Author Interview

Guest Post & Interview with author, Jacqueline Diamond!

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Jacqueline Diamond has sold more than 95 novels, including romantic comedy, romantic suspense, fantasy, mystery and Regency historical romance, to a range of publishers. A two-time finalist for the Rita Award, Jackie received a Career Achievement Award from Romantic Times and is a former reporter and TV columnist for the Associated Press. She also writes the Safe Harbor Medical miniseries for Harlequin American Romance. To learn more about Jackie, please visit, or, on Facebook,JacquelineDiamondAuthor. Say hello to her on Twitter at @Jacquediamond.
Designer Genes (Amazon)
One Husband Too Many (Amazon)
Tips for Writing Funny Fiction
Nobody can teach you to write comedy if it doesn’t come naturally. But you can learn to sharpen your wit and, just as importantly, avoid common missteps.
First, a clarification. I don’t write one-liners for stand-up comics; that’s a different art. I’m a storyteller. My more than 95 published novels range from dark suspense to light-hearted Regencies to laugh-out-loud romantic comedies, which are what I’m drawing on here.
Yes, you need funny quips, but to be effective in fiction, humor should spring from:
  • Characters who view the world in an offbeat yet believable way
  • Situations that are honestly motivated but get out of hand
  • The author’s and/or character’s voice
  • Surprise coupled with recognition—the unexpected that nevertheless rings true
  • Fresh situations that are engaging and clever.
The premise of Designer Genes, one of my off-the-wall romantic comedies, concerns a mix-up at a sperm bank that sends a blonde L.A. fashionista named Buffy to introduce her daughter to the baby’s unsuspecting father, Carter, a mechanic in Nowhere Junction, Texas. Right away, you can see the possibilities in the pairing of this unlikely couple.
Some of the humor reflects the heroine’s sheltered background:
Buffy had never personally known an auto mechanic, aside from the supervisor at the Mega-Mall Auto Center. She didn’t think he counted. He wore a suit, for one thing, and once when he’d tried to find the hood release on her car, he’d had to call for assistance.
Other times, the humor springs from my hero’s wry outlook. In this case, it involves his father’s dog, Lucas:
Lucas uttered a sound halfway between a snarl and a whine. Carter had never known a dog so quick to hedge its bets between trying to scare people off and begging them not to hurt him.
I also build on the character of the villain, Buffy’s sleazy estranged husband, who’s trying to cheat her out of her fair share of their property. We experience his viewpoint as he awaits Buffy’s return to LA, and receives an unexpected visitor:
The stout, graying woman walking toward him wasn’t Buffy. She was the woman who’d helped him launch his business twenty years ago. She was also the company part-owner he’d cut off six months ago with the same trumped-up plea of poverty that he’d made to his wife.
She was, in other words, his mother.
Humor can be enhanced by the use of toppers. This is a series of lines or situations that build on a theme. Here’s a brief example:
Hunger pangs gnawed at him. On the flight the airline had prepared peanuts in imaginative ways: roasted, stewed, garlic-flavored, braised and mummified. Nevertheless, that had been hours ago.
As you can see, it helps to pay close attention to the characters and how they might react to their situation. The best humor springs from truth, even in one of those bizarre fictional situations that would never happen in real life.
In One Husband Too Many, my heroine, Jana, wishes she could go back six years, before she met the sophisticated rogue she impulsively married, and respond to the online profile of a farmer who sounded like an ideal husband and father. To her astonishment, her heirloom pendant grants the wish…but the “farmer” turns out to be the same rogue, using another name and involved in a shady project. She knows all about him but, in this reality, he has no idea who she is.
As Drake drives to “his” farm, his pickup breaks down. When he looks under the hood, trying to act knowledgeable, Jana is well aware that he’s clueless.
She couldn’t let him realize she knew he was faking, not until she figured out his game. Or until she had one foot on the next bus out of here.
She pointed to a hose dangling deep within the motor. “There’s your problem. You tore a hose.”
Relief washed over Drake’s face. “Man, you sure have keen eyes.” He reached out.
“Don’t touch it! You’ll—” she began.
He snatched his hand away and cursed in French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Mandarin.
“Burn yourself,” Jana finished.
Let’s list a few things that aren’t funny. In fact, they can be painful for the reader:
  • Characters who act stupid or clumsy in ways that the author has manipulated just to try to juice up the humor
  • More than moderate amounts of embarrassment. Embarrassing a character that the reader or viewer identifies with quickly becomes uncomfortable.
  • Cruelty—lines or scenes that belittle people and situations that might really hurt someone. Fat jokes are an example.
  • Overwriting and excess verbiage. Funny writing is tight and pointed, and cuts away fast.
  • Vagueness. Funny writing is on the mark and self-explanatory. If it isn’t funny on first reading, it doesn’t work.
 Of course, no two people have the same sense of humor. What sets one person to rolling on the floor laughing may leave another bewildered or annoyed. This leads me to two important points:
  • In humorous fiction, people still need to care about the characters and what happens to them.
  • There’s no substitute for story. Writing a series of goofy situations will wear thin quickly. The story needs real conflict, a series of evolving obstacles, characters who grow and a resolution that’s emotionally satisfying.
I hope these tips will help you sharpen your humor-writing skills. Thanks for reading!

Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!


I’ve lived a lot of places—born in Texas, raised in Louisville, Kentucky and Nashville, Tennessee, spent a year in Italy and France, and have lived most of my adult years in Southern California. After working as a reporter and editor at several newspapers and The Associated Press in LA, I’ve written and sold more than 95 novels. These include romantic comedies, Regency romances, mysteries and fantasy.


Tell us about your book. How did it get started?


Designer Genes is an offbeat romantic comedy that was originally published in Harlequin’s now-defunct Duets line. I revised and updated it, and recently issued it as an ebook with a new cover. The concept was developed with a friend and fellow author, Charlotte Maclay. We had a lot of fun writing books for Duets set in the make-believe town of Nowhere Junction, Texas. We didn’t coauthor the books, but we did share secondary characters and town locations (such as the Nowhere Nearer to Thee O Lord Church). I’m sorry to report that Charlotte died recently, and I miss her.


How do you create your characters?


I think about what kind of person would be involved in the situation that I have in mind. What childhood factors still resonate with him or her? What are her goals and fears? What issues keep him from finding love? While I’m answering these questions, a person forms in my mind, and I find a photograph in magazines or on the Internet that further clarifies this character. Ultimately, though, the personality emerges in the writing.


What inspires and what got you started in writing?


I knew from an early age—around four—that I was meant to be a writer. Studying playwriting in college and working with a terrific critique group have helped. There were a lot of rejections along the way, and although I’ve sold more than 95 novels, I’m still learning. My favorite novel, by the way, never sold because it’s very offbeat, so I published it myself as an ebook. It’s called Out of Her Universe.


Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)


Coffee helps! I have a home office, and I like peace and quiet. When people interrupt me, I bite them.


How do you get your ideas for writing?


Ideas come from everywhere. My mother, Sylvia Hyman, was a world-renowned ceramic sculptor, and she was still getting ideas at age 95, just before she died. I don’t know how not to get ideas.


What do you like to read?


Very widely. I lose patience with books that are too much on the beaten path. I also get bored with literary novels that lack narrative drive (there are notable exceptions, such as Anne Tyler and Anne Patchett, whom I admire). I love the Harry Potter books. Other favorites include Enlightenment for Idiots and WebMage. Anything by Jane Austen is beloved.  She inspired the first novel I sold, Lady in Disguise, which is a Regency romance set during her era.


What would your advice be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?


Read a lot. Write a lot. Get feedback on your writing from people whose opinions you respect. Push your characters outside your comfort zone. I’ve posted free writing tips and articles on my website,, and also wrote an ebook, How to Write a Novel in One (Not-so-easy) Lesson (priced at 99 cents).


Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m a better writer than I was 20 or 30 years ago, so when I update and revise a book like Designer Genes or One Husband Too Many, it’s funnier than the original.

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Denise Alicea
the authorDenise Alicea
This blog was created by Denise in September 2008 to blog about writing, book reviews, and technology. Slowly, but surely this blog expanded to what it has become now, a central for book reviews of all kinds interviews, contests, and of course promotional venue for authors, etc

1 Comment

  • Great Tips Jackie. Your books so cute too. Have to get on line buy a few. 🙂 I love to write humor too. My humor is usually situational. I think as long as the reactions are normal for the character, those are the easiest to write, at least for me.

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