Laugh with Sandra Hill....
It's a funny thing about humor.
When I first started writing, I thought I was going to be immersed in straight historical or contemporary romance. Back then, I was never funny; my family still thinks I haven't a clue when it comes to humor. And I certainly had no idea of the impact that humor could have on readers. Sure, serious-themed books affect people, like Judith Arnold's BAREFOOT IN THE GRASS(a cancer victim) or Kathleen Korbel's (a Down Syndrome child). But believe me when I tell you, thousands of readers have written to tell me how important a laugh is in lives burdened by family trauma, everyday stress, and life in post 9/11 America. Who knew? In truth, I've come to believe that everybody needs a smile in their reading on occasion.
Some extreme examples: the lady who took my books into the hospital during the vigil for her terminally ill child, the freshman class at an ivy league school that compared one of my Viking stories to a serious literary novel (turns out it was a joke pulled on the incoming class), the woman dying of cancer who asked that one of my books be placed in her coffin face out during the viewing so that visitors would get a final laugh with her, all the women on an aircraft carrier who passed my books around to take their minds off some harrowing duties, the pilot in Iraq whose wife sent him one of my Cajun novels so he could read it and think of her in place of the heroine (imagine the teasing he got from his men,
So now, when I start a new book, it is clearly humor I have in mind. Doesn't matter if they are historical, contemporary, or time travel. Doesn't matter if they are Vikings, Cajuns or NavySEALs. Romance first, but humor a clear second.
Having said that, when I started my second treasure hunting book in the Jinx series, PEARL JINX, July, 2007, I knew that Caleb Peachey, ex-Amish Navy SEAL, had to be the hero. You can see the humor right off the bat with that oxymoron. Then, I knew from Caleb having been a secondary character in PINK JINX that he had a fierce aversion to snakes; so, of course I had to put a huge snake in there...a snake named Sparky. Of course, Caleb needed to come back to Central Pennsylvania where he would confront his Amish family who had been shunning him for seventeen years...more humor (mixed in with the tears). But what kind of treasure could there be here in the boonies. Well, we have lots of deep caverns here. Hmmm. How about cave pearls? Need I mention how funny it is to see a big ol' Navy SEAL crawling over a huge snake, slipping in bat guano, diving into black water filled with ancient stalactites? And most important, Caleb needed a woman who could put him in his place...a woman who claimed he took himself far too seriously. That would be Dr. Claire Cassidy, historical archaeologist and the biggest pain in Caleb's very fine...behind. She is better known as "Crazy Claire."
If you'd like to know more about PEARL JINX, or watch its funny book video, or just hang around, come to my website: http://www.sandrahill.net/. And smile, for heaven's sake!