Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked about different aspects of writing SAVASANA AT SEA, the first Nautical Namaste Mystery. I’ve talked about why I made choices I made for the book, and how it differs from a typical cozy mystery to earn the label I call “Not Quite Cozy.”
What does all that add up to?
It adds up to me writing the book I wanted to read and couldn’t find. I wanted a book with a smart, fun, ethical protagonist struggling to live her path. I was tired of the clichéd depiction of yoga practitioners, especially in cozy mysteries (even, though, in some cases, I suspect it was the editor or publisher pushing the cliché and dumbing down the protagonist).
I wanted a large, international ensemble cast. The staff, crew, and passengers on a cruise ship are perfect for that. I wanted to contain the characters, yet also mix in gorgeous locations. A cruise ship fit that.
I wanted my character to have a healthy love life, but not necessarily be monogamous. At the same time, I wasn’t going to tolerate slut shaming. We’ll see how successful I am over the course of the series about that.
I wanted it to be both realistic and imaginative. I wanted to spend time with characters I loved in interesting situations and beautiful locales. I wanted to grow the ensemble of characters through the series, not just bring in a totally new cast for every book.
I started by challenging myself to write a traditional cozy mystery. As I worked on draft after draft after draft, I realized that wasn’t really want I wanted. So I trusted my instincts, and also the advice of professionals around me. I didn’t take all the advice, but there were elements that made sense, that made it possible to make the book better and yet keep its heart and soul.
I love Sophie and the ensemble. I’m lucky that my editor does, too, and yet knows when to guide me when I go too far off the scope (as I did with the next book, DAVY JONES DHARMA, which is in serious, plot-changing revisions).
I hope you’ll come on the journey with us.