Last Friday my sister told me that one of the reasons she liked the Spiritwalker books so much was that the banter reminded her of 30s screwball comedies.
I have to say that this was not a comparison that would have leaped to my mind, nor is it one that had ever occurred to me.
She went on to explain that what she loved about the banter in 30s screwball comedies (and their related cousins, 30s musicals of the kind in which we might see Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers) is that the banter between the romantic couple highlights the the equality of the pair both in intelligence and strength of will. That sort of banter only works if it is going both ways, and if both characters engage in it in equal measure.
Before Spiritwalker, I would have told you that I could not write fiction that was funny. There may be occasional amusing bits in my other books (some more than others) but mostly my epic fantasy is Big Ticket Serious (and emotional and exciting, one hopes, but nevertheless serious). I can’t pun or write jokes. And I have never possessed the right form of cleverness to write witty fantasy-of-manners type repartee, in which the characters are exceedingly clever and droll.
But I watched a lot of 30s screwball comedy when I was in my 20s because it appealed to me so much, I think because of that sense of equality between the lead couple my sister discussed. Hepburn and Grant, Fred and Ginger: It works because the scripts treat them as equals.
I guess the lesson here is twofold.
One, you never know and cannot predict what readers are going to see in your books.
Two, you never know what is filtering down through the layers of the mind and how or when things will emerge or in what transmuted form.
Will we ever be able to fathom the mystery of how the mind turns experience into story?