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, February 9, 2013

Tell Me It's Real: Pre-Release Thoughts (About Stuff And Things)

Wow.  Haven't had a pre-release blog in some time, now have I?
            You know, it’s funny.  When I finished Who We Are in late 2011, I didn’t think it would take this long for me to be published again.  My plan was to immediately start on Elementally Evolved Book II: Break, knowing that when Burn was released a few months later in February 2012, people would be clamoring for the sequel as soon as they finished the first one (little did I know then that “clamoring” was putting it lightly; shrieking bloody murder is probably closer to the truth—patience, Burn readers: you’ll be getting answers to some very important questions a whole heck of a lot sooner than you think).
            But then life happens.  Good and bad, I guess.  Let’s flash forward past the first four months of 2012, shall we?  No need to rehash old news.  Needless to say I wasn’t writing on anything, much less Break. 
            Finally, a couple of days after Who We Are came out, I kicked my own ass and picked myself up.  I dusted myself off and got back to work.
From May 2nd to approximately the end of July 2012, I wrote 340K words.  Let me repeat that: I wrote three hundred and forty thousand words.  In the space of less than three months.  Pent up much?  The first novel, Into This River I Drown, is probably the most epic thing I’ve written, at least in scope and cast.  It’s a sprawling novel about fathers and sons, the secrets they have and share, and the meaning of the word sacrifice (and yes, at its heart, it’s a love story between Benji and Cal).   I will say, with confidence, that River will be my most divisive book among readers, even more so than Burn.  There’s really going to be no middle ground on this one.  That’s all I’m going to say on it for now.  March 25th is when River comes out and I’ll have a blog post up before it’s released (in addition, I’ll have a playlist up for River as well.  Sorry, no playlist for TMIR—I couldn’t find a way to make it work, so I am forgoing it this time.  But trust me, the playlist for River, for those that follow those, is pretty damn epic).
After I finished River, I wanted to continue the momentum I had going and immediately started working on a book that, in my head, had initially started out as BOATK 3.  The problem with that is that it didn’t ring true to the story I had in mind for Dom and Tyson.  The narrator, who was supposed to be Tyson, came off sounding way to much like me. While I am a part of the Kid, he has his own voice, separate from my own. So, in the end I scrapped it as BOATK3 and started it with completely new characters.
Then, with the BOATK issue out of the way, I made the plan for it to be a short novel, about 60K words.  Yeah.  That didn’t happen.  At all.  It’s over twice that. 
Tell Me It’s Real.  What can I tell you about it?  What if I told you I like it better than BOATK and WWA?  Would you find that to be sacrilegious?  Blasphemous, even? 
Well, guess what?  It’s a better novel than BOATK.  It’s a stronger novel than WWA.  I’m a stronger writer than I was even just last year.  Granted, I still have so very much to learn, but I am more confident now with my words, and I think that will show.
When I scrapped it as BOATK3, a new idea started forming in my head.  Stick with me on this:
You know what I hate?  Insta! love stories.  You know what I mean: boy meets boy (or shifter meets boy, or shifter meets shifter or boy meets goat) and they have sex the first day, fall in love the second.  And, all the while this is happening, everything is “Honey” this, or “Sweetheart” that, or “Baby, baby, baby.”
For example:
Boy 1: “Hey, I just met you and this is crazy.  Here’s my number, you want to move in with me, baby?”
Boy 2: “I don’t even know your name, but yes! Yes! A thousand times, yes!”
Boy 1:  “I’m going to stick it in you now, baby sugarplum fairy tits.”
Boy 2:  Introspective: This is what true love feels like!
Boy 1: “Urgh. I just spooged all up in you, honey bear flower blossom.”
Boy 2: “I can feel you moving inside me.  That’s how I know it’s love.  What’s your name?”
Boy 1: “Dax McEllory Von Sleptoberg.” (because remember, all m/m romance names are ridiculous now.)  “What’s yours, gumdrop sugarface?”
Boy 2: “Blaze Stoningham Wilskenshire.”
Boy 1: “You need a pet name.  I shall call you Tator Tot.  I love you, Tator Tot.”
Boy 2: “I love you too, Daxy baby floobity flab.”
You know what I hate?  That.  Because you know you’ve read a story exactly like that at some point in time.
But. (Of course there’s a but!)
What if love at first sight could work?  Without all that gross superfluous crap added into it?
I heard a story, right before I started writing TMIR, of a man and woman who’d met, fallen in love, married and moved in together, all in the space of a week.  They were being interviewed for their fiftieth wedding anniversary.  When asked how he knew that his wife was the woman for him, he just looked over at her, a small smile on his face, and said, “When you know, you know.”
When you know, you know.
How profound is that?  How deeply moving?  How fucking romantic? 
Then I got to thinking.  Is there such a thing as love at first sight?  Is that biologically and humanely possible?  To listen to this man speak of his wife, you’d think it was.  Of course, the pessimist in me scoffed at such a notion.  It’s hard being a romantic cynic, trust me.  I assume it’s akin to being bipolar.
But what if?
Why not?
So here’s what I did: I decided, in my infinite wisdom, to write a story about love at first sight, but to make it as realistic as possible.  Once I gave in to the idea that it could happen, I wanted to see if I could write it and have it be believable.
After writing ITRID, I wanted it to be lighter, funnier, sweeter (though with a bite to it).  It needed to be snarky, and sarcastic, and outrageous and ridiculous (in a good way).  So I started writing.  It took me 36 days to finish the first draft.  And, up to that point, I never had a better writing experience than I did with TMIR
Here’s what I can tell you:
Paul, your narrator: an overweight, shy, overtly sarcastic 30 year old man who is more than the sum of his parts.  He has a two legged dog named Wheels and his best friend is the drag queen Helena Handbasket.  His parents and his nana Gigi don’t give a flying fuck that he’s gay (though, his nana’s homophobic parrot, Johnny Depp, says otherwise).  I wanted his family life to be happy, as I’d had my fill of homophobic parental stuff after Julie in BOATK.
And then there’s Vince.  Ah, Vince.  Vince is… what is he?  Vince is the other main character.  Vince is… well, Vince isn’t exactly smart.  And that’s putting it mildly.  And he’s so far out of Paul’s league (so Paul thinks) that he might as well be on another planet.  But from the moment Vince sees Paul, something happens and….
            Ah.  You’ll just have to read it.
            I will say this, though, with some confidence: TMIR is the funniest thing I’ve written, because it came from a time when I needed to laugh. A romantic comedy can’t be a romantic comedy unless you have some…you know…comedy.  I tried to avoid any of the usual pitfalls and clich├ęs that plague the genre, of which I myself have written as well (as a matter of fact, I go so far as to poke fun at a lot of them and myself: emotional style vomiting, anyone?)
You remember that dinner scene from WWA?  How the conversations flowed over each other?  Many, many readers who’ve written to me mention that as their favorite scene out of the whole book.  That’s awesome, because I am so very proud of that scene.  But just you wait until you read the text message scene between Paul and Vince.  All who have read it so far have mentioned it one way or another, and I think it actually rivals the dinner scene and may even surpass it.  It’s very simply done, but it still cracks me up to read it to this day (which is saying something, with how many times I’ve had to go through TMIR to get it ready to be published).
Will you cry?  You know what?  Had I been asked right after I finished it, I would have said no.  But, the feedback I’ve gotten from beta readers all the way up to the final proof reader is that yes, yes you will.  (Sorry.)  (Kind of.)  (Okay, not really.)  But, it’s not going to be from any kind of unnecessary angst (I’m saving all that for BOATK 3 =D).  Certain… circumstances happen and I can see how that could make people tear up.  I recommend, however, saving as many tears as you can for ITRID.  And then for John and Jackie in May.  And quite possibly for Ghoul’s Gym (which, according to the beta reader for Eric Arvin and I, we did the impossible by making the reader cry in the middle of reading about a zombie apocalypse. Epic).
So! February 15th (six days!) is when you’ll get to meet my new cast of characters in Tell Me It’s Real.  And it also marks the start of my publishing year, as I’ll be releasing more this year than the past two combined.  I can’t wait for you all to read what’s coming next, and I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I have.

Much love,