a Cozy? | Wicked Cozy Authors

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