Today the Femmes welcome the authors of the Double Booked Tour, Shannon Baker and Jessica Lourey, and invite them to chat together. Read further on for a chance to win free books and stories!
Shannon and Jess, take it away...
Shannon here: I love me a good road trip but it’s always more fun when you get to go with a friend and especially one with a great sense of humor. That’s why I’m so tickled to be spending this month-long blog tour with Jess Lourey. I’ve been humming the Red Hot Chili Peppers Road Trippin’ for weeks now. “We’re fully loaded with snacks and supplies.”
Jess Lourey is the author of the acclaimed, award-winning, and wildly funny Murder-by-the-Month series. Among the 13 books she’s published, is a wonderful magical realism novel, The Catalain Book of Secrets. Her newest thriller is Salem’s Cipher, which is set to fly on September 6.
I’m Shannon Baker. The debut in my new mystery series, Stripped Bare, also takes flight September 6, thus the Lourey/Baker Double Booked Tour. I also write the Nora Abbott series.
So Jess, speaking of being funny (I was thinking funny, anyway), the Booklist starred review of your Murder-by-the-Month series says, “It’s not easy to make people laugh when they’re on the edge of their seats, but Lourey pulls it off.” Does the humor in this series bubble up spontaneously, or do you have to work at it?
In my writing, like in life, I always look for the humor. I am 99% positive it’s because I grew up poor, with bad teeth. Seriously! I was defensively funny because if I made other people laugh, they were nicer to me, or at least I wouldn’t be the one laughing, which would show everyone my teeth. Is that the saddest funny story you’ve every heard?
The good news is that I grew up, I got veneers, and I realized I still liked being funny, in person and in writing. I try aiming for a shotgun approach to humor in my Murder-by-Month mysteries but go for more of a sniper approach in my other books because in those, I don’t want humor to overshadow other elements. How about you, Shannon?
Shannon here: I find most things in life fairly funny and am drawn to people who make me laugh. Laughter is my stress default and often inappropriate. Jess might have that same twisted streak because when I told her about an incident at my mother’s inurnment involving butterflies, hungry crows and my horrified five year-old nephew, she laughed pretty danged hard. I think it’s natural that when situations arise for my characters, I can usually find something humorous about it. Maybe after the fact, though, not while the knife is to their throat.
Jess, is the tone of your new thriller series vastly different from the Murder-by-the-Month? How do you use humor in Salem’s Cipher?
Ohmygod, I am laughing again. That horrible, horrible story is one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard, Shannon, and probably one of the things that brought us together as friends. That, and the tin of pot brownies you have ready for me whenever I fly into Colorado. (Shannon’s aside: they are legal there, people.)
But yeah, you nailed it. Salem’s Cipher is less funny, more violent than the MbM series, though those two
qualities aren’t mutually exclusive. The humor in Salem’s Cipher is situational, more of a stress reliever than a constant theme. One of the best conference presentations I’ve ever heard was at the Madison, Wisconsin, Bouchercon in I think 2006. The presenter was a forensic anthropologist, and she said that people with the darkest beats—homicide detectives, coroners, the like—have the best sense of humor. They have to, to keep sane. That’s the sort of humor I use in Salem’s Cipher.
By the way, to prove her theory that people with difficult jobs are funny, she shared one of the most darkly hilarious bits of information I’ve ever heard: she discovered over the course of her job that if you die in your house with your dog and nobody discovers it, your dog will wait up to 7 days to eat you. Like, your dog has to be starving. Cats, though, just have to be bored. She said she’s been to scenes where the kitties didn’t even wait until the body was cold.
How about Stripped Bare, Shannon? Funny?
Shannon here: I wouldn’t describe my books as funny but there are turds of humor, mostly coming from quirky characters. Early readers of Stripped Bare say: “Heroine Kate Bare is endearingly human and laugh-out-loud funny.” (Linda Castillo) “a touch of humor” (Alex Kava) “…wryly authentic voice will have you laughing out loud.” (Hank Phillippi Ryan) and that makes me happy to think I can make people laugh.
Jess, sense of humor can be subjective. I saw a post on Facebook where you said, “I believe all fact-finding missions should begin with ‘poking it with a stick.’ I laughed out loud at that and then saw others commented as if you were serious, advising a peaceful path. How do you deal with readers who don’t share your sense of humor or, in fact, don’t seem to have one?
Haha! See, you’re making me laugh just by reminding me how funny we both are. Here’s my deal: I treat everyone as if they either share my sense of humor, or as if they would, if they just knew how funny I was. So, I keep trying, always being me, and I leave it up to the readers (or any other audience) to self-select themselves out of pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down.
Do you think humor is subjective, Shannon?
Shannon here: I think threat of violence can be funny. Using phrases like “smack-down” and “shoot me now” aren’t meant to be literal. I often have Kate fantasizing about strangling someone or punching them in the face, but she’d never do it.
I’ve only ever hit one person (we aren’t counting brothers and sisters, but even then it was more of a slap and run thing). I was in college and the dude deserved it. Well actually, his evil identical twin deserved it—my bad. That incident cured me of using violence for good. But I got a funny story out of it.
And if you’re into the whole bonus thing:
If you order Salem's Cipher before September 6, 2016, you are invited to forward your receipt to email@example.com to receive a Salem short story and to be automatically entered in a drawing to win a 50-book gift basket mailed to the winner's home!
If you order Stripped Bare before September 6, 2016, you are invited to forward your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a Kate Fox short story and be entered for a book gift basket mailed to your home.
The Lourey/Baker Double Booked Tour continues on Monday, August 29th with a visit to the ever-exciting Sirens of Suspense, where we’ll be getting down and dirty with our favorite cocktails and talking about life outside of writing.
Jessica (Jess) Lourey is best known for her critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries, which have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist, the latter calling her writing "a splendid mix of humor and suspense." She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, a recipient of The Loft's 2014 Excellence in Teaching fellowship, and leads interactive writing workshops all over the world. Salem’s Cipher, the first in her thrilling Witch Hunt Series, hits stores September 2016. You can find out more at www.jessicalourey.com, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.
Shannon Baker writes the Kate Fox mystery series (September 2016 from Tor/Forge). Stripped Bare, the first in the series, features a sheriff in rural Nebraska and has been called Longmire meets The Good Wife. Baker also writes the Nora Abbott Mystery Series, a fast-paced mix of murder, environmental issues and Hopi Indians published by Midnight Ink. Baker was voted Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2104 Writer of the Year. She writes from the Colorado Rockies to the Nebraska Sandhills, the peaks of Flagstaff and the deserts of Tucson. Visit Shannon at www.shannon-baker.com.