So Bloody Waters is out and by all indications it’s doing pretty well. I have been receiving a steady stream of feedback about it, and so far all of it positive. At least one reader smashed through the book in the first 24 hours of its release–that makes me feel good. Even my old man seems to like it.
One of the most common things I am hearing is that the humour of the book takes people by surprise. I’ve heard this quite often before, usually in relation to McBlack. Despite the fact that my best-known book, The Sixsmiths is a comedy a lot of people who haven’t read me expect my work will be grim and serious.
Certainly my writing tends to be dark–but usually it’s funny, as well. Perhaps the problem is my reluctance to say ‘this book is humorous’: telling people that a joke is funny is a surefire way that make sure that it isn’t. So is sniggering through it as you tell it and then slapping your thigh and guffawing after delivering the punchline.
But I don’t think that is the whole story. While I pride myself as being someone who likes and who writes in all genres, it seems that the horror genre is my home turf. The Sixsmiths, which is a sitcom, is very clearly labelled ‘horror’ on the back even though it has no monsters, no disembowelments, no supernatural elements, no scares.
I have written about this elsewhere, but comedy and horror are not so different in the end. A good joke an a good horror story are structured the same way. Both of them derive their effect from a kind of cognitive dissonance. Horror stories are often tempered with jokes and humour; jokes often revolve around the terrifying or appalling consequences of some misunderstanding. If you’ve ever listened to Marc Maron’s excellent WTF podcast–hell, if you’ve even listened to a lot of good comedy–you’ll have noticed that comedians tend not to be jovial, fun-loving teddybears… they’re neurotic, insecure, lonely, angry people who want to make you laugh… but oftentimes they’re laughing at you. Because it would be illegal to open up on the audience with an automatic weapon.
Not all of them, of course, but my favourite ones are, at least. Or perhaps I’m just projecting.
Anyway, McBlack and Bloody Waters and of course The Sixsmiths are all supposed to be humorous in way way or another–so if you’re put off because the synopses sound grim, or my profile picture on facebook scared you (you can laugh, but I’ve heard that one too), or the cover art doesn’t have clowns and puppies on it, I would appreciate it if you’d give the books a second thought.
Now if you need me I will be here int he corner, sorting out this pile of shells by caliber and jacket composition.