“Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.” – Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
There have been many artists and writers taken too young, but if there is one that we lost far, far too early it was Douglas Adams. Writing humor is surprisingly hard, but that man made it seem just absolutely natural and effortless.
I would sell most of my organs to have just one hour to pick his brain…
The problem with writing a story (or two, as the case may be) that is dark, bitter and intensely sad is that there are not many opportunities to exercise the “humor impulse”. Oh, those opportunities do pop up, believe it or not, but in stories like Wrath and Silence those opportunities are either inside jokes only a tiny handful will get, or are of necessity subtle and low-key.
Some of those jokes take a while to build. Occasionally this is intentional, but more often the silliness of the situation builds over time and only becomes visible after a certain amount of repetition.
In my little corner of reality, I’ve finally decided that Connor is going to have “What the fuck?” inscribed on his gravestone. That phrase is – for both me and Connor – a mental shrug and a chuckle of confusion. It is not angry or resentful, but rather is far more a passive acceptance that the universe really is inscrutable…and who really can understand, anyway?
I actually give a little laugh every time I type that phrase. If I had to give a name to Connor’s series of stories, I would have to think about calling it (rather unseriously) the “WTF Chronicles”.
Most often, I type that phrase as a natural part of the narrative flow. Given that Connor is generally struggling against forces he barely recognizes, let alone understands, it is a natural part of his life. But there are instances where I use it intentionally…and repetitively. Every single time Connor encounters Sonthi, the first thing he says is, “Sonthi? What the fuck?”
It has become my own inside joke as I continue with the stories. At this point, I engineer their meetings to make sure it is the only possible thing Connor can say in that particular instance.
What makes it truly entertaining to me is the fact that Sonthi is actually a character that comes from my own mix of frustration, anger and confusion. His name literally means “combination” in Thai, and he was an amalgamation of several minor characters that were frustrating the living shit out of me.
Sonthi’s role in Wrath was pretty damn minor. He was a spur for Connor, and a small-scale oracle to keep him on the path I wanted. In Silence, however, that role has changed…and changed drastically.
There are only three real carry-over characters: Connor himself, Nat and…Sonthi. All of a sudden he has become a key player, and I have to treat him very differently.
I still laugh at him, though.
His subtext is still to be the last person in the world Connor expects (or wants) to see in any particular situation…and to be the bearer of bad tidings. If ever Sonthi brings good news, you’ll know I’m pretty much ready to kill him off…
And, yes, I am still irritated with myself for choosing to write Silence instead of the comedy/satire story about conspiracy theories.