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.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Random Thoughts On "Straight" Books and the NYT Bestseller List

Fair warning… this post may be long.  It’s not a Monday, when I normally post, but I can’t seem to get this out of my head.

I was asked by a friend of mine recently who’d finished BOATK what should have been a simple question: “I thought your book was great.  Imagine what would happen if you wrote about straight characters!  I could see you on the New York Times Bestseller list!  Have you thought about writing a straight book?”

Now, of course, I was enthused that a straight guy would read my book and have a good reaction to it.  It showed me, at least at first, that BOATK had the potential to reach across lines and have an effect on people, regardless of sexual orientation.  After all, it wasn’t really supposed to be about whether a person was straight or gay (at least, not for the most part) but rather what an individual would do in an impossible situation.  How would you react?  What would you have done differently?  Would it have mattered at all?  These were questions I asked myself constantly, from the point of view of the characters I was bringing to life.

I have no illusions of extraordinary success.  I’d like to think that one does not get into writing simply because it’s potentially a financial boon (trust me, it’s not—we can’t all be James Patterson or Stephen King, as much as we’d like to think we could be).  I wrote because I had these voices in my head that just begged to be heard.  What’s funny really, and it’s something I’ve learned ever since I started telling people I was getting published, is that a lot of people want to be writers.  I find that fascinating and amazing.  I love that.  Write away, I say.  Let it all out and see what happens from there.

But what my friend said caused me to pause.  Do I want to be on the NYT Bestseller list?  Fuck yes.  Who wouldn’t?  That would be pretty dang cool.  But why would it have to be about straight people that would allow me to get there?

Do I consider myself an M/M writer?  Yes, in the fact that my stories so far have been centered around guys who fall in love with other guys.  I’ve read over and over how the M/M genre is booming, how more and more people are reading books about “man love” than ever before.  How great is that?  There are some very well written, deserved authors that I am a fan of that I could see breaking that seemingly steel barrier from “genre success” to “overall success.”  I won’t name names, but you know who they are.  They are the people, regardless of what story they write, seem to capture the imagination of those lucky enough to read them.

(And this brings me to a sidebar—I’ve seen arguments that make no sense to me: how people prefer women who write M/M stories as opposed to men and vice versa.  Really?  WHO CARES!  If the story is good, does it matter the gender of the writer?  No.  It doesn’t.  What matters is the story you just read and how you reacted to it.  So what if women write about the psyche of gay men?  Have you read Patricia Nell Warren’s The Front Runner? If not, then stop what you are doing and read it right now.  I guarantee you that you will be amazed, devastated, and come out profoundly moved.)

Man, I’ve gotten way off tract.  My bad.

My point?  My point…

Well, I guess my point would be this: why would a book have to be about “straight characters” to be able to be on the NYT Bestseller list?  Sure, there are some writers that seem to end up there (Christopher Rice comes to mind—read his first two books, and not the last one.  PLEASE not the last one.  Ugh.)  I could easily step on my soap box now and say it’s because of because of American politics and how gay people are still seen as second-class citizens (but really, does that apply to reading preferences?) and therefore stories about gay people don’t rank up with popular fiction.  But I won’t, at least not right now.  I think it’s because there is almost a preconceived notion, that M/M is only erotica, that it’s essentially porn with a plot. (well, most of the time it has a plot.  Ish.)  While there is erotica yes, and some very well written erotica, that’s not all M/M fiction is.

It’s romance.  It’s love.  It’s family and hardships and triumphs and failures.  It’s how people would react in situations both mundane and fantastic.  It covers all genres, from the hard-boiled detective stories to the supernatural.  It’s not always successful in its execution, but for a writer to put their work out for the world to judge what it will is a scary and wonderful thing.

I’m a gay man. I write about gay guys, much like many straight authors write about straight people.  I have straight characters in my story, much like they could have gay characters in theirs (case in point: read Stephen King’s zombie novel Cell.  One of the three MC is a gay man.  There’s no romantic foil for him, but it doesn’t matter.  The fact that he is gay is only mentioned a few times and really has no bearing on the story, but I remember thinking how much of a badass Mr. King was for putting that in the book, especially when I realized that the character’s being gay DIDN’T MATTER to anybody else in the story.  He was gay and then zombies attacked.  Great read.).

My point?  I don’t want to be on the NYT Bestseller list if it means I can’t continue to write what I’m writing about now.  I love writing about love.  I love writing about people make real decisions, decisions that could impact the rest of their lives.  I could write it about it forever, if I’m allowed.  So keep your NYT Bestsellers, your Oprah Book Club Stickers, your reviews in the Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus.  I’m fine where I am.

(Caveat—if someone from any of the above mentioned publications is reading this blog and would like to review my book, feel free.)


Monday, August 22, 2011

8/22/11 Monday’s Random Thoughts: Sequelitis and BOATK Ratings

So, for the most part, people seem to like BOATK and it’s selling well, which is a weight off my shoulders.  Or, at least it started out to be.  Inevitably, thoughts turn to what’s next, and I don’t necessarily mean about my next book out in February/March 2012 (unrelated to Bear).  I mean about what’s next for the boys from BOATK.  Before I go on, a definition from Urban Dictionary:

Sequelitis: A medical condition propogated by a combination of commercial success and creative ineptitude. Symptoms include bad movies, books, and music: arrogance, denial, and desperation.  In that order.  Treat symptoms with a daily dose of self-realization.

Does BOATK need a sequel?  I don’t know.  I’d kinda-sorta planned on writing one, should the mood have struck me.  Really, though, I knew that any second book would be a bridge to a third book following the Kid when he’s older.  But last week something struck me, an idea for a direction to go with a sequel, and I started writing.  Will it amount to something?  Maybe.  I’ve found in my own experiences that sequels usually can’t live up to the original (see pretty much any summer movie sequel; with the exception of X-Men 2 (fan boy squeal!), the rest are usually crap).  So am I suffering from sequelitis?  Fuck if I know.  I do know I would never write anything to make a quick buck.  I can’t do that, it’s just not in me.  I think it’s bullshit.  Does it help that BOATK is successful?  Well, of course it does.  I’d be a liar if said that hadn’t crossed my mind.  I just want it to live up to the first one.  If I don’t think it does, then I don’t see the point of releasing it. Crap for crap’s sake is still crap.

That being said, I just wrote a scene where the Kid discusses his views on nudists colonies, the apparent nymphomaniacal ways of Mother Nature, and his new shirt GIVE ME TOFU OR GIVE ME DEATH.  God, sometimes I love him so much it hurts.

People are being generous with their ratings of BOATK.  The biggest complaint so far seems to be Bear’s long windedness (“I just wanted him to get to the point already!” someone wrote).  I can agree with that to a certain extent.  Could it have been shorter?  Probably.  Could Bear have gotten to his points quicker?  Sure, why not.  But, I ask you to remember and to understand, when dealing with life changing events, who doesn’t over think things?  I know I sure as hell do.  It’s human nature.  So again, could it have been shorter?  Yes, but I don’t think I wanted it to be.  But, that’s just me.  But still, the ratings are kind, especially since this was my first book and people didn’t know my name from the other multitude of m/m authors.  I’m still taken aback a bit by how many people have read it and/or are reading it and/or are planning to read it.  I didn’t expect that, in the slightest. Thanks!

(And, as a side note, my favorite criticism of BOATK have been from people who feel that the Kid was far to mature for his age and kids, no matter their I Q, would never be that logical—I think someone wrote that not even her 52 year old husband was that mature.  It’s my favorite, because I then receive emails from people who say that they have gifted children of their own and that I’ve nailed it spot on.  Who’s right?  I don’t know.  One person’s reality is another person’s falsity.  I just find that divide hilarious.)

So, we’ll see what happens from here.  I’m excited about my next novel, This Is How We Burn The World, the start of an urban fantasy trilogy following the same characters through each book  (shorten that title to TIHWBTW—doesn’t have quite the same ring as BOATK, huh?) and can’t wait for people to read it.  It’s dark and suspenseful but there is still humor there (I can’t wait for you all to meet the Clock Twins, Tick and Tock). 

Until next Monday, then.  Have a great week and happy reading!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Random Thoughts On A Monday.

--I'm exhausted.  Who knew released a book could drain a person so much?  But, on the extreme upside, Bear, Otter, and the Kid (or BOATK as it's being known--more on that later) people seem to really be liking it.  I wish I could say I suspected they would, but how enormously cocky does that sound?  And it couldn't be further from the truth; I was actually terrified.  And now?  It's like number three on Dreamspinners Bestseller list; #4 on Amazon's gay/lesbian Kindle list; it has a perfect 5 star review out of 11 ratings over at ARe (thanks to Lee Brazil for letting me know what that silver star next to it means--bestseller!).  Goodreads seems to be very kind as well with a bunch of reviews and a rating of like 4.6 or something.  I am floored by this and can't even express what that means to me.  And then Amos freakin Lassen reviews my book on his website and gives me his best rating?  holy fuck me sideways.

--I never thought people would respond to it this way.  Those emails I mentioned I received from people in the previous post?  The readers that had bought and read BOATK and wrote to me?  Those keep coming in.  I'm going to get to every single one, so if you haven't gotten a response, I ask that you just be patient with me because I WILL answer everyone.  How could I not?  IF BOATK is a success it's because you all bought it.

--BOATK.  This is how people are referring now to my book.  Conversation with a friend of mine yesterday (as I heard it--remember, I'm running on like zero sleep):

Friend: "So I finished reading boat kay and I have to tell you that I loved it."

Me: "What the fuck is a  'boat kay?'"

Friend: *stares*.  "It's your book, ar-tard.  That's what you started calling it and that's how people are referring to it in their reviews."

Me:  "I knew that."

So BOATK.  It does seem like that name is randomly catching on.  I don't know why, but for some reason, that makes me grin.

--Someone sent me this picture.  There are at least 698 things I can think that I'd like to do to this guy.  I'm still formulating 4567 more.

--I am going to be moving in the next few weeks after living in the same place for the last five years.  Do you know how much shit I've accumulated?  I am so not looking forward to moving. 

--And this pic was also sent to me.  He would be dessert after I got done with the main course above.  Or maybe they'd all happen at the same time.  Sometimes its fun to have dessert for dinner.

--I have one more day off tomorrow before I have to go back to work.  I wonder if they would pay me to not come in.

That's it.  Hot Bears and BOATK.  They don't have to be mutually exclusive.  Hell, if you're a hot bear and you reading BOATK, take a photo and send it in.  Hilarious.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

BOATK Post Release: Random Thoughts And What's Next

So as most of you know, Bear, Otter, and the Kid came out yesterday (what, you mean you couldn't tell through the egregious amount of fb posts I had?).  Yesterday (and the night before when all of a sudden I was notified it when on sale at nine o'clock that night) was nerve wracking.  I chided myself for watching so closely, thinking that IF anyone did buy it, that there was no way I'd be getting a reaction out of it so quickly.

Boy was I wrong.  Remind me never to doubt people's reading abilities ever again.

At ten yesterday morning, I received an email from a woman who'd read the book already.  She wanted to let me know how much she loved it and how much it had affected her.  I was shocked: one, that she had finished it already, and two, that she had even written me to begin with.  That blew my mind.  And then I got another email.  And then another.  And another. 

But what was so cool about it was that they came from all over the world: The UK, Bahrain (!!), Germany, Australia.  I guess my tiny little brain never even though about people reading it from outside the US.  Shows how small I was thinking.  I hope my american voice translated well for them.

It seems to be selling well.  The book has climbed up the Dreamspinner Bestseller page steadily  and it'll probably break into the top ten today.  That's so strange to think about.  And it's only day two!   I really hope it's not like one of those summer movies that has a great weekend and then nobody ever talks about it again.  That would suck.  To all those that bought it, thank you.

There wasn't really a whole lot going on with the book over at Goodreads before the release.  I think maybe like 7 or 8 people marked it as to read.  That kinda exploded yesterday and now a shitload of people are reading it or will be doing so.  I need to stay away from goodreads.  Forever.

So it's out.  I'm still pinching myself.  We'll see how well it does in the long haul, but I'm so very pleased with it so far.  And for those already asking for a sequel? Someday.... I don't think I'm done with Bear, Otter, or the Kid.  We'll see how long it takes for them to start speaking to me again.

And next (cuz that's the second thing people seem to want to know).  Well, next is something completely different.  In February/March 2012, my second novel will be published.  It's the start of an urban fantasy trilogy and its big (almost 200K words) and dark and nasty.  There was some honest glee I felt from going from BOATK to this new world where people weren't nice and the streets were grimy and gross.  It's called This Is How We Burn The World and here's the unnofficial blurb:
My name is Felix Paracel and when I was nine, I became angry at my mother and killed her with fire that shot from my hands.
And so begins the story of Felix, an Elemental capable of controlling fire and wind.  After that black night fifteen years ago, Felix and his father went into hiding. Felix's father has done his best to protect his son from the forces in the world bent on finding and controlling Felix and his abilities.  They've been able to keep their heads low and a careful eye at their backs, but everything is about to change.

Felix is Findo Unum—the Split One—and his coming has been foretold for generations.  The position of the Split One is well known throughout the Elemental world, but even with the joy it brings, it is also meant to signal a coming darkness.  And no one knows this more than a mysterious man named Seven; Seven, who'd rescued Felix from that horrible fire so many years before and then disappeared into the night; Seven, who's now come back to claim what's rightfully his: Felix's heart.  But even as Felix begins to trust Seven and his own feelings about his place in the world, the darkness reveals itself, leading to consequences no one could have predicted.

Set in a world that closely resembles our own, This Is How We Burn the World tells a story of redemption and betrayal, of family and sacrifice, all of which lead to the one of life's greatest questions: How far would you be willing to go to save the ones you love?

So, it's different from BOATK, right? Want a sneak peak?  A small one, then:

He holes up in a cheap hotel in Idaho and lays deep in fever, murmuring to himself as he rocks in a room where the furniture is faded, where the bed sheets are scratchy, where angry yelling is heard late at night through the paper thin walls.  A woman screams.  A man shouts.  Shadows pass in front of the dingy curtains.  He shoves stale vending machine crackers in his mouth.  He drinks water from the rusted bathroom tap.  He pays for another night.  And then he falls back onto the bed and floats away.  Thirteen days go by.

Stay tuned.....


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Random thoughts on I Love Lucy, Hypercolor t-shirts, and goldfish dreams.

So my mind is completely whacked right now, and so don’t expect this to be a coherent blog post.  Think of it as more a random collection of whatever is going through my head right now.  Hopefully, good times will be had by all.
--I am so gay.  You want to know how gay?  Here goes:  I’d never seen a single episode of I Love Lucy.  I mean come one, it’s in black and white!  Didn’t they have color TV back in the 1870’s?!?  So apparently it was her Lucy’s 100th birthday and there was an all weekend long marathon of the old episodes.  I randomly stopped on the channel, wanting to see what it was about.  The next time I looked at the clock, four hours had passed and I was still laughing my ass off.  How gay am I?  Apparently when I open my mouth, not only does a purse fall out, but it’s the entire fall Coach collection. (Did even things out that I was drinking beer while watching the show?  I’d like to think so.)
--I have new neighbors moving in next door.  And of course they’re hot looking frat guys who were moving their shit with their shirts off.  Is it too much to ask that they spray themselves with a hose in slow motion every once in a while?  Jesus Christ.
--I got my new laptop on Friday.  For all of you that remember the Great Best Buy Laptop Debacle of a month ago should be happy to note that I didn’t go back to Best Buy and I didn’t by Sony.  Fuck the both of them. 
--I want to bring back the word “tubular.”  As in, “Cowabunga dude, this is totally tubular!”
--You remember the Hypercolor t-shirts from the early 90’s?  The ones that you could blow on and they would change color?  I wonder what happened if you jizzed on one.  Did anyone ever try that?
--I only go to work three days this week because I didn’t think I’d be able to focus as Friday gets closer.  Stupid book release making me all nervous.
--I had a dream last night that I owned goldfish.  I’ve never owned goldfish.  Why would I dream about goldfish?  My dreams are so boring.
--I haven’t heard back yet from Dreamspinner on my 2nd novel I submitted to them called This Is How We Burn The World.  I know I only submitted it a few weeks ago, but the waiting is literally driving me up the fucking walls.  It’s a huge book (just under 200K) and is part one of a three part trilogy and of course, it ends with a gigantic cliffhanger.  What, me worry? (I hope they accept it cause I think it rocks and I have this crazy cool idea for the cover to be like one of those Star Wars or Indiana Jones movie posters that are hand drawn and show the characters faces—that would be tubular.
--My new WIP is coming slowly but surely.  I’m still deciding if I should divide it into two parts or just make it one long story (and it will be long—covering 80 years is not simple feat).  But John and Jack are whispering to me and I already know the ending, it’s just all that stuff in the middle that I need to work out.
--Last, but certainly not least, of course this is the week of my first release.  Bear, Otter, and the Kid will be out on Friday.  I keep telling myself not to worry much about the reviews on it, both good and bad, because in the end, do they really matter?  I want to write just for the sheer joy of it.  But then that irrational part of me thinks of COURSE I care about the fucking reviews and I’ll be devastated at my first negative review (of course I’ll get  a negative review—EVERYONE DOES AT SOME POINT).  Hopefully, it won’t break my soul.  But on the upside, I HAVE A FUCKING BOOK ABOUT TO BE PUBLISHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
God, I can’t wait to hold the paperback in my hands.  I’m sure it’ll almost be the same experience a parent gets when they hold their kid for the first time.  Only less squishy and wet.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Final Excerpt for Bear, Otter, and the Kid!

11 days and counting!  On 8/12/11, Dreamspinner will release my debut novel Bear, Otter, and the Kid.  In the previous two excerpts, you were able to meet the three main guys.  I thought it only fair that on this last, you meet the last three members of their family.

There's Mrs. Paquinn, the elderly next door neighbor who doesn't have a filter and pretty much says whatever she wants; Anna, Bear's on-and-off again girlfriend; and finally, Creed, Bear's best friend since they were in the second grade.  He also happens to be Otter's younger brother.  These three round out this different kind of family and I had a blast writing them  D.W. Marchwell says about my debut, "It will disarm you, infuriate you, beguile you and leave you utterly speechless." What more could I ask for? (Oh, btw, Mr. Marchwell's full review was posted on my bog yesterday, if you'd like to check it out!) 

This scene picks up after Bear (acting like Bear) stayed the night on the beach and returns home to face his family.  Let me know what you think!

I move carefully, calculating the number of steps it takes me to reach Otter. Seven. It takes me three seconds to turn and sit down. I pop my knuckles four times. I count to ten in my head. It takes me twelve seconds to think about what to say, five more to realize again I won’t have any control over it, seventeen seconds to argue with myself, ten to shut off the voices in my head, and by then a full minute has gone by in utter silence. If someone was watching this without knowing what was going on, they would probably think we were mimes that didn’t do mime stuff. Just sad, sad mimes—
Mrs. Paquinn finally acts like Mrs. Paquinn and interrupts my intelligent internal monologue by saying, “Bear, I think having sand in your butt crack must be really uncomfortable. Maybe you should go change your clothes. You don’t want to catch sand crabs. What’s the point of getting crabs when you weren’t having any fun doing it?”
“Sand crabs?” I spit out.
“Sand crabs,” she repeats. “I can just imagine that the rest of the day won’t go well for you when you have to go to the doctor and explain how you got a sexually transmitted disease without actually being sexually active.”
“Is it considered an STD if they’re sand crabs?” Creed muses out loud.
“Oh yes,” Mrs. Paquinn replies. “I should think that’s a real thing, but I can’t say for sure because I would be lying. But it seems to me that it certainly sounds like a real thing, doesn’t it?”
“You can get crabs from a toilet seat,” the Kid adds. “MSNBC did this black-light thing in hotel rooms, and it showed crabs in the bathroom and ejaculate on the ceiling.”
Is this really happening?
“My goodness,” Mrs. Paquinn breathes. “How did it get all the way up there?”
“The crabs?” Anna jumps in. “Well, I’m pretty sure they can jump off of you—”
“No, dear,” Mrs. Paquinn interrupts. “The ejaculate on the ceiling. That just doesn’t seem humanly possible. I’ve never known a man to be able to do that. Not that I’ve had too much experience in the matter. My Joseph, God love him, wasn’t capable of quite the superhuman feat himself.”
“I don’t know,” the Kid says with a shrug, his forehead scrunched in deep concentration. “They never said how it got there. What’s ejaculate, anyways? They didn’t explain, but I want to know why it glowed in the black light.”
Mrs. Paquinn shifts her weight to turn toward the Kid. “Well, Tyson, when a man and a woman—or a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, but I don’t think that works quite the same way—love each other very much and decide to have relations, ejaculate is what comes out and makes babies. Well, it makes babies if you are a man and a woman. If it’s just two men, I would assume all it makes is a mess.” She peers at Otter and me for clarification. We give none.
“Oh,” the Kid says. “So does spanking and fisting make babies too? I mean, if it’s a man and a woman?”
I choke on my tongue.
Mrs. Paquinn looks stern. “I wouldn’t know anything about that. My Joseph, God love him, was never into that kind of thing. He was very vanilla, as I believe they say these days.”
“Vanilla?” the Kid asks. “I tried vanilla soy ice cream once, and it was gross. Even for soy ice cream.”
Creed laughs. “I think it’s not the vanilla part of it, Kid. All soy ice cream is gross.”
The Kid shoots him an evil look. “You say that, but I bet it’s just your veal-induced guilt talking.”
“Veal is cow, Kid,” Creed argues. “What good are cows if we can’t eat them?”
“Veal is baby cows! Why would you eat baby anything?”
“Veal is baby cow?” Creed asks, looking slightly green and horrified. “How in God’s name did I not know that?”
Anna pats his arm. I watch them closely as she says, “I think there’s a lot about a lot of things you don’t know.”
“It’s okay, Anna,” the Kid says, letting out a long-suffering sigh. “I have some literature that Creed can take with him and read. It’s life-changing.”
Mrs. Paquinn sniffs. “I don’t eat veal either because I just feel so guilty picturing their little faces every time. But I’ll have a steak every now and then. No one thinks grown-up cows are cute.”
“Is veal really baby cows?” Creed whispers.
Are you all fucking insane!” I scream.
Mrs. Paquinn claps her hands. “Oh good, Bear has finally decided to speak.”
“About goddamn time,” the Kid mumbles.
“Watch your mouth,” Anna admonishes him, lightly tapping him on the back of his hand. Then she smacks Creed on the back of his head. “And he gets those words from you, so you watch your language too.”
“Bear just said fucking!” Creed whines, rubbing what I’m sure is a gaping wound on his head.
“Well, Bear just felt left out of the conversation, and he’s had a rough night,” Mrs. Paquinn explains. “I think ‘fucking’ was the straightest way to the point he was trying to make.” She suddenly raises her hand to her mouth and giggles as she blushes. “Fucking was the straightest? Oh, listen to me, making funny sentences.” Creed and the Kid laugh. Anna smacks them both again. Then they all stop and look at me. I open my mouth to speak.