Today I am so pleased to welcome TJ Klune to Joyfully Jay. TJ has come to talk to us about his upcoming release, A Destiny of Dragons. Please join me in giving him a big welcome!
Back in 2014, life was strange for me. I was in a terrible place. I hadn’t written anything since December 2013, having been dealt a blow no one saw coming. I had ideas (so many ideas) of what I wanted to work on, but I was apathetic to the idea of writing at best. I was tired all the time, and worn down. I couldn’t bring myself to care.
But then one Saturday morning in September, I woke up and one of this ideas that I’d been thinking on came roaring forward. I went to my desk, opened a new Word doc, and wrote almost 15K words in a single day.
Looking back on it, I think what I wrote that fall was a version of therapy for me. I was angry and sad and hurt in ways I hadn’t been in my life. I needed a reason to be happy.
The Lightning-Struck Heart was the result of that need. It’s manic and weird and ridiculous and over the top to the nth degree, and I wrote the hell out of it. I put everything I had into it. By the time I finished, I was exhausted, but it was cathartic in ways I hadn’t expected.
It turned out to be (for reasons I still don’t understand) one of my most popular books. Not everyone likes it, of course. If you don’t like over the top humor and dumb situational comedy, you’ll hate it. And that’s okay. It reads like a bullet fired from a gun in that it doesn’t slow until it hits the end.
When I decided to go back to Verania for a sequel, I had planned on two more books.
But even when I started A Destiny of Dragons, I knew it was going to be different. Gone was the odd frenetic need to make each scene more ridiculous than the last that I had in Lightning. I knew the story I wanted to tell, and knew it was going to be a big story (so big, in fact, that by the time I was half-way done, I knew there was no chance I was going to finish it in two books). Oh, sure, Gary is still Gary and Sam is still Sam. Kevin is a perv, Tiggy is smarter than most people think, and Ryan will always be dashing and immaculate and a bit of an idiot. But the story wasn’t going to be a retread of Lightning, no matter how many people want it to be. While the humor is still very in-your-face, I think Destiny has a heft to it, a weight that airy Lightning didn’t. Who I am now as a person and an author is not the same as the person and author that started Lightning that fall morning three years ago. Life has changed for me, both good and bad (as life often is), and the world is a very different place now than it was then.
And that shows in my writing, and the story I am going to tell you, now spread over three books: A Destiny of Dragons, The Consumption of Magic, and A Wish Upon the Stars. All three will be published within a few months of each other, so the wait won’t be long.
Lightning, for the most part, was candy-bright and sunshine warm. But I do think, like most fairy tales, there was an undercurrent to it, a slow simmer of darkness. Originally, it was more blatant; the scene where Sam has a conversation about the Great White dragon in the Dark Woods was originally much longer, giving more hints at something to come. In the end, I ended up cutting a lot of it out, because at the time, it didn’t fit with what I was trying to make Lightning to be. However, there are hints left in that scene that show the direction he next three books are taking.
One other thing in Lightning that is a huge deal in the sequels is almost a single line that could almost be treated as a throwaway. There’s a moment where Sam says he brought a bird back to life when he was seventeen. That’s pretty much it. It’s never brought up again.
But that line has always stuck with me. Because Sam is told how powerful he is. He’s told how strong he could be.
And that was why I started these new books. Because the reader is told about the level of Sam’s magic, but they never really get to see it.
You’re going to see it now. Beginning in A Destiny of Dragons, Sam of Wilds is going to find out just how powerful he actually is. And what it means to have that kind of magic, and the ramifications it holds to the world around him. Especially when a great many people might not like that he has that power.
Destiny is a comedy. Full stop. These books will always be comedies first.
But much like I’ve had to over the past three years, Sam is going to have to change in order to keep his head above water. I’ve got faith in him, though. He may stumble, and maybe it will take him a bit to pick himself up, but I know he’ll prove himself in the end.
Once upon a time, the wizard’s apprentice Sam of Wilds got his happily ever after in the arms of his cornerstone, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart. A year has passed, and while Sam’s been captured five or six more times since then, things are pretty great. His parents are happy, Gary and Tiggy still eat sass for breakfast, Randall is somehow alive despite being older than the gods, the King rules with a gentle hand, Kevin the dragon is as gross as ever, Morgan sighs a lot, Ryan continues to be dashing and immaculate, and Sam is close to convincing Prince Justin they will be best friends forever.
Life is good.
Until it’s not.
Because Vadoma, the leader of the gypsy clan and Sam’s grandmother, has come to the City of Lockes with a dire prophecy written in the stars: a man of shadows is rising and will consume the world unless Sam faces his destiny and gathers the five dragons of Verania at his side.
And she brings along her second-in-command, a man named Ruv.
Ruv, who Vadoma says is Sam’s true cornerstone.
When TJ Klune was eight, he picked up a pen and paper and began to write his first story (which turned out to be his own sweeping epic version of the video game Super Metroid—he didn’t think the game ended very well and wanted to offer his own take on it. He never heard back from the video game company, much to his chagrin). Now, over two decades later, the cast of characters in his head have only gotten louder, wondering why he has to go to work as a claims examiner for an insurance company during the day when he could just stay home and write.
Since being published, TJ has won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Romance, fought off three lions that threatened to attack him and his village, and was chosen by Amazon as having written one of the best GLBT books of 2011.
And one of those things isn’t true.
(It’s the lion thing. The lion thing isn’t true.)