Please join us in welcoming Edmond Manning to Sinfully.
Six Books? Are You Crazy?
No, not crazy.
But crazy people rarely think they’re crazy, right?
But I’m not. I’m sure of it. Otherwise, I’d feel crazy. This just feels a little scratchy on the insides, and a little giggly at times, but it’s not what you’d call craaaaaaaaaa—
Although I can understand why someone would want to question my judgment.
I didn’t start out wanting to write six books. Hell, I wasn’t even trying to write one book. It just worked out that way. I started writing a short story about a strange guy who I ended up naming Vin Vanbly. I liked his “failed porn star” name. He had a peculiar hobby in which he kinged men. I didn’t know what the word “king” meant—well, not as a verb, anyway. But I wasn’t trying to write a novel, I was satisfying a writing itch with some crazy improv fiction—jazz fiction, if you will, and not even smooth jazz. I wrote about Vin and the land of kings, making up details and king names, merging Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey into the main melody—the masculine archetypes, some of my favorite foods, word games, secret clues in hated alphabet letters, throwing this hodgepodge of metaphor and whimsy and grandiose sentences around like riffs of music—until I discovered I had written an entire song. Or rather, a novel.
It came together like a song.
By the time I finished writing all these crazy chapters, I had accidentally published a full novel on a free post-your-story website. I realized how much I liked this goofy narrator who was smart but never finished school, a man who understood people really well but didn’t know how to be one. A man who helped find kings—restore them to their greatness—but couldn’t do for himself what he… oh, you get the picture. A modern day Charlie Brown with a decent-sized cock.
As I pondered this gentleman, and what I might do with him, I came to see that his story arc was much bigger than I first imagined. In fact, what I had written was the fifth book in the series. Immediately, I knew the themes and the types of men he would meet in the first four books. And, of course, one book would be required to bind all these people together, thus, the need for a six-book story arc.
I never meant for it to go down like this. But once I conceived the story arc in its fullness, I found I couldn’t let go. Six books. Some of them with joyful endings, and one or two with frustrating endings. (Dear Reader: Sorry about that.)
There have been challenges writing six books, I’ll admit it.
Early on, I realized that in order to stay interesting:
- each book had to highlight different qualities within Vin, while remaining true to his core personality.
- each man he kinged had to have different issues, different experiences crossing over into kingship, illustrating the wide variety of kingings.
- each physical location had to represent a different energy in the world (and ideally, honor a different type of person who might live in that location).
- each book would reveal different secrets about Vin’s past and future.
- each story must reveal new secrets of the world of Found Kings.
- each kinging had to become less likely to succeed.
That last bullet—the need for each kinging to become less likely—troubled me. If readers observed Vin acquiring his abilities over time, and gradually getting better at them, the books would bore. Readers would say to themselves, “Oh yeah, here’s how Vin will get out of this one.” Or “I remember when he did this same thing back in the second book.” Yaaaaaawn.
To prevent that, I realized I would have to write each book earlier than the book preceding it. That means the first book—set in 1999—would showcase Vin as a skilled magician. He would be good at the kingings when we first meet him, and readers would only glimpse hints of his long journey to get here. The second and third books would have to happen earlier than 1999 so we could see Vin making mistakes, some small and—earlier in time—some catastrophic.
The more I brainstormed, the harder this challenge loomed: write books going backward in time to show Vin screwing up more and more. Each backward step had to be true to the mythology, and though I was writing Book Two after Book One, events in Book Two happened three years earlier, which meant all the goofy traditions from the Book One should at least make an appearance in Books Two and Three because those happened prior. Is your head spinning? Mine is. Or was. Or is.
But I’m not crazy.
What I am, is a sticky-flip-chart guy. I stuck those giant yellow pages from a flip chart pad on the walls around my spare bedroom and plotted Vin’s journey. When three papers weren’t big enough to contain my ideas, I added a fourth, and a fifth for scribbling. I eventually migrated everything to a spreadsheet, to track king names, plot points, clues reinforcing clues, and also the name Carl. For some reason, I like the name Carl a lot, and I kept naming secondary characters “Carl” in every book, and then forgetting I had already used it, so I had to track it.
Tracking your Carls is not an easy task.
Were there details, I dropped? Sure. Did I miss a few good opportunities to better reinforce some clue about Vin’s future, or DC’s past, or who is coming into someone’s life when? I’m sure I did. This is the first six-book story arc I’ve written. Bound to be a few mistakes.
But some things that look like mistakes aren’t. For example, in King John, there’s this weird sentence construction:
Thinking of the four pillars makes me think of Julian, beloved Julian, my first Burning Man king. Julian was my third king. Took me quite a while to recover from the first kinging, before I felt ready to fulfill the mission they gave me. Find them. Bring them home.
Don’t dwell on it. Don’t think of them.
There’s some number and pronoun confusion here, right? If Julian was the first Burning Man king—where Vin officially began his craft—and it took Vin a while to recover from “the first kinging,” how does that make sense? Who is the second king?
“Don’t dwell on it. Don’t think of them.”
This awkward pronoun and numbering was pointed out by my editor, who tactfully wrote me and said, “You lost me. Change this?” I explained that I couldn’t. Everything in those sentences was a clue.
Now that the first four books are published, I can focus my attention on rewriting the already-in-existence fifth book in the series. See? That’s not crazy.
That’s a plan coming together.
Oh, I almost forgot. To keep things interesting, I interspersed chapters from Book Six—releasing them between Books Two, Three, Four, and (soon) Five—so that readers would have clues about the future as well as having mysteries from the past solved. To do this, I’ve been gradually writing Book Six, out of sequence, and releasing three chapters at a time.
Now, that….that’s just crazy.
Well, not crazy crazy. Just giggly. And itchy.
English attorney Alistair Robertson can’t quite believe an astonishing tale of kingship and transformation he hears at Burning Man, the annual counter-culture art festival in the Black Rock desert. Who are the Found Kings? Is “being kinged” as magical as it sounds?
Determined to find the mysterious garage mechanic named Vin who helps men “remember who they were always meant to be,” Alistair catches his quarry amid the extravagant sculptures, fire worshipers, mutant cars, and lavish costumes. After searching for three years, he’ll finally get to ask the question burning inside him: “Will you king me?”
Wandering together through the desert, Vin Vanbly and Alistair explore Burning Man’s gifting culture and exotic traditions, where they meet the best and worst of their fellow burners. Alistair’s overconfidence in Vin’s manipulative power collides with Vin’s obsessive need to save a sixteen-year-old runaway from a nightmarish fate, and the two men spiral in uncontrollable, explosive directions.
In this fourth adventure of The Lost and Founds, beneath the sweltering summer sun and the six billion midnight stars, one truth emerges, searing itself on their hearts: in the desert, everything burns.
Meet Edmond Manning
Edmond Manning is the author of the romance series, The Lost and Founds. The books in this series include King Perry, King Mai (a 2014 Lambda Literary finalist), The Butterfly King, and King John. King John takes place at Burning Man.
Winner’s Prize: An eBook copy of King John
King John Blog Tour:
Mon, Sept 7 My Fiction Nook
Mon, Sept 7 AJ Rose Books pre-release excerpt #1
Tues, Sept 8 Thorny, Not Prickly pre-release excerpt #2
Wed, Sept 9 Love Out Loud pre-release excerpt #3
Thurs, Sept 10 Facebook Release Party, 7p-9p Central, hosted by Bike Book Reviews
Fri, Sept 11 Reviews by Amos Lassen
Sat, Sept 12 Vanessa North.com
Tues, Sept 15 MM Good Book Reviews
Wed, Sept 16 The Novel Approach
Thurs, Sept 17 Purple Rose Tea House
Fri, Sept 18 Posy Roberts.com
Sat, Sept 19 Zipper Rippers
Tues, Sept 22 Joyfully Jay
Wed, Sept 23 Boys In Our Books
Thurs, Sept 24 It’s About the Book
Fri, Sept 25 Lou Harper.com
Sat, Sept 26 Love Bytes Reviews
Sun, Sept 27 Sinfully Addicted to Male Romance
Mon, Sept 28 Josephine Myles.com
Tues, Sept 29 Molly Lolly
Wed, Sept 30 Coffee and Porn in the Morning
Wed, Sept 30 Stumbling Over Chaos
Thurs, Oct 1 The Blogger Girls Reviews
Sat, Oct 3 Because Two Men Are Better Than One
Sun, Oct 4 The Hat Party!
Fri, Oct 2 Jessewave
Mon, Oct 5 Prism Book Alliance
Tues, Oct 6 Jaycee Edward.com
Wed, Oct 7 Hearts on Fire Book Reviews