A very big week! Giveaways galore!

Happy release week to me! I stopped by my local Borders today and saw copies of Black Wings on the front table – that was one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me.

I’ve got a busy week this week around the blogosphere – stop by and see me at any one of these great blogs! Ask a question or just say hello. Thanks to Julia, Rachel, Nancy, Angela and Arantza for having me over!

Monday – Rex Robot Reviews Interview and book giveaway

Tuesday – Bitten by Books – Interview and $50 AMAZON GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY! RSVP for this event here to get some extra entries into the contest, and then stop by and mention your RSVP on the day of the event:

Wednesday – Interview at Nancy Holzner‘s blog – if you haven’t read Deadtown yet, you should pick it up before the sure-to-awesome sequel Hellforged comes out at the end of December!

Thursday – Guest post and book giveaway at Dark Faerie Tales

Friday – Interview and book giveaway at Fiction Kingdom

On reading

I love to read pretty much anything I can get my hands on. I have about 25 magazine subscriptions, ranging in various topics from hockey to astronomy to running to cooking to fitness. I also have a gigantic to-be-read pile of fiction and nonfiction books that is getting more gigantic every day, because I now buy way more books than I actually have time to read.

When I am writing a new novel I can read fiction until I get about a third of the way through the book. At that point I stop reading fiction until I’m done with the first draft. I don’t like to be unconsciously influenced by other writers when I’m trying to hammer out the story. I’ll switch over to reading nonfiction – again, just about anything will do as long as it catches my eye. The next two books in the nonfiction heap are Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky and Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart.

I just recently finished writing the second book of the Madeline Black series and haven’t gotten too deeply into writing the third so I am trying to cram as much fiction into this period as possible.

Right now I am in the middle of Jim Butcher’s Side Jobs, a collection of short stories from the Dresden Files. I had read many of these stories before in other anthologies but it’s been fun to go back and revisit Harry-through-the-years. The collection also features one new story, which takes place after the most recent Dresden Files novel Changes. I’m trying to work my way slowly through the book so that I can savor the new story when I get to it. Butcher is one my favorite writers and it’s such a treat to get an extra Dresden story when he normally only releases one Dresden novel per year.

On Humor and Darkness

I like a good laugh to along with my bloodbaths, which is why some of my favorite horror movies are also very funny. An American Werewolf in London, Shaun of the Dead, Fido, (interesting that zombies lend themselves so well to both terror and comedy, isn’t it?) and of course, the gold standard of comedic horror, Evil Dead II.

There’s an incredible sense of release that comes with a laugh before, during or after a good scare. It leavens some of the tension without making the horror any less horrifying. The marvelous “Who’s laughing now?” sequence in Evil Dead II is a great example of this. Ash’s hand is possessed and is trying to kill him, and Bruce Campbell’s acting in this scene is wonder of physical comedy. But as the scene comes to a climax and Ash is finally forced to use a chainsaw on his own appendage as he maniacally asks, “Who’s laughing, now, huh? Who’s laughing now?” I always find myself horrified that he has been pushed to this edge. It’s funny, and it’s also terrifying, and that’s why it works.

I like to lighten the darkness in my own novels with a little humor. It dissipates some tension while at the same time heightening it. A well-placed humorous comment can take some of the edge off a scene. Later, the contrast of the humor and the horror makes the awful seem even more so, and the reader understands that Maddy wisecracks so that she can deal with the monster before her. If she didn’t, her mind and will might just degenerate into gibbering terror, and where’s the fun in that?