Saturday, December 08, 2007

Leavening with Levity by Colleen Thompson

Please join us in welcoming our very special guest blogger, Colleen Thompson, to KillerFiction!

Take it away, Colleen!

* * * * * *

When Christie Craig initially invited me to stop by the Killer Fiction Blog, I panicked. I’ve read these ladies, and they’re all a riot. But me, I mostly just scare people. Take my brand new release, The Salt Maiden (Leisure, Dec. 2007). It’s the story of a woman's quest to save her missing sister in one of the most desolate corners of the country. With the life of a child hanging in the balance and every second critical, Dana Vanover refuses to let anything stop her, from rattlesnakes to small town hostility to her desert-hot attraction to the sheriff determined to run her out of town. So you see my point. A dying little girl, a deadly desert, and a host of scary poisonous critters are not exactly the components of a day-long laugh-fest, are they?

Even the book’s epigraph, taking from Stephen Crane’s “The Black Riders,” is not exactly a testament to my sense of humor. See what I mean?

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it…

So the book is the three hundred-plus page metaphorical clubbing of a baby seal, right?

Well, no. Not exactly. Because then who on earth would read it? Besides, I’ve found that the darker and more suspenseful my books become, the more they need touches of humor to relieve the tension. Which leads me to thank the muses for the secondary characters that pop up (in real life as well as fiction) in tiny Texas towns. And the animals (including the occasional alcoholic Chihuahua). And most especially, those sexy heroes (oh, yeah) with their smart-ass comments.

I’m far from the first “dark romantic suspense” author who’s figured out it’s fun linking the scariest of thrill rides to the unexpected light moment. Linda Howard is a master of it. Nora Robert/J.D. Robb also does a great job.

Does anyone hear have a favorite example of a book where unexpected laugh-out-loud moments are used to break the tension?

Colleen Thompson


Christie Craig said...

Ahh, Colleen,

I've gotten my copy of Salt Maiden and I can't wait to read it. Thanks for joining us girl.

Crime Scene Christie

Colleen Thompson said...

Thanks, Christie. Right now, I'm reading Divorced, Desperate, and Delicious. I'm almost finished and can barely tear myself away!

Jo Anne said...

Sure Colleen, I can give you a couple of examples. How about in your newest release, THE SALT MAIDEN, when our heroine is being pressured by her mom about SEVERAL things including returning wedding gifts? I love the line where Dana tells her mom, "Sorry I haven't written your friends to tell them, 'Here's your Waterford dust-catcher back, thanks anyway. Alex, the rat bastard fiance, thought the whole hysterectomy-at-thirty-one thing was too much of a downer.'"

Or the line in your RITA finalist, FATAL ERROR, when Susan is thinking back to being brushed off by the hero when they were in high school, and talking about his "moving on to bigger and better B-cups - as if their time together hadn't meant a thing to him."

These touches of humor relieve very dark situations. It's one of the things I like best about your stories.

Faye Hughes said...

Hey, Colleen,

Great post. I've got THE SALT MAIDEN on my TBR list -- I swear, my list just keeps getting bigger and bigger with all the great books I've bought lately, a lot of which are by the talented ladies of KillerFiction.


Colleen Thompson said...

Thanks, Christie and Faye, for putting The Salt Maiden in your TBR.
And Jo Anne, that's one of the things I love best about you - you remember my books better than I do. LOL! Thanks!

Estella said...

I have the Salt Maiden on my TO BUY list.

Colleen Thompson said...

Thanks so much, Estella! Hope you enjoy it.

Gemma Halliday said...

So glad you came to chat with us - thanks so much! Your book looks awesome. I love a dark, gritty read. I'll definitely be picking it up!

(coming in very late to the party)

Colleen Thompson said...

Thanks so much, Gemma! I stop by this blog frequently and enjoy your posts!