During the pandemic, I found myself steering away from any dark or stressful content. I experienced enough illness and death in my own family. My sister was diagnosed with cancer. Three of our beloved pets died. Some of my kids struggled with depression. And extended family members caught covid. Even the news was, and still is, scarier than usual. It was a stressful, isolated time and I didn’t want to add to it by taking in content that strained my nervous system even more.
So I began watching and reading lighter entertainment. Instead of rewatching the epic Game of Thrones, my husband and I watched the goofy Shameless. Instead of reading intense crime fiction, I read cozy mysteries. I avoided threatening political and misleading health news. It was like I wrapped a blinding warm blanket around my psyche. And the redirection actually worked. It helped my mental health. Like a lot.
A Cozy Mystery Makes Me Feel Well, Cozy
Since there are so many cozy mysteries out there, I focused on books that were of my interest and taste. I started with Agatha Christie and jumped to mysteries set in the Pacific Northwest with yoga stories by Tracy Weber and outdoor adventures by Ellie Alexander. I explored gardening mysteries by authors Julia Henry, Marty Wingate, and Amanda Flower. Peter Quinn made me laugh and yearn for my own dear black dog with his Chet and Bernie series. And I had fun dabbling into baking and food mysteries with Joanna Fluke and Mia Manansala. All in all, it was a welcomed reprieve.
Spreading the Stress Relief as a Writer
I had so much fun reading these books. I’d never read a lot of cozies before because I’d dismissed them as too silly or lightweight literary-wise. But many were very well written with vivid details and tight plots. There was a lot to learn from them — and be inspired by. So much so that I felt the spark to write my own. I realized that that warm way of destressing was something I wanted to share with people via my own writerly life. With the pending publication of Leaf Your Troubles Behind, it seemed like a natural fit. In that book, I’m encouraging my readers to find stress relief wherever they can with plants. Well, one more way would be to read a cozy mystery story about them.
Now, I’ve taken that on. I’ve been inspired to see if I can write a fun cozy mystery about plants. Something new and original but still entertaining. I’ve been taking notes, dreaming of small towns, and creating characters. In fact, I think I even have a decent title. But it’s all so early that I won’t share too much just yet. As I progress in coming weeks, I’ll share more details, as I read and journal and dream on.
In the meantime, if you have any favorite cozies, let me know!