Hello everyone! Today I am so very excited to welcome Edmond Manning to Joyfully Jay! Edmond has recently released the absolutely fabulous book King Perry. For those of you who read my review earlier today, you know I went crazy for this one! I couldn’t wait to talk about it and Edmond graciously agreed chat with me about the book and has generously brought a copy to give away to one lucky reader! (see the end of the post for details)

Welcome Edmond and thank you so much for joining me today!

Why, thanks, Joyfully Jay! What a fantastic intro. I’m so happy you loved King Perry. That makes me smile ’cause I have been groovin’ on your site.

First off, can you tell us a bit about yourself Edmond?

Sure. This morning I ate delicious cheesy potatoes with peppers and sour cream at this restaurant that’s about five hours north of Minneapolis. Some friends bought a motel here in Grand Marais called The Mangy Moose and I drove up for the weekend for their soft opening. I also devoured blueberry pancakes chock-full of real blueberries. Crazy good. There was a sausage patty involved.

I suppose you were looking for a bigger-picture, perspective, eh?

Well, I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As my day job, I work as an instructional designer focusing primarily in the world of e-learning. I do laundry on the weekends and I have a large lawn monster in my front yard that was carved out of a tree in my front yard. I’m a typical, middle-aged white guy who watches too much TV on hulu.com and intends to eat healthier just after I finish my cheesy potatoes.

I’ve been writing fiction for 20+ years, but for a very long time I did not feel it was good enough to publish. I thought I wrote decent enough, but I spent my entire life loving amazing fiction, so I wanted my writing to *sparkle* with something original before I pursued publication.

As I mentioned, I reviewed the book earlier today, but can you give us a brief overview of what it is about from your perspective?

When people ask me to summarize this book, I’m often at a loss for words because how on earth do you say: “There’s this guy who believes in a world of Found Kings (whom may or may not have magic powers). These kings have somehow gotten lost in the world, so this guy goes around restoring them to the kings they were always destined to become. This novel is one of those restoration weekends narrated by the king-finder, Vin Vanbly.”

Huh.

Actually, that’s the first time I summarized the book in a way that I like. I may have to use that response again, actually. Wow, thanks for asking me that question.

I think the real story lurks just at the edges of this book: who the hell is this narrator, Vin Vanbly? How did he get this weird set of skills? Why does he do this? How dare he attempt what he’s attempting? King Perry is the first book in this series, which means I’m going to answer all those questions eventually.

But honestly, nobody knows how to summarize this book. My favorite thing has been to go on Goodreads and read observations from people who comment on their current reading status. Several people have posted around the 30-40% completed range to write something like this: “I have no idea what is happening in this book, but I love it.”

The whole idea of the Lost and Found kings just fascinated me. I think that there are so many people who have lost that little bit of themselves and don’t even realize it is gone. I like to think that there are people out there trying to help steer us back. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you came up with this idea?

Years ago, I attended an experiential weekend for men, called the New Warrior Training Adventure. While most of the staff and initiates are heterosexual men, GBTQ men are very much welcomed. In roughly 40 hours, my life was changed: my heart opened significantly, and I remembered more of my life dreams, my fire, my inspiration. I understood the impact of how my life decisions allowed me to block some of my creative fire, how I allowed myself to become a semi-conscious adult. Suddenly I found myself surrounded by men who wanted to focus their lives on integrity and service to the world. In your words, they “steered me back.”

There was no one philosophy that was right. These were Christians, non-Christians, pagans, Buddhists, white collar, blue collar, old men, young men, gays, straights. One of these New Warrior friends worshipped Ganesha. I found myself in a community of Found Kings.

(I feel obligated to say that this transformational weekend adventure had NO SEX in it whatsoever. Or Alcatraz visits. Or duck stealing.)

Edmond’s Lawn Monster

I loved the tale of the Lost kings and especially King Aabee. Can you tell us more about the origins of this story? Is it something you created? Or is this a story that you found and incorporated into the book?

I’m not sure how much I can say about Aabee’s true origins without giving away spoilers from the book. But I can say this…for the mythology of The Lost and Founds and King Aabee’s story in particular, I drew from Joseph Campbell’s Power of Myth, Greek mythology, and Robert Bly’s interpretations of masculine archetypes: the lover, warrior, magician, and king.

I love being influenced by old mythology, the forgotten tales that are somehow still right at the tip of our consciousness. King Aabee’s tale is right there among them.

I love reading a story and wondering ‘have I read this before? Or does this story ring so true inside me somehow that I only think I’ve read it before?’ There’s this delicious space between remembering and imagination where we find truths about who we are and the world we live in.

Maybe you’ve heard King Aabee’s tale with someone else’s name. Or maybe your heart knows Aabee’s story is true because your heart simply knows in a way that your brain cannot.

For those who have finished King Perry and are curious about how I personally was touched by my own “King Aabee,” I blogged about it back in 2008, before I wrote this novel. But it does contain spoilers, so I’m only recommending reading it if you finished King Perry.

http://www.edmondmanning.com/2008/05/18/the-dandelion-king/

The details of San Francisco were just amazing. I was there years ago and I could still recognize so much from your vivid descriptions of all the places Vin and Perry visit? Have you spent a lot of time there? Or did you just do a lot of research?

The answer to your question is “yes.”

Alcatraz

Image by Ricky Romero

In the final months of 2007, I lived in San Francisco for four months. While I had been to San Francisco many times over the years, living right near the Castro for four months was a dream come true. I lived in a spacious, third-floor apartment in a Victorian house with French doors that opened into tree branches from the lush forest of growth in the entire block’s collective back yards. I felt like I lived in a kid’s idealized tree house in the middle of the city. I visited the ocean many weekends, strolled the redwood forests so often I developed favorite trees, and just generally fell in love with that city. It’s magic.

After my time in San Francisco, I returned to Minnesota and wrote King Perry, which a good friend described as “a love letter to San Francisco.” It’s true. A year later, I returned to San Fran for a business trip and arranged to spend an entire weekend traveling Vin and Perry’s path. I took hundreds of pictures, amended descriptions of certain places, counted steps on Alcatraz, etc. I even bought a cooler and took it to the ocean where I tied it to ocean rocks to see how much damage it would sustain bobbing in the surf. Fighting a cooler in the ocean surf was a bit challenging but I wanted book details to feel realistic.

Perry and Vin have a lot of wild experiences over their weekend, many described in quite knowing detail. Any chance you have ever done any of these things yourself (I promise I won’t report you to the police)?

I am sure I have no idea what you’re talking about and I would never knowingly commit a crime that would land me in jail. Having said that, I respectfully decline further comment on the grounds that some crimes have a seven year lifespan, during which a person might be arrested. (Not that I performed any such illegal actions.)

Anything secretly hidden on Alcatraz?

No one has ever asked me that! The answer is yes. [OMG!  How exciting!]

I found it interesting that the book was set in 1999, just a decade or so earlier than present day. But I am curious whether you had a particular reason for picking this time period.

I had a few curious problems that I wanted to solve with the year the story takes place. I want all the King Weekend stories in this series to feel timeless, whether they take place last week or fifteen years ago. I mostly wanted readers to get lost in a way that time refuses to make sense any more.

I also have big plans for Vin and the men that he kinged in our current day and age. The sixth book in the series takes place in 2013. What has Vin been up to all these years? What happened to Perry after his King Weekend back in 1999? How did his life change?

My goal is for folks reading King Perry and the subsequent books to feel genuine astonishment and ask themselves, “What the hell is going on here?” You can’t do what Vin is doing and not change the world just a teeny little bit.

My initial thoughts were that it is still contemporary, but before the constant technology, cell phones, texting, and electronic immediacy we have now, all of which would have changed their experiences so much.

Yes, this concerned me too. If this took place in 2010, why wouldn’t Perry just tweet to his followers (and surely he’d have at least 100 followers), “Trapped on Alcatraz with a psycho. Send cops.”

I have seen on your website that you have plans for more stories in this series. Can you tell us more about what we can expect coming up and when we might expect to see them?

I have an unusual publishing plan.

I’m a slow writer, so I think I’ll be cranking out one of these books per year. If I get better at creating more writing time (and working less of my day job!), I will certainly publish them faster than one per year, but for now that’s my goal. I want these to be high quality stories.

As a reader, that kind of schedule would drive me nuts. I get irritated with writers like me and think, ‘Writer faster, you bastard.’ Waiting two years for the next Harry Potter book was torture.

So I have a plan to give readers a little something between full book releases. Probably around October of this year, I plan to release the first three chapters of Book 6, the one that takes place in 2013. I know that sounds odd – releasing three chapters – but I think it will give those who read King Perry a fun little nugget to gnaw on while waiting for the next release. Some mysteries from King Perry are answered…and new mysteries revealed as we glimpse the world of Found Kings.

Those three chapters will lead nicely to Book 2. And between Book 2 and Book 3’s release, I will release another three chapters from Book 6 that will answer a few mysteries and raise a few more questions…

With Book 6 not under contract anywhere, these chapters would be free to the public, free to download from my personal website.

I told you, it’s an unusual publishing strategy.

Will the future books also feature Vin?

Yes

What about Perry?

Wait until October. ?

I was particularly fascinated with Vin. In future books will we learn more about him and his backstory?

I had a lot of fun writing in Vin’s voice and being in Vin’s head. He’s a sad, wonderful man and I have a lot of respect for him. I get all misty-eyed when I think of all the shit he went through in life and still chooses to be a better man than he was treated.

In each novel, we learn some significant details about Vin, puzzle pieces that begin to weave together. In King Perry, we learn about Billy and the rats. In the next novel, we learn about his life prior to foster care, and more about how he lives his life. In the third novel, we learn why he became a mechanic.

I think you’ll get your fill of Vin Vanbly. GRIN.

(BTW, I noticed that your bio picture has quite a strong resemblance to the description of Vin. Coincidence?)

So funny…when trying to physically picture and describe Vin, I very consciously wanted a character who was not very memorable. I swear, most of the men I see (and yes, I live in blond-haired, blue-eye’d Minnesota) are chunky white guys with blond hair and a goatee. I felt that this vague description was ubiquitous enough that Vin could look like anyone. (I also wanted Vin to be a bear for several plot-related reasons.)

I never dreamed that people would look at my picture and think of Vin. I certainly don’t see any similarities. But yeah, several people have pointed out the ‘strong resemblance,’ and I cringe…that was never my intention. I feel like I should lose weight and dye my hair black.

Is there anything else you are working on that you would like to tell us about?

I’m researching a book that takes place in Jesus’ lifetime. I’ve never written historical fiction and boy, this requires a lot of work to get a well-rounded portrait of those times, how people thought about the world. The main character is gay, but he would never have thought of himself as ‘gay,’ there was no mindset or words for that. I’m fascinated by how people we call GLBTQ lived without the openness to discuss how they were different.

I think it’ll be a few years before this novel gets written. I’m very king-focused right now.

If readers want to learn more about you or your work, where can they find you?

www.edmondmanning.com. I blog when I am so moved…so maybe once or twice a week. C’mon by. Leave a comment or something. You will find all kinds of back stories on things that influenced King Perry, including the “faith in Bolinas” story.

Thank you so much for coming today! I really appreciate your time and I can’t wait to read more from you!
Thank you so much, Joyfully Jay. I’m delighted for such rich interview questions and the chance to discuss my fiction in detail. Thanks for reading and playing with Vin and Perry. I know they appreciate it as well. Thank you, my queen.

Blurb
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 off-beat 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?

Purchase the eBook from amazon.com
Purchase the paperback from amazon.com

And now, Edmond has brought a copy of King Perry to give away to one lucky winner.  This book was so fabulous, I am so excited to help bring it to one of my readers!

The contest will close at 11:59 pm EST on Friday, May 19th.  Just leave a comment to enter!

  • By entering the contest, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Winners will be selected by random number.
  • If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay and leave your email address if it is not in your profile.
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