Today I am so pleased to welcome the fabulous Edmond Manning to Joyfully Jay. Edmond has come to talk to us about his latest release, The Butterfly King. He is talking about the secrets hidden within The Lost and Founds series and even giving us some hints! Edmond has also brought along two copies of the book to give away. Please join me in giving him a big welcome!
The Lost and Founds: Secrets Within Secrets
Well, you know what they say: it takes three to make a pattern. The third book of my series, The Lost and Founds, comes out TODAY (!) and at last I can talk a little more openly about some of the secret patterns that will begin to emerge. Gosh, I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. Of course…I’m only going to tease and give mild spoilers as to some of the secrets…it’s the job of puzzle-lovers to mull them over.
And if you don’t give a rat’s ass about riddles and enigmas, well, don’t waste your brain space pondering and puzzling. Nobody needs to fret over my ridiculous little games to enjoy the books. I just like to amuse myself.
King Perry revealed Vin’s name is not Vin Vanbly. Throughout all three books (and beyond) there are clues to his name, especially in the letters he does not like. King Mai actually strung together the letters in his name but in a way that people may not have realized. Vin doesn’t like himself and seeks to reverse the damage he did in his life “before” becoming Vin Vanbly, so you won’t see him volunteering his name anytime soon. In The Butterfly King, we get another powerful clue as to how his name became Vin. It’s such a big clue I can’t give any hints at all about it. But once we learn Vin’s true name, you’ll be able to see he was hinting at his name all along.
What’s Up With The Sequencing of These Damn Books?
First book in the series: King Perry – 1999
Second book in the series: King Mai – 1996
Third book in the series: The Butterfly King – 1993
Fourth book in the series: ? – ?
Fifth book in the series: ? – ?
Sixth book in the series: King Daniel – 2013
I know, I know. It bends the brain a little bit. But here’s the thing. I have six books planned in the first story arc of The Lost and Founds. (I have ideas for another three books after that…but let’s concentrate on the first six books, shall we? Overreach much?)
I knew the king weekends might get stale if we kept seeing Vin Vanbly manipulate men with ease, time and time again. It’s fun to see him work his magic, but after a while…it gets a little predictable, right? What’s an author to do?
Tell the story in reverse.
First, show Vin as a strong, in-control guy. Show him as ‘master’ of this ridiculous King Weekend business…and then watch him fall apart. As the books go backward in time, we see a different man. Still the same guy, but we see a man more vulnerable, more apt to make mistakes. And in the most recent adventure, The Butterfly King, Vin Vanbly learns that he’s not as good at kinging as he thought.
When I love books, I reread them. I discover new insights and details to love each time. I didn’t know if anyone would love these books, but in case any readers found them worthy, I decided to make the rereading as interesting as possible.
You could read these books chronologically and watch Vin get better at the kingings. Casual references in King Perry would now make perfect sense. For example, when Vin tells Perry, “You’ve never met the King of Bargains,” readers will now know exactly who that means. You will witness the influence of The Butterfly King’s story in King Mai. You will see the influence of King Mai’s story in King Perry.
But you can read them as they were published and have a different experience of Vin Vanbly. You get to see a strong man who didn’t always used to be strong. You uncover mysteries slowly, piece by piece.
Either way, a different reading experience.
Oh. There’s another plot clue in the years between stories. Each of the books happen three years apart (1999, 1996, 1993…) so what happens when that pattern is broken? Why would that pattern possibly get broken?
To be revealed…
I remember reading some one-star reviews of King Perry and thinking, “Yes! I agree!” The reviews complained about Vin’s manipulation, questioning whether the ends justify the means. The reviewers did not like the lies and psychological warfare, even with Vin’s loving intent. Although it’s bad form for an author to comment on reviews, I was soooooooo tempted to respond and write, “Yes, you’re dead right! That’s a problem. I’m so happy you pointed this out.”
In fact, Vin’s “approach” is directly addressed in The Butterfly King, as this excerpt reveals.
The Butterfly King says, “You serve with the Found Kings’ blessing. But they’re not entirely satisfied with your methods.”
This ignites something in me, a spark that lands on kindling. A second ago I felt soft and broken, now that brokenness feels raw and jagged.
He says, “Your dangerous manipulations, the lies, violence. This is not how they envisioned the kingings. This is not the way of Found Ones.”
An angry flame sparks stronger in me. “Oh, I’m sure it’s not. I bet they have their very own special ways. But they forgot to give me an instruction manual. Or any advice. Or, you know, anything.”
He stares at me for a moment and then he chooses to break eye contact. “I believe I will have some pineapple.”
This pisses me off because he knows this conversation isn’t done. “Tell me how to do this. The first couple times, I tried holding men’s hands while they talked about old hurts. I coaxed. Persuaded. Threw a guy a surprise party once with everyone he loved in the room. None of it got a guy to cross over. Not therapy, not cute stories…not making pottery together. Hell, I didn’t get them close enough to their kingship to be dangerous. Only after I break a man down, defeat his last defense, does the kingship take root. So if there’s a puppies and rainbows recipe for crossing a man over, spell it out. For fuck’s sake, let’s do that instead.”
Vin’s method of kinging men is very much the subject of discussion (and debate) in the remaining books. Can he justify what he does because he loves these men? If he doesn’t do what he does, would they ever find their kingship on their own?
I think a central issue all of us—kings and queens in the real world—can relate to is how to best love the people in our lives. Do I push my loved ones toward their own greatness? Do I accept and love them as they are right now? These questions don’t have answers. We have to puzzle them out, just like the characters do.
Vin is evolving and we’ll witness more of his evolution in the fourth book in this series.
Vin’s verbal games
Word salad is defined as a “confused or unintelligible mixture of seemingly random words and phrases, most often used to describe a symptom of a neurological or mental disorder. The words may or may not be grammatically correct, but semantically confused to the point that the listener cannot extract any meaning from them.”
Vin may not exactly have a problem to that degree. But in King Perry, his verbal games certainly manifest itself regularly. For example, consider his reflections on the letter g.
I remember my Golden Gate years, obsessing over the bridge’s letters and relation to the structure’s actual shape, its grace and gusto, guilded gyrations, and all the explorations into the letter g that even I can muster. And boy, can I spend a lot of time with that sultry, squiggly, little bitch. Oh yeah, g, you’re the middle of an orgasm, gushing and goofy. You’re giggly and girly, but you’re gentlemanly, too, a fedora -wearing letter when need be. With your guttural ja-ja, you’re gentle and genuine, unassuming soft touch. Legs uncrossed and recrossed right before us, so we get those sexy goose bumps. Show me those curves, g.
Vin Vanbly’s verbal shenanigans are less-present in King Mai, set three years earlier. A few goodreads’ reviews mentioned that odd detail. In The Butterfly King, Vin still plays with words and letters but to an even lesser degree.
If this is deliberate…if Vin’s goofiness with words and letters somehow increases as the years pass…what on earth could that possibly indicate?
The answer shows up in the fourth book in the series.
Who is D.C.?
The clues are piling up…a king named DC is headed for the world of The Lost and Founds. The star of the sixth book in the series, Daniel, knows of D.C. through Perry. During King Mai, Vin mentions a king with the initials of D.C. as being important to the Great Remembering. Who is he? What is his role?
More on the D.C. story revealed in The Butterfly King.
Someone’s name is being spelled out with letters borrowed from the names of the men Vin has kinged: Perry Mangin, Mai Kearns, Terrance Altham. Whose name? Who is coming?
Books 7, 8, and 9
Three of the books coming after this first story arc (the first six books) were hinted at in The Butterfly King.
Each book tries to honor what’s beautiful about different major religions from around the world. Tacky as this may seem, I’m trying to build one of those “Coexist” bumper stickers. You know those? Each letter uses a symbol from a major religion. King Perry honors what’s beautiful about Christianity. King Mai honors Buddhism. Which religion’s story is told in The Butterfly King?
The location of the fourth book
There is a single sentence in King Perry that if you stumble upon after The Butterfly King, will tell you the physical location of the fourth book in the series. In addition, the king name of the fourth king is prominently illustrated in the final chapter of The Butterfly King.
What is Vin Vanbly’s king name?
It’s been significantly present in each of the three books. I really can’t say more than that. Because that would ruin the surprise, wouldn’t it?
I love when I struggle with a riddle and the solution fits. The solution is not so obscure you roll your eyes and think, ‘that was unsolvable.’ I want to be pleased with the solution to a riddle. I want to grin and say, “Yes, all the clues were there all along.”
If readers say that, I did my job.
In the meantime, if you’ll excuse me, I have more secrets and riddles to create. I can’t seem to help myself.
In fact, I wrote clues into this blog post touching on secrets in the books.
Terrance Altham doesn’t know why he’s been arrested. He’s committed no crime and the cops aren’t talking. Sadly, the man sharing his holding cell talks too much. Known only as Ghost, he is a young grifter, apparently familiar enough with this police station to convince Terrance a break out is possible, and pushy enough to leave Terrance no choice but to follow Ghost into the underbelly of New York City.
Terrified by the unjust imprisonment and the possibility of a life behind bars, Terrance searches for proof of his innocence while Ghost seeks the elusive Butterfly King. But neither man seems in control of the weekend’s direction and the consequences of mistakes are life-changing. As Ghost’s manipulations come to an explosive head, each man must decide amid danger and street violence what kind of man will triumph, lost or found?
Narrator Vin Vanbly (a.k.a Ghost) returns in the most revealing King Weekend yet, where he faces the dark side of his dangerous manipulations, and learns missteps can be deadly. Vin must confront sinister dealings from his past—and a future promising disaster—as he waltzes Terrance across Manhattan in spring, searching for the elusive and charismatic, Butterfly King.
Edmond Manning is the author of romance series, The Lost and Founds. The first three books in this series include King Perry, King Mai (a Lambda Literary finalist 2014), and The Butterfly King. The fourth book? Well, let’s just say it’s going to be titled, King ????
Edmond has brought along two copies of The Butterfly King to give away to two lucky readers. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Wednesday, September 24th at 11:59 pm EST.
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