Cozy enough for ya?
Some time ago, I used to work at Barnes & Noble. As an avid reader, I loved working in a bookstore. My favorite books to read were mysteries. Particularly mysteries by Anne George, Diane Mott Davidson, Lillian Jackson Braun, and Rita Mae Brown. I also loved books by Janet Evanovich and Sue Grafton.
I had never heard the term Cozy Mystery until my store manager noticed my lunchtime reading material and said, "Oh, you like cozies." It wasn't a category we shelved books by. Now Grafton and Evanovich are not considered cozies. There's too much violence, sex, and profanity but they were very enjoyable and I didn't mind. Grafton's books can get pretty intense, even scary sometimes. Some friends have told me that cozies are in the style of Agatha Christie. However, many of Dame Agatha's books are frightening, hard-boiled, detective stories. The A B C Murders for example.
I'm wondering if my books Jess Sayin' and Chace Scene are actually cozy mysteries. The definition of a cozy mystery (from MysteryTribune) states that there is to be, "no graphic violence, no profanity, and no explicit sex. Most often, the crime takes place off stage."
Let's take a look at this -
Profanity - My books don't have a lot of profanity but there are a few swear words thrown in here and there. I didn't think much about it but a few beta readers did point this out. One said she was disturbed by the amount of cursing. That surprised me. I then changed all the b-words, d-words, and h-words to other creative, less-offensive expressions. The result was comical so I changed most of it back. Darn it all to heck.
Violence - I myself am not a fan of graphic violence or anything gory. My murders happen off the page. Jess or someone else will find the body. It's usually Jess but not for that first murder. I did have the prelude in Book 1, but it just leads up to the murder and then stops.
Sex - No explicit sex, which is not to say that my characters don't (or won't) occasionally slip between the sheets. There was that scene in Book 1 - which involved some kissing and undressing but then the chapter ended and we were left to figure it out on our own. I hope that's good enough to be considered cozy. I've got to let my characters have some fun.
My books do have several elements that aren't mentioned in the cozy definition. Things we have come to expect from this genre, such as: cats, recipes, an
amateur female sleuth, romance, a small town, and quirky characters who provide comic relief. I have quite a cast of quirky characters. I hope you find at least one you like. I think I'll still call my mysteries cozy - despite all the foul language and wild sex. But violence is where I draw the line. Violence has no place in a murder mystery.