Once again I am running a free book promotion. Fools and Their Toys is a comedy YA novel about an autistic man who learns to communicate only through a Zebra sock puppet that he uses in his ventriloquist’s act. But even though there are a lot of comedy moments about this fool, his favorite toy, and his child-friends, it is also a murder mystery as the Teddy Bear Killer continues to prey upon young boys. There are some extremely un-funny things in this tale, a story narrated by the zebra sock puppet through his unique point of view. There are numerous emotional responses I am trying to get beyond mere laughter. Sadness, grief, fear, horror, revulsion, doubt, and bewilderment are all supposed to be represented here. And this story does not unfold in sequential time order, Murray the ventriloquist’s mind does not work like that.
And that is what leads to today’s basic topic; What does it mean to claim you are a humor writer?
I have also just completed A Field Guide to Fauns. This is a novel about nudists, so there are a lot of naked people in it. The main character, who is the narrator, is a fifteen-year-old boy who is trying to recover from both a suicide attempt and the loss of the home he grew up in. He comes to live with his father and his stepmother, along with two twin stepsisters in their permanent home within the confines of a nudist park. It is a strange balance of humor, psychological horror, and melancholy.
So, I guess to understand the writing of humorous fiction the way I understand it, you have to accept the notion, “Humorous fiction is not always funny… at least, not on every single page.”
You can find precedent for that in the works of great humorist fiction writers. As funny, quirky, and essentially British as Charles Dickens is, you have to admit, there are pretty dark things happening in some of his greatest books. Oliver Twist has the childish adventures of the Artful Dodger side by side with the murderer Bill Sykes. David Copperfield contains the antics of Wilkins Micawber and the simple Mr. Dick contrasted to the evil of Murdstone, David’s stepfather, and the slimy machinations of Uriah Heep. Even his greatest masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities, has its clowns like Jerry Cruncher, the grave robber, and Miss Pross. the governess/pugilist, and its villains like the Marquis de Evremondes, the heartless aristocrat, and Madame DeFarge, the even more heartless revolutionary.
The illustration above was the last bit of revision and editing added to A Field Guide to Fauns. It is now ready to be self-published. My writing time today, after posting this, will be devoted to publishing this book. So, soon you will be able to see what I mean about humor having its dark side.