Writing with Humor & Pathos

Writing with Humor & Pathos?

Historical fiction writer with humor and pathos, tag words on my blog. Now I’ve given myself quite a conundrum, how to find the humor in pathos, or perhaps, the pathos in humor? I don’t start out to write a book with any specific objective. For me, the characters develop my plot. Sometimes they stumble so I have to pull in the reigns and tighten my hold on their wayward meanderings. Sometimes my characters are actually funny in situations that are not so funny, but pathos is what I think of if I happen to think of King Lear … so is it hubris for me to  claim that I write books with humor and pathos?

I think my books are a lot like me, which isn’t to say they’re at all autobiographical, but it seems that the characters reflect me in some way, or they reflect someone from my life, and don’t we all carry the weight of pathos and a bit of lightness to keep us afloat? The first book I published was not the first book I ever wrote but I published it first because I thought it was funny, and truth be told, a lot of people thought it was. I got some pretty strong reactions to Dancing Backward In Paradise, but mostly on the positive side. My heroine, Grace Place, was never stupid, but she was naïve, determined and ultimately deepened by her love for a Black child in a 1960s world, where pathos was the backdrop.

I have taken some pretty strong subjects, like rape, incest, suicide and murder, and written my characters as flawed souls struggling to survive … with humor, dare I say it? And most of them do. I have never been raped, been a victim of incest, and obviously I’m still here, so I was never murdered, never did myself in, but the world around me is a complicated Mecca of meanness, indifference and dysfunction. I won’t subject my characters to this world without giving them a sense of humor. After all, writing is a reflection of our imaginations, who we are genetically and spiritually, so let’s learn to laugh if we don’t already know how. We use our craft to make of our world a coherent vision someone else might want to share. Personally, I like writers who make me laugh even when they’re being strange like Dean Koontz and Stephen King.

Humor and pathos is what I see when I look outside my window. Perhaps I should move upstate where what I see beyond the beauty of quiet mountains, are a few aliens. Hey, I like that, aliens with a sense of humor on our complicated planet with nothing better to do than abduct us so they can figure out what really floats our boat, the humor or the pathos? Or maybe it’s just writing with it .

Vera Jane Cook

Author of Dancing Backward In Paradise and Hearts Upon a Fragile Bough.  Both books have received rave reviews from Armchair Interviews, Midwest Book reviews and US Review of Books. Dancing Backward in Paradise was an Eric Hoffer and Indie Excellence award finalist in the Literary fiction category.  To learn more about her books you can visit her web site at www.verajanecook.com

To contact the author send an email to verajane@verajanecook.com

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