This is a harsh world. The last nearly-two years have brought an even harsher layer to what already was. Pandemic, violence, civil unrest. In the face of this reality, I choose to see also the good, the beauty, the kindness, the times people go over and above for each other. This is what I want to convey in my cozy mysteries. This is what I want to read about when I’m in front of the fireplace with a cat on my lap.
Someone recently asked me if my books were going to reflect the pandemic in any way. I considered it—my cat shelter volunteer character wearing a mask and washing her hands three times a scene. Maybe she could solve a crime from home quarantine, the way Nero Wolfe did. Maybe there could be a cat involved in the ongoing downtown riots, and Lynley is the only one who can save him. Maybe the closure of Friends of Felines cat shelter would require Lynley to foster several cats at once, like I had done in real life for the Oregon Humane Society. Maybe someone near and dear could get COVID and die, except it was murder. Maybe the villain would run around coughing on his enemies and giving them the deadly virus—people had been known to do that, believe it or not.
No, I hated all those scenarios. My cozies were soft, friendly fiction and would remain that way—no COVID, no riots, no hatred, no violence except for the obligatory murder, and that would be done quietly offstage. The people who read cozy mysteries are looking for a puzzle to solve. If they want graphic violence, there are thrillers aplenty for their gruesome reading pleasure.
I ditched the idea of a COVID-era mystery and concentrated on scenes that included taking cats for walks in a lovely spring garden and a perfect paisley feline curled up under a red maple tree. I liked these things much better than a pandemic scenario. How about you?