by Barb, at home
The Wickeds started out as the Wicked Cozy Authors, all of us writing cozy mysteries, all of us writing books set in New England. Since then, we’ve branched out. A core of us still write cozies, but we also write historical mysteries, paranormal mysteries, and traditional mysteries. Many of us still write about New England, but our settings also embrace southern Indiana, the panhandle of Florida, and a small English village.
Even as we’ve branched out, we all still write on the lighter side. By lighter, I don’t necessarily mean funny, though some of us do write funny books. And I definitely don’t mean slight or inconsequential or silly. What I do mean is that as opposed to say, noir, we write with an optimistic view of humanity. And we write deliberately to entertain.
Obviously, it’s a choice. And while it’s not a choice each one of us will always make, it’s one we’ve made so far. So Wickeds, tell us, why do you choose to write on the lighter side?
Julie: I love this question, Barb. I don’t just write these books, I read them. Right now I’m enjoying rereading Elizabeth Peters (Crocodile on the Sandbank is, in my opinion, one of the great first books in a great series) and listening to Cleo Coyle’s Haunted Bookshop series. I love the reader/author promise that these books hold. There will be a puzzle, and it will be solved. Order will be restored, and you’ll get to visit with favorite characters while that happens. I feel so blessed to help folks escape for a few hours.
Sherry: I need to read some Elizabeth Peters! It’s interesting because my crime fiction reading tends to be darker — mostly thrillers. But I balance reading something darker with something light and I’ve found I don’t like books quite as graphic as I did when I was younger. For my own writing, my characters just tend to lead me to the lighter side, because of their life view as optimists. I work hard to balance the light with realistic, three dimensional characters.
Edith/Maddie: As Julie implied, I write what I want to read. While I sometimes go darker in a short story, I don’t have to live in that world for very long. With one of my books, I’m intimately involved with the characters and the story every day for four months. And good heavens, the real world is dark and scary enough. Let me please not live in it in my books, too.
Jessie: Like Sherry, I often read books that are quite dark. I love Scandinavian crime novels and historical fiction that takes a looks at some heavy themes. Some of my writing is lighthearted and inclined to seek the humorous side of life. Other books, however look at the things one would rather avoid. I think the common theme in all of it is a hopefulness at the end. Whether the stories I create skirt the unseemlier side of life or look at it head on I always want to feel that there is the possibility for growth and happiness by the end.
Liz: I’m in the Sherry and Jessie camp and tend to read dark – I am well known for my obsessions with Tana French and Dennis Lehane. But in the midst of all the craziness of the world these days, I’ve also found my mood changes a lot more about what I want to read. I’ve had trouble concentrating on reading overall this year, but when I do it does tend to be lighter. I guess I do really like happy endings after all!
Barb: Because I write murder mysteries, let’s face it, there’s going to be some bad stuff. For one character to take the life of another, I want strong motivation, not some silly dispute. That means I need to look at the darker side of human behavior. But as Jessie put it so well, it’s all about the possibility for growth and happiness at the end. That’s what I want to put out into the world. If you’re writing a book where growth and happiness are a possibility, you are going to be categorized as writing on the lighter side.
Readers: What about you? If you’re here you undoubtedly do some reading on the lighter side. Why? Is that most of what you read, or do you also read darker books? Tell us about that.