This week, I introduce Pat Embury, a cozy mystery writer (among other talents). I asked her to share why this genre attracts her. Here is what she had to say.
I generally write cozy mysteries, although I am branching out into some sci-fi and fantasy, as well as incorporating faith based principles in my writing. Cozy mysteries are books where the murder occurs off stage. The sleuth is an amateur instead of a law enforcement officer, although law enforcement officers are usually supporting characters, and sometimes romantic interests for the sleuth. There’s no graphic violence, sex, or profanity.
You connect with the characters who populate their own worlds, and you see how they change from book to book. Many have an overarching theme, such as quilting, knitting, crocheting, baking, etc. Some include recipes or patterns for crafted items.
I have loved puzzles all my life, as well as a good story that keeps me reading for hours (especially when there’s housework to be done). Cozy mysteries are a combination of both. Mysteries are puzzles— who did it; why did they do it; why did they choose the setting and weapon to commit the crime?
All the characters are important. It’s not just a sleuth and their sidekick. You have supporting characters and a setting that adds depth and flavor to the story. They are ordinary people rising to circumstances beyond their control. As I read more mysteries, I thought “I can do that” and the rest is history.
Questions for Pat
How do you determine location for your stories?
Location depends on the theme. For example, pet series mysteries are usually in small towns, as are those with craft or quilting themes.
My stories are set in a somewhat fictional suburb of Rochester. I want the small-town feel, mixed with the suburban convenience. I love the south shore of Lake Ontario and its history.
My main location happened by accident. I was pulling into the parking lot of a party house for which my brother did grounds keeping, and saw a balled-up tablecloth sitting near a fence and dumpster. I thought, “I hope there isn’t a body rolled up in it.” So I immediately started plotting, thinking “what if …” Many cozies are set in small towns. Joanne Fluke set her Hannah Swenson books in the fictional town of Lake Eden MN. The town and its people become recurring characters in her books, and the setting does as well. I’m hoping to achieve that in my writing.
As a reader, do you always figure out who done it by the end of the book?
Not always. A good writer leaves false clues to keep readers guessing, but the ending should not be a surprise. It should make sense and no fair pulling a rabbit out of a hat. The ending should satisfy the reader. The villain gets justice, and the good guy (or gal) is happy. Many writers plant a question at the end that will lead to the next book in a series.
Thank you, Pat. You make me want to curl up with a cozy and a cup of coffee.
Are there other mystery fans out there? What are some of your favorite mystery writers or mystery series? What do you like about mysteries?