Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by. Today I’ve got Nancy Haddock on the blog talking about cozy mysteries.
About a year ago, my hubby became interested in reading again. Heâ€™d read all of Dick Francisâ€™s series in the rather distant past, and heâ€™d read Joan Hessâ€™s Maggody series. But with all the traveling he did for his job, he didnâ€™t have tons of time to enjoy books.
Well, when he announced he wanted to read some of the mysteries Iâ€™d been reading, an ant couldâ€™ve knocked me flat. Baseball season was still in full swing, football season was about to hit hard, and Hubster wanted to read?!?
While the choir of reading angels sang in my head, I explained his options and the differences between cozy mysteries and grittier workâ€”wherein, for instance, murder victims might be described in more graphic terms. I mentioned Robert Crais, Robert B. Parker, Jan Burke, and other authors, but, no. Hubster wanted cozies. He even specifically told me he was up for the romantic interest elements.
Let me tell you, I went nuts picking out books for himâ€” those Iâ€™d read but hadnâ€™t yet recycled to the library. Hubster started his new reading frenzy with the Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton, and flew through most of those. However, he liked the Dimity books so well, he decided to space out the last four in my stock pile. Immediately, I stacked more of my favorite cozies by his reading chair. Some of those selections packed the pages with humor, others were more serious. Some books held paranormal elements, others were set in mundane worlds. Some of my saved favorites were decades old, some were brand new, first-in-the-series books. Know what? He enjoyed them all.
By now, we had our own little cozy mystery book club going. Hubster would tell me what he did and didnâ€™t like about the stories, and, wow, was he picky! Heâ€™d also tell me if he deduced the identity of the killer (or perpetrator), and we began discussing the plots, methods of murder, and characters.
Which brings me to a specific point. Itâ€™s been said in the past that romance is written in a pat formula. Itâ€™s also been said that mysteries are even more formulaic than romances. To those statements, I say, yeah, yeah, whatever. A good plot is important, but truly, in any story, isnâ€™t it all about the characters? Are the characters drawn as relatable? Are they interesting, quirky, consistent, compelling? Do they growâ€”within a single book and within a series? The biggest question of all is: Do we enjoy the characters enough to come back for future visits to their story world?
After a year now, itâ€™s not just me eagerly awaiting bookstore coupons. Hubster is right there, going over the list of read books we created (and that he, bless him, put on a spreadsheet). We haul our coupons and list to the bookstore to find new releases by authors we like, and to search for new seriesâ€”those just beginning, and those weâ€™ve overlooked. (Hubsterâ€™s found several previously overlooked series by paying attention to author quotes on covers!)
Itâ€™s actually painful when we go a few weeks without store coupons, but we also scour used bookstores and online bookstores for inexpensive reads, and have found yet more authors/ series new to us in these ways. In fact, though I have a Nook and quite like it, Hubster is getting a Kindle for Christmas. That way if Amazon has a book on sale we want but Barnes & Noble doesnâ€™t, we still score!
I continue to read grittier mysteries than Hubster, and enjoy thrillers as well. Then again, I read a great deal faster than Hubster, so I also read romance, urban fantasy, nonfiction, and anything else that catches my attention. But in the realm of cozies, Iâ€™m having more fun than I couldâ€™ve imagined with my Hubster and our little book club. More, his comments about the authors we most love have inspired me to pay even more careful attention to my own writingâ€”to the plots and to those all-critical, keep-the-readers-coming-back characters!
As I close, I send a big thank you to Cindy for hosting me, and I pose a question to Cindyâ€™s readers. If you read cozies, who are among your favorite authors? Do you have a favorite series? Inquiring minds want to know! Whatever your genre of choice, happy reading!
Nancy will give away a signed copy of one of her books (winnerâ€™s choice) to one lucky random commenter within North America.
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Cindy here! Wow, Nancy’s everywhere! Don’t forget to comment for your chance to win a copy of one of Nancy’s books.
Nancy Haddock is a national bestselling, award-winning author who writes paranormal mystery romance with a comic touch. Her Oldest City Vampire trilogy, La Vida Vampire, Last Vampire Standing, and Always The Vampire, and her short story â€œMedium Rareâ€ in the charity paranormal anthology Entangled, all showcase the history, sites, ghosts and events of St. Augustine, Floridaâ€”the city she loves and prowls for more stories every chance she gets. Visit Nancyâ€™s web site at www.nancyhaddock.com.
Until next time…