The Evolution of the Cozy Character 

The topic I wanted to write about today was when cozy meets noir. I wasn’t sure where I would go with the topic, but I am a bit on the envious side of Mike Helms’s wonderful noir talent. He is amazing. His stories are so true to the period. Even his slang (which I am very familiar with as my father was fluent in it) is perfect. So, that was my topic. However, it didn’t work out.

Instead, my characters took over and they dictated this blog. Evil things that they are.

Most of you know, I write cozy with an edge. There’s no sex on my pages, little swearing, and none of the blue nature. Damn, hell, and crap are about as cussing as I let my characters get. So, my readers are comfortable visiting with Hayden Kent and her friends, and I don’t intend to change those very essential aspects. Catherine Swope is a little more edgy. After all, she’s an ex-cop, but even she is circumspect in her behavior and her vocabulary. She’s also been on a bit of a hiatus, but that’s going to change sooner rather than later. Seems she’s been up to a lot of stuff while she’s been away, and she’s itching to share.

I’m just wrapping up the first draft of the third book in the Hayden Kent series. At this point in every book, I go back and start revisions before I’m completely finished. That’s when I noticed something. Hayden is no longer the sweet young thing she was in the first two books. She’s more confrontational, sharper edged, and she’s doing more in depth investigation now, but she’s not crossing the line to renegade the way cozy heroines tend to do. She’s coloring more in the jurisdictional lines than before, yet she’s stronger. I admit, I tried to smack her back into pure cozidom, but she refused to go. It’s an interesting transition. The book isn’t dark, it’s still in the lighter cozy framework, but it reads more realistic. I’m enjoying writing it and reading it more.

As with most writers, I do a lot of reading. And much (but not all) of what I read is in my genre. I’m noticing that more and more of the books have this trend toward realism. One that I’m reading now is the Laura DiSilverio’s The Readaholics and the Gothic Gala. I love DiSilverio’s books and I buy them as soon as they are released. In the earlier two books, the Readaholics took over the investigation. Yes, the police were involved, but there was a definite rivalry going on. It made for great reads, of course, but DiSilverio’s writing alone is enough to guarantee a great read. In the current book, the Readaholics are still investigating, but in this book, it’s in partnership not opposition to the police. Is it a cozy? Of course, I haven’t finished the book yet, but I’m sure the Readaholics will be responsible for finding the link and developing the crucial clue. So what’s the difference. Realism I think.

Cozy readers have to suspend belief from the very first page. After all, how many civilians consistently stumble over dead bodies, are accused of crimes, or have friends who are the leading suspects in murder investigations. Yep, thought so. Not many. Of those who are unfortunate enough to experience these events first hand, how many take over the investigation and bring home the perpetrator bacon? Even less, in real life at least. What seems to be occurring in some cozy mysteries is an evolution toward realism and to characters behaving more realistically. It’s a nice trend, I think, and it’s providing a healthy variety in the cozy genre providing readers with a slightly different storyline.

What about you readers and writers. Have you noticed the trend? Would you follow characters in a series as they evolve whichever way they change? Do you approve?

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7 thoughts on “The Evolution of the Cozy Character 

  1. Nice post Kait. It appears you have your hand on the pulse of readers. Yes, I would be interested in transitions of characters. i have read cozies and enjoyed them. I like the eccentric ones many of which have been made into tv movies or series and have been running forever, then re-done and re-issued with new characters. I like the trend toward more realism. I love the noir Michael is writing too and like the edgy language and actions. I like some sex in books. I am afraid there is nothing cozy about what I write and I doubt I could write anything that was cozy.. There are readers who like all types and I have seen some very good movies and tv that show examples of both. I don’t watch a lot of tv, mainly I read and prefer that. I often wish I were a little cozier. There is a real place in life for it to give people some comfort. I wish you the best with this book you are finishing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks MJ! While I write cozies, my Swope series has more of an edge to it than the Kent series. I am harboring some dark topics. I suspect these will be stand alones. The evolution of the cozy characters is intriguing. I’m curious to see where it leads.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, here goes. I’ve said many times that I enjoy cozies. I even posted about them here at MMO. That said, I really don’t label your “Hayden Kent Mysteries” as cozies. While reading through both DEATH BY BLUE WATER and DEATH BY SUNKEN TREASURE neither struck me as being in the cozy category. Given, the murders were “offstage” and “after the fact” (unless my memory fails me), and there wasn’t a lot of “immediate” violence, although there were guns and other weapons being brandished around. But Hayden is a paralegal by trade and a SCUBA diver by heart. And the fact that she sometimes dives solo (shame, shame on you, Ms. Hayden Kent!) and encounters things that would “shake one’s s–t” on dry land, nevermind at 120 feet below the surface–well, there’s simply nothing “cozy” about that.

    So I agree that your Hayden Kent series is stretching the boundaries of coziness to the point of bursting, IF you want to label the books as such. If I were you I would push the envelope a tad more, but then again your publisher rejected my series (much to my chagrin–I DID so want to be welcomed into the Hen House!).

    As for your question: yes, series characters MUST change, evolve, grow (insert your own word here), or they will become stagnant and boring and cookie-cutterish and readers will most likely lose interest. There–that’s my two and a half cents worth (inflation, inflation). 🙂

    –Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks Michael. I never feel that I write cozies either, but I do consciously dial it back for the Hen House. This one is a little more on the edge. And I’m noticing that in a lot of traditional cozies. I’m enjoying the variety myself!

    Liked by 1 person

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