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Humor in Books, and Other Places, Too! An Interview with K.A. Wiggins

KRRL- What was the last thing that literally made you laugh out loud?

KAW- Pet videos. Usually cats jump-scaring dogs. I have family members that curate the best ones for me so I don't fall down social media rabbit holes. :)

KRRL- Have you seen cats being freaked out by cucumbers? (I'm sure your family is on it, but just making sure)

KAW- I definitely have seen those! Disappointingly, my cats are entirely blasé about cucumbers. Nothing short of a toddler or a puppy in the house will get their furry butts moving.

KRRL- Yeah, my cats don't care about cucumbers either :(

What kinds of things do you usually find to be funny?

KAW- Oof. This took me a minute. I tend to like kind/gentle comedies (Ted Lasso, kids movies) rather than cringe. (I get contact shame.) Also, clever observational critiques where you're "punching up" at society, authorities, etc. I think I find character tension/friction to be funny sometimes, too? Like enemies snarking at each other or "banter" with friends/love interests/frenemies picking on each other. Yes to sly, dry, or situation humour, comedic juxtaposition . . . "too real" moments can be hit or miss. Either they're hilarious or just depressing. Not as into pratfalls unless it's in a kid show where there aren't really consequences.

KRRL- Ooh! Do you want to talk about Ted Lasso for the next five hours straight? :) I love that show.

KAW- Would five hours be enough? I could clear my calendar . . .

KRRL- Name a few books that have made you laugh?

KAW- This is where British authors really seem to shine. Diana Wynn Jones and Terry Pratchett all the way! Recent debut author Alison Kimble's Strange Gods was also unexpectedly funny. Eoin Colfer and D.J. MacHale have some good humour for kids, too.

KRRL- How do you incorporate humor into your writing (blogging)?

KAW- Too many emojis? I try to keep newsletters/blogs a little lighter, because my fiction can be a little heavier. That said, my gothic-dystopian urban fantasy series tends to go so hard with the angst that it tips over into humour in places.

In short fiction, I have two truly bizarre weird fiction shorts on sub that combine body horror with humour. The most recent (Children of Earth) is like a gross-out body horror meets ecopunk rom-com—and it's just *chef's kiss.* So I want to say I have range, but mostly it seems to happen accidentally. ^_^;

KRRL- Children of Earth sounds very interesting. Any idea on when that might come out?

KAW- It's pretty rad (but I'm biased.) I submitted the first draft to an awesome long standing lit mag who said they'd love to buy it, but the thing is, they're just as happy to buy reprints as first world rights, so I'm shopping it around a little first to see where else it might land. I even put it in this cycle of the Writers of the Future awards—wish me luck? :D So long answer short: probably before 2022, one way or another.

KRRL- Good luck!

Is there anything off limits in comedy?

KAW- I firmly believe there is a reader (/viewer? audience?) for every story. That said, I think it's important to "punch up" in comedy and avoid causing harm. That can be a moving target, but what isn't?

KRRL- On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being dead serious, and 10 being non-stop jokes) what is the level of humor you usually prefer to read?

KAW- I'm cool with anywhere from 1-4 in general, with the occasional spike to a seven, as a treat.

KRRL- While teetering on the razor’s edge of the all-consuming void, is humor the best tool we have to fight the existential dread of a finite and bewildering existence?

KAW- I mean, that and horror. If you can combine both, that's the good stuff. Writing horror gives you-as-creator power over the fear, and humour helps you defuse it for the reader.

KRRL- Are there any books, movies, or shows you can think of that have combined these elements well?

KAW- Oh, for sure. The Mummy/The Mummy Returns are spectacular at this, and most other teen/adult campy creature flicks, really. You'll even see that balance in some thriller-types like the Jurassic Park(s), where they break the tension with a quick moment of humour.

Kids' shows, books, etc. lean the heaviest on defusing scary stuff with humour. Goosebumps, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Casper, Jumanji, Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting . . . Picture books and early readers/chapter books are also really fascinating in that regard, because they usually take "scary" things and make them silly or cuddly.

For older kids, you're looking at something like a Spirit Hunters (Ellen Oh), The Jumbies (Tracey Baptiste), or Scritch Scratch(Lindsay Currie), where there are legitimately scary things going on, but then you'll have the character squabbling with a sibling or in trouble with their parents and cleaning up the mess that the ghost made, or whatever. My friend Mahtab Narsimhan is just about to drop a series called Eerie Tales from the East, and there are hauntings and ghosts and stuff, but also comically mean or hapless grownups and kind of this lighter tone where the kids are really having adventures with it all. Or Arthur Slade's Modoseries, where you have these comically exaggerated stereotypes of bad guys who are legitimately evil and dangerous, but also kind of absurd.

And wow, can you ever tell I've been brushing up on my spooky middle grade reading lately! ^_^; As far as teen and adult fiction go, both my tastes and the general market trends lean darker and heavier. Although, there's this subgenre that's like, "cozy horror" or "cozy paranormal" that brings that campy approachability to vampires and monsters and stuff for grownups, so maybe I should be looking up some titles from that to read!

KRRL- What projects do you have out in the world, and where can we find them?

KAW- I have a (completed, award-winning, genre-bending) YA trilogy called Threads of Dreams that you should check out if you're into angst, body horror, and gothic vibes. It's not very funny at all in the first book (Blind the Eyes), though there are lighter good moments in the later books. I also have a bunch of (mostly melodramatic and/or self-indulgently gothic) short fiction out including in the anthologies The Devil You Know and Unknown Realms. But 2022 is going to be the year of humour. I have a spooky middle-grade drafted (working title: There's a Cave In My Basement!) coming with some great comedy relief scenes/characters, and the aforementioned two body-horror comedy shorts (Castoffs and Children of Earth). Come hang out at (and sign up for the newsletter for some free, amusingly dark short ebooks!) or on social @kaiespace to get a heads-up when those drop! I've also got a book tour running right now with a giveaway (open until Christmas!) so if anyone wants to enter to win angsty monsters-and-magic fantasy, you can check that out here:

KRRL- Thank you so much for participating! It sounds like you have a fun year ahead!

KAW- This has been fun, Kyle. Thanks for putting it together! :D


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