Since we try our best to create plausible characters within the given circumstances, taking a chance on a friendly contact on Facebook who belonged to the same online group seemed like an option. The problem was I had no idea format-driven cozies existed. As a result, there was no way she and I could relate to each others work. There isn’t much you can do when you run into conflicting filtering systems.
For example, I discovered she likes to label characters, especially in musical terms. Her heroine would refer to a couple as “She was the bow to his violin.” As a result, she couldn’t understand why, when encountering Sal, my mercurial, unhinged Capo, others didn’t categorize him as demented. In my experience, in and around the Big Apple, with its constant pulse, hidden games, and the world’s greatest range of unhinged characters (especially those literally under the gun) there’s no time to label anyone, let alone pin them down. You have to keep on your toes and try to keep up. Which was one of the great joys in writing this tale. With each pressure and response, from a range of disparate characters including a Connecticut handyman and fish out of water, the story kept reverberating and appeared to be self-generating.
But back to the formatted cozy. At the outset, our heroine and teller of the tale relates how, while swimming, she discovered her beloved Gram’s decaying corpse at the bottom of the lake. Instead of becoming traumatized in dire need of sedation, consultation and rest, she’s merely disturbed. It’s as if she’s looked over at the descriptive heading, knows each chapter will be exactly four-and-a-half pages and has to get on with it. In turn, presumably, the reader too is expected to glance at each heading—“dreamy . . . pastoral . . . strident and up tempo”—and go along. Instead of getting involved or laboring over the realities, you follow the flitting pattern of key and signature changes. I kept wondering what would happen if the narrator was cut free and left on her own, but that simply wasn't how you played the game.
I soon learned it all comes down to this. At first glance we seem to be operating under the same umbrella and belong to the same tribe. But if you listen closely, you’re apt to realize we all don’t speak the same language.