Friday, January 25, 2008

The Lighter Side Of Dark

I'm delighted to welcome our Friday guest blogger this week, Amanda Ashby, with her thoughts on the lighter side of paranormal romance.

First up I’d just like to say major congratulations to all the American Title finalists. It’s such a fabulous competition and you’ve all done so well to be part of it. Anyway, when Helen first asked if I’d like to do a guest post on Title Magic, I instantly agreed since there’s nothing I like more than prattling away on someone else’s blog. Then she mentioned that perhaps I could talk about humor in paranormals.



This could be a problem since when it comes to being classed as a paranormal writer I always feel like a bit of fraud because in my head, paranormals are about dark broody alpha vampires who might not like the light but have no problems going shirtless whenever possible. However, the truth is that paranormals, by the very nature of their definition (something that can’t be explained by normal rules and theories) can be anything you want them to be and so I guess that on a technicality I do fit in!!


Anyway, the reason I like to write books with paranormal elements in is because you can create such extreme situations to put regular people in and then stand back and watch them try and get out it! Yes, I know it’s cruel, but it’s one of perks of being a writer.

When I wrote YOU HAD ME AT HALO my heroine is so pissed off at waking up dead in heaven she thinks things can’t possibly get any worse. But of course because it’s a paranormal, things can get a whole lot worse than dead and she soon finds herself back on earth, stuck in a guy’s body (while the guy is still in it). For me the humor comes from the fact that my heroine tries to deal with this extreme, abnormal situation in a regular sort of way – well regular considering the fact she’s a self-absorbed twenty-two year old girl.

The other great thing about putting normal characters into paranormal worlds is that they then have the burden of hiding their new found truth from other people, or risk the chance of looking insane – always good for a laugh. In my upcoming young adult book, ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH, after my heroine turns her school into zombies and is busy looking for the cure, she still has to work around the normal conventions of dealing with her big sister and her mother (not to mention trying to ensure they don’t become zombie chow).

The book I’ve just finished is slightly different in that the heroine already knows the world isn’t normal because she is a fairy slayer at an elite training academy. In this book I think (hope) the humor comes from the fact that being a fairy slayer makes her the laughing stock of the entire place, something she is desperate to change.

The one thing that all my books tend to share is that whatever the world or the situation, the heroines are driven by goals that are very real and relatable to. They’re not trying to save the world, they’re merely trying to save their own worlds from imploding and I hope that it makes the paranormal elements of the story more believable because of it.

So, to sum up, my tips on writing humorous paranormals are to be cruel, isolate your characters from everyone else and don’t forget to give them solid believable goals. Oh, and if all else fails bring in a pack of flesh hungry zombies to liven things up, because, if nothing else, it will stop a saggy middle.

Find out more about Amanda Ashby!


Helen Scott Taylor said...

A twenty-two year old girl in a man's body--with a man. Sounds like a lot of fun!

I totally identify with characters who are trying to prevent their worlds from imploding. I feel rather like that myself at the mo.

Many thanks for a great post, Amanda.

Mary Buckham said...

Amanda ~~

What a delightful sense of story and premise. Can't wait to pick up one or all of your books and to share with my teenage daughter that yes - there can be something worse than attending school -- like zombies. Love it!

Thanks for giving me a big grin for the day ---

Yours ~~ Mary Buckham :-)

Savanna Kougar said...

Amanda, what a delightul blog. I'm grinning, can't you see it? Oh, and now I know what to do with my sagging middles -- or maybe I could just offer up my fleshy sagging middle to the hordes of zombies, who needs liposuction?
In all honesty, I would luv to write a light-hearted paranormal and have begun a few, but I think my moon in scorpio keeps getting in the way. BTW, your pic, and you, of course, are adorable. Thanks for blogging with us.

Amanda Ashby said...

Helen, thanks so much for inviting me along because I've really been enjoying Title Magic blog!

Mary, thank YOU for making me grin. I'm so pleased you like my zombie premise (I swear that writing that book was the most fun I've ever had!!!)

Savanna - thanks so much for the lovely comments and glad you liked the photo - I defy anyone not to smile when a pink fluffy halo is put on their head!!! And hehehe about that pesky moon in Scorpio. You can't argue with the stars!!!!

Ginger said...

Oooh, your books sound like so much fun. I can definitely relate to adding humor by being cruel. So much fun for the writer!

Thanks for sharing your thoughs.


Mona Risk said...

Amanda, your books sound so funny. I claim to be a rational down-to-earth person, and yet I'm amazed at how a good paranormal author can make me swallow the most unbelievable situations. Helen did that to me with her Magic Knot and Passion Beyond Reason. So did Terri Garey with her Dead Girls Are Easy. Amanda I'll try your halo next.

Amanda Ashby said...

Ginger - hehehe, yes, I figure that since my characters cause me so much bother, I might as well as get them back a little!!!

Mona - I loved Helen's Magic Knot as well, which I was lucky enough to read last year. Two of my cps are very logical and never read paranormals so I always feel like I've accomplished something when they give me the thumbs up on a book!!!

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

I love the premise of your stories--normal folks in abnormal situations trying to deal with it normally. I find that easy to relate to since I've been there. Not in a paranormal way, but real life can be damn unreal at times! Thank you so much for sharing with us today and I've now added more books to my Amazon buy list!

Judythe Morgan said...

Thanks for your insight today. Your halo story sounds terrific...normal folks forced into to unlike positions...great conflict and I love a bit of humor with the paranormal. Makes for a fun.

Liz Jasper said...

Ah, a writer after my own heart. Zombie chow. Giggle! Now, tell the truth, Amanda. After a bad day, do you put your characters in particularly awful situations? You know, someone cuts you off in traffic and bingo! idea for headless swamp beast.

Great post, Amanda. And Helen, selfish thanks for having Amanda here--looks like I have some fun new books to read.: )

--Liz Jasper

Amanda Ashby said...

Anitra - you are so right about life seeming unreal at times and I've often thought that it's easier to show the truth in fiction because otherwise people would never believe that something really happened!!!!

Judythe - yes, I love humor in paranormals as well - which is probably good, because I have a hard time being serious!!!

Liz - okay, confession time. The heaven I created in Halo was based on all of the infuriating times I've been stuck on the phone trying to sort out an error in a a bank statement of a gas bill. So in turn, my heaven is a bit of a bureaucratic nightmare as my darling heroine soon finds out!!!

Sara Hantz said...

Fabulous blog..... very insightful!

Lexie O'Neill said...

These stories sound wonderful--and 12 comments--is that a record so far on our newbie blog? If not, it still speaks of interest. Thank you for sharing, Amanda!

Amanda Ashby said...

Thanks Sara and Lexie!!

And Lexie, I'd better up the comment numbers by leaving another one - hehehe!!!!