Edith, on the second day of fall
We’re delighted to welcome our friend Kaye George/Janet Cantrell to the blog today. Kaye (which is already a pen name, apparently) is a past president of the Guppies, is the bestselling and Agatha-nominated author of four series, plus short stories, and is a super friendly, super generous person – and obviously super productive, too! Take it away, Janet, and welcome to the slash name club.
Me? A Cozy Author?
I never thought I’d be a cozy writer. My first attempts at writing, for years and years, were aimed at Serious Literature. Deep themes, delving into the depths of the dark soul of man. With alliteration.
One day I decided I wanted to stop collecting rejection slips and get published. My favorite reading was mystery, so I turned to that. Not cozies, though, more like traditional Agatha Christie and Nero Wolfe stuff. After a mere ten years and hundreds of rejections, I had success getting some of those published. I’m very proud of each and every one, too.
But there were those adorable, cute cozy covers in the bookstores. And prominent placing. So after another mere two years of pretty much continuous effort and lots more rejection, I secured a contract for the Fat Cat cozy series! To be honest, at this moment, this is the top of my Mount Everest. I submitted my traditional, humorous mystery, CHOKE, to the woman who is now my agent (after submitting many proposals previously). Kim Lionetti read it and liked my voice. During the phone call that cemented our relationship, she asked if I could write a cozy, because CHOKE is not a cozy, despite what some reviews have said. I assured her I could.
But could I? I was very careful to keep on the cozy track writing FAT CAT AT LARGE. These are the differences I noticed between writing a cozy and writing other mystery types.
The murder. Blood can be mentioned, but not vividly described and not dwelt upon. The body has to be there, of course, but more gruesome murder methods are to be avoided. In SMOKE, the victim was found hanging in the smokehouse on a meathook, naked. That would never do for a cozy. The body in the first in this series is merely lying on the floor with a knife sticking out of his chest.
The sex. My editor has been reining me in. She wants it to go very slowly. In fact, it’s not sex, it’s a romance. A slowly budding romance with lots of hurdles thrown in the way. Of course, I would throw those in anyway, but two characters might reach a passionate kiss a lot earlier.
The sleuth. Chase Oliver, the sleuth in FAT CAT is somewhat older than my other sleuths. Cressa Carraway, of EINE KLEINE MURDER, is in grad school. Imogene Duckworthy is in her very early twenties. But Chase is in her early thirties. She’s not going to be as flighty as the other two and will have the acumen to co-own a business, although she feels overshadowed by her much older partner, Anna Larson, at times. Chase has had better sense in the past than either Cressa or Immy, too. She hasn’t gotten pregnant by a nameless trucker and hasn’t gotten into a relationship with an abusive married man. True, she had a bad romance, but not as bad as my other characters.
The Point of View. I think cozies mostly stick to first person throughout. I feel pretty free to add other points of view in my traditional and my Neanderthal stories.
The jeopardy. Here, the genres converge more closely. I do believe in putting my character up a tree and throwing stones. After all, the sleuth has to deal with a murderer—has to uncover the culprit, and that’s dangerous business.
My dream was fully realized when I saw the cover of my cozy book. I couldn’t ask for anything better. I love all my other covers, but this one is totally a “cozy” cover, with the most adorable cat in the world.
Readers: Any other thoughts on what makes a cozy a cozy? Or do you disagree with any of mine?
Janet Cantrell is a pen name for Kaye George, Agatha nominated novelist and short story writer. She belongs to Sisters in Crime, Guppies, and Austin Mystery Writers. Her cozy Fat Cat mystery series debuted in September with the national bestseller, FAT CAT AT LARGE, featuring Quincy, a pudgy, adorable cat who is an accomplished escape artist. Especially when he’s on a diet and hungry. Leave it to Quincy to lead his human, Chase, co-owner of a Minneapolis dessert bar shop, into trouble. Janet lives in Knoxville, Tennessee with her husband. Her recently departed feline, Agamemnon, is a source for some of Quincy’s antics. Visit http://janetcantrell.com/ for more details. She blogs at: http://janetcantrell.blogspot.com/