Did I Accidentally Write a Cozy?
By Lorie Lewis Ham
When I started writing my new mystery novel, One of Us, I didn’t start out to write a certain “type” of mystery. I wasn’t even certain what the mystery would be, or what occupation my main character would have. I simply knew where it would be set and who my main character was.
Roxi Carlucci is in her mid 30s and started out as a children’s book author who ran a pocket pet animal rescue (hamsters, rats, guinea pigs, etc.) on the California coast near Santa Cruz. But by the time I got serious about writing this book, nothing felt right about it anymore except her. So what she was going to be became what she had been—she had been a children’s book author but her publisher had dumped her series, and without a job, she wasn’t able to keep the rescue going.
At the beginning of One of Us Roxi finds herself unemployed and moving to Fresno, California to stay with her cousin PI Stephen Carlucci while she tries to reboot her life. But she doesn’t move to just anywhere in Fresno, she moves to the Tower District, which is the cultural hub of the city. Needing something to do in the meantime, Roxi volunteers to help with a local theatre production, which is also an animal rescue fundraiser. When someone involved in the show is murdered, Roxi helps her PI cousin find out who the killer is. In the end, she becomes a part time PI and entertainment podcaster.
I didn’t sit down with the goal of writing a cozy—I just wanted to write a mystery. In my head, it was more of a traditional mystery since she becomes a part time PI, but when you look closely at the book, One of Us does follow a lot of the cozy mystery tropes. No on the page violence, nothing graphic, no sex, only minimal/mild strong language, and the Tower District does have a bit of a “small town” feel even if it is part of a big city. Plus, there are plenty of quirky characters.
What I wrote was simply the story I wanted to tell and I guess it reveals a lot about me. While I read across the sub genres of mystery/crime fiction, when I write, I’m not interested in writing graphic violence. What I am interested in is the puzzle itself and the characters. My own language isn’t particularly colorful, so that’s what comes out of my character’s mouths. While sex scenes definitely don’t stop me from reading a book, I tend to skim over graphic ones. The Tower District just happens to be a place I love, and like anywhere that is interesting it is filled with quirky characters.
So if all of this makes One of Us a cozy that’s fine with me. If it doesn’t, I’m okay with that too. I just wanted to write a good story with a mystery and great characters at its core. I hope wherever your mystery reading tastes lie, that you give One of Us a chance, and that you enjoy it, whatever label you put on it.
One of Us- A woman starting over. A gossip website. A handsome playwright with a dark side. A director with an explosive temper. And a murder without a motive. It’s a mystery set in the historic Tower District—Fresno's dining, arts, and entertainment hub.
Lorie Lewis Ham lives in Reedley, California and has been writing ever since she was a child, and publishing since she was 13. For the past 11 years, Lorie has been the editor-in-chief and publisher of Kings River Life Magazine, and she produces Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast where you can now hear an excerpt of her new book One of Us. You can learn more about Lorie and the new book on her website mysteryrat.com, where you can also sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her on Twitter @mysteryrat and Facebook.