How do writers handle the serious topic of murder in their laugh-out-loud mystery novels? Five authors gave their insight during the panel discussion A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to LCC. The panelists were all nominees for the Lefty Award, honoring the best humorous mystery novel of the year, as voted on by attendees at the Left Coast Crime convention.
Nancy Glass West, author of Fit To Be Dead, said that the murder itself isn’t funny. The main character in a humorous mystery may have a wry outlook, but he or she must sympathize with the victim. http://www.nancygwest.com/
Mike Befeler, author of Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder, saw the benefit of combining the murder with humor. “You have to have something to balance the dead bodies.” He believes humor happens when the main character has a sense of humor about himself. http://www.mikebefeler.com/
Brad Parks, author of the Lefty winning The Girl Next Door, explained how readers balance the laughs with the tragedy. “Humans can code switch. They can go from suspense to humor in a novel.” http://www.bradparksbooks.com/
Jess Lourey, author of December Dread, observed that people with the darkest jobs, such as coroners and undertakers, are often the funniest. They find a natural balance through humor. http://www.jesslourey.com/
Laura DiSilverio, author of Swift Run, said “We all can confront horrible things in our lives, yet still have a sense of humor.” This is true in fiction as well. http://lauradisilverio.com/
The panelists agreed that humor must be handled skillfully when the subject of a novel is murder. While murder may not be a laughing matter, humor can balance a well-written story.
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