Bones: Humor, Action, and the Tensest Scene I've Ever Written


I know humor. I do. I can write funny like nothing else. (Though, to be fair, some people will disagree with that; can’t please everyone). Even in my darker works, I like moments of levity. It helps to keep the weight of the story from collapsing completely. Even the Immemorial Year series, arguably my darkest work, had moments of light courtesy of a certain robot and a mutt named Bad Dog.

But I, as the author, have to be careful with humor, especially in the heavier moments. You don’t want to run the risk of ruining an angst-filled moment with some dumb joke. (Thank god for my editors.)

Humor plays a part in The Bones Beneath My Skin much like it does in, say, Wolfsong/Ravensong. It’s not the absolute focus, but there are the lighter moments.

That isn’t to say Bones is a dark book; it’s really not. Yes, there is angst, but it stems from the we’re enemies at first but now we’re something else while also getting shot at trope I played with. It certainly doesn’t help (hurt?) that Alex is a bit of an asshole. He has his reasons (Artemis Darth Vader, namely), but even he learns to crack a smile at some point (though he’ll never admit to it). I’ve said before that this story is one about hope, and I didn’t want to take anything away from that with unnecessary contrived angst.

Humor is easy. Angst is too.

Action….not so much. Action scenes, much like sex scenes, need to be choreographed and the writing crisp and clear so the reader knows exactly what’s happening. If it’s not, it turns muddled and can only distract through confusion. (How did Character A get the gun? Why are Character A and B fucking face to face when they were just having tea and talking about bowling?)

And action creates tension, especially when it’s done well. You’re reading a romance: chances are the characters will make it out just fine. But when you’re in the moment, breathlessly reading through the pages, I want there to be the thought in the back of your mind that’s whispering what if they don’t make it out?

Which is why I’ll say this about Bones: there is a scene toward the latter half of the book involving a single gun, a card table, and a game that no one wants to play. I am absurdly proud of this scene because it’s the most tension-filled thing I’ve ever written. It was one of those scenes that I’d thought of even before I’d begun the story (sort of like Sam running off Kevin’s back and jumping down on top of the Great White in The Consumption of Magic). I remember finally getting to the moment, and doing the whole thing in one day. I was sweating by the time I finished, and when I sat back, I uncurled my toes and let the tension out of my shoulders. I was exhausted. It felt like I’d been riding the same roller coaster again and again and again. Trust me, you’ll know the scene when you get to it. Buckle up, bitches.

This book has more action then what I usually write. The idea, after all, was wanting to write an action movie, so that’s not surprising. But what was surprising was just how much joy I got from blowing shit up. I probably should be a little more concerned by how good it made me feel, but that’s another story for another day.

In The Bones Beneath My Skin, the bad guys are really bad, the good guys are running for their lives, and a little girl can do things with her mind that no little girl should be able to do. I’m posting this on October 18th, which means we are fifteen days away from release. I hope you’re ready for something a little…different.

(but still super queer.)

Next week, I’ll have my last sales pitch. If I haven’t convinced you by then, well. What are you even still doing here?


Pre-Order Bones, out October 26th:

(paperbacks will go on sale Monday, October 22nd exclusively at Amazon)