I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been called a melancholy writer, which, for the most part, I can’t argue with. I don’t tend to write sprawling, hilarious, tongue-in-cheek sagas including a quirky narrator’s voice and unlikely scenarios. And here is the rub, though, with being an author — people assume that your work informs them about you. You as a person. You as a private citizen. Somehow, the distinction between an author’s work and an author’s life gets muddy. Yes, they tend to overlap — we thieve, we thieve, and so we sometimes thieve from ourselves — but they are not an exact replica of one another.
This got me thinking. I like to laugh. I really do. But I tend to reside in the shelters of irony and sarcasm; I’m never going to be the one doing a crazy costumed dance for your viewing pleasure. So why do these elements not translate to my writing? I appreciate and enjoy novels that combine the tragic and the comedic — I just finished Lesley Kagen’s Whistling in the Dark, a very humorous story about a hospitalized mother, a rampant pedophile and a dead father: I know, sounds hilarious, right? But it is — but these are not stories that I write. My characters don’t roll on the floor laughing, they don’t dance in their skivvies until they are breathless, they don’t point out the ironic in life. Is it perspective? Voice? I think sustaining a story involving humour in such a natural and integral way might tire me out. It’s tricky, that fine line, the need to balance the tragi-comic.
So, I’ll just say I am not endlessly surrounded by suicides, doomed love affairs, depressed and lovely women, horrible and handsome men, tragic deaths, fires and missing children. Maybe that’s why my characters are.