Interview with Humorist and Author, Tabitha Ormiston-Smith

One of the delights of Facebook is discovering new writers.  I found Tabitha Ormiston-Smith in a Facebook group, and to my joy, she has authored a funny charming books about grammar (yes, grammar.)  I’ve also had the pleasure of being a contributor in short story collections in which both of us have appeared. She is the author of Dance of Chaos, Gift of Continence, Grammar Without Tears and a variety of short fiction.

SARETT: Are you funny in real life -- or just funny in fiction?  What led you to the comic side of the writerly aisle?
Ormiston-Smith: Oh, no. With me, funny goes right to the bone, and has done all my life. Even at school I was always the class clown. It is my modus vivendi.

SARETT: I find in writing comedy that pace seems all-important.  If it is too slow, the writing feels flat-- whereas in drama, you can linger over, say, the light coming in through the forest.  What’s your feeling?
Ormiston-Smith: I completely agree. You have to keep it moving, and if you try to dwell too long on something funny, it goes off. Just as in court you must make your point and move on or incur the judge’s displeasure, so with humour it is vital to keep your touch light.

SARETT:  In a comic novel, lots of stuff that can seem scary in other forms (like corpses, for example) are treated lightly.  What’s the secret to making it funny?  
Ormiston-Smith: If you see it as funny yourself, you can show that to the reader. If you don’t, I think it is better not to try.

SARETT: There’s that saying, dying is easy, comedy is hard.  True or not?
Ormiston-Smith: Well, comedy is what comes naturally to me, so I don’t know that I agree with that; on the other hand, it seems that dying comes easily to most people too; at least, I have never heard of anyone failing in the endeavour.

SARETT: There are lot of rules about what’s good writing and what’s bad.  Is there any writing rule that you secretly enjoy breaking?  
Ormiston-Smith: Absolutely! My two published novels contain many comma splices. It’s a technique I use to bring out the rambling, chattering nature of my protagonist’s thoughts.    
SARETT:  Tell us about your new book!
Ormiston-Smith: Dance of Chaos follows the fortunes of Fiona MacDougall, a young woman who transfers to her company’s infotech department purely because she can get an afternoon off work to sit the aptitude test. Fiona is lazy, frivolous, self-centred and not terribly bright. Her life is one disaster after another as she struggles to cope with the demands of her new job and her disorderly family life.

SARETT: I’m always trying to discover new (or forgotten) humor writers.  Do you have suggestions for our readers looking for funny stuff?
Ormiston-Smith: Well, Terry Pratchett, of course, and P G Wodehouse. Both marvellously funny writers. Evelyn Waugh. It doesn’t seem to be a very popular genre.

SARETT: Any new projects in the works that you’d like to share with our readers?
Ormiston-Smith: Well, I have two - one is drafted and rotting down. It’s an historical novel about King John (or the Count of Mortain as he still was in my book), Richard I and Robin Hood. It’s very funny, but historical fiction is a lot of work and it will require extensive revisions.

The other book, which I am currently in the process of writing, will be the third and final volume in the Fiona MacDougall trilogy. I envisage that it will be released next winter (for you Northern Hemisphere types, that would be next summer).

I also plan to release a collection of short fiction, spanning many genres, because I use short stories as a sort of laboratory to play with new things, and at some point there will be a big new edition of Grammar Without Tears.

Follow Tabitha on:  

twitter: @Ormiston-Smith

Buy  her books here:
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