Good morning, y’all! Today we’re bringing you a post from our guest, Josh Vogt. Writer. Freelancer. Unashamed geek. Josh splits his time between dreaming up new worlds and forms of magic and providing marketing/sales copy for clients. And now he’s decided to share his time with us! Welcome, Josh!
When I first got the idea for an urban fantasy novel titled Enter the Janitor years back, it didn’t take me long to realize it needed to have some strong humor elements woven throughout. I mean, how can you not crack jokes when your magic-wielding characters use mops instead of staffs and squeegees instead of wands? When they drive around town in janitor, maid, and plumbing service vans, visiting homes and public properties to scrub actual toilets, fending off dust devils and garbage golems while complaining about the lack of coffee breaks?
I could’ve tried writing the story from a serious perspective, demanding readers accept this reality in an utterly logical fashion. But what’s the fun in that? Instead, I found the best approach was to embrace the absurdity of it all. To revel in the idea of a “supernatural sanitation” company that operates according to corporate processes while also constantly saving the world from its own messes.
Once I decided to take a more humorous approach, it actually freed up the story. I could name a water elemental “Carl” and stick him in a spray bottle. I could implement a “foul-filter” that literally keeps all employees from cursing (so they don’t soil the company image). And did you ever consider what recycling had to do with reincarnation?
There was suddenly room for handymen who could break down reality. Plungers that could tear apart concrete. A place called “The Sewers” gained more dire meaning.
But the funny part is (sorry), once I opened up to humor, the story meshed with the characters far better. They could call out their circumstances as ridiculous. They could question the nature of their powers and wonder why it was reliant on mops (or the fact that witches traditionally rode on brooms).
And then they could wonder at their place in the world—and why no one questioned it. Because when you think about it, how often do you see cleaning vans zooming around town? How often are janitors right in your very building? Why are maids always providing home services? And why don’t you never wonder at their presence?
It does make an odd sort of sense.
Which, perhaps, is the most absurd part of it all.