As part of the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for The Puppy Who Knew Too Much, I’m pleased to welcome V.M. Burns to the blog to talk about ‘pushing the cozy envelope’. (Don’t clutch your pearls just yet!)
SERIES: A Dog Club Mystery #2
GENRE: Cozy Mystery
PUBLISHER: Lyrical Underground
RELEASE DATE: February 12, 2019
Lilly Echosby and her toy poodle Aggie find a fresh start in Chattanooga, Tennessee, spoiled by the scent of murder . . .
Having solved the shooting death of her cheating husband, Lilly’s left behind the drama of Lighthouse Dunes, Indiana, to start over in the hometown of her best friend, Scarlett “Dixie” Jefferson. As she gets settled in her new rented house, Lilly gives Aggie, short for Agatha Christie, her own fresh start by enrolling her in the Eastern Tennessee Dog Club, where Dixie is a trainer.
But drama seems to hound Lilly like a persistent stray. Her cranky new neighbor appears unfamiliar with Southern hospitality and complains that Aggie barks too much and digs up his prized tulips. But what the poodle actually unearths is the buried body of a mysterious man who claimed ownership of the lost golden retriever Lilly recently rescued. Now it’s up to Lilly and Dixie to try to muzzle another murderer . . .
Pushing the Boundaries of The Cozy Mystery
by V.M. Burns
There are a specific set of rules that cozy mysteries must adhere to in order to fall into that subgenre of mystery. Cozy mysteries almost always feature an amateur sleuth, usually female, they are set in small towns and are sometimes referred to as “clean mysteries.” The clean label was adopted because cozies don’t have gratuitous violence, no explicit sex and no bad language (well, not much). Sure, cozies usually have a murder that needs to be solved, but rarely will the reader see the brutal reality of the crime. The heart of the cozy mystery is in following the clues to figure out Whodunit. Nevertheless, the common belief is that writers should always push the boundaries to take their writing to the next level. Is it possible to push the boundaries of cozies without sacrificing the essence of what makes a cozy mystery, “cozy?”
Our society looks down on labels. Yet, labels are important when it comes to books. Publishers like labels, primarily so they can identify what a book is about and how to market it. Booksellers like labels so they know where to place books in their stores; and readers like labels so they know what to expect when they pick up a book A romance reader will expect a book labeled as a romance to include an actual love story and depending on the heat level, the book is expected to deliver a certain amount of…heat. Mysteries are no different. Thrillers should be thrilling. Books labeled as suspense should be suspenseful; and cozies should be cozy.
Pushing the envelope or the boundaries for a cozy mystery doesn’t have to mean pushing readers to accept more sex, violence and bad language, which will only push away the base. Pushing the envelope of a cozy could be as simple as moving the setting outside of the traditional, small town into a more urban environment or including people of different races, cultures and backgrounds. It’s become common to see mixed or cross-genre books that cross the line of one specific genre to create totally new categories like science fiction westerns and crime fantasy. The cozy label doesn’t have to limit creativity. In fact, it can and should inspire authors to go where no cozy author has gone before. The next cozy western or science fiction cozy may be just around the corner.
V.M. Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest, she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Her debut novel, The Plot is Murder was nominated for a 2017 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at vmburns.com
This giveaway is hosted by Great Escapes, not RimSP
Follow along with the tour HERE
What about you? What would you like to see more of in cozy mysteries?