Writing Funny in Unfunny Times by Lois Winston
I write two humorous amateur sleuth series, The Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries and The Empty Nest Mysteries. Currently I’m working on the second Empty Nest Mystery—or I’m trying to. It isn’t easy to write humor when there are so many horrible things happening in the world.
I live eighteen miles from Lower Manhattan. My husband, son, and daughter-in-law all commute into New York every day. Fourteen years ago I watched in real time as the second plane flew into The World Trade Center and as both buildings collapsed. I couldn’t write for six months. It’s hard to be funny when the world has turned grim and deadly.
I’m dealing with a similar anxiety now as events unfold around the world. Somehow it feels wrong to write about murder—especially in a humorous voice—given what’s happening. And the very last thing I want to do right now is write something dark and grizzly. I wrote dark and grizzly prior to 9/11. I can’t do that anymore. I’d much rather make people laugh than scare the you-know-what out of them.
I’ve never understood why people can’t just get along. One of my best friends has a completely opposite political view from mine. Politics is the one thing we disagree on, but our friendship is too important to let our political views tear us apart. We agree to disagree. End of discussion. We know we’ll probably never convince the other to change our views, so we don’t try. We respect each other’s right to our own beliefs. Too bad the rest of the world can’t do that.
A few years ago I began thinking about the difficult task parents have these days in explaining our violent world to their children. It’s impossible to shield kids from reality these days. Thanks to social media and 24/7 news they hear and see events as they happen.
I was recently reminded of a song from South Pacific that talks about how children have to be taught to hate. We’re not born with bigotry and prejudice built into our genes. We learn it. The other day I saw a clip from a documentary about children as young as three years old being instructed by jihadists on how to shoot guns. These babies are being taught how to kill anyone who doesn’t espouse their philosophy.
But just as children can be taught to hate, they can be taught that hate is wrong. They can be taught that it’s better if people learn to get along with each other. That’s why I wrote The Magic Paintbrush, a chapter book for young children.
When nine-year-old Jack and his seven-year-old sister Zoe are snowed in for days with nothing to do, their complaints land them in every guy’s worst nightmare—the kingdom of Vermilion, a land where everything is totally pink! At first Jack is mistaken for a spy from the neighboring kingdom of Cobalt, but Zoe convinces Queen Fuchsia that they’re from New Jersey and arrived by magic.
Queen Fuchsia needs a king, but all the available princes in Vermilion are either too short, too fat, too old, or too stupid. Jack and Zoe suggest she looks for a king in Cobalt, but Vermilion and Cobalt have been at war since long before anyone can remember. Jack and Zoe decide Vermilion and Cobalt need a Kitchen Table Mediation to settle their differences. So they set out on an adventure to bring peace to the warring kingdoms—and maybe along the way they just might find a king for the queen.
Without being preachy, The Magic Paintbrush addresses the issue of differences, in this case, a kingdom that is all pink at war with a kingdom that is all blue for longer than anyone can remember—so long that no one even knows what started the feud. It takes two children from another land to point out to the rulers of both kingdoms the benefits to getting along and how we're really all the same inside.
Now, if we could only convince the rest of the world to follow this philosophy…
USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Visit Lois/Emma at www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com. Follow everyone on Tsu at www.tsu.co/loiswinston, on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/anasleuth, and onTwitter at https://twitter.com/Anasleuth. Sign up for her newsletter at https://www.MyAuthorBiz.com/ENewsletter.php?acct=LW2467152513