Welcome to the wide crazy world of TJ Klune

As you can see, this is a blog (a blog, you say? You're like the only person in the world that has one!). Here are my promises to you: I promise to up date this as much as I can. I promise that at some point, you will most likely be offended. I promise you may suffer from the affliction the Klunatics know as Wookie Cry Face. I also promise to make this some place where you can see how my mind works.



You've been warned.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Joys of Crack and Dust Or, Why I went Apocalyptic






 (Note: This post was supposed to appear on another blog as part of the Withered + Sere blog tour, but since the blog never wrote me back and never posted it, I'm doing it here. What can you do?)




            I did something no one else has ever done.
            I wrote a book set in a post-apocalyptic future.
            I know, I know.
            You’re in awe.
            Tj! you’re thinking. How did you come up with such a novel idea?
            And therein lies the problem.
            Post-apocalyptic, dystopian futures, all of this has been done before. It’s like that saying goes, that there’s nothing new under the sun. Tropes are tropes for a reason. Look at The Hunger Games. Look at the video game series Fallout. Look at Mad Max. Or I Am Legend. Or The 100. Or Book of Eli. Dawn of the Dead. Battle Royale. The Road (which, if you haven’t read this book by Cormac McCarthy, do it. It’s one of the best things ever). 28 Days Later. The Stand (Stephen King’s best work, in my opinion). Resident Evil. The Last of Us.
            Whether it be nuclear bombs, or disease, or zombies, or humanity’s rage, the world falls, civilization crumbles, and we are left with little pockets of humanity across a scarred landscape who are usually embroiled in a battle against Forces of Evil (i.e. new government, old government, crazy motherfuckers, zombies, crazy motherfucking zombies).
            So it’s all be done before. It really, really has.
            And here I was, a writer of cracky man love who sometimes who could write angst, comedy, drama, and who occasionally dabbled into something darker. Here I was, thinking, okay, but if it’s all been done before, could I actually do something that was any different?
            I knew, going into writing Withered + Sere, that it was going to be a massive undertaking. This world I created would be large, and would be populated by good people and evil people, and people whose moral compasses were firmly planted in the gray. I also knew going into it, that the only way I’d actually be able to do this post-apocalyptic story would be if I could put my own unique spin on it.
            Let’s be real. There are people out there who’ve written stories about the end of the world that are far better writers than I could ever hope to be. I know this. I understand this. I don’t know if I could ever even be even remotely close to their level. But it didn’t stop me from trying.
            I wanted to see what happened if I ended the world. If civilization did crumble, if billions of people did die, what would I do with what remained? Would I have anything new to add?
            I think I did. I hoped I did. I don’t mean that to sound conceited or self-involved, either. Honestly. Given that this was so far from anything I’d ever done before, I knew that I needed to end the world in a way that was distinctly Klune but not devolving into the crack that I’m known to write. The dialogue here is sparse because the main character, Cavalo, doesn’t like to talk much. He doesn’t want to talk much. The other main character, Lucas, can’t talk, given some mysterious injury he’d sustained sometime in the past.
            I love dialogue. I love writing people talking and snarking back and forth.
            I love it so much, that to make this story different than anything I’d done before, I didn’t allow myself to fall back into the slinging of words. By taking away one character’s ability to speak at all, it forced me to find other ways to communicate, to relay the story without the crutch of vocalizing my point. And I did, though it was in ways I wasn’t expecting when I first started, and I like to think it adds another layer to the story, that it leaves it up to the reader to decide if Cavalo is actually having the conversations he thinks he’s having, or if it’s just a product of his imagination, that he’s getting response he’s thinking he should get.
            And, of course, there’s the end of the world. The landscape, the remains of what once was. When you have a post-apocalyptic story, one of the most important characters you can have is the landscape. Is there the futuristic sheen of a dystopian society? Or is there the grunge and grime of a ravaged society?
            I wanted to go with the grunge and the grime. I wanted to get motherfucking dirty in this book. By the time the W+S and its sequel, Crisped + Sere, are finished, I wanted the reader to feel the dirt under their fingernails, the dust in their throat. The setting is as important as the main characters, because if the setting isn’t believable, then it runs the risk of ruining the story as a whole.
            I had fun with this, creating this dirty, dirty world. The landscape is dotted with hints of the past, from burn out husks of cars and billboards for personal injury attorneys, to the way the people who remain live their lives.
            And that, to me, is the crux of these two books. The reader is told at the beginning that a hundred years have passed since the world ended. The idea that I couldn’t shake while writing this would be how would those people live their lives? Would they act completely different than we do today? Or would they still cling to what they’d been taught by those who came before them? We are ingrained with years on how a human being should act. I find it fascinating to think about how people would attempt to go on with business as usual, even if they don’t necessarily understand why they think that. It’s what they were taught by those who came before them. Those people were taught by those who came before them, and those are the ones that lived and loved in a bright and shiny world, and they passed down their traditions and mannerisms, and I think that those things would continue, even after the world ended. We act as we were taught. Yes, we learn from new experiences, but we are still human, and there are centuries of life before us that we draw from. We do the things we do because we were taught how to do them, even if we don’t realize it.
            So. I hope you’re ready to get down and dirty with me. Because we’re about to crawl through the mud.

Withered + Sere Blurb:
Once upon a time, humanity could no longer contain the rage that swelled within, and the world ended in a wave of fire.

One hundred years later, in the wasteland formerly known as America, a broken man who goes only by the name of Cavalo survives. Purposefully cutting himself off from what remains of civilization, Cavalo resides in the crumbling ruins of the North Idaho Correctional Institution. A mutt called Bad Dog and a robot on the verge of insanity comprise his only companions. Cavalo himself is deteriorating, his memories rising like ghosts and haunting the prison cells.

It’s not until he makes the dangerous choice of crossing into the irradiated Deadlands that Cavalo comes into contact with a mute psychopath, one who belongs to the murderous group of people known as the Dead Rabbits. Taking the man prisoner, Cavalo is forced not only to face the horrors of his past, but the ramifications of the choices made for his stark present. And it is in the prisoner that he will find a possible future where redemption is but a glimmer that darkly shines.

The world has died.

This is the story of its remains.

Available at:




Withered + Sere Blog Tour:
April 12 - MM Good Book Reviews
April 13- My Fiction Nook
April 18 - Just Love Romance 
April 19 - Divine Magazine 
April 19 - Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
April 19 - The Novel Approach 
April 20 - Kimi-chan Experience ?????????????????
April 21 - It's About the Book 
April 21 - Love Bytes 
April 22 - Prism Book Alliance 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Withered + Sere Releases!






Withered + Sere is out today!

*confetti and junk*

This book (and it's sequel, Crisped + Sere, out in August) has taken up the last three years of my life. I am so please to finally see it published, and can't wait for you all to read it.

So!

Here is where you can buy it:

Dreamspinner Press Publications

Amazon

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Also! There are several stops on a blog tour today, involving myself and Blake Dorner, the illustrator for W+S.

They are:

Older Man/Younger Man at Novel Approach

The Artwork of Withered + Sere: Illustrator Blake Dorner

Excerpt at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words




 I hope you enjoy it, and thank you for supporting my work!

Tj





Saturday, March 26, 2016

What's Next; Or, How I'm About To Go Dark






Can we all agree that I  know comedy?

That's not meant to sound like I'm bragging. It's really not. I can be funny. I can write funny stories. I have an ear for whip crack dialogue and snark. I like it. I like being able to make people laugh. I love having people feel the warm fuzzies when they read my books.

The last three books I've released were part of what I considered to be my "Happiness Trilogy." The Lightning Struck-Heart, How to Be a Normal Person, and The Queen & the Homo Jock King were all exactly what I needed at the time. I needed to find a reason to laugh again, to find a reason to feel good about my writing again. And what better way than to feel good than by doing something I was good at?

I am good at comedy.

Which is why I  had three comedic books in a row come out.

They are safe, because I know people like my sense of humor. There's really little risk involved, especially when Queen was a sequel to one of my biggest sellers, and Lightning had a gay sassy unicorn. Normal was probably riskier than the other two, given that it dealt with asexuality, something that I was surprised to find not a lot of people had heard of before.

Regardless, they were safe. I was safe.

But that's over now.

My next four books are decidedly not comedies. Oh, sure, they have comedic touches to them, but comedy is not the focal point of the books.  Yes, they are all romances, but I went in a different direction.

Some of my readers, especially the newer ones, probably don't know that I can go dark when I need to. It's been almost years since I've released anything that wasn't tonally comedic or family angst. In 2013, I released Into This River I Drown, which would go onto win the Lambda Literary Award for best gay romance the following year. A little after that, John & Jackie was released as part of anthology, and then again on its own two years ago.

Comedy comes easy for me. And I'm sure I could safely rest in a little comedic nest and write nothing but and be okay with it.

The problem with that is that I never want to be just okay with something.  Writing is about growth and maturity. I always want to find ways to stretch the boundaries of what I'm capable of. I don't want to write just comedy because after a while, I'd get bored of it. And lazy which, in my opinion, is the worst thing a writer could become. When an author doesn't take chances with the types of stories they write, they run the risk of phoning it in. Readers can tell that shit, and I don't ever want to be accused of being a lazy writer.

Withered + Sere and Crisped + Sere are the results of that need, that desire to expand on what I'm capable of. Originally written as one story, it became too big for a single novel, which is why I split it into two. These books are a romance, but it is a slow burn (shocker, I know, coming from me), so it will be spread out over two books. In fact, the plan there is to have four books altogether, so it will continue on in them as well. I want to keep as much as I can under wraps about these books, but I will say that W+S and C+S comprise a beginning, middle, and end. There is resolution reached.  It comes out April 19th. Book II resolves most everything in Book I and comes out in August. Promotion for this is going to kick off starting in the next week or two, so look forward to that.

(also, both these books are illustrated, and Jesus Fucking Christ, are the illustrations amazing.)

Wolfsong comes out June 20th and just might be the angstiest thing I've ever written (and yeah, I realize that I am the author of the BOATK books and River, so take that for what it is). It also happens to be about werewolves. I don't even know. One day, I sat down at my computer and thought, huh, what subgenre could I try next? Then I started writing, and by the time I'd finished, I'd somehow come up with a decade spanning novel of love and loss, of betrayal and heartbreak. And werewolves (still not sure how that part came to be). It's the story of Ox and Joe, but it also is about family and the choices we make, and how far we go to protect the ones we love. There will be so much Wookie Cry Face. I'm not even joking. You'll get your happy ending, but holy shit am I going to make you work for it.

And then in October (maybe November?) is Murmuration. A murmuration is a flock of starlings that fly in these extraordinary clouds of thousands of birds, like this:





 If you've never seen them in flight, I would recommend going to YouTube and looking it up. It's absolutely insane to see, and thematically, it represents what this novel is. I am going to keep as much of this book a secret as I can. Not because I'm a dick (well, maybe a bit of a dick,) but because I don't want any spoilers about this book to somehow get out. It's the most romantic thing I've written. It's also the most fucked up. By the end, I will have shattered your heart and put it back together, even though a few of the pieces might be missing.

And even Destiny of Dragons, the sequel to Lightning, isn't just a comedy. Sam, like my writing, needs to grow up. Lightning, to me, always had a razor's edge laying under the candy-pop Technicolor sunshine that was the world I'd created. It was sass and snark, but it always seemed just a hop, skip and jump away from becoming a little darker, which is what I tried to do with it. I could have easily just written another straight forward sequel to Lightning, but I think I owe you more than that.

I don't want to be a lazy writer.

I don't ever want to phone it in.

Which is why we're going into the dark now.

So I can show you what I'm capable of.

Don't worry, though.

It'll be all right.

Mostly.




Withered + Sere Pre-Order: Click Here!

Add on GR: Click Here!

Wolfsong on GR: Click Here!














Saturday, February 27, 2016

Pre-Release Thoughts on The Queen & the Homo Jock King





            I hate fake/pretend relationships. Honestly, in books, in movies, anytime the focal point of the plot is a pretend relationship between the main characters, it’s usually a turn off. And the reason for the fakeness is typically ludicrous, and I tend to roll my eyes at it.
            I hate enemies to lovers stories too, because of that first word enemies. I don’t like reading books where the MC’s and love interests are mean to each other. There’s a line between snark and vitriol, and I tend to not gravitate toward the actual meanness. I like it when people actually like each other, you know?
            I hate miscommunication in books. Sure, if done well, it can add a layer to the plot, but most of the time, I just want to punch the characters in the face and demand that they talk to each other like adults and to cut that shit out. They are adults, right?
            I don’t care if a book has detailed sex scenes or not. If it did, I tend to skip over the sex scene because it’s something I’ve read before. Sex is sex is sex. I’ve had it. I know how it works. Given that I’m asexual, I’m not titillated by erotica, nor do I really even care for it. Sex scenes aren’t important to me. Great, it shows one man can put his dick in another man’s  butt, but come on. Show me the connection in other ways.
            Why am I telling you all this?
            Because I am a fucking tangle of contradictions.
            The sequel to Tell Me It’s Real comes out on February 29th, 2016. It’s called The Queen & the Homo Jock King.
            It’s also a book that’s about enemies who enter into a pretend relationship for ludicrous reasons whose attraction to each other is hampered by miscommunication until they eventually become lovers and have the raunchiest sex out of any book I’d ever written.
            *Sigh*
            I know, I know.
            Tj, you’re saying. Oh, Tj. You’re just a big ol’ mess, aren’t you?
            Mostly. But that’s okay.
            Let’s be honest here. Tell Me It’s Real was never going to be high literature. I never intended it to be. The reason TMIR existed at all was because I was tired of the shirtless torso covered books where everyone had a fucking ten inch dick and could come buckets in assholes and with their manpain and their gay for you, blah blah blah.
            I wanted to write about normal people. People who might not be the smartest or the coolest or the most attractive. Where were the overweight dudes and why didn’t they get the jocks? Where were the drag queens and why didn’t they get Twu Wuv?
            That’s the big reason for TMIR. To have gay people who could be real fall in love with each other.
            That’s not meant to be an admonition against anyone or any other author. That is also not me thinking I’m better than any other author out there. I’m not. By far. But TMIR was born out of frustration that maybe gay dudes were getting lost in the romantic fantasy.
            And so TMIR came out. And blew up, both with the good and the bad. It sold a lot. Thanks. It brought up a lot of discussion. Thanks for that too. I liked that book quite a bit. Still do, in fact. I might even love it, a little.
            Which is partly why it took so long to write the sequel, even though one was practically handed to me on a silver platter because of Sandy and Darren. Even though they only had a few scenes together, they just sparked for me, and I knew there was a story there, about why they hated each other like they did. But when one book is a success like TMIR is, it can be intimidating to write a follow up. What if it’s not as good? What if people don’t like it as much? What if they hate it and it lessens their enjoyment of the first book?
            If you think about it, and it may seem surprising, I’ve only ever published two sequels. And it’s for the same series, the Bear, Otter and the Kid books.
            And it was while in the third book, The Art of Breathing, that Kori/Corey appeared, and suddenly we were in Tucson and Paul and Vince and Sandy and Darren were there and I was overjoyed, because that wasn’t planned. At least not initially. But I thought Kori/Corey would fit in with the Tucson crew, and wouldn’t that just be neat?
            And I knew then, what they story would be, once I finished Breathing. But then life went to hell for a long time, and when I got back to writing again, I wrote new stuff instead of focusing on the told. And honestly, that’s really the reason BOATK4 hasn’t been finished yet, because I’ve wanted to expand my horizons, test the limits of my capabilities.
            Until I sat down one day and thought, I’m ready to write about some motherfucking drag queens.
            And then proceeded to write in tropes that I usually avoid like the plague. Why? Because it was fucking fun. God, I had so much fun writing this book. First and foremost, just being back with Paul and Sandy was one of the greatest joys I’ve had writing. Their friendship is what I think a perfect friendship should be: they give each other shit, they love each other fiercely, and they are always there to scratch someone’s eyes for the other if need be. So while the book is the romance between Sandy and Darren, Paul and Sandy’s friendship is a major part of it too. And Vince, of course, sweet and lovable Vince who I want to put in my pocket and keep safe forever. And then there’s the added dynamic of Corey/Kori, the bi-gendered queer who was like a missing piece in the puzzle of the dynamic between these people. Seriously, Kori/Corey fit so well that even I was surprised. I didn’t have to make any real changes to the character seen in Breathing, even if that book had a much angstier setting.
            So I faked the relationship between these enemies to lovers. I had them misunderstand each other, because are they really the enemies they think they are? (Hint: no, they’re not.)
            That just left the sex.
            Sandy is an experienced gay man. Darren is an experienced gay man.
            They both like to fuck.
            So I wrote the longest, most involved sex scene I’ve ever written, because I thought it felt right for the characters. I won’t do this for every book. I may never do it again for another book. The only reason this one is as explicit as it is, is because it adds to the dynamic of who these two are. It’s meant to progress the story forward, to show them finally coming together after all this time. And there is a scene in here in which they don’t have sex that I consider to be the most erotic thing I’ve ever written. You’ll know it when you get to it.
            And, as you probably can tell, I love drag queens. I love them for their spirit, their originality, their fierce determination, their drive to get up in front of crowds and perform their fucking hearts out. Some of the greatest people I know are queens, and you’ll see in the dedication that this book is for two very specials queens in my life.
             Typical questions:
            Is there Wookie Cry Face?
            Maybe. If there is, it won’t be as much as any of my other books.
            What level of crack is this?
            More than Normal Person, less than Lightning Struck Heart. About the same as TMIR.
            How long is it?
            160K words, a bit longer than TMIR.
            Do Tyson or Bear or anyone from BOATK make an appearance?
            By name only. I had a small scene with the Kid but it was cut during edits, because it didn’t do anything for the book, and ended up being more fan service than anything. I might release it later on as a freebie.
            Is there going to be another book in the series?
            Yes. Kori/Corey will be the lead character, which, having a transgendered main character in a romantic comedy is something I am so excited to be writing about.
            TJ KLUNE. WHERE IS BOATK4 AND BURN2, OMFG!!!
            2017.
            I’m sorry it’s taken this long to get here. I know three years can be a long time to wait between books. I don’t plan on it taking that long again, but things happen. There are times books just can’t wait to be written (100K words on Lightning 2, WTF), and other times I’m just not ready. If I haven’t written a follow up yet it’s because I’m not ready. I would rather wait until I am ready rather than force out a shitty book and publish it. You deserve me giving you the best to my ability. Will you always like it? No, of course not. That’s not possible. But I thank you for reading it anyway.
            I can’t wait for you to read about a Queen finally getting her King.

            Tj

PRE-ORDER LINKS:
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