One genre I don’t often read is the comedy thriller so I am delighted to be finding out a bit more about it today from Sharn Hutton, author of It’s Killing Jerry. It’s Killing Jerry is published today, 15th November 2016 and is available for purchase in e-book here.
It’s Killing Jerry
Fantasist, push-over and all-round crap father: Jeremy Adler’s an inspiration. For scandal, treachery and blackmail.
Fleeced by his ex-wife, oppressed by a narcissist boss and ridden over rough-shod by a two month old infant, Jerry might have thought he’d been keeping the peace but, the tide of resentment is turning against him.
Fighting for his job, control of the bank statement and, ultimately, his life, Jerry’s got problems and they’re about to get a whole lot worse.
Breakdowns and break-ups, manipulation and thievery, green-eyed phoneys and unscrupulous deals. Pretending to be someone else just won’t cut it this time and featuring on the late evening news as: missing, presumed murdered, is just the beginning.
With adult themes, It’s Killing Jerry is the head-hopping tale of Jerry’s desperately funny demise.
Adult Themes and Humour in Fiction:
the Challenge of a Comedy Thriller
A Guest Post by Sharn Hutton
One of the great things about Amazon is that you can drill down through the thousands upon thousands of books to find just the kind you enjoy. Your virtual bookshelf can be narrowed down to paranormal meets Jane Austin in a matter of two clicks, if your heart desires. That kind of niche might take some time to find in a real world bookstore. The genre pigeon-holes are undoubtedly a time saving boon, but sometimes a novel just won’t fit into one spot so easily.
This I discovered when trying to decide upon the right ‘shelf’ for my first novel It’s Killing Jerry. In the end I went for ‘Comedy Thriller’, which seems like an odd pairing when you first hear it but, the more I think about it the more those two terms sit happily together.
Consider when your hilarious spouse jumps out on you from behind the bedroom door – terror and shock are quickly replaced with laughter (along with a punch in the chops for the husband) and when the passengers of a rollercoaster disembark, wobbly on their feet with adrenalin, there’s no shortage of laughter while hands are clutched to wildly beating hearts. Thrills and laughter go hand in hand.
Who’s funny now?
Humour can be elusive and often it’s the ‘Cringe Factor’ or the vicarious ‘You’ve been Framed’ style delight in another’s misfortune that tickles the funny bone. I’ll give you a real life example.
A summer or two ago I remember watching the husband create a teetering pile from our wheel barrow, grow-bags and a selection of odds and sods at the bottom of the garden, which he then proceeded to climbed on top of. He was attempting to get himself up onto the fence to capture some toy or another that had been tossed high in a tree by a now crying child.
I saw him doing this from afar and thought to myself: This is should be interesting, there’s no way that’s going to hold. Might be worth a touch of recording...
And with that in mind I pulled my phone from my pocket to point at said hapless husband, waiting for the inevitable and thinking of the two hundred and fifty quid which was all but mine. That’s when I noticed that my Mother-in-law was also watching. Not the husband, but me and from the look on her face it was fairly obvious that she felt I should have been down the garden, warning him against the perils of what he was attempting, rather than trying to capture it for my own hilarity and possible financial gain. Ah yes, quite so. That’s the cringe moment right there. The humour wasn’t where I’d expected it to be at all – it was in me getting caught and shamed. BAD wife. Oh dear.
Thrilled or Horrified?
To my mind, a reader who likes a bit of comedy in their stories is unlikely to also want extreme horror, which can be the way some thrillers lean. An adult book has other possibilities for thrills: sex, drugs, power struggles and dirty dealing. And I’m not talking ‘Dallas’ style drama here (giving away my age a bit there with an 80’s reference) but genuine real life stuff. After all, it’s difficult to relate to JR’s disappointment in a short lived oil strike, whilst the mind numbing drudgery of early parenthood is much easier to grasp for most of us.
Scenarios from real life provide great opportunities for humour because we recognise them and have experienced something similar ourselves. You can feel the characters pain, so that’s how I’ve tried to write, with the experience of being an ordinary person in mind. The story of a comedy thriller, to me, is driven by the characters themselves. It hinges upon the choices they make, acting for what seems to be the best at the time, only to discover later that their decision had dire consequences.
About Sharn Hutton
Sharn Hutton scuttled along in the rat race with everyone else, until the advent of babies provided an excellent excuse not to go back to the office. It turned out that ‘giving up work’ wasn’t really that at all. In fact, career motherhood had just as many challenges and disappointments as the corporate world, only the pay was much, much worse. That’s when the idea for a story was born.
Now writing from home in Hertfordshire, she wouldn’t trade her tiny writing room at the back of the house for the fanciest of corner offices. Apart from anything else, where would the dog’s bed go?
It’s Killing Jerry is her first novel and she’s expecting many more to come. (Books that is, not babies. Definitely not babies.)