This is a guest post by urban fantasy author and Book Country member Jamie Wyman (@BeeGirlBlue).
You can’t have a conversation about humor in fiction without bringing up Christopher Moore. With more than a dozen books to his credit, he’s had decades to perfect the craft of writing with deep stories with charming levity.
My first experience with Moore’s work was a few years back when someone handed me LAMB. It was advertised as the “Gospel according to Biff, Christ’s childhood pal”. Based on that alone, I was willing to give it a shot. Within the first chapter I’d laughed out loud at least five times. And it just got funnier. You might wonder how someone can take something like the New Testament and make it funny, but Moore pulled it off superbly.
After that, I dove into the man’s catalog like a kid in a ball pit. The San Francisco Vampire Books (BLOODSUCKING FIENDS, YOU SUCK and BITE ME) had elements of romance with the humor. FLUKE touched the mysteries of whale song, a subject near and dear to my heart. And COYOTE BLUE set my mind to reeling about gods and tricksters. As I read his earliest works (PRACTICAL DEMONKEEPING, THE LUST LIZARD OF MELANCHOLY COVE and ISLAND OF THE SEQUINED LOVE NUN), though, I could see decent stories that lacked the depth of LAMB. Sure, they were hilarious romps through the trials of his characters, but they just didn’t have the prismatic quality to the writing.
Funny memoirs are hot right now: from David Sedaris to Tina Fey to Chelsea Handler to Bloggess, this is the age of the popular funny book. To get some tips on how to write humor, we turned to famous WireTap radio host and I’LL SEIZE THE DAY TOMORROW author Jonathan Goldstein, whom Sedaris calls “one of the funniest and most original writers I can think of.”
NG: I’LL SEIZE THE DAY TOMORROW is structured as a series of diary entries from the year before you turn forty. How did you go about writing it: did you actually put pen to paper every single week?
JG: A lot of the material in the book was drawn from the weekly column I do for The National Post, so that forces me to write each week. It’s an amazing gig that allows me to write about whatever I want, though I usually keep it to sandwiches, television, and candy. I’ve been writing it for over 5 years and, almost like an OCD thing, I’ve never failed to get one in, never missed a deadline. I number each one and the most recent one was #308.
NG: Your radio show, WireTap, is produced for the ear. How did you modify your writing for a reading audience?
JG: Writing for the radio is often about keeping people from turning the station or keeping them from giving more focus to whatever else they’re doing as they listen. You’re fighting for their attention, whereas writing for the page assumes having a person’s full attention as a part of the writer-reader agreement. This allows you to be more digressive and expansive–some might say more rich and literary, others, more arty and indulgent.