I spend a lot of time with people who aren’t real—not just fictional people but created alien races, impossible paranormal beings, and creatures out of ancient stories. What frightens me most about the thought of meeting such a creature in real life isn’t the possible loss of a soul or even a planet. No. It scares me that they might not have a sense of humor.
We can’t say humor is uniquely human any longer. Certain primates and birds have exhibited what appears to be a sense of humor. The ways in which we create and interpret humor are exclusively human, though. But why do we use it? What’s it for? When humor affects us positively, makes us laugh, it sends a wide-sweeping current through our brains, engaging great swaths of gray matter. Endorphin production and immunoglobulin A increase. Stress decreases. While it was suggested in a Woody Allen movie that humor is “pain plus time”—it was a horrible character suggesting it, so I don’t think the audience is supposed to believe it—I think it’s more accurate to say that humor is often born of pain, or a necessity to combat it.
When I first started reading stories with queer characters, humor was desperately lacking. So many stories were serious, on the better end of the spectrum, or tragic and dark. I didn’t start running into humor in LGBTQ fiction until the age of the ebook, and the speculative fiction selections were scarce. One could argue that the issues facing queer people are serious ones. They are, absolutely, and stories about marginalized youth, about civil rights struggles, about the struggle to reconcile self with a heteronormative world, all these stories and more need to be told. But we need stories starring queer people that aren’t quite so serious, too. We need to be represented in all aspects of life. We get to be angry, frightened, sad, and triumphant, but we need to be able to laugh, too.
That’s probably why I divide my time between the serious and the humorous. Dark, exciting fiction is great, but I need a break. Readers need a break. Writing humorous situations and absurd premises are that break for me and, I hope, for my readers, and Offbeat Crimes is one of those breaks. The setup is absurd, the characters are absurd, and many of the situations, likewise. Police officers with broken paranormal abilities aren’t what most people think of first when you say “paranormal police squad.” Actually, I’m not sure what people think when you say that. It’s not an everyday sort of phrase. I try to keep my human characters human still, with their ups and downs, their quirks and emotional baggage, but their odd abilities, their encounters on the job, and their reactions are where the humor comes in.
The awareness of being queer is still there for Kyle, who is gay, and Vikash, who is bi. It informs how they interact with the people around them and their environment. But it also informs their own senses of humor. Humor is important to our health in many ways as humans, as stress relief, even as part of our ability to heal, but it’s important to remember that humor is vital as a coping and defense mechanism. We sometimes need it to deal with things that would otherwise be too painful.
I’d love to help everyone laugh more, but even if I only get one giggle from you, one smile, I’ll call it a win.
Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters
Kyle Monroe, his irritating new partner and their fellow freaks at the 77th Precinct must learn to work together to stop a vicious murderer that might not even be human.
Kyle Monroe’s encounter with a strange, gelatinous creature in an alley leaves him scarred and forever changed, revealing odd abilities he wishes he didn’t have and earning him reassignment to a precinct where all the cops have defective paranormal abilities.
Just as he’s starting to adjust to his fellow misfit squad mates, Kyle’s new partner arrives. Tall, physically perfect, reserved and claiming he has no broken psychic talents, Vikash Soren irritates Kyle in every way. But as much as he’d like to hate Vikash, Kyle finds himself oddly drawn to him, their non-abilities meshing in unexpected ways. If they can learn to work together, they might be able to stop the mysterious killer who has been leaving mutilated bodies along the banks of the Schuylkill.
Publisher’s Note: This book has previously been released elsewhere. It has been revised and re-edited for re-release with Pride Publishing.
Meet Angel Martinez
The unlikely black sheep of an ivory tower intellectual family, Angel Martinez has managed to make her way through life reasonably unscathed. Despite a wildly misspent youth, she snagged a degree in English Lit, married once and did it right the first time, (same husband for almost twenty-four years) gave birth to one amazing son, (now in college) and realized at some point that she could get paid for writing.
Published since 2006, Angel’s cynical heart cloaks a desperate romantic. You’ll find drama and humor given equal weight in her writing and don’t expect sad endings. Life is sad enough.
She currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes.
Where to find Angel Martinez