I want to say up front, I'm a HUGE fan of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books--her explosion-prone every-girl heroine, hunky heroes, wacky array of supporting characters, and endlessly inventive villains. But most of all, I love her humor. I almost fell out of my chair when I read Grandma Mazur's account of shooting the roast chicken in its gumpy at the dinner table.
I would never try to claim I am as brilliantly funny as Janet, but her unique brand of humorous romantic suspense has been a major influence on my Phoenix, Ltd. female bodyguard series. I don't do scary well. I'll never write hide-under-the-covers-with-a-flashlight, serial-killer suspense. I want readers to worry how my characters are going to thwart the unknown antagonist, but I want them to laugh while they're doing it.
Taking a page from Janet, one of my favorite ways to add humor is with colorful supporting characters. Because my books are stand-alone stories instead of a series featuring the same central character, there's no opportunity for a single, fabulous sidekick like Lula. Instead, my bodyguard heroines are beset by a meddling Chinese grandma, a malfunctioning cooking robot, and a light-fingered Capuchin monkey with a bad attitude. These secondary characters are perfect for lightening the mood whenever the situation gets too tense.
I also love snappy dialogue--classic, old movie-style bantering. I have a dry sense of humor and a smart mouth, and so do most of my heroines. Even the men are no slouches in the wit department. I like dialogue so much, large swaths of my first drafts read more like screenplays than novels. Sometimes, my characters are so chatty I can barely type fast enough to keep up with them. I have to go back later and add all the physical and emotional elements to round out the story.
Here are a couple of my favorite lines:
"It's not too late," Carter said in a stage whisper. "You can still change your mind and travel as my masseuse."
She sent him a quelling glance. "You do know I'm carrying a gun, right?" from UNWRITTEN RULES
As he carried her up the grand staircase, visions of Tara flashed through her mind. Although he didn't take the stairs two at a time like Rhett Butler, all she needed was a lush, red velvet dressing gown to transform into Scarlett O'Hara. Oh, and a night beyond her wildest dreams.
That was so not happening. from BOILING POINT
When it comes to writing humor, I bow at the feet of Mistress Evanovich, but if you love her books as much as I do, I invite you to check out UNWRITTEN RULES and BOILING POINT. And the third book in the series is due out early this summer.