Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Picking a Setting for a Cozy Mystery

by special guest Peg Cochran.

One of the first choices an author makes when contemplating a new cozy series, is the setting or location. Most cozies are set in small towns—either real or imagined by the author. There are a few notable exceptions—Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse series set in New York City, for one. But even in mysteries set in a big city, the author often manages to create a small town feel by narrowing the story focus to a shop or a particular neighborhood or apartment building.

The cozy setting can be a real town with which the author is familiar. Ideally, the town or region will have a strong atmosphere that lends itself to a cozy mystery. Think charming seaside town with the fog rolling in…or a small Midwest village complete with town gazebo and plenty of houses with wrap-around porches. Or, if the book is leaning toward cozy chick lit, a neighborhood in a bigger city with renovated brownstones, chic boutiques and trendy restaurants. The reader wants to feel like he or she is there enjoying the scenery, smelling the smells, hearing the sounds and tasting the food. They want to live vicariously through the characters. And they generally want to live someplace attractive and interesting—a place they might choose to visit in real life.

Assuming the town is real! 

Some authors prefer to use a real place for their story. Generally, as long as nothing “bad” happens in a place, it is considered acceptable to use real shops, restaurants, etc., in the story. I wouldn’t, however, set the murder in a real store or restaurant or other public place unless I’d been able to check with the owner of the Coffee Klatch, for instance, and get their permission for my character to find a dead body in one of their booths!

Making up a town can be a lot of fun. It’s quite possible to capture the essence of the south, or New England or Texas in a fictitious location. What some authors find helpful is to choose a town they know well, rename the streets and use that map as a template for their fictitious village.

Either way, setting becomes a secondary character in a well done cozy with readers anxious to revisit it in book after book.

Peg Cochran writes two other cozy mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime. The Gourmet De-Lite series is set in Connecticut and features Gigi Fitzgerald, who provides gourmet diet meals to a select group of clients. The Sweet Nothings Vintage Lingerie series, written as Meg London, is set in Paris, Tennessee with sleuth Emma Taylor who finds murder and mayhem in a quiet country town.

Peg loves connecting with readers and other writhers so feel free to drop her an email via her website ! And be sure to visit her other site at www.MegLondon.com.

1 comment:

  1. I've read some of the other series and enjoyed them immensely. this one sounds equally fascinating! I'd love to win!

    Kathleen Bylsma h5apby@yahoo.com