Horror & Cozy Mysteries: The Common Denominator

marketIf I had to pick 2 of my favorite genres to read & write that would be horror (NOT of the Saw variety) and cozy mysteries.

These are two genres that seem completely different. On the one hand you have some supernatural force strutting it’s diabolical stuff all over town and wreaking havoc, on the other, there’s a very real & human threat going around town killing people. One is designed to scare you, the other is designed to make you feel like you’re visiting old friends (assuming you can get past the rising body count). But these two genres have something in common.

The setting.

In many of Stephen King’s books, the town where the events take place is as much a character as the people who populate his books. In a cozy mystery, this is always the case.

What is it about the location that speaks to so many people? I can’t answer that question for anyone else, but I’ve compiled a list of five things I like about my current location.

5. The Community Market (the image if from my town’s community market). When the time comes that I move away from my small town, I’ll have to move someplace with a thriving community market. It’s become one of my Saturday morning habits to stock up on vegetables for the week by hitting the market. How many books feature community markets?

4. The pace is much slower than it is up north, because of this, it’s always easier for me to get to know people in my small town than it is when I’m in Maryland or New York.

3. The sense of community. This is critical in these types of books. Either they’ll be living in a busy metro area where everyone is too busy being successful or trying to be successful to take time out to talk to a stranger. Or they’ll be in a small town where everyone knows everyone and strangers love talking to strangers! These qualities all have an impact on character development and plot. What if a small town girl is living in a metro area and finds a body in an alley? If she tries to handle things as though she were still in a small town, what kind of conflict will this create?

2. The slower pace. People strive for success in my small town, but not like they do up north. Who knows, in a few years number two may be on a top five lists of why I’m moving back north. But for right now, I enjoy the slower pace. I like not having to be so aggressive when I’m driving or speaking to people. I like not having to put on my game face (a.k.a. my don’t fuck with me face — yes, I do have one and every now and again have to break it out in the small town) that often.

1. The cost of living!

So when I’m writing something scary or a mystery, the location of events is as important as my plot and character development. A story changes dramatically based on location, because in these genres, location is a character.

Happy Reading!

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Corinne Forde says:

    I think what you said about horror and cozy mysteries are true. English mystery novels are very cozy and the mystery part takes place in a places like Oxford or a church during Evensong. Lots also take place in some lord or ladies dwelling. You get to know the town and villages where these crimes take place. I love the English mysteries.

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