I'm going to get into so much trouble for saying this.
The fact of the matter is, I did not grow up as a fan of mystery books. I didn't dislike them or anything, but they weren't my driving force, my obsession. I did not devour Christie and Hammett and Chandler without stopping for lunch. I didn't envision myself as the next great mystery author when I grew up (which turned out to be an ironic term).
Most mystery and crime fiction authors, when you ask them about their childhoods, will regale you with fond memories of Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. The more ambitious will mention Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple or Poirot. They'll explain their love of the form, the neverending search for the responsible party, the thirst for justice, the desire to see the guilty punished and the righteous rewarded.
I was--and remain--a comedy geek. My mind was blown the first time I heard a Bill Cosby album. I saw Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein more often than I met my own Cub Scout leader. Some kids looked up to Dr. J., I had Bugs Bunny.
When we reached adolescence together, many of my friends went off on quests for spiritual elightenment because they'd heard Ravi Shankar or other kinds of enlightenment because they heard Pink Floyd. I sought the secret of life from another source after the first time I discovered the Marx Brothers in Horse Feathers.
Some people's lives were changed when they first encountered a book by J.D. Salinger or a thriller by Ken Follett. My existence has never been the same since the time I found a copy of The 2000 Year-Old Man by Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks at Vogel's Records in Elizabeth, NJ for $2.67. I still have it (although I have digitized the album, like all my vinyl records, in case of catastrophe).
My wife finds it... limiting that I rarely want to see a movie with no sense of humor at all. I figure I have a limited amount of time to spend in this existence and can easily get depressed on my own with no help from filmmakers, writers, actors, playwrights, musicians and especially politicians. Give me a laugh or give me a nap, I say.
No doubt none of what I've said will come as a shock to anyone who's read my work. I get a good number of emails from people pointing out that there are occasional gaps in the plot logic of some of the Aaron Tucker books. Once in a while a timeline error might make it past the virtual army of editors who work on my writing, and it is always my fault. I do sometimes have to scramble for a character's motivation, although the effort is always there and we do try to tie up all the loose ends.
But for me, if you smile or laugh when you're reading my work, I've succeeded. My favorite communications from readers are those where a particular line of dialogue or side comment that made the person laugh is cited. I love hearing that; it makes me feel like the effort I put in was worthwhile.
In THE QUESTION OF THE MISSING HEAD (you knew I'd bring it up, right?), the challenge was more complex than ever. Samuel Hoenig, the main character and narrator of the book, has Asperger's Syndrome and sees things in what might be considered an unusual way. He is not trying to make the reader laugh.
But I didn't want to be exclusively serious, so finding the humor was a little bit more work than usual, and not as obivous (one hopes). But the challenge was--from a writer's standpoint--exhilarating, and doing it again for next year's Asperger's mystery was better. I'm never as happy as a writer as when I'm painting myself into a corner.
So please, if something I wrote makes you laugh, don't hold back. Let me know. As my mother used to say (and probably still does), "It just encourages him."