Friday, May 26, 2006

Cozy Noir Pre-Contest Contest

Time for the Cozy Noir Pre-Contest Contest to move to the voting stage.

I’ve selected a handful of definitions and tag lines for you to vote on. The best one gets a prize ($10 Amazon gift certificate or copy of Spinetingler Anthology) but I may end up quoting a bunch of these when we launch the contest officially the middle of next week. So, vote in the comments. Vote once, for your favourite.

And I’m not above cheap tactics, so tell your friends and their kids and uncles and whoever, and make them all come vote. Votes will be taken until some time on Monday, and the winner announced… Tuesday night. Although anyone counting should be able to figure it out.

And yes, you can vote for yourself, although I’m not identifying the contributor here.

So, here goes:

1. Cozy Noir is hard-boiled with a sense of humour.

2. Cozy Noir – when that sinking pit of dread and despair is home sweet home.

Genre definition:

Cozy noir is set in a world with good and bad, but with a protagonist cut off from the good, usually through no fault of his/her own. The world of the cozy noir story is that of ordinary everyday society. Turned upside down. The inciting incident usually wouldn't make the news, and the crime may be either non-obvious or surreally fantastic. While most of what is called noir today comes from the violent works of Jim Thompson, et al., cozy noir follows from the tradition of Poe and Cornell Woolrich, masters of dread. There is violence, but as befits the everyman/woman characters, the focus is on the fear of impending violence and/or its emotional aftermath, not the details of the acts themselves. There should be a sense of how little force it takes to overwhelm an ordinary life. The ending of a cozy noir may, as in Woolrich, be either bleak or somewhat upbeat. Happy endings shouldn't be scorned, as cumulatively they will add suspense to all cozy noir stories. Characters are to be seen as hostages to fate, which may be good or bad.

3. Cozy noir is like a glock in bunny slippers.

4. COZY NOIR: Story with an amateur sleuth who has no conscience and mutters curses under his breath. His sidekick is a cat, who might actually be the killer.

5. Cozy noir: brooding, blanket-knitting Grandmas with .45s and a hankering to solve a crime. "Pass me the orange pekoe and the hollow-points, honey." Coming to a theatre near you. Rated R for dark themes, heady violence, and resplendent knitting.

6. Cozy Noir: Stories that on the surface seem benign, but underneath reveal a sinister and rotting world. Like Blue Velvet if it starred Ms. Marple.

Okay, so let the voting begin!

And, for the advance information about the cozy noir contest, you can read the relatively exclusive news here or at Anne Frasier's blog. Again, my thanks to Mark Billingham, Anne Frasier, Simon Kernick, JA Konrath, Stuart MacBride, Ian Rankin, Cornelia Read, JD Rhoades, David Skibbons and Duane Swierczynski for contributing to the prizes for the competition. You guys rock!


Kathryn Stinchfield said...

I vote for #6!

S. W. Vaughn said...

#5 gets my vote. My grandma would've loved it... :-)

Daniel Hatadi said...

My vote goes to #3. It made me laugh, cry, and wet my pants.

For The Trees said...

Five is out of this world funny (snorted ice tea out my nose) but Three tripped my trigger. Can't get much more succinct than that. Okay, in rewrite it CAN be more succinct than that, but I'm not gonna rewrite it. Unless I'm offered a contract. Then I'll rewrite anything.

Three's best.

Andrea at Lochthyme said...

Love number 3.

anne frasier said...

wow, this is tough. i have to sleep on it!

emeraldcite said...

I liked number 3. i was tempted to vote for my own...but i think number three tops mine :)

Bonnie Calhoun said...

#5 for me!

JT Ellison said...

Why don't you combine the two #3 and #5? They'll work well together.

sandra seamans said...

I love #3! It's got my vote.

Jeff said...

I agree with JT. Combine #3 and #5. If you can't do that then my vote goes for #5.

Anonymous said...

Oh #4, #4, #4.


Brett Battles said...

Number 5. But J.T.'s right, you could probably combin it with number 3.

anne frasier said...

love this one:
2. Cozy Noir – when that sinking pit of dread and despair is home sweet home. i also love number 5, but i'm going to have to go with # 2. it's straightforward, yet subtle. i immediately visualize a cross-stitch sampler.

James Lincoln Warren said...

Cozy noir is an antimacassar on an electric chair.

"Glock" should have a capital "G", by the way.

Elizabeth said...

No contest at all, it's number 2.

Can't wait to start reading!

Karen Olson said...

I personally enjoy No. 4.

I know of a crazy attack cat. He has his own myspace page: lewisthecrazycat. Check him out.

JT Ellison said...

Sandra, may I offer to pay your $1.25?

James Lincoln Warren said...

I still say that cozy noir is an antimacassar on an electric chair.

But I do have to wonder what the point of all this is--subgenre definitions, after all, are merely matters of convenience.

I think that "noir" is the most abused term in all of crime fiction. Most so-called "noir" fiction has absolutely nothing in common with the old B&W cynical crime films of the 50s to which the French applied the term.

"Cozy", likewise, is usually meant to refer to the amateur female detective story in which the violence takes place off stage. The patron saint of cozies is Agatha Christie, who never wrote a "cozy" in her life. Miss Marple is a bull terrier disguised as a little old lady, one of the most brilliantly conceived detectives in fiction. She only seems cute.

emeraldcite said...

But I do have to wonder what the point of all this is-

I think the point is to have a bit of fun.

The meaning of terms changes over time. What is considered "cozy" and "noir" today may have changed since the terms were first applied.

Look at music, for example, where identifiers are often used.

What is labeled "alternative" today sounds little like what was labeled "alternative" in the 90s when the term was popularly introduce.

Just like the "Rock" of the seventies bore little resemblance to the "Rock n Roll" of the fifties.

Are these genres related? Sure. But just as Grand-daddy passes on the genes to his son, by the time you get removed a few generations, there's a resemblance there, but it just ain't the same.

Same here.

In the end, it's all a spot of fun.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Aw, JT, that's sweet of you!

I'm going to chime in on my thoughts on the definitions at the very end, so as not to sway voting.

James, noir certainly has been stretched far beyond it's original use. I'm not even particularly fond of subgenre labels, but my husband really liked the idea of a cozy noir contest, and he got me to warm up to it, too. The idea was to have some fun, absolutely Emerald City.

Really, the reason is not so much to create another subgenre, but rather to get people to write something outside the standard conventions. Have some fun and surprise us.

Because predictable stories are tedious, and we want to see people get excited about trying something different.

If the voting process over the definitions is any indication, I think that this contest is going to be fantastic. AND since I'm the only person who knows who submitted each definition, I'm keeping quiet until all votes are in!

emeraldcite said...

I think cross-genre works can unite readers. Some really unique and interesting stories have come out of inter-genre storytelling.

Bill, the Wildcat said...

Speaking as "The Wildcat," I rather like #4. Still, my vote has to go to #1. I think it's broad enough to give the writer some wiggle room and still captures a certain something specific. After all, how can a genre named "Cozy Noir" not include a sense of humour?

Amra Pajalic said...

I loved number 4. You gotta watch those sneaky cats.

For The Trees said...

I still think number 3 is best. Nyah, Nyah, Nyah.

Cornelia Read said...

#2. With a bullet.

JamesO said...

Am I too late? I like number three for its brevity.