Mystery cozies were originally just called mysteries. Even before Agatha Christie, there was Mary Roberts Rinehart. She introduced the “had I but known” device. I devoured Rinehart’s books but soon attacked Christie’s as well. But I owe it all to a book by Shirley Jackson entitled We Have Always Lived in the Castle. The ending blew me away and it was my introduction to mysteries.
Cozies, a term introduced during the 1980s, have a few things in common. The murder happens “off screen” and is usually poison, a simple wallop to the head with say a candlestick or a clean shot without a lot of blood. Please no hollow R.I.P bullets, a .22 will do nicely.
These murders happened to people and in places where, well, these things just don’t happen: a mansion, bookstore or in my case, a book publisher who specializes in mysteries. Did you see that coming? Often the sleuth is an amateur, although they can be a promising amateur.
In the early days, the emphasis was on the puzzle and the suspects. And everyone was and is suspect. The cats, recipes and delving into characters backgrounds and careers is a more modern concept. And if there is romance, it’s discreet. Like those kisses from the early movies that only allowed a 3-second kiss. And please, no bedroom scene unless you only see the lights go off from outside.
But here’s where I got into trouble; swearing! I admit it. I curse. And frankly, I don’t see how a horrible person who kills people would not use profanity. “Excuse me,” the killer said. “I’m going to cut your blankety-blank throat now.” Really?
Okay, I get it. Cozies are about having fun with murder. Someone gets the axe and we spend the rest of the book drinking tea, petting cats and maybe do a little baking until the perp is identified and all’s well with the world again.
My first cozy is due out in September 2017. I’m having a ball writing it. But I’ve had a really difficult time, er, not cussing. I’ve even got my protagonist trying not to, you know; swear. However, there is nothing I can do about her Abyssinian cat. I’ve had the pleasure of sharing my life with one, and believe me he could let loose with the four letter words; in Cat of course. He lives on in Oscar.
So I’ll be washing my mouth out with soap and tossing quarters in the “swear jar” before the book is complete as I try to think of clever ways to not write what I’m thinking.
I hope you enjoy mystery editor Taylor Browning in her first outing in the Dead Editor File. Oscar often leaves “surprises” when he isn’t fed on time or in the way he’s grown accustom to dining. The staff at the publishing house has their quirks as you might expect.
And when I use the term “dang it,” well I think you’ll know what I was thinking. It’s the cozy way.
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Reporter Rachel Blackstone bungles a Native American ritual to return the dead. Instead of the father she believes was murdered, an evil spirit returns. Worse yet, Rachel is seeing ghosts, some are helpful but others lead her astray. Problem? She can’t always tell them apart. Where does the spirit wolf fit in? She turns to a Hopi shaman and her best friend Chloe to help her solve the mystery. One thing is certain; this badass spirit has got to go back!
By G G Collins (Copyright 2016)
Time travel is always tricky, but it’s also fun. In “Lemurian Medium” I sent protagonist Rachel Blackstone back in time via astral travel to the mythical (?) continent of Lemuria. I began reading about the continent that reportedly sunk into the ocean when a cataclysmic series of earthquakes and volcanoes broke up the island country and the sea claimed it.
When you ask people to buy into a paranormal or fantasy storyline, it’s important to include as much fact as possible, to lend integrity to the story. I began reading the works of Colonel James Churchward, who called Lemuria by another name; Mu. He studied monastery sources in India while serving in the British army.
After getting a basic idea of Churchward’s theories I read Frank Joseph’s book “The Lost Civilization of Lemuria: The Rise and Fall of the World’s Oldest Culture.” There are many creation stories and Lemuria is one for that part of the world. There is a museum in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan called the Mu Museum and is a tribute to the Motherland. In the Hawaiian Ethnic Art Museum in Oahu, there are carvings that seem to verify the existence of a golden race who survived the onrush of the sea.
To make the city realistic I researched the Romans from their garments to their communal toilets. In addition I read Shirley MacLaine’s dreams of Lemuria as she related them in her excellent book “The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit.” Her description of the Lemurians—some golden, some violet, and hermaphroditic—let imagination fill in the blanks. For homes I went with crystal construction with private areas being opaque. Rachel was surprised to learn she could communicate either from her mind or with the use of Lemurian seed crystals and crystal balls.
I needed a villain in spirit and chose Quetzalcoatl, a Mayan god who liked to dine on humans. It is thought that Lemurians who survived the end of their homeland took to the vast water and made their way to what is known today as Central America and to the southwestern part of the US.
When my research was complete I was no longer certain that Lemuria was a myth. I hope readers of the book can entertain that possibility as well.
Next Post: We’ll take a look at “Atomic Medium,” worldbuilding in a much closer era.