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.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Asexuality & Me; Or, How I Can Be 33 Years Old & Come Out Again

            My name is TJ Klune.
            My real name is Travis Klune.
            I answer to both.
            I’m an author. I write books about dudes falling in love with other dudes, having heart boners for each other, and getting into wacky adventures that sometimes involve unicorns or really smart vegetarian ecoterrorists-in-training.
            I like lasagna. I like reading out on my back deck. I like going on walks and trying to get lost on purpose. I talk a lot. Sometimes, I will go on Wikipedia and three hours will have passed and I have gotten lost in a Wiki spiral. I also like dogs, cats, tacos, the way it smells the morning after it rains, Britney Spears, men with beards, writing, playing video games, and pulling weeds in my sorry excuse for a flowerbed that wraps around my house.
            I like laughing. I like making other people laugh. Sometimes, I make people have Wookie Cry Face. I’m not a people person, to be honest. I have anxiety disorder and it sometimes fucks with my head a little bit. I’m still not all the way okay after events that started in December 2013 that led to a necessary dissolution of a relationship I was in. Eric needed to focus on himself, and I couldn’t find a way to be part of that focus, and for that, I sometimes feel like a failure, like I wasn't strong enough to do what other people could have done in my place. I get nervous in front of large crowds, even if people don’t think I do. I like to write how I think people talk. I started telling people I was gay when I was thirteen years old because it was the closest thing that made sense.
            So, hi!
            I’m TJ Klune.
            My real name is Travis Klune.
            I answer to both.
            I’m also a sex-positive asexual.
            Now, I know what you’re thinking. Really, Tj Klune? You like BRITNEY SPEARS? WTH.
            And to that, I say shut up. I love her. She will always be my queen.
            You may also be thinking, sex-positive asexual? What is…that.
            And that’s a fair question.
            If you look at www.asexuality.org, you’ll see that asexual is defined as someone who does not experience sexual attraction.
            That’s a fair definition, even if it’s a bit broad.
            If we were to delve into it a bit further (because there is always subsets to the subsets), there is the term homoromantic, which is defined as a person who is romantically attracted to a member of the same sex.
            Sex-positive means that I can understand and appreciate the sexual aspect of a relationship, even if I don’t necessarily need it.
            So, if we’re being specific, I’m a sex-positive homoromantic asexual.
            And holy shit, that is a fucking mouthful.
            Which is why, for the longest time, I just thought I was gay. And that’s what I told other people. Because I didn’t know you could be anything else.
            Look, I’ve had sex with men. Quite a lot of sex, if I’m being honest. But ever since I lost my virginity, I never really understood why I wasn’t feeling the way others seemed to feel about it, or why I didn’t have the same reaction my partners had. I’ve had sex. I’ve had what can probably be labeled as holy fuck that was good sex. I can…um. Complete. Finish. Glaze donuts, make you look like a lava lamp, or whatever.
            But the sex never felt like what I thought it was supposed to feel like. I could understand the motions behind it. I could understand the good and the bad of it. I learned to know how to do it. It has always been consensual.
            It just never felt like more.
            I am okay with sex.
            I just don’t need to have it. And, if I’m being honest, would sometimes prefer not to have it at all.
            It was easier for me to identify as gay, because I was attracted to men. I don’t want to have sex with women. I don’t want to be in a relationship with a woman. If I ever saw myself in a relationship, I always thought it would be with a man. That hasn’t changed since I was eleven years old.
            But I don’t know that I want to do that anymore. Because I don’t know that that’s who I am.
            If you look above at the first definition of asexuality, it says an asexual does not experience sexual attraction. There is a difference between attraction and sexual attraction. I tend to be attracted to the way people talk. The way they laugh. The way they think. I am attracted to sarcasm and snark and intelligence. It’s not about being sexual. It’s about being compatible.
            I have never been sexually abused.
            I have never been hurt in a sexual way.
            I just don’t need sex.
            And that’s okay. It really is. I am learning to be happy again. I am learning more about myself than I have in the previous thirty three years. I’m learning that I am one weird motherfucker, and that’s okay.
            So what does that mean for you?
            Good news!
            Absolutely nothing.
            Because nothing will change.
            It’s just a label, after all.
            Did you see those things I wrote about myself before?
            Those are the things that define me.
            I am weird and quirky and I talk too much and sometimes, I can’t control the way my brain thinks. Sometimes, I get sad and don’t know how to fix it. It usually goes away by itself.
            Labels aren’t necessary. Just because I’m a certain way, shouldn’t necessarily mean much to others. If you like me, I hope it’s because of all the reasons I listed first. If you don’t like me, I hope it’s because of those same reasons.
            Being asexual may be a part of me, but it doesn’t define me.
            Why the label, then? What was the point of all of this?
            I've tried to be very transparent in the last four years since I've been an author. Many of you reading this have been here since the beginning, seeing me fumble my way through being in a spotlight for the first time in my life. Some of it was good. Some of it bad. Much of it probably awkward and cringe-worthy. 
            But I've always tried to be as honest as possible with anyone who follows me. There have been times I've received emails or comments from some sixteen or seventeen year old, saying how my stories have helped them figure out who they were. And if I can keep on doing that, I will. This is me saying that this is who I am. This is the way I'm supposed to be. And you can sure as shit bet I will fight tooth and nail for every shred of happiness I can allow myself to have. And if that helps someone else, then I like to think I've accomplished what I've set out to do. Label yourself, don't label yourself, it doesn't matter. Just find a reason to be happy with who you are or who you could be.
            I’m TJ Klune.
            My real name is Travis Klune.
            I answer to both.
            I like carrot sticks. And putting sour cream on pizza. And watching cat videos on YouTube. My brother and I still think farts are funny. I have a nephew who I adore, and I think my sister is one of the strongest people alive. I really like my friends. I’m going to a couple of baseball games next weekend with Abi Roux, even though baseball is boring. I had a bad week at work this week, so I’m glad it’s the weekend. I want to write a book about an author who writes monster porn. I’m probably going to mow the lawn tomorrow. I like ketchup on way too many things, Stephen King, Fallout 3, Jennifer Lopez romantic comedies, classical music, driving with the sunroof open, and Christmas (119 more days!!!!)
            That’s who I am.
            That’s what I do.
            I just also happen to be asexual.
            And you know what?
            That’s okay.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Post-Release Thoughts on The Lightning-Struck Heart & What's Next

          There was a moment in The Lightning-Struck Heart that I knew there was no going back. It was a point in which I had to decide if I wanted this to be crack or if I wanted this book to be mega-crack.
           It really should have been a harder decision than it was. Frankly, I am a little embarrassed about how easily I caved into mega-crack.
           Can you figure it out?
            Sure, there are plenty of moments that I’m sure you had while reading that made you go TJ got into the good shit when he was writing this.  And I almost wish I could use that as an excuse, but unfortunately I can’t. This book shows just how exactly my mind works, probably more so than anything else I’ve ever written. It’s not a pretty sight, and is undoubtedly very strange, but I think I was tired of holding back.
            I’ve been criticized that the humor doesn’t stop, allowing readers a moment to breathe, that it can be overwhelming. That is certainly a fair criticism that I would never dispute. My humor is not for everyone, much like the books I write are not going to be for everyone. And that’s okay. I will never write a book that is universally loved because not everyone likes the same thing. One person might think my books are funny while another thinks they are overwrought and boorish. But I like that dichotomy, because it shows just how varied people can be. I like quick dialogue. I like a rapid fire pace. And I won't change or apologize for that.
           The point of no return?
            The Gary/Kevin sex scene where Gary’s safe word is Sam.
            Yeah, I think that even I was slightly horrified that I decided to go that direction.
            And when Gary and Kevin started their long-term relationship and were magically inclined to believe that Sam was their child?
            I don’t even know, man. That was a thing that happened and I honestly stopped and stared at the screen for a while, finally saying, “What the fuck is going on here.”
            Below, I’m going to discuss a few things in the book. Obviously, there be spoilers ahead, so beware. I’ll also discuss the future of Tales From Verania, so you know my plans for my merry band of crack babies.
            Now, be honest with me. If someone had told you that the favorite character out of a fantasy book full of characters would be hornless gay unicorn named Gary who ate sass for breakfast, would you have believed them?
            Yeah, me neither.
            But here’s the thing. I’ve said before that without Gary, I wouldn’t have written this book because Gary was the first voice I heard.  And I knew when I started writing him, almost from the very first chapter, that he was going to steal every single goddamn scene he was in.  He wouldn’t have had it any other way. And the fact that he was in almost every single scene? Well, that just made it all the more important for me to write him as best as I possible could
            To me, Gary is a fierce, independent unicorn who don’t need no mens, but there is something fragile about him. I didn’t delve into a lot of the mentioned past abuse he and Tiggy underwent at the hands of Koklanaris, but I think it was a very serious thing that went on for a long time. And the fact that his horn is missing (and just how did that happen?) only added to the insecurities he must have had. All of which he hides under an exterior shell of bitchy wordplay.
            And Tiggy, man. I was honestly surprised just how many people loved Tiggy as they have. Nearly for every mention of Gary, Tiggy is sure to follow, and that makes me happier than I could ever say. For a while, I was worried Tiggy would be overshadowed by the others, given that he is a half-giant of a few words, and the words he uses could make him seem simpler than the others. And that would be a fair argument, though that was never my intent. Tiggy doesn’t have the mind of a child, nor is he one. I think that’s just how he is. He’s not stupid. He’s not an imbecile. He’s Tiggy.
 Favorite Scene & Easter Eggs

            Writing comedy can be very difficult, especially when writing some of the bigger scenes with multiple lines of dialogue. I by no means am a master at it, but I’d like to think that I have the hang of it by now.  Certainly, I’ve had enough practice.
            And the bigger scenes can be like set pieces in an action movie. You know, those big, huge spectacular spectaculars that are meant to make your eyes widen more than any other part of the movie.
            In comedy, think the awkward dinner scenes in the BOATK books.  Or the first date between Paul and Vince in TMIR with a certain hippo video.
            These scenes generally become my favorite because they take so long to work on. I am proud of them by the time they are done, because I really want to make them shine, so later, when you’re finished, they stick out in your mind as being some of the parts you remember the most.
            My favorite comedic set piece in TLSH?
            I could almost say the river scene with a wet Ryan and how Sam has wood. Or Kevin’s introduction, where Sam learns his name for the first time.
            But honestly, there really is no contest, because for me, it will always pale in comparison to the chapter titled Are You a Foxy Lady or a Sam Girl?
            God, do I love that chapter.
            Lady Tina DeSilva, man. Sam’s arch nemeses. She is a fucking hoot.
            The idea of fan clubs and shipping just intrigues me. Why is that a thing in our culture? Why do people ship characters from a TV show or movie or book, either because they are actually together in whatever media they are in or not? There are literally millions of Tumblr pages dedicated to shipping characters and I don’t know why. But I love it.  And I wanted to use that, in a way, in TLSH (also, I should point out that shipping of book characters plays a big part in my next book, How to Be a Normal Person, out this October, /end shameless plug). But since this was a fantasy setting, there was no Tumblr.
            So a fan club was born.
            There are fans.
            And then there are superfans.
            The ladies (and Mervin) are superfans.
            There is a bit of a Gary Stu quality to Sam, because everyone does seem to be charmed by him, whether or not he’s actively trying. I am aware of that. It was really rather intentional. Lady Tina represented a counterpoint to that because they despise each other. And that’s not going to change. Tina will always hate him and vice versa, because I think that anything else would be a disservice to the antagonistic relationship they have between them.
            That scene, though. When they see Ryan for the first time and all of them scream, even Sam?
            That just cracked me up.
            And you may have noticed a few (more than a few) references in the book to other things. So far, people have found the Hustle & Flow reference, the Top Gun reference, the Super Mario Bros. reference, and Friends (Russ and Rochelle!) reference in the book. There are a few that haven’t been pointed out as of yet. Easter eggs like that make me happy (especially the Super Mario Bros. one), just because they really have no place in a book like this. But I put them in there, anyway, just because I could.
The Future of Verania
            Inevitably, (in this case, on the first day, JFC) a question gets asked on a book like this.
            When is there going to be a sequel?
            I honestly didn’t set out to write a series.
            I have too many other books going on.
            But by the time I’d finished, I saw just how big of a world I’d written here. And just how many stories there could be.
            And then there was the fact that I didn’t want to leave Verania. I enjoyed my time there far too much to say goodbye just yet. This book came at a time when I needed to write something happy more than any other point in my life. It helped put my sanity back together and gave me a purpose.
            So yes.
            There will be sequels.
            Two, in fact.
            I can’t say when. I have a few other long-awaited things to do first (BOATK4) (BURN2 yes, I hear you Burn fans, you can put down the pitchforks now), but there will be more stories here. That idea of a destiny of dragons intrigues me, as does what exactly a cornerstone will do to protect the one he loves.
            But that seems like a little while off yet.
            And I just don’t want to wait too long.
            Coming next month, right here, I’ll be releasing the very first Tales From Verania short story. I hope to make this a series that I’ll publish a story every few months on.
            The first subject?
            Lady Tina DeSilva leading a fan club meeting after the events of TLSH, and trying to keep Rystin alive. And by the end, she will have her own destiny to fulfill.
            God, this got long.
            My bad.
            I tend to do that.
            If you’ve read all the way to the end, and did the same with TLSH, I thank you. If you have yet to read it and just read a shitload of spoilers, I say thank you (and also, what the fuck). The sheer amount of you that have embraced this book like you have was not something I expected. Because of you, I get to keep on doing what I’m doing.

PS: I’ll see you next month when we do this whole book release thing all over again when I start teasing—er, promoting  How to Be a Normal Person.