Merriam Webster’s definition of the word “cozy”:
Enjoying or affording warmth and ease; marked by or providing contentment or comfort; marked by the intimacy of the family or a close group.
When I decided to write my first mystery, Murder in the Museum: An Edmund DeCleryk Mystery, there was no question that it would be a Cozy. I had no idea what the market was for this type of book even though my own reading preferences lean heavily to the genre, and then I learned how large the market is. There are bloggers, private and public Facebook groups, book groups that support Cozy authors and books, and of course thousands and thousands of readers.
So, what is it about Cozies that people like? I can’t speak for everyone, but here’s my observation: Many of us like Cozies because they transport us to a gentler and more peaceful world where the characters are polite, courtesy and civility reign, there are no explicit adult scenes, violence or gratuitous language, and the sleuth always solves the crime. And there’s typically a diverse and close-knit community of quirky and interesting characters who get together for meals, and for family and community gatherings.
Many of us Cozy fans either grew up when life was a bit more orderly or, if we didn’t, we long for a time that is. We are overwhelmed by the constant stream of news about a violent and unstable world where something disastrous occurs every day. Cozies help us escape from the realities of the world and transport us to a time and place where certainly there’s good and evil, but good always prevails.
I’ve heard that Cozies are a women’s genre, that many men aren’t interested in them because they don’t feature macho sleuths who frequently sacrifice personal relationships to get the job done. In contrast, comfortable, companionable relationships abound in Cozies. What I’ve learned is that many men do like Cozies, but what they expect is a plot that makes sense, well-developed characters, and a somewhat realistic investigation. Don’t we all?
Since writing the novel, I’ve met many avid Cozy readers in person and online. Despite the size of this group, it’s a close-knit community of unfailingly kind people who not only enjoy reading the genre but seem to live their own lives treating others as they would like to be treated.
An online friend, a Cozy reader and blogger, was the victim of an astonishingly cruel incident of unprovoked verbal abuse at a local shopping center this past summer. This lovely and beautiful woman posted about her experience to her community of Cozy readers and within seconds received messages of support, encouragement and love that continued for several days. While haunted and sickened by what she had been subjected to, I was gratified that so many supported her with the kind messages, which hopefully helped her recover from the disturbing and hateful attack. I’m getting the picture that Cozy readers are cozy people, by and large.
So, what is it about Cozies that draw me and so many others to the genre? Just about everything- good writing, intriguing plot, great characters, for sure- but also because Cozies expose us to a world that many of us prefer and appreciate, a world where people are kind, good prevails, and we’re not constantly assaulted with one disaster after another. Escapism? Maybe. But what’s so bad about that?