52 Pick-up 2.0, #36 – 9/22/2020
“I was glad to hear Next To Last Stand was on the humorous side, I love all your books but the one’s that make me laugh are my favorites. There aren’t that many mystery novels that are honestly funny and I was wondering how you decided to include that component?”
That’s good to hear, in that most of the time my wife doesn’t think I’m very funny at all… It’s a tricky proposition to include humor because it’s such a personal taste and you run the risk of offending, boring or any other number of reactions authors would do well to avoid.
A lot of young writers will ask me how it is you get readers to empathize with your characters, and I always tell them to give their characters a sense of humor. Who do you like hanging out with—people who make you laugh. Inevitably, the next thing out of their mouths is, “Yeah, but what if I’m not funny?”
Then you’ve got a problem.
The real challenge in giving your characters a sense of humor is making sure that all have different ones, Henry’s dry humor is not the same as Vic’s, cutting, eastern tongue so you have to be careful. I’m always swapping laugh lines when my wife reads my books to me aloud, “That sounds more like Henry don’t you think?”
Next To Last Stand reintroduces one of my favorite characters as far as humor goes–Lonnie Little Bird, the Chief of the Northern Cheyenne. His interaction with the long-suffering Barrett Long, who pushes his wheelchair turned into one of my favorite scenes when Lonnie describes his great-great grandfather’s participation in the Battle of the Little Bighorn but keeps getting distracted. Lou Diamond Phillips does the reading of it on the tour, and his rendition is a crack-up.
I don’t know, to me one of the most powerful weapons in our arsenal of self-preservation has to be a sense of humor. That’s what the characters are doing most of the time in my books, trying to stay alive, and I’m not just talking about the plot twists I throw at them, but the emotional fallout that follows.
Comedy comes easy for me, so I guess that’s why I use it so much. I’m something of a natural-borne smartass, and every straight line I send up like a balloon, I have about a half-dozen darts ready to throw at it.
To me life is just funny, and I like it that way. My world view is that life is a sticky situation best dealt with a light touch. Witness this morning when I cut up my hand handling some tin roofing sheets and couldn’t find the first-aid kit, so Judy caught me putting leather conditioner in the cut. “What are you doing?”
“Skin is like leather.”
She shook her head, reaching behind me and finding the Neosporin. “Sometimes I feel like I’m living with a six-year-old.”
That explains a lot, too.
See you on the trail,
PS: Next To Last Stand goes on sale TODAY!