Today, we have a guest blog from Karina Fabian, author of Magic, Mensa & Mayhem.This is a book I copy edited and enjoyed greatly! You can also read my interview with her here.
How I Started Writing Humorous Fantasy
by Karina Fabian
I sat in front of the panel, heart thumping, wanting to be Madame Vice for the ceremony. I'd done well in the interview—friendly, poised. Then the interviewer pulled out the big guns:
"Make me laugh."
...and I couldn't do it. I started with a funny story I'd been making up, and as I told it, it sounded dumb even to my ears, and I ended up apologizing and promising I could be funny, really. Needless to say, I did not get the job.
The sad part was, the interviewer had been throwing opportunities for one-liners all through the interview. He stuck his finger in his nose--and I thought, "Sir, if you want to pick a winner, I'm right here!" He stuck a huge bone on the table. "No bones about it sir, I'm the one for the job." But I froze, unsure of myself, too shy to be silly.
I'm older and wiser now--well, older, anyway. I've outgrown my shyness, and given the chance, I embrace the silly. I write humorous fantasy.
I didn't intend to. After experiences like my Madame Vice interview, I had decided that while my puns were good, my stories were not so funny. I started writing serious sci-fi and fantasy.
Then I decided to play in the noir genre with a down-and-out dragon stuck in the non-magical world and working as a private detective. I fell in love with the wise-cracking, cynical, justifiably-superior-than-thou dragon and the worlds he worked in. So, when a friend asked me to write a serial with the character for her newsletter, I was only too glad to oblige.
Trying to write punchy, interesting episodes in 1000-word increments proved a challenge, and I fell to humor I'd grown up with and loved. Puns in the style of Piers Anthony's XANTH novels, cliché's twisted like Terry' Pratchett's Discworld, and prat jokes worthy of the Airplane movies. I wasn't thinking about much of anything but having some fun doing a favor for a friend, but before it was done, I'd created the foundation for what would become my novel, Magic, Mensa and Mayhem. Even more, I'd created the foundation for a whole series of stories and novels.
My next foray into humorous fantasy started out in a similar way. A friend, Kim Robinson, was starting a new press, Damnation Books, and wanted to compile an anthology of zombie stories called The Zombie Cookbook. Once again, I wrote for a friend, a silly story with some puns and twisted cliché and a little bit of political satire. After all, what's a zombie story without a joke about dead people voting? I had a good time, and a lot of people liked "Wokking Dead"--enough that I'm writing a novel based on the main character, zombie exterminator Neeta Lyffe.
I've not always gotten fans. One critic said the title was the best part of "Wokking Dead;" another person said she felt my humor in Magic, Mensa and Mayhem lacked dignity. Not everyone has the same kind of humor, but unlike in my youth, I don't let it stop me. After all, I'm writing for myself and for friends--and for anyone else who wants to join in the fun.
For me, the key to humor was being comfortable enough with myself to let go and have fun. No bones about it.