Mo Walsh has hiked more than 10 vertical miles on vacations in Vermont. She writes weekly newspaper features and is past coordinator of the South Shore Writers Club. Mo’s stories have appeared in Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine, Woman’s World, Windchill, Still Waters and Deadfall. She lives in Weymouth, MA, with four men, a dog and six novels in progress. Mo blogs at http://momentary-lapses.blogspot.com
The introduction to Thin Ice says your story, “Double Take” explores “the improbable connection between lederhosen and larceny.” What was your inspiration for this story?
My family spends a week every summer at the Smuggler’s Notch Resort, less than an hour from the Trapp Family Lodge in Vermont. Both are very classy, fun places for families, but I got to wondering what it would be like to stay at a struggling resort that went over the top with its theme. And there’s just something funny about the word “lederhosen” and the people who wear them who shouldn’t.
The second part of the equation came from “Double Dare,” the story I wrote two years ago for the Level Best Books anthology, Deadfall. That story finally came together when I placed it in the hands of two charming young sociopaths. The characters of Bev and Dillon just demanded another story, so I realized my wannabe resort would be the perfect place for them to hide out from the law.
Having read all the submissions to Thin Ice, as editors we can say—humor is hard. How do you think about “writing funny?” Do you have any advice for other writers?
Humorous writing comes naturally to me, which is not to say it comes easily. Humor is about extremes: overstating, understating, taking something beyond limits or in the opposite direction, juxtaposing incompatible or unexpected elements, presenting the ordinary in an extraordinary context. A humorous story isn’t a string of individual jokes. There has to be a situation or character at the core. My advice for other writers would be, first, to read some of the best classic humorists, from Jane Austen to Erma Bombeck, Mark Twain to Dave Barry. Second, as with any piece of writing, pay attention to details and word choice. Some things are intrinsically funny and others aren’t: “John bumped his arm” v. “Alfie whacked his elbow.” Then enjoy yourself as you’re writing. If you don’t have fun, your readers won’t either.
What are you working on now?
In the short term, I’m working on final revisions to a short crime story set on Cape Cod, and I also have an idea for a Christmas story featuring Bev and Dillon. My on-going project is extensive revisions to the first of five-and-a-half rough-draft novels I’ve written for National Novel Writing Month. I love NaNoWriMo—it’s a great creative rush—but it’s time to turn those 50,000 words of “impressively adequate fiction” into publishable manuscripts. The first book is a twist on lost children: two little children are found at the zoo, but the adult who’s supposed to be with them is missing. No animals will be harmed in the writing of this book. I can’t say the same for people.