Posted January 8, 2012 by davincikittie in All Series

Esther Diamond series author Laura Resnick on finding the comedy in misadventures

Please help me welcome Laura Resnick, author of the hilariously addicting Esther Diamond series!

See our reviews for: Unsympathetic MagicDoppelGangster

Overdressed zombies, vicious gargoyles, a severed hand… and the night is still young!

Welcome to another day (or night) in the life of Esther Diamond, the struggling actress who is the heroine of Unsympathetic Magic, book #3 in the Esther Diamond series.

While pursuing her acting career and also trying to pay her bills (no mean feat in New York City!), Esther often teams up to fight Evil (yes, Evil) with her friend Max, a 350 year old mage, and Nelli, who is Max’s inconveniently large canine familiar. They are sometimes helped and sometimes thwarted in their efforts by Detective Connor Lopez, an NYPD cop who would be Esther’s boyfriend if he weren’t so convinced that she’s dangerously deranged.

The Esther Diamond series combines my early professional experience in the romance genre (I wrote more than a dozen romance novels under the pseudonym Laura Leone) and my subsequent experience in writing traditional fantasy (such as my epic fantasy trilogy, In Legend Born, The White Dragon, and The Destroyer Goddess). Above all, the Esther Diamond books indulge my love of comedy.
[floatquote]The ancient Greeks held comedy in high esteem, perceiving it as a greater form of art than tragedy. [/floatquote] And I believe it is indeed the highest form of art when a writer shows me the truth of human nature and makes me laugh about it, rather than weep. Feeling too dire to go on is a common problem; while laughter is what makes going on not only possible, but a pleasure. Although I can name many books I found brilliant, moving, and unputdownable, when I think of the books that I regularly re-read, as well as the movies I watch over and over, they’re always the ones that make me laugh.

So, realistically, there wasn’t much chance of me not finding the funny in zombies, spirit possession, and evil curses when Esther Diamond encounters voodoo, sympathetic magic, and a dark sorcerer terrorizing Harlem in Unsympathetic Magic.

At the same time, though, fantasy is about the confrontation between Good and Evil, which is actually pretty serious stuff. Moreover, things like murder, body snatching, and violent assault, all of which occur in Unsympathetic Magic, are dangerous and menacing in any context. Which is fine, because comedy only works (in my opinion) when the stakes are every bit as real, heartfelt, and urgent as they are in drama or tragedy. The tone of the Esther Diamond novels is a happy hug rather than a despairing sob or angry shove, but Esther nonetheless faces real danger, is genuinely terrified by it, and confronts her fears precisely because so much is at stake—such as the safety of people she cares about and, indeed, the survival of her city.
[floatquote]when you set aside the book, you (I blithely assume) don’t line your windows with garlic to keep vampires out[/floatquote] Fantasy is a great metaphor for the most towering, terrifying, and meaningful things in life; but it’s also really tricky to bring off convincingly, since—unlike, say, armed robbery, infidelity, or war—it’s realistically outside our life experience and always will be. While you’re reading an urban fantasy novel, the author has to make you believe wholeheartedly in magic, zombies, vampires, dark spirits, or demons menacing our contemporary world… even though, when you set aside the book, you (I blithely assume) don’t line your windows with garlic to keep vampires out, or wear an embarrassingly odorous gris-gris pouch around your neck (as Esther is obliged to do in Unsympathetic Magic) to protect yourself from evil sorcery.


So the goal in a fantasy novel is to make you believe with heart-pounding urgency and compelling absorption in the dangers and rewards of things you probably don’t ever expect to encounter in real life (such as a zombie attack on East 121st Street in Manhattan); and the simultaneous goal of an Esther Diamond novel is to explore, while conveying the pain of thwarted love and the terror of confronting Evil, what’s truly funny about our daily (and nightly) attempts to deal with the bizarre challenges of being alive in a crazy world.
I mentioned that this is Esther’s third adventure. Her second tale is Doppelgangster (previously reviewed on this site) and her fourth tale is Vamparazzi, both of which novels are currently available. Esther’s fifth misadventure, Polterheist, will be released in October (and #6, The Misfortune Cookie, is planned for 2013). Due to various events too complicated to go into here (see this page of my website for details), I switched publishers after Esther’s first book, Disappearing Nightly, and that novel, which has been out-of-print and unavailable for a while, will be reissued by my new publisher this June. (I get asked about this a lot.) In fact, I’ve just seen the final cover proofs for it!

Anyhow, because of that initial publishing glitch, I wrote Doppelgangster (#2) with the assumption that it would be many readers’ first introduction to this series.

[floatquote]even if you’re unfamiliar with this series, go ahead and try Unsympathetic Magic as your first installment[/floatquote] Moreover, since I always just want to enjoy whichever book I pick up in a series, without “having to” hunt down the first volume and read the books in rigidly chronological order, the Esther Diamond novels are all structured (and, for the foreseeable future, will continue to be structured) so that a new reader can enjoy and understand what’s going on in any of the books, regardless of which one she picks up first. So even if you’re unfamiliar with this series, go ahead and try Unsympathetic Magic as your first installment. After all, I wrote this book, too, with the expectation that it might indeed be your first exposure to Esther Diamond, her friends, and her nemeses.

– Laura Resnick

About the author

Laura Resnick is the author of the popular Esther Diamond urban fantasy series, whose current releases include Unsympathetic Magic, Doppelgangster, and Vamparazzi, as well as the upcoming Disappearing Nightly and Polterheist, both scheduled for publication in 2012. She is on the Web at LauraResnick.com.

Visit Laura’s website here.


Sue "DaVinciKittie" Brown-Moore is a veteran romance blogger and reviewer and the primary voice for GraveTells.com. Sue and GraveTells have won several blogging awards, and GraveTells recently celebrated its five-year anniversary! Sue is also a freelance Developmental Editor passionate about helping authors bring out the best in their stories. She loves reading romance, fantasy, and sci-fi and edits any genre she reads for pleasure. You can follow Sue's editing blog, with tips and tricks for authors, at DaVinciKittie.com.