Scary, Not Terrifying

Yesterday I wrote a post about what readers expect from a mystery. A cozy mystery reader makes a few more additional requirements on authors. They want to read about murder, yet be spared the graphic detail. They want suspense without terror, they want romance without the intimate details. If the story includes an inviting setting, a little humor or a tantalizing recipe, all the better. This reader wants to FEEL cozy.

Today is day 3 of the Mystery We Write Blog Tour and I’m visiting Pat Browning.

Drop by her blog to read an excerpt from Frank, Incense and Muriel.

In this scene, Muriel is confronted by an unknown assailant. From beginning to end, the attack is described in 182 words. Short. Precise. Scary, but not terrifying.

While the horror reader enjoys page after page of dark, dank terrifying stuff, the cozy reader does not. This excerpt provides exactly what the cozy reader wants and expects.

Leave a comment (either here or on Pat Browning’s blog) and you’ll be eligible to win one of three e-copies of FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL, the first book of my Muriel Reeves Mysteries. The winners will be announced December 9.

Good luck in the draw and happy reading!

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Kelly Hashway said...

I love how you describe this as scary but not terrifying. You do have to consider all readers if you want a bigger audience. This would satisfy both horror and mystery fans.

Anne K. Albert said...

If that promise between author and reader is broken, Kelly, it could spell the end of a wonderful relationship.

Sadly, this happened to me a few years ago. I'd just met one of my all time favorite authors at a writers conference. It was a thrill! She recommended her latest book, and of course I purchased it. She signed it.

Then, I began to read. What was supposed to be a romantic suspense turned into a psychological thriller--complete with serial killer gone bad. It was so real I had nightmares. The book haunted me. I put it aside (unfinished) and have never read another of her books.

It saddens me, because she's a terrific author, but in my mind she stepped over the line of being scary to spine tingling terrifying. If I wanted that kind of realism, I'd pick up a newspaper.