Friday, December 21, 2012

Writing Comedy for Rapid Reads -- a Perfect Fit! by Melodie Campbell

“I had the flu once.  It was terrible.  I couldn’t eat a thing for three hours.”

I hope you giggled at that line.  I think it’s one of my best.  And yes, I am a tad fond of eating.  In fact, you could list it as my major hobby.

My name is Melodie Campbell, and I write comedies.  I got my start writing stand-up, and that led to a newspaper humour column and then fiction.

Sure I’d like to kick the habit and write a ‘real’ book with literary merit.

Okay, so that’s a lie.  Leave The Goddaughter behind?  Not write a sequel?  I’m starting to hyperventilate.  Actually, I love writing comedies.  It’s in my blood.


It’s true, usually.  Smart comedy is quick – it dashes in and out and takes you by surprise.

My latest book, The Goddaughter, is a Rapid Read from Orca Books.  Topping out at 19,000 words, it is technically a novella. 

Rapid Reads are a new and innovative line of paperbacks.  These are short novels for adults with specific guidelines: plots must happen in a linear fashion with no flashbacks. Language must be accessible - in fact, ‘plain language.’  This makes Rapid Reads perfect for adults who are learning English (ESL), reluctant readers, or anyone who wants a fast read.

Don Graves from The Hamilton Spectator calls the Rapid Reads line, “Go-train books.”  Other people take them on planes.

So when Orca publishers decided they wanted to add comedy to the line, I was invited to submit.  I had a reputation for quick, fast comedy that turned out to be perfect for the Rapid Reads guidelines.  I wrote several chapters of The Goddaughter and sent them in to the editor.  He came back with a contract, and I completed the book by last December.

Rapid Reads are books with a lot of plot.  It was a perfect match.  Why?

Comedy writers take a situation, and ask themselves ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen now?’  And then, what’s the funniest?

What’s the worst thing that could happen to The Goddaughter when she is recruited to carry hot gemstones over the border?  Predictable would be: she gets caught at customs.  But I don’t want predictable.  I want funny.

Instead, they get stolen. By a complete amateur! It’s embarrassing, that’s what it is. What the heck is she going to tell her uncle, the crime boss?

Nothing, of course.  She’s going to steal them back.  Or die trying.

And hopefully the audience will die laughing.

Melodie Campbell has over 200 publications and was a finalist for the 2012 Derringer and Arthur Ellis awards. She is the Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada.

Library Journal says this about Melodie`s third novel, The Goddaughter (Orca Books):
``Campbell`s crime caper is just right for Janet Evanovich fans.  Wacky family connections and snappy dialogue make it impossible not to laugh.``


Gina Gallo would like nothing better than to run her little jewelry shop.  Unfortunately, she’s also The Goddaughter, and, as she tells her new friend Pete, “you don’t get to choose your relatives.”  And you can’t avoid them when you live in Hamilton, and they more or less run the place.

When Gina is reluctantly recruited to carry hot gemstones across the border, the worst happens: they get stolen.  By a complete amateur!  It’s embarrassing, that’s what it is.  Pete and Gina have no choice but to steal them back, even though philandering politicians, shoe fetishists and a trio of inept goons stand in their way. 
It’s all in a day’s work, when you’re The Goddaughter.

Short Excerpt from THE GODDAUGHTER

We got through the border with no problem at all.  Of course, it`s much easier to get through borders without a semi-frozen dead body pretending to be asleep in the back seat.

THE GODDAUGHTER is available in Chapters/Indigo stores and on Amazon

Follow Melodie’s comic blog at