While starting the new project I hinted at in my newsletter, I realized that I'm always making jokes in my writing. These are secret jokes, things that amuse me while I write.
How about an example?
In my dystopian novel Vitamin F (Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo ), the lead character is Bridgett Grey. Her grandfather's last name is Summers. There's another character of note named J.P. Beaubier who has a sister. There's also an old poster in one scene that features a heavily armed man with white hair and lots of guns. That poster also has a woman in black with a black dot over one eye.
Sometimes, writers have to make secret gags to write dark stories. With so many oppressive themes, Vitamin F is quite bleak. So why not wave the flag of "Len Loves X-Men?"
In other cases, the secret jokes are a bit more indirect. "There Are Always Three Of Them" features this opening line:
“The thing about those Thompson Twins,” Uncle George said, “there are always three of them.”
As quick as I hit the cultural reference, I slapped down the hook of the story. But the joke is still there. In fact, "There Are Always Three Of Them" owes as much to my love of 1980s New Wave as it owes to The Twilight Zone.
I know I'm not alone in this. Christopher Ruocchio used a curse from Pirates Of Dark Water in his second Sun Eater novel, Howling Dark. Also, there's a video game reference on the cover of that book. I'll give you a hint: "Fear The Old Blood."
There's a passage in Frank Herbert's Children Of Dune where Leto II thinks:
Poor Baptist John, he thought. If he'd only had the courage to die some other way.... But perhaps his choice had been the bravest one. How do I know what alternatives faced him? I know what alternatives faced my father, though.
In this section, the more you know about John The Baptist, the more you'll see into the story of Leto's father, especially in the book Children Of Dune.
Here's your challenge. When you read, ask yourself if the author is pulling at another reference to make a point? Or are they just amusing themselves to keep the story going?