A toast to the queen of cozies

The late great Agatha Christie. Photo: National Museum Wales

In case you missed the calendar alert, today is Cozy Mystery Day. (You’re welcome.) It’s celebrated annually on the birthday of Agatha Christie, the undisputed queen of cozy mysteries.

When I began my writing career back in the mid-90s, I had no desire to write fiction. No siree, Bob. My path, or so I thought, would be paved with true stories. Stories that mattered (or at least that’s what they tell you in journalism school).

But I suppose I don’t have to tell you what happens to the best laid plans.

I started writing cozies about a year ago, and found them to be a perfect fit for my writing style. Instead of competing with the nonfiction side of my brain, the cozies actually complemented it. And visa-versa.

If you’ve never read a cozy mystery, here’s a quick rundown on what they are, and what I like about them as a genre:

  • As the name implies, there is always a good mystery to be solved (often a murder mystery).
  • They tend to be light-hearted read, at least for the most part.
  • Murders take place off the page, and aren’t explained in vivid or gruesome detail.
  • Sex happens behind closed doors, too.
  • Foul language is typically kept at bay(although I have been known to toss in an h-e-double-hockey-sticks from time to time).

They’re also good clean fun in an age when wholesome is difficult if not impossible to find. That’s right, I said it.

My cozies, which kicked off with Inherit The Gin, go one step further. Written under my pen name, Claire Stewart, they’re murder-free, as well. 

In the beginning, I wasn’t sure how that would play with readers. But I’m nothing if not a risk-taker. So far, the risk has paid off, as those who weigh in on the issue appreciate that I haven’t killed off any characters.

As long as I can dream up intriguing mysteries, I think I’ll keep it that way.

Tonight, as work continues on my next cozy, I’ll raise a glass and toast Agatha Christie for inspiring a new generation of cozy writers. Especially this one.