Hi everyone! I am so excited to welcome back the fabulous Edmond Manning to the blog! Edmond is taking us all on a date! Woo hoo! He has also brought goodies to share with us so be sure to check out the giveaway details at the end of the post. So please join me in giving him a big welcome!
First Date with Edmond Manning
Hi, hi there.
I’m Edmond Manning. Your blind date.
My, you’re looking lovely, not at all what I was expect – wait, sorry, that came out wrong. Very sorry. When I get flustered I tend to ramble like an idiot. Let me try that again. You look really nice. Hardly any gray in your hair at all.
Ugh. I shouldn’t have said that.
I guess on a Writer First Date you just ‘put yourself out there,’ and let new readers casually discover all these amazing facets about your personality and writing style. Why you should read my books. God, that sounds so marketing-oriented. Bleah. I’m not good at first dates.
Okay. Let’s start over.
Hold on – our waiter is here. Do you want something? Yeah, I’ll have a virgin pina colada with vodka and ooo, how about those pickle chip appetizers. And fried green beans. Those look good. We can share of course. Of course. I mean, why would I order a whole plate of pickle chips and then just eat them all myself in front of you? Ha, ha. I suppose I should have ordered something classier but what do you expect from a shithole – oops. Sorry. I’ll try to stop swearing.
So…what can I tell you about myself?
I love to write fiction. Yeah. *nodding*
I’ve been writing since I was a kid. In fourth grade, I wrote a longish science fiction story and gave it to my teacher so she could read it to the whole class. After promptings and wistful stares from me every day, she finally broke down and read my magus opus to the entire class (it involved aliens crashing to earth near a fifth grade boy) and I gloated coolly, waiting for the looks of deep admiration to wash over my classmates’ faces as they stole glances at the writing celebrity seated amongst them.
Waited some more.
The admiration never came.
Walking home from school that day with Scott Altergott, I fished for compliments, feigning to forget a certain plot point (yes, forgetting a plot point in the story I wrote) and asked him what he remembered from our teacher’s reading.
Without a trace of self-conscious restraint, Scott said, “Nothing. I wasn’t listening.”
As one might expect, this cured me of the desire to share my fiction ever again. But looking back, I had quite a burgeoning ego, so perhaps Scott’s honesty did me a favor, though I did not appreciate it much at the time. In the moment, I felt like I died a little.
I continued to write for the next, oh, thirty years but as one might imagine, I grew very shy about sharing my work. I wanted to write stories that were crazy original, showcased great writing technique, and made readers laugh and cry, sometimes within a minute or two of each other.
What writer doesn’t want that?
I wrote and wrote, and while I would describe my efforts as ‘the high end of mediocre,’ the reality is, I wasn’t impressed enough with what I churned out to bother to share or try for publication.
Oh good, our pickle chips arrived. Yum. Try dipping them in the ranch dressing.
Am I talking too much? Oh god, I’m talking too much. Sorry. I’m a rambler.
I’m currently working books series I named The Lost and Founds. The first book, King Perry, came out in 2012 and King Mai was released in July of 2014. (I linked out to Joyfully Jay’s reviews.) If you like, I’ll bring a paperback copy of King Mai to GRL with me. Shoot me an email and let me know. Funny story, the entire premise and plot of King Perry had its origins in another tale.
I had written a love story I really, really liked. For the first time, I thought I had passed that threshold beyond high-end mediocre. In that story, the narrator, Vin Vanbly, said to another character, “Want to hear the story of King Perry? There was a baby duck involved.” At the time I wrote the sentence, I had no clue who the characters were or how a duck was involved. But later, I wondered if I could write an entire book based on a guy named Perry and somehow involve a baby duck as a main character.
King Perry had its origins in that one sentence.
But the books mean a lot more to me more than a goofy writing challenge.
I like writing about love mending heartbreaks, present-tense kindness healing past-tense woes, and I like acknowledging that all of us live with certain griefs in our past that we cannot always hide. While I am a fan of the ‘love conquers all’ ideology, I think that love is more complicated than that – it cannot erase our difficult pasts, but it definitely can soften their impact, melt our hearts more fully to grief and love, swirling together to make us richer, stronger people.
Vin Vanbly, the narrator of The Lost and Founds has a unique hobby – he kings men. You might wonder, ‘what the hell is ‘kinging a man?’ Yes, well, that’s the point of the books, isn’t it? What does it mean to king a man, to elevate him from ordinary to king status? Most of the reviews of King Perry on goodreads begin by saying, “Three chapters in, I had no idea where the hell this book was going…”
I like going on journeys of the unknown, the unexplored, the raw places where ultimate sadness somehow transforms into your greatest triumph, the world becomes goofily insane. All you can do in response is to laugh or dance or laugh and dance.
The men in Vin’s life don’t always understand him either. At the end of King Mai, after Mai’s insane weekend of revelations and heart-opening, exhausting adventures, the rural corn farmer gives up and asks Vin the big question:
“Who are you, Vin? Why do you do this king thing? Why do you—”
Mai can’t speak. He just stares.
I stare back.
Finally he asks, “Why do you king men? That’s my sad question. Why do you do this?”
A solitary tear streams down his beautiful, brown cheek.
I would answer this question if I could, but I never can. It’s complicated. My lack of friendships? The lack of human connection in my own life? Maybe. Maybe I should say that like everyone else, I’m trying to fix the shitty mistakes of my past. Ugh, that sounds after-school-special lame. Even sharing the origins of the Lost and Founds story doesn’t explain why spend my life this way. I am powerless to form words that make any sense. So, like a practiced thief, I will steal his.
I say, “I love the corn.”
He stares at me and does not react as another tear glides down his face.
He loves the corn.
I love the corn.
Two very short sentences but still wasteful by farmer standards, as all the important words are jammed into the first half.
I did the ultimate first date faux pas, didn’t I? I quoted my own fiction. How embarrassing. But honestly, there’s no better way to get to know me, I guess, than to read a little of what I write. You might like it.
And if I scared you off with all this talk of grief and love, please know that I’m a huge fan of hilarity as well. Throughout the weekend, Vin weaves a tantalizing tale of unusual mythology regarding the friendship between King Jimbo the Bruiser and the King of Curiosity.
I say, “Where did I leave off with the Jimbo story? Oh yeah. The two best friends and their goofy contests. Why did they finger-paint while simultaneously trying to stomp each other’s feet? During racquetball, why would they sing at the top of their lungs so their voices echoed and re-echoed a hundred times, bouncing around them more than the ball? The King of Curiosity invented new flying patterns with Jimbo’s falcon, Kalista, who delighted in exasperating Jimbo, who chased her for sport. Once after sloshing through the same stream six times, he finally realized Kalista was fucking with him, and sure enough, the King of Curiosity was not far, snickering behind a tree.
“Did Jimbo’s raw charisma recruit men? Or was it the apple-pie scent of curiosity? Nobody knew. But they came. The wild exploits and stories told of this remarkable friendship drew Found Kings from every land. Those Found Kings who arrived first watched the elaborate games and would say to newcomers, ‘Check it out. They’re idiots for each other.’ These were the origins of A Curious Army.”
It’s official. I’ve been talking about myself for too long.
I knew it.
I told you I was bad at first dates.
Would you like to see each other again, perhaps at GRL? Maybe?
Before you answer, let me say that you really do have beautiful eyes. Your eyes were soft and kind to me when I told of my grade school humiliation and crinkled in amusement a little later, which was fun to see. I like people unafraid to express their love with their eyes.
So, would you like to go on a second—no?
No. Okay, okay.
Was it the crack about gray in your hair?
Don’t sweat it. I get it. I don’t always make a good first impression.
Are you going to finish your fried pickles? Can I—thanks.
They really are best with the ranch dressing.
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.
Edmond is offering up a copy of either King Perry or King Mai to one lucky reader. These are both amazing so be sure to leave a comment to enter. The contest will close on Tuesday, October 8 at 11:59 pm EST.
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
- Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
- If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
- Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
- Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
- By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
- Readers may only enter once for each contest. Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
- Void where prohibited by law.