Welcome! Today I’m hosting a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Steamed Open by Barbara Ross. Ms. Ross has graciously provided a guest post for us today. Information about the book and author, including purchase links, will be below the guest post.
What Makes a Cozy Mystery?
It is true that cozies are the comfort food of the crime fiction world. But like good mac and cheese, cozies don’t have to be bland, or made the same way by everyone, every time. And it’s not true, in my experience, that cozy readers read the books because they are incapable of reading anything “more challenging.” They choose to read the books, often in times of stress or simply at the end of a long, busy day. On most cozy online boards when fans discuss the other things they read, it runs the absolute gamut.
So what makes a mystery a cozy?
Those of you who’ve followed me know I don’t like seeing the genre defined by what’s NOT in the books. You know–little swearing, no graphic violence or sex. After all, before I write a word, my books contain none of those things. Yet my editor won’t accept 300 blank pages. There have to be words that add up to a story. It’s true that some readers are specifically looking for the absence of such elements, but most readers are looking for the presence of something, not just the absence.
What are these readers looking for? And, important to my writing journey, what am I trying to do? To say?
The answer came to me as I listened to a podcast where Tom and Lorenzo tried, with difficulty, to describe their love for the movie, “The Big Sick.”
At the beginning of their very positive review, Tom says, “At it’s heart it’s just a light family medical drama.”
But later, after some analysis, responding to Lorenzo, he says, “I feel bad saying it’s light. I think you’re right. I say it, too. But I think it makes it sound like it’s not nuanced. I think when we say light, we mean deeply humanistic. Everyone is afforded some level of dignity and voice. It’s a really pleasing experience for the soul.”
When I heard this, I thought, “Yes!” Everyone afforded their own dignity and voice. A pleasing experience for the soul.
I haven’t quite achieved that yet, especially the “everyone” part, but that is where I’m trying to go.
As far as I’m concerned, my contract with my readers is this: There will be a crime. There will be a solution. You will want to turn every page. It will be a pleasing experience for your soul.
Everything else is up for grabs.
About the Book
Steamed Open (A Maine Clambake Mystery)
7th in Series
Kensington (December 18, 2018)
Digital ASIN: B07BV3RCDG
Purchase Links: Amazon – B&N – Kobo
It’s summertime in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, and the clamming is easy—or it was until a mysterious new neighbor blocks access to the beach, cutting off the Snowden Family Clambake’s supply. Julia Snowden is just one of many townspeople angered by Bartholomew Frick’s decision. But which one of them was angry enough to kill?
Beachcombers, lighthouse buffs, and clammers are outraged after Frick puts up a gate in front of his newly inherited mansion. When Julia urges him to reconsider, she’s the last to see him alive—except the person who stabs him in the neck with a clam rake. As she pores through a long list of suspects, Julia meets disgruntled employees, rival heirs, and a pair of tourists determined to visit every lighthouse in America. They all have secrets, and Julia will have to work fast to expose the guilty party—or see this season’s clam harvest dry up for good.
About the Author
Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries. The first book in the series, Clammed Up was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel, the RT Book Reviews, Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Amateur Sleuth and was a finalist for the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She is co-editor/co-publisher of Level Best Books, which produces anthologies of crime stories by New England authors. She writes at her home overlooking the harbor in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Barbara blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors and Maine Crime Writers. Readers can visit her website at MaineClambakeMysteries.com.