As an author of contemporary romantic comedy, I’m often asked where I find my sources of humor. That’s my cue to tell you about the time I waxed off my own eyebrow and mistakenly used green eyeliner to draw it back in. Or the time I spit gristle into a napkin at a fancy luncheon, accidentally dropped it in a colleague’s purse, and got busted trying to fish it out.
You get the idea.
In other words, I’m a magnet for absurdity, and that sort of absurdity lends itself well to writing romantic comedy.
And while About that Fling contains my trademark wacky humor, reviewers have been zeroing in on the fact that there’s a lot of emotional depth to this book, too. Finding ways to take heart-tugging emotional situations and squash them up into a big, messy ball with a bit of humor is one of the most enjoyable parts of writing romantic comedy, and I’ll admit I steal liberally from my own life on both counts.
There’s a scene in About that Fling where Jenna and Adam commemorate the death of Adam’s grandmother by watching videos from his old family reunion. It’s a tender moment, made more emotionally befuddling when the camera pans to a shot of Adam and his then-wife locked in a passionate embrace. Knowing your new partner was married before is one thing, but watching a real-life love scene unfold is another, and it leaves Jenna reeling.
The scene came from something similar I experienced, and after it happened, I remember reflecting on the situation. “I can choose to be upset, or I can choose to laugh it off, or I can do both of those things and turn it into a hilarious, heartbreaking scene in a book.”
I chose the latter, which is what I choose 99% of the time (which, incidentally, is why I’m better suited as a romantic comedy author than as an astronaut or an attorney).
Finding a way to blend emotional oomph and belly-laughs is a skill romantic comedy authors work hard to perfect. I can’t claim to be anywhere near perfection, but here are a few other rom-com authors who come pretty darn close.
- Jennifer Crusie. The goddess of romantic comedy. I bow down before her trademark “bad sex” scenes and her ability to write quirky, imperfect characters that leave you swooning and guffawing in the same breath. I’ve read Welcome to Temptation at least 100 times.
- Kristan Higgins. The master of delivering an emotional gut-punch on the same page she has you rolling on the floor peeing yourself with laughter. If you aren’t hooked by the end of the first chapter of Just One of the Guys, I’ll give you your money back.
- Samanthe Beck. For those who like it extra-spicy! You know exactly what you’re in for from the first pages of Falling for the Marine when the heroine handcuffs herself to the bed and has to shout for help after dropping the key and realizing she urgently has to pee.
- Susan Elizabeth Phillips. She had me from the first line of Natural Born Charmer: “It wasn’t every day a guy saw a headless beaver marching down the side of a road…”
And hey, if you’re looking for a foray into romantic comedy, there’s this other author you might want to try. Have you heard about TawnaFenske? I hear she’s got a new book out.
As the top PR person for the Belmont Health System, bright, beautiful Jenna McArthur knows how to spin bad news and make it sound good. But when her adorable Aunt Gertie—a secret romance writer—urges Jenna to embrace her wild side, Jenna tumbles into bed with Adam Thomas, a guy she’s just met, for a fun and fantastic one-night stand. Too bad Adam is the one guy who’s totally off-limits. There aren’t enough clever words in the world to spin the story in a way that won’t wreck Jenna’s closest friendship or destroy her job.
With the irresistible Adam always around her at work, wearing an aura of temptation like a fabulous cologne, Jenna has to hold tight to her senses to avoid falling for him. Will he take her to the heights of pleasure again—or will their attraction destroy everything she’s worked for?
Tawna Fenske is a romantic-comedy author who writes humorous fiction, risqué romance, and heartwarming love stories with quirky twists. Her offbeat brand of romance has been praised by Booklist as “a tame Carl Hiaasen on Cupid juice,” and her debut novel, Making Waves, was a nominee for RT Book Reviews’ contemporary romance of the year. She is a fourth-generation Oregonian who can peel a banana with her toes and loses an average of twenty pairs of eyeglasses per year. She lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband, her stepkids, and a menagerie of ill-behaved pets.