Let’s Talk with Debra H Goldstein

Following the Rules and Missing All the Fun
by Debra H. Goldstein

My Sarah Blair mystery series is considered by its publisher to be “cozy.” That may work for where it is placed on the shelf in a bookstore or for many of my readers, but as one reviewer remarked, “it is an edgy cozy.” I didn’t know what that meant so I looked it up and discovered that many cozy series by writers like Ellery Adams have had that label attached to some of their newer series.

What does it mean?

For the most part it means we don’t follow the traditional rules of the cozy perfectly, although we adhere to them closely. Generally cozy rules included small towns or confined spaces; an amateur sleuth; a cat; a protagonist who owns, inherits, or creates something to do with books, crafts, or food; no on the page sex, blood, gore, or curse words; and recipes or directions how to make something.

It seems that edgier cozies may change one or two of the traditional rules. Some do it by throwing in a few of the no-no words. Some by adding more description or sex (in other words characters get into bed together without closing the door so the reader can’t see them).

In the Sarah Blair mysteries, I do it by having a protagonist who finds being in the kitchen more frightening than murder. Consequently, the recipes, although they work, in One Taste Too Many, tend to be more comical or easy like Jell-O in a Can. For the second book Two Bites Too Many, I went outside the boundaries and added a dog. Fluffy and RahRah, the Siamese cat, even share the cover of that book (don’t worry – by book three, Three Treats Too Many, RahRah regained sole possession of the cover).

Are our books really edgier? Are we flouting the rules? Or, as I believe, are we simply promoting the philosophy “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun!”

That’s my premise and I’m sticking to it.

For a chance to win a print or e-copy of Two Bites Too Many (Kensington is running a $1.99 e-book sale of One Taste Too Many in January), tell me what you think of rules and name some cozy mysteries that you think are “edgy.”

While you’re here, click over and enter our January contest. One entrant will win their choice of book from the 6 books up for grabs. (Print book winners must have US mailing addies.) The contest runs from January 1-18, with the winner announced on January 19. ClICK HERE for the contest page.