Humour That Hurts So Good: Husbands by Mo Fanning

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Husbands

By Mo Fanning

Mo Fanning’s Love Affair With Dark Comedy . . .

Why so dark, Mo? I’ve been asked this before. I’ll be asked it again. My answer is simple: romance isn’t all hearts and flowers. The best comedy lurks in dark places, and relationships are a mix of joy, sorrow, frustration, and elation. If everything is going great on page one and stays that way, nobody cares.

If a beautiful princess wanders into a garden and meets a shirtless, super-hot prince, that’s fine. Provided he turns into a goat or has two other wives. But if they fall in love and move into one of their castles (and give the other to some ugly sister afflicted by warts, but who will find a magic potion in Book Two), readers will abandon you in droves. If the prince and princess buy a gold-plated SUV or sign a development deal with Netflix and live happily ever after … well, you get the picture.

In an ideal world, the princess needs to read something online about how Sertraline is bad for your skin and stop taking the tablets that turn everything rosy.

Then you’ve got a story. A reason to Google withdrawal symptoms or find people living through this. One thing I have learned along the way is that the darker the comedy, the more you need to be sure of having your facts straight.

For my novel Ghosted, I ran my ideas past a group of people living with Lupus. I was nervous as hell sitting in front of my webcam and reading my manuscript. They laughed. I was relieved. “Just don’t write us as losers,” they told me. “But make sure you write about us. We’re sick of cancer getting all the attention.” And before you rush to cancel me, I’m a cancer survivor, so I’m allowed to repeat their joke.

With romantic comedy, just like every other form of storytelling, there’s a formula at work behind the scenes. If things start out bright, then something (fairly) bad needs to happen. Fast. By incorporating darkness into otherwise uplifting stories, writers reflect the spectrum of human experience, making the eventual resolution all the more rewarding.

Conflict drives every good story, and characters become who they are based on how they react to challenges. In the case of my upcoming novel ‘Husbands’, a nerdy Birmingham supply teacher teams up with an Oscar-nominated film star to expose a serial abuser. Classic opposites attract with the darkest of twists. This stuff just writes itself.

That said, I’ve started work, stopped, and started again on an idea I had about brothers who have no idea they’re unrelated until one needs a kidney. Full disclosure: it may or may not be a story about euthanasia in the Netherlands.

Even I will admit this premise doesn’t scream romantic comedy, but somehow, on the darkest of days, my characters are finding love and ways to make each other laugh. Perhaps because when facing our deepest, darkest fears, laughter becomes our default coping mechanism. Our very best medicine.

Of course, it’s important to get the balance right. The last thing I want to do is stand accused of trivialising serious issues. I rely on writing partners (and an editor who probably wishes she never agreed to take me on) to navigate the fine line between humour and horror.

The central character in my new novel Husbands is a serial abuser of underage men. I conducted off-the-record interviews with industry insiders both in the US and UK by way of research. And when I was done with listening, wrestled with my conscience. Twice, I abandoned the novel. A late-night phone call from one of the young men who shared his story persuaded me to carry on. “Make it funny,” he insisted. “Because otherwise, he wins.”

In the acknowledgements, I thank all the men who gave so generously of their time. I hope they feel justice is done. And I hope that it’s a little bit funny.

I want readers who are struggling or feeling marginalised to know they aren’t alone because laughter has a magical way of building bridges.

Even the darkest comedy can heal, connect, and offer hope. I’ve experienced prejudice, addiction, and mental health struggles first-hand. But I’ve also been blessed with friendships, passions, and persistence to find something to laugh about.

So I’ll keep mining even rock-bottom moments for the humour that heals. I’ll craft improbable stories where useful idiots find love. And I’ll create flawed people who make the worst choices, but somehow, by the last page find a happy for now.

(c) Mo Fanning

Mo Fanning has contributed to 100 Stories for Haiti and written for the Observer travel section. His first novel The Armchair Bride was nominated for Arts Council Book of the Year, and his work was turned into a short play for BBC America. The follow-up, Rebuilding Alexandra Small, which featured in bestseller charts, and Ghosted have established Mo Fanning as a leading voice in LGBTQ romantic comedy novels. His latest novel, Husbands: Love and Lies in La La Land is available from all good book retailers.

Visit www.mofanning.co.uk for Mo’s blog, newsletter and all kinds of other nonsense. Instagram: @authormofanning/  X:@mofanning Facebook:@mofanningbookswww.youtube.com/@mofanningwww.booktoot.club/@mofanningwww.goodreads.com/author/show/2843792.Mo_Fanning

About Husbands: Love and Lies in La-La Land by Mo Fanning

Husbands

In Hollywood, every pavement star tells a story. Not all of them shine.

Wannabe actor Kyle Macdonald is down on his luck. Working as a supply teacher in an inner-city Birmingham school, he’s single again at 28, and sleeping in his childhood bedroom beneath a ‘Hard Candy’ Madonna poster.

He gets a call claiming he drunkenly married top Hollywood director Aaron Biedermeier in Vegas six years ago. Rather than panic, he sees a golden ticket to fame and the life he’s always fantasised about.

But the glamorous veneer of Los Angeles – non-stop sunshine, celebrity actors and exclusive hotel suites – starts to crack, revealing a darker, corrupt underbelly to La-La Land. Kyle digs deeper into his so-called husband’s past, unearthing disturbing allegations of abuse and underage sex parties.

With the help of Biedermeier’s fiancé, actor Noah Winters, he embarks on a cross-country race to unravel the mystery and expose the truth – finding love along the way.

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Mo Fanning has contributed to 100 Stories for Haiti and written for the Observer travel section. His first novel The Armchair Bride was nominated for Arts Council Book of the Year, and his work was turned into a short play for BBC America. The follow-up, Rebuilding Alexandra Small, which featured in bestseller charts, and Ghosted have established Mo Fanning as a leading voice in LGBTQ romantic comedy novels. Mo grew up near Birmingham. Having lived in Manchester, Amsterdam, Lyon and Brighton, he’s now back in the West Midlands.

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