It is my great pleasure to introduce Tracy Falbe, author of Judgement Rising, and other epic tales. The beautiful cover of Judgement Rising is a particular favourite of mine.
How Humor Can Help Readers Care About Characters
By Tracy Falbe
My novels tend to be pretty serious, like most epic fantasies, but I believe in letting characters have good times too. I rarely send someone into battle without throwing him a good party or letting him have a final night with his lover.
Sometimes the mood is lightened with a few jokes among comrades. I don’t do this specifically for the sake of comic relief. Although I love comedy and consider it a high art form, I often dislike how comic relief is used. Tossing some dopey antics into the middle of something very serious is just plain annoying. When I use humor, I do it to make characters feel real. Letting sarcastic comments slip and drinking too much at dinner are things that real people might do when under stress. These lighter scenes tend to happen between the big dramatic events. I try to let characters shine through during the quieter moments because isn’t this when you really get to know people?
Most novels rush characters from one big event to the next without much room to breathe. I know we writers are supposed to keep readers hooked, but I believe in pacing my fiction. I like to balance intensity with moments of genuine living. My hope is that it will deepen the reader’s emotional ties with the characters. When the reader remembers the good times, it will make the hard times even more meaningful.
A splendid example of a good time leading to dire events comes from the mighty J.R.R. Tolkien. He started the modern tradition of a good party in fantasy novels when the Fellowship of the Ring opened with Bilbo’s birthday bash. Throughout my own novels I’ve presented everything from a royal banquet to a bachelor party to wild revels in the forest to that most dangerous of affairs: the family gathering.
One memorable gathering from Judgment Rising has several amusing scenes when Miranda meets her brother-in-law Atarek for the first time. Atarek has crossed the Wilderness in search of his missing brother Dreibrand. Miranda is quite excited to meet him, but her husband knows that her encounter with Atarek will be alarming at best.
From Judgment Rising:
Politely, Dreibrand worked his way through the crowd, tugging Atarek who wanted to say hello to everyone. As people smiled to Dreibrand, he noted how their eyes bounced between Atarek and himself, making a conspicuous comparison. Jolted by juvenile insecurity, Dreibrand hustled his brother along.
The dawdling resistance from his debutant brother suddenly let go and Dreibrand was trundled forward by his brother’s bulk.
Draping an arm around his shoulder, Atarek pulled him close and whispered, “Hey Dreiby, introduce me to those women. That curly-haired one looks fun.”
Dreibrand spun in his brother’s embrace and knocked the arm away.
Interpreting the intense flash of jealousy as only an older brother could, Atarek laughed and wagged a finger at his brother. “You had her,” he surmised, delighted to have blundered upon a sensitive nerve.
“Think harder, Brother,” Dreibrand growled.
“Still working on it then?” Atarek teased. Puffing out his chest, he headed straight for the attentive group of women and children.
Before Atarek said something inappropriate, which was likely, Dreibrand intervened. “Atarek, this is Miranda, my wife,” he said.
Miranda stepped forward with an inviting smile. “How do you do—” she began, employing her best Atrophaney accent, but Atarek interrupted.
“Wife!” He laughed and flung his arms wide like barn doors flapping in a heavy wind. “Sister!” he sang and scooped Miranda off the ground. Atarek helped himself to a lusty handful of her left buttock and kissed her on the lips. When he put her down, she was wide-eyed and speechless. The pressure of his hand was still fading from her well-toned rear, and she was confused by her inability to react.
Dreibrand separated them and took possession of Miranda’s nearest hand. He reproached his brother with a stormy look, which amused Atarek mightily.
As you might imagine, Atarek gets well into his cups at the ensuing banquet. Once he’s intoxicated enough, he’ll even question the paternity of his brother’s sons.
Atarek is one of my favorite creations. He’s funny, flawed, and full of heart. He taught me that it was all right to goof off even in an epic fantasy. He’ll swing a sword when he has too, but someone better get him a drink when he’s done. My novels aren’t comedies, but some of my characters have a sense of humor. There’s no sense if fighting for your life if there’s nothing to smile about.
If you’d like to get to know Atarek, you can find Judgment Rising at your favorite ebook retailer. Don’t worry that it’s the third novel of The Rys Chronicles. I wrote it as a new point of entry into the saga.
Save 25 percent on an ebook copy of Judgment Rising at my website Brave Luck Books. Checkout with promo code JRinJune. Discount valid through July 1st. http://www.falbepublishing.com/braveluck/Judgment_Rising.html
See all of my novels at http://www.braveluck.com or:
Amazon Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Tracy-Falbe/e/B002BLWI3S/
Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/tracy-falbe
Sony Reader Store http://ebookstore.sony.com/author/tracy-falbe_160285