Failing to keep it light

For someone whose books are funny, I write some nasty things. Some people have told me this is a mistake. Some people have told me this is awesome. I don’t really have a choice–it’s just the way I see the world, as inseparably funny and tragic.

There are also roots in this if you look at what I love to read. I read all the funny authors–Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt, Christopher Moore, and Douglas Adams, but I also like grittier authors, like Max Allan Collins, David Weber, Chuck Palahniuk, and Michael Chabon.

“Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall down an open manhole cover and die.”
Mel Brooks

I’ve always found that Mel Brooks quote a guideline for what I find humorous. It is a constant reminder to me that humor has its roots not only in surprise but also in brutality. In Minion of Evil, Dave is killed by a pool cue to the head. But I can’t resist taking it a step further. I show Dave sticking his finger into the hole in his head. (This scene is also partially an homage to The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai.) Many people thought this was too gross, but I felt it was right to show.

His pinky slid in to the first knuckle without any resistance at all, after that the hole provided more difficult, but he kept at it and made it to the second knuckle. He thought it would hurt, and it did, but not as much as pulling out a nose hair. He found it more disgusting than painful. Still, he felt compelled to continue. Finally, his pinky was all the way through his skull. His palm rested on top of his head. Out of curiosity, he wiggled that finger a little, putting pressure on his brain.

The other sene that really bothers people is in Fangs for Nothing, when I let Vinny kill an innocent, turning a silly situation into a tragic one.

I struck, and drained Kenneth Donahue to the point of death. Fear and adrenaline tinged the sweet ambrosia of his blood. His heart started to slow, and then he closed his eyes, never to open them again. I had killed my first human.

I rolled off from him and lay on the bed, staring at the ceiling. What had I become? I was now truly a monster, a dead thing that murders innocent men in the night, and I had Brad to thank for my transformation. What a dick.

I felt like I had to show Vinny having real, serious consequences to being a vampire. He’s not a sparkly “vegetarian.” He’s a killer with fangs. No matter how warm and fuzzy he sees himself, he cannot fight his true nature. Like a bee, he has to sting. Or maybe it’s just a warning about peer pressure.

2 thoughts on “Failing to keep it light

  1. Katy Sozaeva

    I loved that scene where Dave stuck his finger in his brain – it made me laugh my ass off! And anyone who reads a vampire book and *doesn’t* expect the vampire to kill at least one person, innocent or not, is seriously delusional about the concept of vampires… *shrug*

    of course, I have a slightly different perspective, living with a native-born Russian – you want to talk about people who see humor in really dark things? That is practically the definition of a Russian.

    Keep doing what you’re doing – I think it’s brilliant, and as everyone knows, mine is the most important opinion in the *world*! 😉

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  2. D. Moonfire

    I’m personally not fond of light and fluffy stories. I think there needs to be a little dark, just as you can’t be sure if the main character (or anyone else) is going to just get knocked off. It is the tension and the hope that keeps the story going instead of “be awesome here, and then go be awesome over there.”

    I like the brain scene too, but I wanted him to poke somewhere and watch his foot twitch.

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