Laugh your head off again ~ more (funny) answers from more (funny) authors

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A second compilation of Laugh your head off was released by Pan Macmillan on October 25, and we asked three new contributors to answer three questions for us. laugh-your-head-off-again-cover-image-522x800

We asked Meg McKinlay:

mckinlay_megWhat makes you laugh?
So many things! I like silly wordplay, absurdist humour, unexpected juxtapositions. I tend to favour the droll, the dry, the deadpan. I’m not a fan of slapstick humour and most sitcoms leave me cold. Canned laughter is the worst.

What are the joys and/or challenges of writing humorous stories, particularly for young people?
The joy is cracking myself up at my desk; there’s nothing quite like giggling like a fool while writing. The challenge is that what cracks me up might not have the same effect on others. Humour can be very  subjective and I’m conscious that I’m much older than my target audience. When I was invited to submit a story for Laugh Your Head Off Again, the seemingly simple direction “The only requirement is that stories are funny” struck fear into my heart. In the end, I think I just trust that my sense of humour will at least translate for some readers.

What is it you tell yourself to keep from taking yourself (or your writing) too seriously?
I can’t say that this is really a goal of mine. I do like laughing at myself and don’t find that difficult to do but I also take most things pretty seriously, including my writing. Even when I’m writing humour, there’s still some serious craft involved – just like a comedian’s seemingly off-the-cuff banter has likely been refined over a long period of time.

We asked Jaclyn Moriarty:

What makes you laugh?Moriarty Jaclyn
So many things make me laugh!  I will choose one.  It makes me laugh when people behave in completely unexpected (yet harmless) ways.  I think that’s the laughter of relief in an otherwise mundane and predicable day-to-day existence.  A friend of mine, who is generally very polite, correct, diligent and conscientious, told me recently that she once worked in a pie shop, where people would sometimes order coffee.  ‘What were they doing, ordering coffee in a pie shop!’ she demanded.  She always made the coffee badly, she added––too bitter, or lukewarm––to discourage them from ordering it again.

 

What are the joys and/or challenges of writing humorous stories, particularly for young people?
It can be joyful to read over what you wrote the day before and laugh aloud.  Also a bit embarrassing.  It can be challenging to try to be funny when you’re feeling grim…

 

What is it you tell yourself to keep from taking yourself (or your writing) too seriously?
I don’t think I tell myself anything to stop from taking my writing seriously––I think it’s important to take it seriously, especially when writing for young people.  A lot of people seem to think that you only have to dash off a story for kids, because they’re ‘just kids’ and don’t know any better.  I think that’s a terrible mistake, and very disrespectful.  But if you’re feeling too serious yourself, or taking yourself too seriously, I don’t think you can write very well.  When I’m in that mood, I usually get a happy character to step in and take over the story.  Or tip a glass of iced water over my head.

 

We asked Katrina Nannestad:

katrina-nannestadWhat makes you laugh?
So many things! Kilts, lederhosen and sandals with socks. Pig snouts. My parents getting new neighbours called Mark and Dot. Giant cheese wheels that look like footstools. Bare bottoms. The sound of a turkey gobbling. Certain words and names crack me up: pithy, flummoxed, Harold.  Recently, I travelled through England and had a hoot of a time with their town names: Great Snoring, Farleigh Wallop, Guthram Gowt, Cold Hanworth, Hartburn, Nunnykirk. They almost told a story: I’m such a Nunnykirk! I ate too much Cold Hanworth for dinner and now I have Hartburn. To add insult to injury, my Guthram Gowt is playing up. It’s a Great Snoring bore. My list could go on forever because the world is full of fabulously funny things.

 

What are the joys and/or challenges of writing humorous stories, particularly for young people?
Writing humorous stories is a delight. Every day, I giggle, daydream, write naughty stuff and laugh out loud. This is the best job I’ve ever had. The ultimate reward is when I learn that my stories have brought laughter to children’s lives. Spreading joy and promoting literacy seem like valuable things to be doing with my time. The challenge in writing humorous stories for children is to keep control of my galloping imagination. I get carried away sometimes. I end up with so much slapstick action and so many plays on words that the story becomes overloaded. I have to prune back the craziness and fill the gaps with quieter, more reflective moments so the reader gets time to catch their breath.

What is it you tell yourself to keep from taking yourself (or your writing) too seriously?
Have fun. Laugh often. It’s good for the soul. It’s good for your writing too!

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