I recall the chants during limbo dance games,
“How low can you go?” In a sense, that’s what it’s like to write gruesome
comedy. Yes, black comedy—very black. You get to create your own world of
dysfunction where anything goes. I’ve had a great deal of fun doing that in my
paranormal comedy series that includes The
Substitute; Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana!;
The Training Bra and The Trophy Wife. On the other hand, I
might have lost a few readers along the way.
humor, but the distorted humor you might hear in a men’s locker room. Flatulence,
anorexia, serial killers, fat people, skinny people, dead people, liberals, dismemberment,
sewer drowning … even rape—all topics are targets of humor in the right
context. I write about hell. It’s not a nice place and the characters that
exist there aren’t nice either. Societal norms don’t apply. All I can say is
that I try to keep foul language to a minimum and never depict anything sexually
separating what happens in my novels from real life … especially when it comes
to rape. To them, I am just a stinking old white man with zero sensitivity. One
elderly beta reader even went so far as to call the works “deviant” because
some of the events are far outside of the value system of normal society. Well,
duh—hell is, well … hell. Those spoil sports are the exceptions; many others
like the books. Before I go on, I need to provide an example from The Trophy Wife, just to show a shade of
humor in an attempted rape situation. In this ménage à
trois, Miss Havana has been kidnapped and chloroformed.
positioned themselves on either side of Miss Havana. Lily unbuttoned the top
button of Miss Havana’s blouse. “This little piggy went to market.”
the next one. “And this little piggy stayed home.” He cupped Miss Havana’s
breast through her clothing. “It’s a shame we have to waste her when we finish.
She’s a beauty.”
We screw her; we kill her. That’s the end of it. She knows who I am.”
had roast beef.”
exhaled. “Fuck this.” She ripped the blouse open causing the remainder of the
buttons to scatter about the blanket.
Havana’s exposed bra. “We need to roll her over to undo this thing.”
ragged, irregular breathing and, as they stopped to pay closer attention, her
breathing stopped. Lily sat straight up. “That’s it? She dies before we’re
finished with her? That’s just not fair.”
You’ve got to be shitting me. Is she faking?”
and pinched her nose. “If she is, we’ll know in a minute.”
continued to hold Miss Havana’s nose and mouth. She shook her head and frowned.
“The only difference between this bitch and your job is that your job still
sucks. She’s as dead as conservative thinking.”
bitches will do anything to spoil my fun.”
victim; a little chill crept up her arm as she ran her hand over Miss Havana’s
bra. She waggled her eyebrows at Fred, Jr. “It’s not rape if they’re deader
than iced catfish. On the other hand, if you slide over here, I can make it up
to you. I feel horny as hell.”
do; necrophilia is dead boring.”
context of the novels. The spirits of Miss Havana and Lucifer have been dueling
for three novels by the time I wrote The
Trophy Wife. They hate each other and do despicable things to one another.
The spirit of Lilith, the daughter of Lucifer and Miss Havana, resides in Lily,
and the spirit of a giant shadow creature named Waldo (Lucifer’s BFF) haunts
Fred, Jr. Miss Havana and her daughter are natural enemies, and they are
working out which one is predator … and which one is prey.
my heroine. Her spirit dips in and out of heaven and hell on a regular basis,
and her “surface” hosts die along the way—sometimes in comical ways, sometimes
not. As I see it, horror comes in many flavors, from death and rape to carrying
the child of God (who, by the way, is subsequently murdered with a nail gun).
People in my novels face death in creative ways and are tormented in hell with
a touch of ironic depravity. The only constant is that everything happens
against a background of comedy. The banter is loaded with barbs, the characters
are course and the reader will often be confused about who to root for—the good
guys or the bad ones. In fact, Miss Havana can be so evil many reviewers have
found themselves in the uncomfortable position of rooting for the devil.
also a “biblical theme,” another view of something many readers might believe
they’ve seen before. In The Substitute,
the attributes of the antichrist are accurate, but presented in unusual ways.
For example, the antichrist is supposed to recover from a serious wound so, in
my novel, the devil materializes on the “the surface” in the body of a man
facing a firing squad, and is sent right back to hell before he can assert any
of his powers. Disguising the real story is part of the fun.
Likewise, Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! is about the Angel of Death, and The Training Bra is about the four
horsemen of the apocalypse (they aren’t named in the bible, so they are Macho,
Stupid, Scourge and Sin in my book). I went even further with The Trophy Wife, which follows in the
mold of Orwell’s Animal Farm. The
novel tells a complete biblical story beneath the humor, but the reader has to
think fast to catch it.
are several reasons. First, it makes me
laugh. There is nothing as uplifting as sitting at your keyboard snickering for
hours. At the end of the day, I just feel good. Second, it’s challenging to try
to hide a secondary story in the main story, especially one which is the exact
opposite of the words in the text. Third, the characters never get boring. If
one host sucks, just kill him/her in some despicable way, and let heaven or
hell sort out the pieces before the spirit returns to haunt another host.
horrible. It can be funny and deceptive as well. Thank you for stopping by …
and have a great Halloween.