Tobias Haglund In conversation with Nik Eveleigh

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”Did you know that The Hobbit has 95022 words?”

“I didn’t. Now, watch your head. You’re taller than I thought. I mean, I’ve only seen your picture-“

“Yes, those are deliberately small. So this is your man cave?”

Nik skipped and yodeled his way to the brewing station. “Here! Look here. Now, wait, let me conduct a little presentation for you, my Swedish friend. Here, is where ale becomes Bale – that’s a Welsh football reference – here, is where a pond of swans becomes Swansea. But enough of my great Welsh puns, HERE, is where the best beer brews, buddy.”

Tobias sniffed and smiled, sniffed and smiled. By now, he was more dog-like than people-like. “So spin me the tail… I mean tale of the beer.”

“I will, but first. Clasp your hand around my afternoon delight, Tobias. Tobbe? What should I call you, Tobbe or Tobias?”

“Tobbe… Or Tobias. I don’t care. My friends call me Tobbe. Officials, governments and strangers call me Tobias.”

“What do strange government officials call you?”

“Carol.”

“That is strange. Okay, here is a beer. I call it Nik’s Impossibly X-uberant Beer. Or in short; NIX Beer.”

“Great name.”

“Isn’t it? Okay go ahead. Take a sip. Can you feel it? Can you feel how it slides down with thrills and excitement settles in a round smoothness and begs for friends? Go ahead. Give him a flock of friends to appease him.”

“Fine beer; went down smoothly. So we’re here to discuss comic timing.”

“95021.”

“What?”

“When in doubt recite a number and you’ll appear smart.”

“That’s almost the number I said.”

“Well, you’re almost smart. Do you mind if I also go to town on the nectar of my creation?”

“No. I would love for you to enjoy the juice you made from down under, here in the garage.”

“So you were saying about comic timing?”

“I don’t know if you know this, but what would seem like something unnecessary in the beginning of a dialogue could be brought up later in the dialogue for great comic effect; a call back.”

“Mmm-NO! Never heard of it.”

Nik opened his mouth wide and let the liquid run down his throat.

“…also references outside the knowledge of the characters, which the readers keep in their heads, while we continue to push the references farther and farther. “

“Like what?”

“Like it can be something sexual. Or just dirty.”

“I would never do something so low. Another beer?”

“No. You do puns and outlandish characters, don’t you? Crisp dialogue with twists and turns.”

“Nix.”

“You don’t?”

“That’s the name of my beer, Carol, don’t you remember? Well, yes I do. But sometimes I’ve been known to use a sexual joke or a dirty reference, but not too many. You can’t fill pages of the stuff. All good things in moderation as my drunken friend used to say.”

“So… okay let me back up. You create a funny character.”

“Yes a funny character. Then I make a normal character, the character which represents normal values and the character the reader can identify with. Two crazies aren’t as funny. I add a few funny descriptions, again; not too many.”

“Can you give me an example?”

“Like if you were to give someone a funny voice. You can add a description that his voice sounded as if a snake hid inside a guitar playing White Rabbit.”

“That’s a sneaky song.”

“Yea, or it could be any other song you know. Hotel California if it was a sneaky hotel manager somewhere in LA. Just do the reference to a song wherever you do the story in.”

“It seems to be snowing outside.”

“Which is perfectly normal for Sweden.”

“But we’re in Cape Town.”

“Not any more. You were busy chugging when we left Kansas. It’s a side effect of the beer I’ve been working on.”

“Teleportation?”

“No. Using beer as a means of making poorly judged and wholly unnecessary references to Alice in Wonderland appear funnier. The fact we’re in Sweden was a surprise to me. And to him.”

“Oh, yes I was going to ask about him. Working on the basis that he is large, looks grumpy and is wearing a cloak of black feathers that shimmer as if the very gods were whispering at his back I assume he is…?”

“The very same. So probably best not to mention the book with the 95022 word count any time soon. I’m pleased that you can see him so clearly. Considering I made him up.”

“Yea. That’s the beauty of storytelling. My Stormcrow won’t be exactly your Stormcrow but it doesn’t mean I know him any less or find him any less real.”

“Iechyd Da to that!”

“Skal indeed!”

As the becloaked bringer of badness mumbled a ditty based on Saruman being fifty percent light in the testicle department, Carol and Shirley (Nik by this time had SGONE) settled into a shared moment of power drinking before…

“Hold on a minute my Afrowelsh friend surely that’s a typo and you meant to say ‘Nik by this time had gone’? And thanks, beer should always come in fives.”

“It’s a pleasure. And no, my spelin was fyne. I was merely referring to the fact that I was experiencing a bout of Strange Government Official Naming Envy and thought Shirley was a good fit for me.”

“Suits you. I’m starting to see you as the sister I never had, or indeed wanted. Such is our international kinship.”

“The feeling is mutual yet diametrically opposed my brother from another mother. So now that we’re in Sweden can I ask you something, comically speaking?”

“Of course.”

“How much of a role do you think dialogue plays in making a piece funny?”

“It’s funny that you ask that.”

“How so? You were already thinking about it?”

“No. You were true to your comically speaking intentions and delivered it in a high pitched nasal whine reminiscent of a young Hobb…Belgian.”

Stormcrow loosened his sword grip and returned to humming the Rivendell Blues.

“Well saved, but you should avoid blurting out Belgian untruths mid-waffle.”

“Duly noted, sage advice.”

“Thyme and a plaice for all things.”

“Parsley correct if slightly fishy. But back to your question. I think dialogue is the key component of any kind of humorous writing. Sure, you can come up with a funny location like a brew-filled man-cave that defies the laws of physics and populate it with two brothers-in-verbs and a fictional character of dubious repute but it’s not going to be all that funny if no-one says anything.”

“…”

“I rest my case.”

“I was wondering when you would put it down, looks heavy. What’s in there?”

“Table mountain snow globes. I’m taking them back to The Village. Season’s Greetings.”

“A Gift For Cheyenne?”

“She’s a real Honey Pie but no. To Friends And Family. Just so They Know how much I care about them. And one each for Elsa and The Old Man In The Park, unless they’ve put him back in Saunders House.”

“He’s the one who looks like he’s seen Ella’s Ghost, right?”

“No you’re thinking of Mr Peta. Poor guy needs a Kill Switch for his memories. He looks like he’s been through The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death via Dracul’s Lair. I’ve seen A Few Dead Men in my time but not the kind of Sadistic Justice he’s witnessed.”

“You should see more of the sights before you leave Cape Town. Head up the coast to Pater Noster, listen to The Gulls Cry, do some Thinking In Nature… Who are you flying with by the way?”

“Air Icarus. The Royalists all use them. Ah my friend I’d love nothing more than to spend more time here, now that we’ve inexplicably ended up in South Africa again, but I’ve planned a couple of Nights In Wien to visit a Beffroi or two. At least it’s a long flight so I can write some stories Before Hitting The Ground.”

“I understand. Well, Carol this has been A Captivating Meeting. An education. A meeting of minds.”

“I couldn’t agree more. And using the preceding eight blocks of dialogue to crassly reference every story we’ve had published on LS was inspired and does not in any way paint us as needy, self-serving attention-whores.”

“Loki completely agrees with you.”

“What?”

“I’m going by third person now.”

“But your name is Nik.”

“I didn’t know what my Scandinavian name would be.”

“So you figured Loki?”

Nik looked away from the mirror he held. “What was that?”

“I said… ‘We do not paint ourselves as needy, self-serving attention-whores.’”

“I couldn’t have said it better Tobbe. I know this because I’ve been writing your dialogue since half way and I’ve polished it as best I can. Farewell my friend. ATVB!”

“Always Think Via Beer. That could be hobbit-forming. No…NO…WAIT! I MEANT HABIT…HHAAAABBBIIITTTTT….AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH…”

The unholy trinity of Nik/Shirley/Loki shrugged its collective shoulders as the feather-festooned hard-hearted-hater-of-hobbits chased Tobbe out into the improbable Cape Town snowstorm. It opened a triple helping of beer and sighed in three part harmony. As the screams reached a crescendo it set out in pursuit on a specially modified tricycle and was never seen again.

 

Written by (in order of writing):

Tobias Haglund

Nik Eveleigh

Header Photo by Hubbard, Tom, 1931-, Photographer (NARA record: 8464449) (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

4 thoughts on “Tobias Haglund In conversation with Nik Eveleigh

  1. Reblogged this on nik eveleigh and commented:

    A conversation piece co-written with Tobias Haglund. If you look carefully in between the jokes you may just find some useful info on comedic timing and the use of dialogue. Or you could just laugh at the puns. Your choice.

    Like

  2. Kindle takes plays in case you didn’t know. They have 7 of mine. I suggest you both are drifting that way. Good luck! June

    Like

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