The best fantasy books that taught me how to write funny (funny fiction, that is)

Why am I passionate about this?

I've steeped myself in the world of entertainment journalism since high school—writing music reviews, interviewing musicians, hanging out with actors, wandering backstage on shows as varied as Law & Order and Another Worldand it was time to do what everyone says authors should do: Write what you know. I have a great admiration (and some criticism) for soaps and reality TV shows, but I recognize the ways in which they appeal to us like no other entertainment—they get us involved. They make us want to be part of the story, and the best ones convince us (especially those reality TV shows) that we are part of their incredible worlds. 


I wrote...

Book cover of Tune in Tomorrow: The Curious, Calamitous, Cockamamie Story of Starr Weatherby and the Greatest Mythic Reality Show Ever

What is my book about?

Starr's a small town girl with mythic-sized dreams of becoming, well, a star. After years of struggle, she lands a role on a show no one's ever heard of: Tune In Tomorrow, a "reality" TV series made by mythical creatures, for mythical creatures—but starring humans. She quickly shifts from astounded newcomer to rising fan favorite, but encounters the show's dark underbelly: Tune is crumbling from within due to plummeting viewership, there's a veteran diva who holds its future in her grip—and Starr's predecessor vanished under mysterious circumstances! The rookie vows to do whatever it takes to keep her dream gig, though… even if it brings down the show in the process.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Good Omens

Randee Dawn Why did I love this book?

I was a latecomer to reading Pratchett and didn't leap on Omens until I heard there was about to be a TV adaptation. But holy heck, what I was missing! What's delightful about Omens is how it weaves off-the-wall characters with serious themes and then tosses in a generous dollop of unique British silliness that can range from bone dry to eccentric. Basically, the Antichrist has come to the world and been baby-swapped, and it's up to an angel and a demon to decide whether to help usher in the End Times. Then the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse show up. Quirky and cool and snicker-worthy, this book helped free my mind to write my own book (which has its own very long sub-title, at least in partial homage). 

By Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked Good Omens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE BOOK BEHIND THE AMAZON PRIME/BBC SERIES STARRING DAVID TENNANT, MICHAEL SHEEN, JON HAMM AND BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH

'Ridiculously inventive and gloriously funny' Guardian

What if, for once, the predictions are right, and the Apocalypse really is due to arrive next Saturday, just after tea?

It's a predicament that Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fast-living demon, now find themselves in. They've been living amongst Earth's mortals since The Beginning and, truth be told, have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and, in all honesty, are not actually looking forward to the coming Apocalypse.

And then there's the small…


Book cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Randee Dawn Why did I love this book?

Hitchhiker's isn't strict fantasy. It mostly takes place in space! Among spaceships! And aliens! But c'mon, this is as much fantasy as Doctor Who, and as for the silly factor—what's more fantastical than bad Vogon poetry? In essence, Ford is saved by his pal (and alien) Arthur from an apocalypse, and they then carom around space meeting any number of incredible, surreal creatures. Hitchhikers first came to me as a text-based game that helped rewire my brain: The "logic" was entirely internal (towels will save your life in Adams' universe) and the author had clearly decided he could do anything at any time. That freewheeling storytelling led me to approach every scene I wrote with the idea of, "What would make this funnier?" 

By Douglas Adams,

Why should I read it?

34 authors picked The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This box set contains all five parts of the' trilogy of five' so you can listen to the complete tales of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Bebblebrox and Marvin the Paranoid Android! Travel through space, time and parallel universes with the only guide you'll ever need, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Read by Stephen Fry, actor, director, author and popular audiobook reader, and Martin Freeman, who played Arthur Dent in film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He is well known as Tim in The Office.

The set also includes a bonus DVD Life, the Universe and…


Book cover of The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

Randee Dawn Why did I love this book?

There is nothing that The Princess Bride doesn't have. It's an adventure, a romance, a horror (remember The Machine, which literally sucks the life out of you?) and a story that lovingly skewers all of the tropes and expectations we have of High Fantasy. And it also has an extended title! I also love the way the book version is told: Goldman suggests it was originally written by S. Morgenstern, and was actually a political satire—and Goldman's bold enough to put in a fictionalized version of himself. That audacity feeds into what I was trying to do with my book—create a show that's both a satire and an homage to a dying genre, but also make it an adventure all on its own. Goldman showed me the way.  

By William Goldman,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked The Princess Bride as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

William Goldman’s beloved story of Buttercup, Westley, and their fellow adventurers.

This tale of true love, high adventure, pirates, princesses, giants, miracles, fencing, and a frightening assortment of wild beasts was unforgettably depicted in the 1987 film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Fred Savage, Robin Wright, and others. But, rich in character and satire, the novel boasts even more layers of ingenious storytelling. Set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an “abridged” retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled country of Florin, home to “Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest…


Book cover of Funny Fantasy

Randee Dawn Why did I love this book?

Shvartsman has been compiling anthologies of funny fantasy and science fiction since 2012; he's just recently launched a Kickstarter for Unidentified Funny Objects No. 9. He picks wonderful stories from an array of genre authors, which always leads to a great experience for readers. This particular book is a compilation of fourteen of his best (at least, so far). I have a warm spot for these stories, not just because they make me laugh, but they show a wide variety of the types of comedy that can work on a page, and as such are a primer in how to do it right. I did submit a story to Shvartsman once and he gave me such generous feedback it made me want to work harder. And funnier.

By Alex Shvartsman, Gail Carriger, Esther Friesner , David Gerrold , Laura Resnick , Mike Resnick , Jim C. Hines , Tim Pratt , Jean Rabe

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Funny Fantasy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From evil overlords to bumbling henchmen, talking cats to lovelorn fishermen, mad queens to wise opossums, the collected fourteen stories subvert popular fantasy tropes in surprising and delightful ways. This book collects some of the best funny fantasy fiction published in the past decade. Included are works by Hugo and Nebula Award winners, New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors, as well as up-and-coming talented writers.

Includes the following stories:

“Dave the Mighty Steel-Thewed Avenger” by Laura Resnick
“Crumbs” by Esther Friesner
“Fellow Traveler” by Donald J. Bingle
“A Fish Story” by Sarah Totton
“Another End of the Empire”…


Book cover of The Spirit Thief

Randee Dawn Why did I love this book?

I have a soft spot for charming con men, and in Spirit Thief we meet one of the best. Not only is Eli Monpress a wizard, he's the greatest thief ever. Thief is just the first in a series of Eli Monpress/Spirit novels, and I've only read the first one thus far. But it's a light-as-air confection that manages to unspool one single caper over the course of a full novel while still keeping things fast-paced, with an ensemble of colorful, fully-realized characters. Aaron manages a balancing act with this kind of character that I'm still working on mastering. 

By Rachel Aaron,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Spirit Thief as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eli Monpress is talented. He's charming. And he's a thief.

But not just any thief. He's the greatest thief of the age -- and he's also a wizard. And with the help of his partners -- a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls -- he's going to put his plan into effect.

The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he'll need to steal some big things. But he'll start…


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Book cover of The Cowboy's Lost Family

Roxanne Snopek

New book alert!

What is my book about?

He’s looking for the one thing she’s done with: family.

Brade Oliver arrives in Grand, Montana, looking for blood—and answers. Genetic tests reveal that his biological family may reside in the small, western town, and he’s on a mission to finally discover the one thing his adoptive family couldn’t give him: the truth.

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The Cowboy's Lost Family

By Roxanne Snopek,

What is this book about?

He’s looking for the one thing she’s done with: family.

Brade Oliver arrives in Grand, Montana, looking for blood—and answers. Genetic tests reveal that his biological family may reside in the small, western town, and he’s on a mission to finally discover the one thing his adoptive family couldn’t give him: the truth.

Kendall McKinley craves a normal life, free of the demands, drama, and constraints of her dysfunctional family. Despite being focused on building her career and working on a restoration project, Kendall can’t help herself from noticing a handsome stranger the first night he arrives. But when Brade…


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