Hi All,

I'm gathering information for a presentation about hobby-oriented cozy mysteries. I have information and some questions posted at Killer Hobbies (Friday's post):

I would so appreciate any input/opinions/perspectives you might have about hobby-oriented cozy mysteries. What you like about them? Don't like? Experiences writing? Room for improvements? Marketing/packaging issues? You can email me offline (keslilley@yahoo.com), or post here, or at Killer Hobbies, or on my Crimespace page. Whew! So many options! Thanks so much! Best, Kathryn

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Good question, Jon! I have received some emails from cozy readers who say that if they have a particular hobby that they enjoy, then they love having a mystery set in a milieu that involves a "sleuth" who is involved in the same hobby. That said, I don't think any mystery would garner many readers without strong characters and an excellent plot! Best, Kathryn
It would be poor writing indeed to replace good character writing with a hobby. But there's no more danger of that in crafts mysteries than in any other crime fiction ... we've seen character "defined" by a propensity to go to bars, get into fights, or be obsessed with physical fitness. All of these can be done well or not.
Good point, Margaret! The alcoholic, fight-prone detective character has been beaten to death, pun intended! Best, Kathryn
Does the mystery always have to be a murder?
My understanding is that there must always be a murder--preferably, two.
Well, they aim at a particular group of readers. Golf mysteries are for golfers. That's ultimately not different from teacher mysteries being bought by teachers, librarian mysteries by librarians, cat mysteries by cat owners, and cooking mysteries by cooks. I believe there are even mysteries for those who visit beauty parlors.

You can design your theme around your desired audience, making sure that you cover a large and avid contingent of the book-buying public.
Thanks, I.J., for your reply! Do you, yourself, ever read hobby-oriented mysteries? Best, Kathryn
There are most definitely mysteries revolving around beauty shops - the Bubbles stories by Sarah Strohmeyer.

I don't know why the same idea couldn't work in a barber shop.
I could see a serial barber-killer, but it wouldn't be too "cozy," lol.
Depends on the seating in the theatre, I suppose, and one's comfort with operatic voices. ;-)

But the Emma Lathen team did quite a number of these - weekends at the polo fields, weeks on skiing vacations, the week of the yacht club flotilla races - mixed in with the more Manhattanite novels. Not traditional Christie cozies, but they did limit the size of their 'cast' and their settings in ways that remind me of the cozy.

My protagonist is a musician, so the stories involve the performer's life, work, the places and people one could encounter in that milieu. I suppose music is my hobby now, in the sense you mention.

The fundamental problem is to work the niche well and honestly, without excluding readers unfamiliar with the hobby. I'm amazed at how many people express resentment when shown a world they don't know - "You're making me feel stupid!" As i think about, those tend to be people who buy series books, the same story over and over with different trimmings. Not that there's anything wrong with steady income . . .

Best to pick an activity inherently attractive and exciting - Dick Francis' world of horses and racing - rather than the arcane kinds of things I'd be involved with, like Linux development.

THE X-FILES was sexy. THE LONE GUNMEN wasn't.
Very good points, Tom. I have received feedback from readers during my survey who said that some hobby-cozies skew the books too far in the direction of the hobby, at the expense of the story. And not all of them are thrilled by the information "trimmings" that are added, like everything you ever wanted to know about music boxes. It's all a balance, I'm sure. And underneath it all, there has to be a good, well-written story.


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