Guest Cindy Brown — The Importance of Light in the Dark

Welcome Cindy! We got to chatting on Facebook when she saw I’d posted a photo of myself at a high school play practice. (You can see the photo and a bit about it on Cindy’s Slightly Silly Newsletter the link is below.) It’s always fun to get to know new authors!

THE SOUND OF MURDER front-smallerIf you looked at my bookshelves, you’d see mysteries and literary fiction, most of them serious, even dark. But I make certain there are always several cozy or humorous mysteries there too. I have to have them handy. Why? And why, if I read mostly “serious “ fiction, do I write screwball mysteries?

Years ago, I was walking the dog when I ran into a neighbor whose husband was terminally ill. We talked briefly about the situation, but veered into the comfort of small talk pretty quickly. I mentioned I was working on a humorous mystery, and her eyes lit up. “I’d love to read it,” she said. I sent her an early draft of Macdeath, my first Ivy Meadows Mystery. I saw her again a few days later, and she thanked me profusely. “I laughed for the first time in weeks,” she said. “You can’t imagine how much that means to me.”

lightI’ve heard variations of the same sentiment several times since. Sometimes it’s simply about getting a break from the serious world we live in: “It was really nice to leave the darkness, and read a fun, light mystery.” (Bill’s Book Reviews on The Sound of Murder) Sometimes the books take on a greater importance for readers. My friend Angela M. Sanders received an email thanking her for writing the Joanna Hayworth Vintage Clothing Mysteries. The reader said her novels were the perfect R&R for him after his days at work—as a humanitarian worker with an Ebola response team in Guinea, Africa,

I believe mysteries are important to us because they create a world where good triumphs. Where bad guys get theirs in the end. Where flawed characters recognize that they need to grow, and set about changing themselves for the better. That’s why I write them. And I write cozy mysteries for what began as as sort of a selfish reason: I didn’t want to live in the dark. I once turned down a great role in the Sam Shepard play “Buried Child,” because I didn’t want to immerse myself in that in that brutal world for months of rehearsal and performance.

That’s not to say that my books—and most cozies—don’t have substance (check out Susannah Hardy’s post: Mythbusting–Cozies Are Not The Shallow End Of The Fiction Pool). I love it when readers recognize the comedy and the gravity in my books: “The setting is irresistible, the mystery is twisty, and Ivy is as beguiling as ever, but what I really loved was the depth and complexity of painful human relationships right there in the middle of a sparkly caper,” Catriona McPherson said about The Sound of Murder.

But what’s even better is the realization that my reason for writing cozies isn’t all selfish: readers need them too. After fellow author Cindy Sample recently lost her beloved mother, she wrote to tell me that Macdeath “brought much laughter when I sorely needed it.”

I’m proud to count myself among the cadre of cozy writers. I believe we’re trying to make sense of what’s going on around us, and to set to the world to rights, even if it’s just for the length of a book.  We’re turning on the light.

CindyBrown-005-2_rt_smallwebCindy Brown has been a theater geek (musician, actor, director, producer, and playwright) since her first professional gig at age 14. Now a full-time writer, she’s the author of the Ivy Meadows series, madcap mysteries set in the off, off, OFF Broadway world of theater. Macdeath, Ivy’s first adventure is “a hilarious riff on an avant-garde production of the Scottish play” (Mystery Scene Magazine) and her newest book, The Sound of Murder is “a definite delight”(Suspense Magazine). Cindy and her husband live in Portland, Oregon, though she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities. She’d love to connect with readers at (where they can sign up for her Slightly Silly Newsletter) or on Facebook or Twitter.

Readers: Why do you read mysteries?

28 Thoughts

  1. I read mysteries because they are an escape from reality for me. I’m not likely to encounter a dead body (Please God) and, since I worship at the altar of the confirmed coward, I certainly would never put myself into the jeopardy of chasing murderers. Escaping from reality is fun and interesting, but i also enjoy the puzzles. Putting together the clues and matching wits with the sleuth keeps my mind active and gives me something other than my mundane life to think about. I love the humor, improbability, and excitement of cozy mysteries, and if I learn something (doesn’t have to be anything big — a new knitting pattern or directions on making my own candles is fine) along the way, that’s a big plus. As long as you Wickeds keep writing them, I’ll keep reading them. Thanks for the entertainment.

  2. Danged wordpress! I think I just lost my comment. I’ll try again:

    Thanks, Cindy, for mentioning me in your post! I’m on chapter 4 of The Sound of Murders, and I’m loving it. I feel like Ivy is my brave, goofy, tender-hearted little sister.

    As a cozy writer, I get a lot of “Oh, you write cozies. That’s great,” said dismissively. I always want to reply, “You eat cupcakes, don’t you? Snuggle with your dog, wear comfy sweaters when you’re cold, watch old movies, sing along with Cher?” Hey, they call our books “cozy” for a reason!

  3. I just love this post. Cozy mysteries always end with justice being served, and that’s a powerful thing in a world where horrible things happen to good people, and there so often isn’t a satisfying real-life resolution. I think human beings have an innate need for wrongs to be righted, which is why mystery is so popular. I love the sound of your series, btw!

  4. I love cozies for the puzzle. I love cozies because justice prevails. And I love it when there is humor as well since I love to laugh. Some of my favorite TV shows are sitcoms or comedic dramas because of that.

    I really need to get to reading your series. It sounds so wonderful.

    1. Thanks, Mark! Hope you enjoy the books! I’m a big fan of TV comedies because we get laughs and continuing characters. And I’m always on the lookout for anything I’ve missed – recommendations?

      1. I’ve got to admit, I’m not watching too many comedies right now because I don’t find most of the ones on that funny. I was thinking more of the classics like I Love Lucy or Mary Tyler Moore. I am a fan of Big Bang Theory and Disney Channel’s Girl Meets World. I’m obviously not in the intended audience for that one, but I find it fun and funny.

  5. Welcome, Cindy! Your books do sound wonderful.

    I agree with you about cozies, and that is reinforced by notes I get from fans. The person who read my books at her mother’s hospital bedside. The busy mom who read them in the car as she waited to pick up a kid at soccer practice–the only ten minutes she would get for herself all day. Time is the one thing none of us can manufacture or purchase more of. When people give you their time, it is a great honor. I try my best to make sure I use it well.

  6. Cindy, I downloaded MACDEATH a couple of weeks ago, and just added THE SOUND OF MURDER. I have two theater cozies in a drawer, and make my living working in theater, so I have to read your series! Thanks for coming by the Wickeds today–love what you have to say about this wonderful genre.

  7. Wonderful post, Cindy! We are so often “on the same page.” It’s important for me to find humor in difficult situations — both in my books and in real life. Life is so complex, and I believe it’s possible to reflect that in a cozy, all while shining that “light” in the darkness.

Comments are closed.