It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Since I’ve been able to say we’re only a few days ahead of the release of a new BOATK book. Far longer than I actually planned it to be, but life gets in the way. You probably know that now, how life got in our way, so there’s no sense in rehashing it. We’re looking forward, Eric and I.
Still, it’s been a while. When Who We Are ended, I knew I was going to set the boys aside for a while so I could focus on other things. It may surprise you that I knew the story for the third book, even when I was finishing the second. Okay, maybe not the whole story, but I knew the bones of it. I knew how it would start. I knew where it would go. And I knew how it ended. It was all the filling in that I wasn’t sure of. But, like with the other two books, there’s never a lot of meticulous planning when it comes to the BOATK books. With them, I write and see what happens. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t write any other books like that. The book I’m working on now I have pages upon pages upon pages of notes for, given that it’s the biggest project I’ve taken on to date. It’s dark and fast and twisted and crazy and I fucking love it. But we’ll talk about that book(s) another day.
It might also surprise you to know that you’ve actually already read part of BOATK3. At least, a small part. The shorts I released, Just Breathe and Word of the Day, are part of the third book in the Bear, Otter, and the Kid series. I wrote them as a way to say thanks to my readers. But I also wrote them to continue to tether myself to the BOATK world. And when the time finally came to start writing the book, I knew that those shorts were a part of the much longer story.
And so I put my fingers to the keys and wrote.
And wrote what turned out to be the longest, funniest, saddest, angstiest book in the series. Of course, that is just my opinion. You’ll have to form your own.
The Art Of Breathing is divided into three parts. The first of which shows Tyson from a young age, growing up until he graduates High School at the age of sixteen and has to make a decision about his future. Part two is him coming home for the first time four years later. Many of you have repeated that part of the blurb back to me with something akin to horror (…he returns to the coast with four years of failure, addiction, and a diagnosis of panic disorder trailing behind him… ADDICTION? FAILURE? PANIC DISORDER?!?!? TJ KLUNE, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE??????????? Does that sound about right?). Trust me when I say it makes sense for Ty, even though it’s hard to see him go through it. And panic disorder is almost a forgone conclusion, given his propensity for the bathtub. It’s just the earthquakes, given a proper name. The third part is…well. The third part is where Tyson learns the art of breathing.
Some warnings. This is a slow burn romance, probably the slowest that I’ve written. But I think it’s also the most well-earned. The reason for this is two-fold: first, Ty and Dominic can’t be Ty and Dominic until Ty figures out who he is. It’s just not possible. For all that he’s been through, and for the reasons he’s stayed away from Seafare, I didn’t think it made sense for any kind of immediate relationship. That’s not how these characters work.
Secondly (and probably the one I cackle the most gleeful over), is that I wanted the tension to build. And build. And build until you’d be screaming if (when) something finally does happen between them. More and more with my own reading, I find myself relishing the build-up, the dance, the anticipation. There’s always a bit of a let-down when that part is over, because there’s something magical about two people skirting around each other’s edges.
The sex in this book is minimal, probably about the amount of BOATK. I don’t write erotica. It’s not my cup of tea. Honestly, if I thought I could have gotten away with it, I would have written out all of the sex scenes in Into This River I Drown. There is absolutely nothing wrong with erotica, or explicit sex scenes. Many writers out there are wonderful at it, who juggle sex and plot very well. Sex scenes bore me, however, for the most part. You know how sex works. You’ve read it before. But unless you have an emotional connection to what you’re reading about, then what’s the point? It’s that build up. That dance. That anticipation. I love that. I hope you do too. But still, there’s a bone-sesh. Or two. You know. For reasons.
Ty will make you want to pull your hair out. I guarantee that. In the first two books, he was precocious, manipulative, endearing, fierce, and way beyond his years. But underneath all that, he was still a child, and that fragility showed through. Now, he’s almost twenty years old. He’s precocious. And manipulative. And endearing and fierce and way beyond his years. But he’s also a teenager, so that means he’s fragile. He flip flops. He meanders. He’s hesitant and unsure, brash and sarcastic. He grew up, but he’s still the Kid.
The Art of Breathing was always meant to be a sort of reverse Bear, Otter and the Kid. Instead of having someone come home to you, it was going to be coming home to that someone. There are obvious parallels between Bear and Tyson’s stories, and I loved playing off those. People who know the first two books well will find little easter eggs sprinkled throughout.
This is not going to be an easy book to read, however. It was not an easy book to write. There is humor here, and lighter moments, but this book is about the heartache of growing up. The heartbreak of growing apart. The need to find your way home again, and be able to stand there on your own two feet. I needed to make sure Tyson could stand before I let him go again. Because that’s how it feels every time I finish a story about this funny little family: like letting go. It hurts. I hate it. They’re on my mind constantly. It’s not going to be easy when we eventually have to say good bye. But like all things, it’s inevitable. Their word of the day.
So. By the time you read this, the book will be nine days away. I hope you’re excited. I hope you’re ready to see them all again. Creed and Anna. Their son JJ. Their parents. Mrs. Paquinn, in her own way. Dominic. Some new faces. Some old friends.
And Bear, Otter, and the Kid, of course. For those that have come with me this far, I hope it feels like coming home for you as much as it always does for me.
There is love here. And life. And laughter. (And even a road trip!) But there is going to also be pain and sadness. Anger and fear. And death, because that’s also inevitable. Because that’s how life works. That’s how we know we’re alive. How we know who we are.
But there will be happiness. I promise you that. In the end, there will be happiness. It’s something I have always believed. And now, more than ever, it’s something that I will always hold on to.
So. I know there’s a lot of anticipation for this book. I’ve been very fortunate about that sort of thing in my short writing career. It’s not lost on me, and I am grateful for it every day. There’s pressure to deliver, but I thrive under pressure, and I think I’ve done that here. This story may have taken two years. But it came when it and I were ready, and I think you’ll see it was worth the time it took.
In nine more days, I’ll let Tyson take over, because he’s got a story to tell you about how he learned the art of breathing.
And I can’t wait for you to hear it.
PS: Also, the title of this blog post is interesting, don't you think? Sure, it could be just talking about my expectations and yours and nothing else. Certainly not hinting at anything all. Right?
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