I’m trying to figure out how I got into writing humorous fiction. My first novel, which I never published, was a psychological thriller loosely based on some experiences I had as a young psychiatrist. My published short story, Indians, which I wrote years later (you can read it here), was also based very loosely on a true incident in my life, but it was a painful incident that, without initially intending to, I tempered with humor. I found that in creating fiction, I could create characters I liked and a world I could control. It couldn’t be a Pollyanna –ish world or a utopia, for good fiction requires dramatic tension, characters overcoming or succumbing to obstacles, an interesting, well-told story, and undoubtedly other elements that are listed in books on writing. But as a psychiatrist, seeing the painful parts of people’s lives day after day, I also needed the escape that fictional worlds and humor offered. Certainly one doesn’t have to be in a helping profession to have such needs; one only has to experience life for some years.
My first novel I published, Murder in Millbrook, was written because there was a person in real life I wanted to honor. It became a murder mystery because that seemed the best way to present a character that had done nothing more remarkable in her life than raise good children. There had to be more drama than that, so I invented most of it. The delinquent cat and the lady’s fascination with professional football was real. And humor seemed more appropriate than hard-boiled prose for a small town in New England.
I will leave how I came to write the more fanciful Ethics of the Undead for another blog post. I have to get back to writing about a holiday party for vampires.