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Guest blogger: Samantha Marshall

31 January 2021

Learning to laugh

The old adage that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ has never been more pertinent, for me, than during the long months of COVID-induced lockdown last year. With the world trapped by uncertainty and anxiety around every corner, I looked for any excuse I could find to wrap myself in warm, fluffy and cheerful.

In the midst of all this, my dear friend Georgia Tingley asked if I’d like to take part in an anthology. Now, novellas are somewhat of a challenge for me, since I’m permanently set to maximum verbosity, but the idea of something new and fun, coupled with the opportunity to work with other wonderful authors, was something I jumped at immediately.

Given my headspace—all of our headspaces, really—I decided, on a whim, that I wanted my story to be funny. While there are moments of humour in all my novels, I’d never set out to make something funny on purpose before, and the challenge was one I looked on with both anticipation and trepidation.

What if I thought I was funny, and I wasn’t?

What if I went too far in my quest for comedy and ended up just being silly?

What if the world was too dark, too heavy, for me to manage so much as a smile, let alone a laugh?

All these thoughts and more were running rampant through my head. For those of you who’ve read anything truly hilarious, whether it be Terry Pratchett, Gail Carriger or anything in between, you’ll understand what I mean when I say I didn’t want to get so lost in trying to make my audience laugh that I forgot the most important elements of what makes a story, well, good.

It has to have light and shade.

It has to have direction, a plot, a point.

It has to have characters we believe in, and a world that’s whole and brimming with opportunities.

Now if you have read Terry Pratchett or Gail Carriger (or any of the other authors who do comedy well) you’ll know that when the blend is done right, it’s incredible. But … I’ve also read some comedies that didn’t quite hit the mark, and when faced with dipping my toe into that fickle pool, I was decidedly worried that I’d end up at the shallow, empty end of things.

Not long later, following a rather humorous conversation with Georgia about dragon shifter romances, I had a thought: What do dragons think of dragon shifter romances? Or, more to the point, what do dragons think of bad dragon shifter romances?

In that moment, Oaklyn was born. Or, rather, sprang into existence amidst a puff of vapour and sarcasm. She promptly laid out all the worst things she could think of to read in a bad dragon shifter romance, and why they were terrible. And, listening to her rant in the safe confines of my brain cave, I realised that she was funny.

The next morning, I hit the keyboard, and Oaklyn blossomed. She inspired me to explore, but better yet, she made me laugh—and it felt so good! So unbelievably, incredibly good. A few paragraphs later, Lux literally fell through the ceiling and he was everything else I needed; also funny, but soft and sweet with a core of steel, long eyelashes and a floppy beanie I absolutely do not blame Oaklyn for stealing. They had chemistry. They had depth. They had heart.

In the end, I let them tell their own stories and simply buckled myself in for the ride. Keeping it short was still a challenge, but they were so full of life and light that even though my word count was less, the story was brimming with everything I needed. Turns out in the end I didn’t need to worry about being funny at all—my characters took care of that little detail for me.

PS: I’m happy to report that other people besides me also found my novella amusing (phew) and the anthology, titled A Perfectly Paranormal Valentine, is due out on 1 February 2021. If I’ve piqued your interest at all with my experiences, then the blurb for Oaklyn and Lux’s story ‘Catnip’ is below.

Catnip

Justice. Duty. Honour.
Dessert.

When vampire spy Luxor Dragomir responds to a plea from the gods, the last thing he expects is to seek shelter in a run-down cottage in the middle of nowhere. To make matters worse, the place he thought abandoned is home to a real, live dragon whose wit is as sharp as her teeth.

For reclusive dragon Oaklyn Airecross, spending Valentine’s Day with a stack of book boyfriends and chocolate mousse sounds like heaven—until an uninvited guest picks a fight with her least favourite bean bag, and she’s thrust into a mess of runaway cats, vampire intrigue and frypans.

Lux’s mission is of the utmost importance—not to mention top secret—and with his only ally injured, the prickly vamp is forced to accept that he cannot manage his sacred task alone. Having a dragon as a secret weapon seems like a dream come true, but he can’t shake the feeling that by the time this is over, Oaklyn might steal more than his only remaining beanie.

Fascinated by Lux in spite of herself, Oaklyn sets aside her large TBR pile to help him on his quest. After all, a dragon must do her duty to the gods … and the woman intends to find out exactly what that bulge might be when it twitches inside of his pants.

To find out more about the anthology, or to order your own copy, go here.

Or, to find out more about any of the other books I’ve written, check out my website here.

3 Comments
  1. 1 February 2021 6:05 pm

    Great post, Samantha. I love a bit of humour in a story. 🙂

  2. 1 February 2021 12:31 pm

    Well done. Sounds great.

  3. Cathleen Ross permalink
    31 January 2021 3:19 pm

    Look forward to reading this. Love Georgia Tingley’s work and look forward to reading yours.

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