Putting a little thriller in the cozy

By Terry Ambrose 
One million words. It’s a big number. Right? Somewhere along the way during my writing journey, I passed that number. In fact, I’m probably closing in on two million now. Originally, I started out writing a psychological thriller. I soon realized I couldn’t do it. My villains were way too wimpy. Unfortunately, I wrote three books before I realized psychological thrillers and I had irreconcilable differences.

After realizing I’d set myself up for an impossible task, I thought about what I really wanted to write. Something fun. Maybe set in a tropical location. A mystery with an edge, but not a thriller. Those thoughts led me to a character—McKenna. A retired skip tracer whose life had fallen apart and who had moved to Honolulu to escape his past. McKenna was happy being miserable—until a beautiful young woman dragged him into a murder investigation. And so, I had the idea for McKenna’s first Trouble in Paradise Mystery.

While working on the McKenna series, I added another series to my writing stable. The License to Lie series featured dual protagonists. The tag line for the first book was, “With $5 million and their lives on the line, can a determined criminologist and a beautiful con artist learn to trust each other? Or themselves?” I envisioned that series as a trilogy. After all, there was only so far I could take the trust/distrust issue before it started feeling stale. I’ve just released the sixth Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery. While mostly a cozy mystery, I just can’t stop myself from adding some thriller elements. I try to keep the dialogue edgy when it’s appropriate, refuse to get bogged down in tons of backstory, and strive to follow the mantra, “Good writing is like barbecue sauce. If it ain’t done bold, it ain’t worth doing.” Lies, Spies, and the Baker’s Surprise is written from the viewpoints of B&B owner Rick Atwood and his eleven-year-old daughter, Alex. Rick, seasoned by years as a crime reporter in New York, is used to doing thing methodically. Alex, however, with the boundless enthusiasm of youth, takes a very different approach. As you can probably guess, the two approaches always mix—just not well.

Book Description for Lies Spies, and the Baker’s Surprise
Seaside Cove B&B owner Rick Atwood’s wedding to Marquetta Weiss is only days away when a killer strikes. While Rick helps the police, his daughter Alex dives in on her own. On a rocky bluff over the ocean, Alex finds not only the truth, but also her life, hang in the balance.

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About Terry Ambrose:
Terry has written over twenty novels, several of which have been award finalists. In 2014, his thriller, “Con Game,” won the San Diego Book Awards for Best Action-Thriller. His series include the Trouble in Paradise McKenna Mysteries, the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mysteries, and the License to Lie thriller series.
Website: https://terryambrose.com
Amazon buy link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09X12RR5Y

8 thoughts on “Putting a little thriller in the cozy”

  1. You did the right thing because I find the action in cozeys is sometimes lacking there are great characters but the story needs that little vavavoom to bring it from nice to well this is fabulously fantastic 😀 and thats where you bring it to a higher quality. Thank you for that step up. 😀 Kat

  2. I love to read thrillers but when it comes to writing, I prefer writing cozies. I suppose it’s the way I relate to my characters and how they relate to one another. Cozies sure are edgier these days, giving us cozy authors plenty of opportunities to include suspense-filled events in our books.

    1. It has been interesting to watch the incorporation of an edgier element into cozies. It seems like most readers are willing to accept the edgier side/ or as Terry notes putting in a thriller element if it makes sense and doesn’t break the cozy trope.

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