Gilbert & Sullivan
As I mentioned last week, after two relatively solemn outings for Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, I wanted this novel to be funny. Or at least, light-hearted, since an overtly comic novel might be beyond my particular skill set.
Personally, I find the Russell stories funny, whenever I’ve had reason to re-read them, although they have never (yet!) been nominated for any of the comic awards. However, I’ll admit that my own sense of humor is a bit twisted, and in any event, comedy is not easy to write—rather, bad comedy is easy; easy comedy is hard.
I wished to aim at light-hearted. To exalt the ridiculous. To welcome silliness. To polish my sense of farce.
To embrace my inner Gilbert & Sullivan.
The G&S kind of humor isn’t for everyone. It wasn’t even particularly for Sullivan himself, who chafed at being forced to hitch his musical gifts to a cart of Gilbert’s ridiculous plots. (Indeed, this ongoing and increasingly bitter rivalry is one of the most twistedly amusing things about the partnership.) The 1999 film Topsy-Turvy could have used editing down, but it shows the relationship in all its complexity.
Topsy-Turvy isn’t about pirates, or even about Pirates of Penzance, although I swear that one year, Dana Stabenow, Val McDermid and I
are going to perform this song from the Mikado at BoucherCon—if you watch to the end of the excerpt, tell me you can’t just see us warbling it.
But I decided that what we needed were not Japanese ladies (Japan being a book yet to come, and probably without G&S) but pirates. (Mark my words: Pirates are the new vampires.) And so Pirate King was born, with many tips of the hat to Gilbert and Sullivan, and even a Major General.
Why do we like the opera? “Because it’s got a bunch of pirates in it—with a lot of swords!”—
Finally, if you want to know just how glorious it is to be a Pirate King, that Australian Cap’n Jackish pirate explains:
And that is just how solemn this novel will be.