What is different about being a humor writer in Northeast Ohio?
I am a middle-age guy in the Midwest writing about common subjects from my odd perspective. My essays reflect Midwest values to which people living here can easily relate to. There is one titled “The Chicago Cubs Suck” about how I felt right after the Indians lost the World Series. All Cleveland sports fans can relate to that one. There is another about having to walk my dog in sub-zero temperatures. While the book is not about Northeast Ohio, most of the stories happen here and there are numerous local references.
Some of your topics appear fairly mundane, how do they become funny?
I have the ability to find the humor in simple, everyday things. Many people compared my first book to the television show Seinfeld. The first essay in the book is about rice cakes. It’s like almost 900 words on just rice cakes. But people love that one, because it’s funny and if you have ever failed at a diet, you know how it feels.
How is this book different from your first one, “Just Make Me A Sammich”?
It is smoother and more consistent. My writing style has evolved over time so what you get is a more cohesive read from beginning to end. I worked closely with my editor to smooth out the rough edges and make this one more digestible to a wider audience.
Why the change?
As my writing has changed, so has my audience. My blog probably has more female readers than male readers now. Also, my readers are very diverse. I can’t believe how many enjoy my writing. And I have a world wide audience.
How do you write humor that is not always politically correct to a diverse audience in 2018?
I’m not really sure how I do it. It goes back to those Midwest values. I don’t make fun of people for who they are, only what they do. I am writing from the perspective of a middle-age guy, so not everyone is going to get my humor. And that’s okay, lots of people do, and it’s great that a wide range of people find my stuff hilarious.
Where did the title come from?
From a story about a meeting that advertised free appetizers but didn’t have any and how upset I got because of this. Everyone loves free food, so they can relate. The quest for my desire of free appetizers is a running theme throughout the book.
You have written two, funny, off-beat books. Not an easy process. What motivates you?
I write to make people laugh and brighten their day. Often people will tell me that they had a tough day at work and they come home and read my stuff and feel so much better. The best compliment I get is from people who tell me they very rarely laugh out loud, but they did when they read my book.
Being funny comes naturally to me. That’s why I can find humor in almost any appropriate subject. Writing well enough to do a book and the editing process, that’s what is difficult.
How do get readers to literally laugh out loud at your writing?
I don’t tell jokes. I am like an artist who makes you paint funny pictures in your head. While you are painting you can’t see the final product. When you do, you can’t help but laugh. Because you have painted the picture, you find it funnier. So instead of my humor going from the outside in, lots of times it comes from the inside out.
How do you want someone to feel when they finish your book?
I want them to have a smile on their face and remember all the times they cracked up reading it.
Which essay is your favorite in Will There Be Free Appetizers?
It was easy for me to answer this question for book one, but I can’t choose a favorite in book two. There were numerous times I had to stop while editing because I was laughing out loud at my own writing. There is an essay that tells what my life would be like if every email in my spam folder was legitimate. Like if you really were going to inherit a million dollars from a lost uncle, and a young, beautiful Russian heiress really wanted to marry you. That one probably cracks me up the most.
There is also the story of meeting my old flame after 40 years at the high school reunion. This was the most personal and deep writing I have ever done. But it is still funny and very familiar to a lot of people.
Who will enjoy this book the most?
Middle-aged guys will laugh the most. A lot of guys haven’t read a book in years, but my book is very easy to read because it’s all short essays that you can read one at a time. It is a great “bathroom” or beach book. As I mentioned before, women enjoy my writing because I’m open and honest about guy stuff. There is a chapter in the book titled “Guys Do Stupid Stuff” which is very popular with women. But the book will be entertaining to most people older than 30.
Why should someone read this book?
This world is so stressful and we just don’t laugh enough. You need to find laughter, or some amusement in something every day. It’s important for your mental physical health. That’s why I do what I do, and the book provides this to a bigger audience. You will relate, you will be amused and you will laugh.
Your day job is working as an economist-analyst in the trucking industry. How does that have anything to do with humor writing?
It is an odd combination, but I can work with numbers as well as words. Seeing the humor in everything just comes naturally to me. There is even a chapter in the first books with funny essays on economics.
Where can I buy your book?
Find out more about Don Ake at https://www.facebook.com/donakeauthor/ or Twitter @theakeman