ROSEMARY: Yesterday Tim Hallinan mentioned that both his agent and a few editors had told him "no one wants to read funny thrillers." And just this past weekend at Crimebake I was on a humor panel (I get put on them a lot) and the moderator asked whether I thought writing funny in any way held me back. It was an interesting question and one that no one else had ever asked me in three years of humor panels. (Way to go, Toni Kelner.)
I think it does. Not writing funny or being funny, saying you write funny mysteries seems to be the kiss of death. Maybe it's like saying "I'm sexy" or "I'm handsome." You may be but it's never cool to say it. It's daring them to say "You're no Carl Hiaasen or Janet Evanovich." Who is? And if you're not already a bestseller saying you write funny can instantly ghetto-ize you into the lightweight category.
No less a literary giant than Howard Jacobson, winner of this year's Booker Prize for his comic novel The Finkler Question has said "There is a fear of comedy in the novel today – when did you last see the word "funny" on the jacket of a serious novel?" He's right. (And when was the last time a funny movie won an Oscar for Best Picture?)
I've found "quirky" a suitable substitute for "funny."
Plus, it doesn't scream "I'm the next Janet E!!" Someone at the show asked about "eccentric" but I thought that skewed older, like "dotty." "Offbeat" could also work in lieu of the dreaded "F" word. What do you think?