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Can We Just Stop?

By Sherry — I’m looking forward to some time at home

I’m just back from a busy season of traveling to conferences. Last weekend was Malice Domestic which celebrates traditional mysteries – the kind of mysteries I write. Recently, I’ve notice a growing trend in the normally supportive crime writing community that makes me mad enough or maybe sad enough to write this post. It’s a trend of mocking people who write traditional and cozy mysteries.

It happens in many different forms. Sometimes it’s the sneering comment on a panel where someone says “Oh, I don’t write cozies” like writing cozies is beneath them or “I write real books.” Sometimes it’s a post on Facebook mocking titles with puns and then people pile on in the comments. It’s the overheard comment in the hall after a panel that goes something like, “now we can go swear.” Cue the superior laughter. I’ve heard people calling cozies “cutsies” and people dismissing the entire genre because of the covers.

Cozies run the gamut from very fluffy where the author creates a idyllic town where only a bad person dies to the more traditional side where no one deserves to die but someone does. Cozies often include some humor and who doesn’t need a laugh? I try to write books that fit the parameters of the cozy genre but also have emotional depth with complex male and female characters who are trying to live their lives when a murder interrupts it. And frankly, I think my Sarah Winston (like most cozy writers’ protagonists) is as real or more real than many of the people we see in thrillers. (Let me just say that I LOVE thrillers and read lots of them.) But I don’t mock writers who have protagonists who can beat up five men blindfolded, after they’ve been stabbed, shot at, run over, and tortured.

Yes, my books have cute covers with cats and titles that are most often puns. Does that mean the story isn’t good or worth reading? And just because you might not like cozies does that mean you have to denigrate the genre publicly? People have different tastes in reading and there’s nothing wrong with that. As Julie Hennrikus always says that’s why there’s different color refrigerators. Just because you like your orange refrigerator, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with my pink one. (Okay, I don’t have a pink refrigerator, mine is boring, but you get my point.)

Let me add that there are many crime fiction writers who don’t participate in this kind of nonsense. I have to give a shout out to E. A. Aymar, a talented thriller writer, who in a recent blog and on panels has said how hard he thinks it would be to write a cozy.

So to all of you who mock the cozy mystery genre, I invite you to write one, find an agent to represent you, get it published by a major publisher, get nominated for a major award, earn out your royalties, get positive reviews, get your contract renewed multiple times, have your editor ask you to write a second series, and hit a bestseller list. Maybe then you’ll understand that all writing is hard and give cozy writers a little respect.

Many thanks to Malice Domestic for providing a conference where authors and readers can come together for a weekend of celebrating mysteries. This year felt magical and was a balm to my soul.

Readers: What do you like about reading cozies?

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