Why I Write a Humorous Cozy Mystery Series for Feisty Older Ladies
Here’s a mystery for you … a study by Sisters in Crime, a professional women writers mystery and crime association, found that the vast majority of mystery readers are women. Moreover, 71% of the genre’s readers are 50 or older. (Source Link:https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.sistersincrime.org/resource/resmgr/imported/ConsumerBuyingBookReport.pdf)
The mystery? Why is it, then, that the leading lady of the cozy mystery today is a baby-faced, early career, 30-something, rather than a mature, perhaps somewhat disgruntled, widowed or divorced, half-retired woman of 50+ years?
I turned 60 this year, and I read like a demon, devouring novels like M&M’s. Why, I wondered, was my feisty generation—all prime readers for Pete’s sake—so invisible in women’s mystery fiction today?
I found myself agreeing with one sister in crime writer, Dianne Harman, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dianne-harman/boomer-reads_b_3210208.html, who mused in 2013 that, “[Boomer Lit] is the most overlooked, underwritten genre out there.”
OK, so the term “baby boomer lit” has gotten a bad rap. Much of that is justified. The indie market is awash with badly written “boomer” novels that feature highly forgettable “senior sleuths,” seeking second chances in the confines of gated retirement villages.
Too much of this lit pounds home a “sundowner” theme – think cancer, moving into assisted living, fighting over men with competing ladies in Leisure Village – OR a “second chance” theme. Think “widower dares to date again” or “the search for the one that got away.”
Problem. I don’t see my life as in need of “second chances.” I see it as more of what it always has been: a bit of a hair-raising adventure. Why not, I thought, write about cantankerous, every day women who are aging, but who are also busy having a go at life, every morning, pretty much as they always have?
Oldsters are as varied as youngsters (really, they are). Being of the mind that if there’s a problem it’s my responsibility to engineer a solution – a great notion from the 70’s when I first hit the road out of high school — I began to create a new crime comedy series loaded with oldsters of all varieties.
In my new amateur detective series, The Shady Hoosier Detective Agency, the protagonists are lifelong gal pals, ages 67 and 71, living in small town Indiana. They share a house, a 1960 Chevy, and reluctant custody of grown children who still reside in their basement.
One in particular (Veenie) has been a lifelong snoop. The other (Ruby Jane) has great computer skills. For them, the decision to punch a time clock post-retirement as sleuths with the Harry Shades Detective Agency is as much a way to exercise their curiosity as it is a path to supplementing their social security.
Back in the 90’s the TV drama “Golden Girls,” about older widowed and divorced women sharing a home and laughter, broke through ageism to show that the closing chapters of life can be as varied and exciting as the beginning and middle. I believe that there remains pent up demand for older, feisty women characters in the cozy mystery niche.
My goal in creating the Shady Hoosier Detective Agency, with Book 3, The Chickenlandia Mystery, coming out as this is posted, is to update the cozy to better serve publishing’s core reading demographic by creating books that mirror the more diverse evolving lives of Boomer women like me.
Like all publishing undertakings, it is up to the cosmos to decide if the series will find a readership, but a few stars do seem to be aligning. The Shady Hoosiers’ debut book, Ghost Busting Mystery, has thus far won three Best Indie Humor Book Awards and two Best Indie Cozy Mystery Book Awards,
In the end, I write what I want to read. There has never been a more active, curious, diverse, witty, kick-ass generation of women. Why not gift ourselves leisure reading that reflects this?
Author Daisy Pettles
Daisy Pettles was born in southern Indiana, in a tiny river town. As a child, she was fed a steady diet of books, pies, and Bible stories. Her debut cozy series, the Shady Hoosier Detective Agency, crime comedies set in fictional Pawpaw County, Indiana, won the 2019 Gold Medal as Best Humor Book from the Indie Reader, The Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and the American Fiction Awards. Visit her anytime at https://www.daisypettles.com
Amazon Buy Links:
Ghost Busting Mystery (Book 1)
Baby Daddy Mystery (Book 2)
Chickenlandia Mystery (Book 3)