By Mary Adair
I love to read stories that incorporate humor. To me humor is one of those “spice of life” things, so how could I not write humor? Well, writing humor is much harder than you would think. You would think having a sense of humor would be all you need. Not so, as I quickly learned.
So what did I do? Like any good writer, I researched the subject. Here is something I read…
Rule 1: Words with the k sound (Cadillac, quintuplet, sex) are perceived as the funniest, and words with a hard g (guacamole, gargantuan, Yugo) are almost as funny. I am sure this is a good rule, not that I understand it.
This is what I can get out of it… “Sex in the back seat of a Cadillac could lead to quintuplets.” Okay! Not Funny!
My story, PASSION’S VISION, is filled with historical detail portraying the Cherokee People during a turbulent time of war, smallpox, great loses and miraculous victories. It is a fast-paced adventure containing intrigue and a dash of Native American mysticism.
New Moon is a Cherokee warrior. She and her husband fought together in many battles. She mourns the death of her husband, whose life was taken by a white man. To top that off, she is having visions of a white man soon to arrive in her village. She is not sure, but he sets all her warrior senses aquiver over not knowing if she is supposed to kill him or have his child. That is defiantly not the funny part, though just at this moment, it kind of struck me that way.
James Fitzgerald is an agent in King George’s court. He is commissioned to blend into Dancing Cloud’s village to uncover and botch the plans of a French agent creating discord and bloody conflict between the settlers and the Cherokee.
These are two warriors from different worlds who meet and clash. It does not take long before it is revealed their survival depends on their ability to overcome their differences and defeat those who seek to destroy them both.
This story needed a bit a humor. I chose James to be the brunt of my moments of humor. He was just so clueless at times when he stumbles into confusion over the nuances of Cherokee culture.
In PASSION’S PRICE, I really had fun with my characters. Raven, Red Panther’s adoptive son is the serious one. Dawn, Red Panther and New Moon’s daughter is also very serious, strong headed and, a visionary…like her mother. Now imagine tossing a heavy dose of Cherokee culture into an English fountain, in the way of a Sun Greeting Ceremony, performed in the nude of course, or dropping into a Cherokee Death Sleep during a “Coming out ball” just to prove a point. You have to admit that would cause a bit of a ruckus among the English elite.
In PASSION’S PRICE I added in two precious grandmothers who are known for their matchmaking and meddling into other’s affairs. I also introduced Sir William, affectionately called Willy by his grandmothers. William is totally smitten by Dawn but is quick to realize he has no chance winning her affection, so settles back to watch the battle of wills between Raven and Dawn.
PASSION’S PRICE is every bit as serious a book as Passion’s Vision, but I really enjoyed and could not stop myself from stirring in a bit of humor at every opportunity.
PASSION’S VISION excerpt:
A shout rose up from the watchman of the gate as Red Panther and New Moon emerged into the clearing that surrounded the village. The Old Beloved Woman quickly hurried through the gate with a robe to place about New Moon. Clucking like an old hen the elderly woman ushered her back toward the village.
Just before disappearing through the gate New Moon looked back at him, her eyes twinkling with promise and her lips spread in a smile that made his heart jump and his stomach tighten.
As James passed through the gate Dancing Cloud met him and slapped him warmly on the shoulder.
"Panther, it is good you have returned to us. I see your scalp," he said, pointing to the scalp at James' waist.
"Will his blood cry?"
"He killed New Moon's brother. He would have killed New Moon. He got what he deserved."
Dancing Cloud nodded his approval, "Good. It is finished." With a sideways glance he asked, "Did New Moon accept you?"
"Good! I would not have given back the bride price." Dancing Cloud said jovially. Noticing Red Panther's downcast expression he said, "You do not look good, my friend. I do not understand. You saved your woman, killed your enemy, you were alone in the mountains with New Moon. You should have come back strutting like that new stallion of mine."
James looked confused as he stared at Dancing Cloud, "Yes, I killed my enemy." He sounded incredulous. "I saved my woman, but the nights alone with my conquest were the most difficult of all. This custom of yours, of a warrior not defiling himself when on the warpath, almost killed me."
Dancing Cloud fought valiantly with his features but soon gave up and crumpled over in great laughter. James waited patiently for the chief to regain his composure.
Finally the chief straightened and wiped his eyes as his face once again molded itself into the mask of total sobriety. "You must have strong medicine." He let his eyes casually roam about the village as if in thought, "Much control." With this last statement, he turned his back to James and walked away.
The village shaman hurried from his lodge, his hands filled with a variety of rattles and pouches of herbs, toward Red Panther. As he neared the chief, Dancing Cloud reached out and caught his arm. Pulling the old man close Cloud leaned toward his ear as if to whisper, but rather said very loudly, "You will not need all of those things. Red Panther did not break purification."
The old man looked at the chief in surprise and then to James. James, in an attempt to ignore the scene the Chief was causing, allowed his gaze to wander about the village.
To his dismay every face was turned his way. It seemed the entire village could find nothing of more interest than his sex life! Tucking his rattles back into his medicine pouch the shaman turned, and with one last glance at James, walked with Dancing Cloud back to his lodge.
PASSION’S PRICE excerpt:
"I can't believe everyone thinks that she fainted. I have a bad feeling about her," Dawn mumbled.
"And well you should, she's French you know." Lady Montgomery's words and tone of voice left little doubt as to her opinion of England's neighboring countrymen.
Dawn only half listened. The whole affair seemed a form of madness to her. The loud music, women's high, exaggerated giggles springing fourth in response to nonsense, men's blind doting over staged performances. This miss-matched accumulation of nonsense made this the most unpleasant and curious evening in all her experience with the white man's world.
Lady Montgomery interrupted her thoughts. "And no one really thinks she fainted, dear." She patted Dawn's hand. "Or, at least most of them don't."
"Then why all this?" She indicated the activity that was taking place a short distance from them, where men still thronged around Marguerite as she pretended to weakly accept their assistance.
"Why, dear, because it's expected. Ladies are supposed to swoon."
"They are expected to swoon?" Dawn asked incredulously. "Yes, of course, and some truly do," Lady Gaylord answered.
"Of course, the tight corsets, the drink, the crowd, the excitement. It's only natural that some sweet frail little thing will be overcome by it all and naturally swoon," Lady Montgomery added.
"But," she continued in what appeared to be an attempt to head off Lady Gaylord, "there are those who are not so overcome. When they feel they're being left out, they bring the attention back to themselves by feigning a swoon. I'd suggest Marguerite’s little performance was equal to that of a temper tantrum."
"Yes! She's angry," Lady Gaylord pushed forward.
Dawn gazed at her in surprise. "Why? With whom?"
"Why, with you, dear."
"Don't look so startled, dear. You've stolen her...thunder, you might say."
Dawn smiled. Knowing about her Cherokee ancestry the two dears continually tried to interject words into their speech they thought would make her feel more at home. Considering what they had just said, she looked hard in Marguerite’s direction and replied, "That is ridiculous. I never stole her thunder or anything else. Perhaps she's just insecure."
Both women swung their heads in Marguerite’s direction and stared for a short while before shaking their heads. "No," Lady Gaylord spoke decisively.
"No, you're wrong, my dear," Lady Montgomery agreed as she turned back to Dawn.
"She knows what she wants," injected Lady Gaylord.
"And she knows just how to get it. I'm sure she would stop at nothing. You, my dear, took away some of her thunder. She just took it back."
"You know, Victoria," Lady Montgomery tapped her fan against her hand speculatively. "I don't think she likes it at all that Dawn is here."
Dawn listened while the two matrons conversed between themselves as if she were not present.
Lady Gaylord nodded in agreement. "No, she's very unhappy about Dawn. Raven has given his new ward far too much attention to suit Marguerite."
"Well, why shouldn't he? She is his partner's daughter and she is here under his protection." Lady Montgomery smiled slyly, a hint of triumph in her voice. "And she's very beautiful."
"Yes, she is. More beautiful even than Marguerite, in my opinion." Lady Gaylord grinned wickedly, then sobered. "Dawn must be very careful of Marguerite." Dawn stiffened.
"Yes, she must," Lady Montgomery spoke softly as she moved closer, reminding Dawn of a mother hen shielding her chick.
Lady Gaylord, with the same air of protectiveness, put a reassuring hand at Dawn's waist. "We'll just have to help her."
"Yes, we must."
"Help me what?" Dawn could hold her tongue no longer.
Both women jumped and quickly exchanged secretive looks before they returned their attention to Dawn.
"Oh, nothing, dear. Nothing at all."
"You have nothing to worry about." Lady Gaylord patted Dawn's hand. "We'll not let Marguerite hurt you."
Dawn straightened. "I do not need anyone to protect me. I'm not afraid of some silly white woman who can't even achieve a proper death sleep."
"Oh, of course you're not afraid, dear." The grandmothers exchanged looks again. "You've nothing to fear. We just feel that you should not underestimate Marguerite. She is very cunning. By the way, dear, what is a death sleep?"
Dawn shrugged. "I'll explain later." She was stung by the older women's lack of belief in her. She was as much a warrior as her mother, and Marguerite had declared war.
She stole a glance at Marguerite, who now sat perched on a low stool where some gallant young man had placed her after he so graciously caught her in his arms. All around Marguerite silly young men, and not so young men, fretted and fluttered like wild birds in a mating dance.
Yes, this was war, a different kind of war. The rules, as she understood them, were confusing, but she knew she would win it. The stakes were too high to lose.
She looked at Raven leaning against the mantle, the look of a storm cloud on his face. The strength she saw in him did nothing to reassure her. Her vision was real. Raven was in mortal danger and his strength would not save him. It was up to her. The Great Spirit would not have sent her the dream if that were not so.
She saw him take a deep breath and push himself away from the backrest. He was about to go to Marguerite. It was time to let Raven's fiancée know her challenge had been accepted.
Without a word Dawn raised her wrist to her forehead.
A glance in Dawn's direction and Raven froze. "Great Spirit, no.”
William shoved himself from the mantle. "Good Lord, Raven, what's got into you?"
Raven watched as Dawn sank to the floor. As if in slow motion Lady Gaylord turned in Dawn's direction, placed a hand to her cheek and let out a wail to put any Cherokee mourner to shame. The resulting pandemonium gave credit to Dawn's flare for drama. Ladies, young and old, no doubt believing they had just witnessed the demise of one of their own, dropped faster than the bewildered gentlemen could respond.
RAVEN'S PASSION is also part of the Passion series, and falls between the two books mentioned above.