Hi, Edmond! Thank you so much for joining Under the Covers Book Blog ~ we are so very happy to have you here! We at UTC absolutely love The Lost and Founds series, and we are just thrilled to chat with you!!
Wow, what a delight to discover you liked The Lost and Founds! Fantastic. (I’m blushing.) I’m really honored that you came to care for Vin and the men he loves.
For starters, please, please, please tell us where the idea for The Lost and Founds came from. The idea behind this series is so incredibly unique ~ like nothing I have ever read before. I really am in awe of your imagination and the stories you’ve weaved for readers.
A few years ago, I wrote a short story about a man with no name, just some nameless narrator, and a sexy weekend he created with a hot stranger. Because I was writing a story that didn’t matter to me, I didn’t put the same kind of pressure I put on myself when trying to write The Great American Novel. I decided to throw in some masculine archetypes, some Joseph Campbell hero journey stuff, some insane plot twists and I also included little riffs on the food items I was hungry for at the moment I was typing. It didn’t matter. This was just a throw-away short story.
But guess what?
It was better than anything I had ever written. The story flowed with ease in a way my previous, more ‘serious writing,’ did not. And it was damn fun to write. I mean, really damn fun.
It dawned on me then that for many years I hadn’t been writing with my authentic voice, but rather what I thought was my authentic voice. My authentic voice is goofy and sad and heartfelt and distracted. Writing Vin’s stories helped me unlock my authentic story-telling voice and helped me find the stories I tell best: stories of head-bent sorrow and goofy, laughing joy.
As far as the imagination goes, I have no idea where the king stuff comes from. I suppose years of reading Greek mythology, X-men comics, ancient Egyptian folk tales…it all comes out in a way that’s unpredictable and twisted. The stories come to me (like King Aabee and King Jimbo) come to me almost in finished form, stories about their lives and how they lived. I don’t even tell *all* the stories about these fictional folks – only the stories that Vin thinks will serve his purpose.
What are your plans for the series ~ how many books will be in the series? Do you already know how everything will end?
I have ideas for roughly 9 books in the series, but really the first six are the ones I’m committing to. Everything will be wrapped up by Book 6, so readers who have been waiting for answers GET THEM. I mean…perhaps not everything in the world will be answered by Book 6, but all the big stuff. (Got to leave a few mysteries in Vin’s life, of course, because he’s an unusual guy with an unusual life.)
As a reader, I get irritated with book series that don’t pay off and provide real endings within the first six installments. Six is pushing it, as far as I’m concerned. That’s right, J.K. Rowling, I’m looking at you. But seriously, if it took Harry Potter 17 books to finally defeat Voldermort, I’d be pissed off. I don’t think it’s fair to string readers along for more than six books. It’s not polite. Plus, didn’t you always worry that J.K. Rowling would get hit by a bus after Book 4 and then we’d all be pissed that we’d never see the proper endings to Harry Potter? I worried about that.
I’ll do my best to avoid getting hit by a bus and keep to my writing schedule.
As for your second question, yes. I plotted out all six books, the big stuff anyway, and I know who interacts with whom, when, how two characters meet up again and what secrets they reveal. So, yes, there is definitely a plan.
In fact, in each of the books, there are clues and revelations about the coming kings. For example, in King Perry, there were many references to Mai, whose story is next to be told next. Vin remembers Mai several times over Perry’s weekend, as Mai’s adventure was three years earlier. In fact, the solution to the mystery in King Mai can be found buried in King Perry. I love twisted little clues and foreshadowing. I think that stuff is fun, especially when you reread a book the second or third time and realize the clues were there all along. During the first reading, those clues were just meaningless sentences but now…now you know something new.
In King Mai, again there are references to the next king whose story is to be told. I’m also spelling out clues to Vin’s future in the letters and words he likes, so there are many little tidbits to find. A few may not make sense until all six books are out.
For us greedy readers, when is the next book to be released? Can you tell us who it will be about? Have we met him? When will it take place?
You have definitely met the next king. Heh. A person who finished reading King Mai should ask ‘Which real-world king is mentioned a lot?’
But if you’re interested, you can meet him sooner than Book 3’s release. Between each of the main books, I’m releasing a few chapters from Book 6, King Daniel. If you’re scrunching up your face right now and thinking, ‘huh?’ It’s okay. You’re right to be confused. Vin’s story is weird. The telling of these tales will be a little weird.
Six months after the release of King Perry, I released three (free) chapters from King Daniel, the 6th book in the series. King Perry takes place in 1999. King Daniel takes place in 2013. What is the world like today with all Vin’s kings running around out there? What is Vin doing these days? Hmmm. Each of the King Daniel chapters provide answers to mysteries (as well as introducing new mysteries) regarding The Lost and Found kings. Also, chapters in King Daniel serve as an introduction to the next king whose story will be told.
So, when the next chapters of King Daniel are released (I’m writing them now!), they will officially introduce the man whose story is told in Book 3.
You might ask yourself, ‘why does Edmond makes this so complicated?’ I don’t know. Good god, I don’t know and I wish I did, but I do love mysteries and puzzles. There is a plan. I promise, there is a plan.
The bad news is that I’m a slow writer. So we probably won’t see Book 3 until 2014 (super late Spring? Summer?). Don’t you like how I gave all these paragraphs of explanation about King Daniel to soften the blow when my direct answer to your question is: you’re gonna have to wait a while.
I’m one slippery eel, aren’t I?
For UTC readers who have not yet read your works, can you tell us a bit about the series? How would you describe the genre for The Lost and Founds?
Most of these modern, real-world fairy tales are narrated by Vin Vanbly, a garage mechanic from the Midwest who has acquired some skill and giftedness in a rather odd hobby. He ‘kings men.’ Not sure what that means? Nobody is. Even after finishing the book, you may find yourself wondering, ‘what just happened here?’ Each of the books is a tale of a man Vin kings, the first being an investment banker from San Francisco named Perry Mangin.
In the second book, King Mai, Vin finds himself in love with a small-town farmer with a big-time problem: he’s about to lose his family farm to shady bank characters unless something miraculous happens. Vin Vanbly might just be that miracle. Or possibly his worst nightmare. Hard to tell at times.
Vin is infuriating, food-obsessed, manipulative, and at times, kinda loveable. While the books are titled after each of the men he finds, the series is truly about Vin.
As far as genre, well, there’s some debate about that. Some reviewers have said that it’s not truly a romance. Others have argued that it’s the most romantic romance ever. I guess I would define it as gay- -adventure-romance-thriller-spiritual literature. How’s that? Hrrrm. I haven’t had much success in defining the genre myself.
Vin Vanbly is one of the most amazing characters…truly. However, he is not an uber-hot, ultra-fit alpha male that most people expect to find in the main character of a book. Nonetheless, I just love him to pieces. Can you give us some author insight about Vin?
Here’s what I think: Vin Vanbly is the bear you had as a kid that had one ear ripped and fuzz poked out the side a little (which you keep jamming back in). He’s a little rough around the edges but he smells like home and you want to take him on adventures and make him a guest at your tea parties. Well, I do. He is scruffy and loveable and loyal to you without fail.
But you nailed it – he’s not the uber-hot, ultra-fit alpha male.
I think people want that alpha male in hopes he would be able to keep you safe. He might take you to your limits but you trust that he will somehow make the experience about you and even more importantly, use the experience to better love you. We take comfort in ultra-fit or uber-hot as one of the defining qualities of an alpha male. And I will admit that I love those stories, too. But sometimes the alpha male is the quiet one in the back of the room, the one noticing people. And if you’re lucky, he noticed you.
Vin is not the first guy who gets noticed in the room. Or second. Or fifth. Maybe not the seventh, either. But he’s the one you want around and thinking of you when shit goes down. He will love you and keep you safe. And ultimately, that’s what I think draws people to him, despite some obvious character flaws and his lack of six-pack of abs.
And speaking of Vin ~ obviously we don’t want to be spoiled (okay, well, maybe only a little) ;), but will the series end with Vin as the Lost being Found? Will there be an HEA for him…an HEA like the other Kings are receiving?
Short answer: Big. Fat. HEA.
Before I published King Perry, I had no intention of telling anyone if Vin would have a HEA. I thought ‘that’s like telling everyone Voldermort is defeated in Book 7.’ That’s what we assume is going to happen – it has to or we, as readers, will get pissed – but the author doesn’t say it aloud.
Then, I received a few polite threats via email along the lines of “Dear author, I really loved King Perry. Loved it. And if you don’t give Vin a happily ever after I am going to hunt you down and tear off your eyelids. Thank you. Loved the kidnapped duck!”
So, uh, yeah.
I’m very touched and honored by how much people care about Vin and the depths to which people need for him to not be miserable. I get that hurt because I have loved characters that deeply.
Originally, I wanted a little suspense by my saying nothing, but it was never my intention to make readers sad for six years, wondering if Vin gets his. I don’t want readers to be sad for six years. No way. So, I decided to tell it: Vin gets a HEA. It’s coming. It’s gonna be real good. But in the meantime, Vin suffers a little more. Sorry, but he has to suffer or the HEA isn’t going to rock your world.
One thing I find so interesting is how we went back in time with King Mai, and there were so many references in it that had appeared in King Perry. When you began the series, did you have it all laid out so that you could interweave the stories?
Yes, I did. Here’s the thing.
The second king story must offer new surprises that are a different kind of surprise than those offered up in the first book. If Vin’s style becomes too predictable, by the third novel, readers will yawn and say, “Oh right, here comes that time of the weekend when they steal something. Right on cue.”
Each King Weekend had to offer something unique from every other story. New insights about the narrator, Vin and more revelations of his strange and sad history. Also, the stories themselves had to be unpredictable in some ways. This made me consider that if a reader followed Vin’s King Weekends moving forward through time, starting with the very first kinging, you’d watch Vin get better and better at this. Better, more polished Vin = more boring.
C’mon. Stories have to have a little random unpredictability, right?
I realized that if the king stories happened three years apart and traveled backward in time, you’d catch Vin making more mistakes, more blunders. And gosh…what if one of the kingings from his early days doesn’t ‘take?’ What if he fails to king the guy? Wouldn’t that be interesting?
Readers need not worry – even looking at his past kingings, Vin remains the same weirdo narrator with word obsessions, food fixations, and the unflappable ability to manipulate the hell out of anyone in a ten foot radius. (He’s still scary like that.) But he’s a little less polished. Makes more mistakes.
One can only wonder what kind of screw-ups we will see in the third book of this series, the one that takes place in 1993.
King Mai was an incredible story, and Mai himself was much the same. Will we get to see more of him? Will we learn about the kingings that he conducted?
Perhaps sooner than you realize. After I finished writing King Mai, a bunch of secondary characters from that novel spoke to me and said, “Nuh uh. You’re not done here. We got some stories we want told.” So I’m working on a book of short stories about some of those characters.
I just loved the ending of King Mai ~ pass the Puffs, please! While readers do find out what happened, is there any chance that we will ever see Mai talking with his parents and bubbas after he exits the corn alone?
*wiggles eyebrows* Read the answer above this one.
Lastly, is there anything you would like to share with our readers? Anything about yourself or your books?
King Perry was published by Dreamspinner and it came out under their “Bittersweet Dreams” line. I requested that line, given their parameters for publishing. But at the time I had no publishing experience and didn’t know that everyone stays away from Bittersweet Dreams books because they’re almost always guaranteed a depressing ending.
I fear that label prevented a number of people from reading King Perry (and King Mai) who might like it. So I guess if you liked King Perry or King Mai, tell your friends it’s not nearly as depressing as it first seems. Haha. Thanks!
Thank you, again, Edmond for taking time to chat with us! 😀
In a trendy San Francisco art gallery, out-of-towner Vin Vanbly witnesses an act of compassion that compels him to make investment banker Perry Mangin a mysterious offer: in exchange for a weekend of complete submission, Vin will restore Perry’s “kingship” and transform him into the man he was always meant to be. Despite intense reservations, Perry agrees, setting in motion a chain of events that will test the limits of his body, seduce his senses, and fray his every nerve, (perhaps occasionally breaking the law) while Vin guides him toward his destiny as “the one true king.”
Even as Perry rediscovers old grief and new joys within himself, Vin and his shadowy motivations remain enigmas: who is this offbeat stranger guiding them from danger to hilarity to danger? To emerge triumphant, Perry must overcome the greatest challenge alone: embracing his devastating past. But can he succeed by Sunday’s sunrise deadline? How can he possibly evolve from an ordinary man into King Perry?
A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.
Purchase Links: Amazon
Adopted from Thailand and never one to fit in with the local bubbas, life has been rough around the edges for Mai Kearns, even before he came out of the closet. Now, almost ten years past the torture of high school, Mai still can’t catch a break: he and his parents stand to lose their beloved farm.
How will a “King Weekend” help change Mai’s fate? What has narrator Vin Vanbly been up to for the four weeks he’s been sneaking around Mai’s hometown? At the urging of a ransom note from ‘The Lost Kings,’ Mai embarks on an impossible treasure hunt chasing mystic poetry, Fibonacci Hopscotch, ancient prophecy, the letter ‘x,’ and a confounding, penguin-marching army.
The stakes are high: if Mai fails, the Lost Kings will permanently claim him as their own. Finding the treasure may unlock the secret to saving his family farm. But can this angry farmer risk opening his broken heart before the weekend is over? Mai Kearns has 40 hours to get very, very curious in this second installment of The Lost and Founds.
Purchase Links: Amazon
About the Author
Edmond Manning has always been fascinated by fiction: how ordinary words could be sculpted into heartfelt emotions, how heartfelt emotions could leave an imprint inside you stronger than the real world. Mr. Manning never felt worthy to seek publication until recently, when he accidentally stumbled into his own writer’s voice that fit perfectly, like his favorite skull-print, fuzzy jammies. He finally realized that he didn’t have to write like Charles Dickens or Armistead Maupin, two author heroes, and that perhaps his own fiction was juuuuuuust right, because it was his true voice, so he looked around the scrappy word kingdom that he created for himself and shouted, “I’M HOME!” He is now a writer.
In addition to fiction, Edmond enjoys writing non-fiction on his blog, www.edmondmanning.com. When not writing, he can be found either picking raspberries in the back yard or eating panang curry in an overstuffed chair upstairs, reading comic books.
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