Use of Humor in Thriller Novels

Don’t we need humor in life to make it through? Life is hard. I have two very serious jobs. I’m a real life pediatric ER RN and a suspense novelist. Those can be heavy days but they can also be fun days—by using a little humor to get through.

LaughterMarriage is no different, right? Humor is necessary. What are some of the funniest things that have happened between you and your spouse? To take a break from discussing serious subjects: like death, trauma, and writing suspense—I thought I’d take a humor break and share some funny highlights from my married life.

Do you find that opposites attract? That’s the truth with my husband and I. He’s the quiet introvert. I’m the more outspoken extrovert. He gets queasy at the site of blood. Obviously, I do not. What we have seems to work—as we’ve been married fifteen years.

During our dating years, we were set to see a movie. I drove to his place and let myself in—and then sat there fuming when he was nowhere to be found. This was before the age of everyone having a cell phone. Finally, his phone rings. I answer. He’s on the line. “Where are you?” He asks. “Where are you?” I ask right back. He says, “I’m at your place!”—“Well, I’m where you should be.”

Other funny moments? Let’s see—teaching kindergarten Sunday school with his ex-girlfriend. Well, we can laugh about that now.

My husband likes to trim his own hair. One day, he mistakenly forgot to put the spacer on the clippers and took a swipe. Without much introduction, he comes into the living room and asks me, “Can you fix this?” with one bald stripe down the middle of his head.

I burst out laughing so hard—I still crack up thinking about it. ER nurse, honey—not hairdresser extraordinaire.

Then, add kids to the mix and the potential for a good laugh multiplies. We have two daughters age 8 and 10. When my youngest was perhaps 4 y/o—she was just in one of these pestering type moods. After several attempts at redirection, I finally just say, “Please, just get out of my hair!” In her sweet, innocent voice, she says—“But, I’m not in your hair.”

Sometimes, readers need lighter moments to get them through serious subjects or intense novels, too. I have a very dry sense of humor. My debut medical thriller, Proof, dealt with some very serious subjects and I thought whilst writing the ms—I really do need some moments of levity.

Hence, the humorous pairing of my odd couple detectives, Nathan Long and Brett Sawyer. Nathan means business. He’s serious and organized—bordering on an undiagnosed case of OCD. A southern gentleman. Brett’s the laid back easy type—maybe plays a little bit loose with the rules to get the job done. Often, their interactions provide comic relief in Proof. Let me give one example: an elderly woman with some questionable underwear choices serving them tea with a heavy dose of liquor during an interview. You may think that would never happen. Well, just recently I had a 14y/o show up just in his skivvies—at the ER. That’s right—just the white cotton briefs. And let me say—he was not deathly ill. Plenty of time for that young man to get dressed.

What about you? What’s the most humorous thing that’s happened in your married/dating/writing life? I’d love to know—could end up in my next book.

Names withheld—of course.

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2 thoughts on “Use of Humor in Thriller Novels

  1. When my son was small, I found myself exasperated with trying to get him interested in other activities besides television. Finally, I said, “That’s it! You’re going cold turkey! No more tv!”
    He looked up almost in tears, the picture of innocence, and said, “But momma, I don’t even like turkey.”

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