Holiday Short Stories By WWK Authors Presented This Season:

11/30 KM Rockwell's "Holiday Summons"
12/06 "Death By Dictionary" by Gloria Alden
12/12 E. B. Davis's "The Christmas Tree"
12/18 "Femme Fatally Yours" by Paula Gail Benson
12/24 Kara Cerise's "The Ho-Ho Plan"
12/30 "Last Minute Shopping" by Shari Randall

Put A Shaker of Margaritas: That Mysterious Woman on your holiday list. Three WWK authors have short stories in this Mozark Press anthology. Look for "Moving On" by Paula Gail Benson, "Sauna" by KM Rockwell, and "Wishing For Ignorance" by E. B. Davis. Paper or eformat are available at Amazon.

Gloria Alden has released the fourth book, The Body in the Goldenrod, in her Catherine Jewel series. It's available in print and in eformat. Here are two links to the book: Amazon and Kobo. Put it on your "TBR" or Christmas list!

Carla Damron's latest project, THE STONE NECKLACE, a literary novel about five lives that intersect, and are forever changed, by a senseless accident, has been picked up by Story River Books for publication in 2016. Story River is an arm of the University of South Carolina Press and is under the leadership of editor-in-chief author Pat Conroy. Congratulations, Carla!


A great stocking stuffer, Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays is available at Wildside Press or Amazon. This anthology includes short stories by WWK bloggers Shari Randall ("Disco Donna") and E. B. Davis ("Compromised Circumstances").
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cats in Cozies



CATS IN COZIES
and other animals

Cats are prolific in cozies, and if it's not a cat, there's often a dog. Sometimes there are even both, or some other animal. Maybe Carolyn Hart started the cat craze in cozies. I'm not sure, but I know it was years ago when I started reading her books. Her character, Annie Darling, had a cat named Agatha in her mystery bookstore. Amanda Flower's character, India Hayes, has a cat in her series; Lorna Barrett's character, Tricia, has a cat in her Booktown series; while Krista Davis's character,Sophie, has both a cat and a dog in her Diva mysteries. And then there were the Cat Who . . . series. I'll admit I tired of them after a while. There are only so many times I could read about a cat licking its private parts. I didn't think the plots were strong enough to endure that.
 
 
Although pets aren't just in cozies, by any means, they are more likely to appear there. Maybe it's because readers of this genre are looking for something a little less threatening than a police procedural or thriller. And maybe it's because writers of this genre have cats or dogs. I know most, if not all, of the authors I mentioned have cats, dogs or both.
 
 
In my opinion, there are several reasons why authors include animals in their books:
 
 
One: Writing is a solitary life. The writer needs to isolate themselves as much as possible to write, and unless the writer has another job with social interactions, or an active family living with them, it could be a lonely life. A pet can alleviate some of that loneliness. Enter the cat or dog. They're a companion, and they sleep a lot, giving writers their needed solitude. From following the Guppy list serve (a subgroup of Sisters in Crime), cats seem to be the more popular pet among the writers who post there. Maybe it's because cats don't need to be taken out for walks. Also, if a writer has a cat or dog, they can write realistically about the animal's behaviors.
 
 
Two: Pets humanize the protagonist, show a tender side to them, and because both cats and dogs are popular pets, many readers can relate to them. Of course, children can soften a protagonist, too, but children create problems. It's hard for a sleuth, especially an amateur sleuth, to take off sleuthing on a whim when they have children to consider. Not that it's impossible, but it's much easier to leave a cat or dog at home than a child.
 
 
In my series, my protagonist, Catherine, has a cat. At the end of the second book, she also acquires a dog. Her romantic interest, the police chief of her small town, has a cat and ends up with the dog of a murder victim at the end of the first book. Because I've had cats and dogs for years, I find them easy and natural to write about. Do I enjoy reading books without animals? Absolutely. Do I like books with cats and dogs in them? Yes, but only if the book is well written with a good plot. I have a lot of favorite authors, who don't include animals. Cats and dogs are not as important as a protagonist I like and a well written book with a good plot.
 
 
Do you include cats or dogs in your work? Do you have a cat or dog?

14 comments:

Warren Bull said...

I don't write cozies and I don't own an animal. Maybe there is a correlation between the two.

Gloria Alden said...

Maybe so. It's certainly not the only genre I read, but there do seem to be cats in almost all of the cozies I read.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Warren, you could write a revolutionary cozy with no pets. Think about it. A groundbreaking work!

Gloria, this is a lovely post. and I agree--there do seem to be cats in an awful ot of cozies.

Alyx Morgan said...

Interesting topic, Gloria. I agree that maybe people enjoy reading cozies with pets in them, to help soften the blow of murder.

I don't have pets in my current WIP, nor do I have any plans to include them in any of my books. I love animals, but am allergic to their dander, so maybe that has something to do with why I'm not drawn to writing that...no source material. ;o)

Pauline Alldred said...

My protagonist has a Siamese but the cat prefers her boyfriend to her and the cat hinders rather than helps the sleuthing process. Pets are often part of a person's life along with friends and hobbies. It's the writer's choice to decide whether something becomes an important part of the plot. Personally, I find it difficult to suspend belief enough to have a talking cat or dog solve a crime but if a story is well-written, I'll forget my difficulty.

Gloria Alden said...

Thanks, Linda. Of course, they can appear in other mysteries, too, but they're almost always in the Berkley Prime Crime cozies.

Gloria Alden said...

I totally understand, Alyx. I'm allergic to cats, believe it or not. At least some cats, but not so much tabby cats like mine. Cats with really soft or long hair bother me. I keep a plastic table cloth thrown over my nesting chair nights so they won't claim that, and my bedroom door closed at night so they won't sleep with me.
For some reason I don't have trouble with dog fur.

Gloria Alden said...

Like you, Pauline, I prefer my cats or dogs to be just that and not talking animals or psychic in anyway. Although, animals have been known to sense when severe weather like a hurricane or tornado is coming. And there was a cat who lived in a nursing home and always knew when one of the residents was going to die and curled up on their bed with them.

The Siamese in your book probably adds an added light touch with the cat hindering the sleuthing. I like that in a book.

Julie Godfrey Miller said...

Good post, Gloria. I, too, love mysteries with cats, but prefer them not to talk or exhibit psychic powers. I don't own a cat, but I am like an aunt to Lucius, my sister's orange tabby. I have to admit that sometimes he does look like he is off to solve some kind of mystery, or sniffing out a bad guy. Maybe a cat would solve the problems in in my WIP.

Gloria Alden said...

You never know, Julie. The ancient Egyptians believed in their powers. Maybe Lucius has hidden powers you could tap into.

Ann G said...

I seem to have managed to miss reading any mysteries about psychic pets, for which I am truly thankful. I did try to write a puppy into my last story, but the heroine ended up with a stray cat instead - as did I, sadly. I think the failed puppy was a failed attempt at sympathetic magic on my part.

E. B. Davis said...

I like reading cozies with cats. But I don't own a cat. Even knowing my sister's cats, I don't feel as if I know enough about them to write about them. Which is why if I did write about them, they would have to be supernatural cats with amazing abilities.

One of my favorite cat characters is Shirley Rousseau Murphy's Joe Gray, another, Midnight Louie, created by Carole Nelson Douglas. Both have greater abilities than normal cats.

Patg said...

Ah ha, found you. Thanks Warren for posting to Guppies.
Me, I can put up with 'pets' in stories, it's kids I don't like.
But, as writers, determining 'the pet' is always an interesting idea.
Robert Heinlein wrote a story about a family of humans living on a distant planet kept one of the local animals for several generations. When it finally informed them that it was an intelligent creator, it was only because she finally found out that 'she' was raising intelligent creatures.
Ah, POV. Ya gotta love it.
Patg

Gloria Alden said...

Ann, that cat you mention must be the one in The Mermaid's Shroud. Kate doesn't have him yet, but she will soon. Actually, like with writers, a cat is easier for a protag to have than a dog is.

E.B., I know I wrote I got tired of the Cat Who books, but before I did, I didn't mind the psychic Siamese cats, but only because it wasn't too overdone.

Pat, I don't mind kids in stories if they act like real kids. In my latest book, I have a kid, but it is totally based on a girl I once had in my class. She was a gifted child and totally unique. Her mother owns a small used bookstore, and I know when the book is published, she'll love having her daughter, albeit with a different name and circumsances, in it.