Today I am so pleased to welcome K.D. Edwards to Joyfully Jay. K.D. has come to talk to us about The Last Sun and The Hanged Man (Books 1 and 2 of THE TAROT SEQUENCE). Please join me in giving him a big welcome!
It feels weird to say this….. but I think a lot of my readers are going to be very, very interested in this guest post.
I’ve devoted a fair amount of interview time talking about my novels; my story inspirations; my world-building. What I rarely seem to talk about is the romance. Love—the very concept of love, in all its forms—is central to my novels, and yet I always find myself hedging away from discussing anything beyond the concept of found family.
So…. Let’s dive right into it. First, my series: an urban fantasy set in a reimagined, modern-day Atlantis. In this time-line, the original Atlantis was destroyed after they revealed themselves to the world in the 1960s, and the remaining Atlanteans have built a new, powerful city on the island of Nantucket. The society of New Atlantis is structured around thrones, and each throne is loosely based on the major arcana of tarot decks. Magic is gathered into archetypes: the Lovers, the Fool, the Tower, the Sun…
My hero, Rune, is the last prince of the fallen Sun Throne. He and his life-long bodyguard, Brand, make their way in a city that constantly dismisses them. The first novel introduces the core duo, and slowly, the series grows larger as “found family” elements make their home bigger.
My novel is heavily LGBT+. As a gay man, I’ve always wanted to write an urban fantasy story in the vein of my own inspirations – Charlaine Harris, Laurell Hamilton, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews – but filled with characters who just happen to be gay. And it’s been the joy of a lifetime to see readers respond to that. I have readers who haven’t just read the first novel, THE LAST SUN, once – but MANY times. They ask me smart and insightful question. They seem to really care for the characters. They are eager to know what happens next. They are freaking dedicated.
I share tidbits with them all the time. I post snippets of future scenes; hints of future storylines; little essays on world-building. But…. I never talk about the romance. So here, for the first time, I’m going to psychoanalyze my hesitations, and hope I still have readers left when I’m done.
Sexual and romantic identities. I think one of my greatest, greatest learnings from writing LAST SUN was that I don’t deserve a Diversity Medal because I had gay men in my book. There was so much else I needed to figure out first. There is a huge spectrum of sexual and romantic and relational identity out there. These identities have been around forever – it’s just that now we have words which help short-cut our understanding of them. And the more I explored these identities, the more I saw that readers had already seen themselves reflected in my characters.
Demisexual readers saw a lot of themselves in Rune’s unwillingness or reluctance to commit to intimacy without a bond of trust in place. And when I finally figured out that one of my characters, Quinn, was asexual, I mentioned it on Twitter, and was just blown away by the response. People were nearly in tears. People were in tears. And as an author, I want to get this right. These communities deserve the representation. And now that I’m learning more, maybe I’m finally ready to explore what these terms mean.
Sexual Trauma. The backstory of my series has dark moments. Very dark. Rune’s court – the Sun Throne – fell when he was 15 years old. It all happened in a single night, when his court was raided. He himself was kept isolated by masked men, and physically and sexually abused. To this day, he doesn’t understand why he was tortured – and why he wasn’t killed.
So part of the reason I think I’ve been unwilling to discuss Rune’s romance with another man – which begins halfway through the first novel – is because I wanted to take that romance very, very, very slowly. What happened to Rune happened years ago; and yet it still informs most of his actions and decisions. Trauma like that doesn’t just go away. It has more than one trigger. It returns uninvited. It is so important to me to get that element right, to honor the survivor, to respect the trauma.
I think as the series progresses, and Rune more and more identifies as demisexual (if not explicitly by name, then by action), him and his boyfriend will realize that absolute trust must come first, while the intimate portion of their love comes a much slower second.
Chemistry. Ah, this is the big one. While Rune is dating another man, he also lives with his lifelong Companion, Brand. It goes something like this: a human baby is somehow adopted or procured; plunked in a crib; and mystically bonded to an Atlantean prince or princess. This human Companion will be their lifelong friend, ally, counselor, bodyguard. They are closer than siblings or twins – they literally experience the entire world from the start together, and share a rough form of telepathy with each other.
Rune and Brand just clicked. From the start. I’ve never, ever written something that meshed as well as those two. There’s a lot of old-married-couple humor; and gruff love; and outright intimacy. Brand will give Rune a massage when his shoulder injury acts up. They hug. They’ll sleep next to each other if they’re tired and stayed up too late. No toxic masculinity here.
But now I have a lot of readers who expect Brand and Rune to be a slow burn. And I also have a lot of readers who expect Rune and his boyfriend (whose name I’m not putting because it’s a minor spoiler if you haven’t read LAST SUN) to heat up independently of that. And I’m fairly sure there’s a strong percentage that want all three together. (It would be a very Atlantean thing to do.)
I never expected to have such dedicated, involved readers. Which means I never thought I’d be in the position where I’d be afraid of disappointing anyone. (I’m not being immodest here. I actually had a young person in Asia who knew every major plotpoint of LAST SUN after discussing it with friends who liked the book, but was scared to read it themselves because they were worried Rune would break his boyfriend’s heart in future novels.)
So this is what I’ve decided.
I know what happens in every novel. I know the villain, and monsters, and storyline. I know where the last chapter takes place in Novel 9. I know the last scene. But when it comes to weddings rings….I’m going to play it by ear. It’s perhaps the only important part of the entire series I’m not going to write in advance. And hope that I’m forgiven for it.
Thanks for humoring my first attempt writing on a romance blog!
All the best,
PS – And, yes. That wasn’t a casual mention. I already know there will be wedding rings
In this debut novel and series starter, the last member of a murdered House searches for a missing nobleman, and uncovers clues about his own tortured past. Rune Saint John, last child of the fallen Sun Court, is hired to search for Lady Judgment’s missing son, Addam, on New Atlantis, the island city where the Atlanteans moved after ordinary humans destroyed their original home. With his companion and bodyguard, Brand, he questions Addam’s relatives and business contacts through the highest ranks of the nobles of New Atlantis. But as they investigate, they uncover more than a missing man: a legendary creature connected to the secret of the massacre of Rune’s Court. In looking for Addam, can Rune find the truth behind his family’s death and the torments of his past?
The Tarot Sequence imagines a modern-day Atlantis off the coast of Massachusetts, governed by powerful Courts based on the traditional Tarot deck. Rune Saint John, last child of the fallen Sun Throne, is backed into a fight of high court magic and political appetites in a desperate bid to protect his ward, Max, from a forced marital alliance with the Hanged Man. Rune’s resistance will take him to the island’s dankest corners, including a red light district made of moored ghost ships; a surreal skyscraper farm; and the floor of the ruling Convocation, where a gathering of Arcana will change Rune’s life forever.
K.D. Edwards lives and writes in North Carolina, but has spent time in Massachusetts, Maine, Colorado, New Hampshire, Montana, and Washington State. (Common theme until NC: Snow. So, so much snow.) Mercifully short careers in food service, interactive television, corporate banking, retail management, and bariatric furniture have led to a much less short career in higher education, currently for the University of North Carolina System.