Theme Songs, Characters, and Book Covers with TJ Klune

September 2, 2015

A big thank you to TJ Klune, who agreed to do this interview and answer the questions of his readers. I also want to thank you, the readers, who came up with the questions and thus made this interview possible.

Thank you for having me!

First of all, name one thing readers would be surprised to know about you.

I don’t know if I have any secrets left! I usually just tell my readers everything these days, no matter how uncomfortable it gets. I like to overshare. I suppose if I had to say something, I guess I can tell you that I can wrap the entire Vanilla Ice song from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies. The song is called Ninja Rap (Go Ninja Go). And yes, it is amazing.

What made you start writing M/M novels? How long have you been writing, and was it a long process to become a published author?

When I started writing, I didn’t really think of it in terms of  M/M, but more in the fact that I just wanted to tell a story. Bear, Otter and the Kid was the end result of that. It was the first story I wrote to completion. It took over a year to write, and I thought I was going to have to submit it to a few publishers before it found a home. I sent it to Dreamspinner first, and they bought it a couple of weeks later. I finished the book in January, and it was published by August of that year.

What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?

Shock. And joy. When I first learned BOATK had been bought by DSP, I really wanted to write back and say, Are you sure? Fortunately, I didn’t do that. And then when Paul Richmond did the cover of BOATK, it just made it all that much more surreal.

Complete this sentence: If I weren’t a writer, I would ______.

If I weren’t a writer, I would probably go insane from all the voices I hear in my head.

I hope this question is not too personal; if yes you of course don’t have to answer it. How do you unite your writing with your private life (family, friends, partner, etc.) without neglecting anyone or anything?

It’s a question of balance. I work full time, and I also write about 15-20 hours a week. It makes for a few late nights, but the people in my life know it’s worth it. It also helps that I’m working toward retiring early from my job so I can write full time. Hopefully, sometime next year that will be a reality.

When you write a book, do you plan it before you start writing or do you let things just develop themselves? Do you work at several books at the same time or do you rather focus on one? 

I can only focus on one book at a time. If I try writing on more than one thing at once, I tend to get distracted by whatever I’m not working on, and it never works out.

It depends on the book I’m writing if I plan it ahead. Books like Burn and Into This River I Drown are meticulously plotted before I write them, just because they are so intricate with large casts of characters. When it comes to the BOATK books, I like how they can meander at times, so I typically just write them with a vague end game in sight. Sometimes it works, other times I have to delete a lot of stuff just to get back on point.

Be totally honest, what’s the most difficult part of being a writer?

For me, it’s probably the social side of things. Before I became a published author, I didn’t have Facebook or a blog and didn’t belong to any online social media platforms. I’m typically uncomfortable in social settings and don’t really do well in front of large groups of people. When I was fortunate enough to have my books become successful, it was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I never thought something like that could ever happen. And a curse because it was difficult for me to get over my hangups about being in a spotlight. You lose a lot of anonymity when you find success, and I never thought I’d have that, so I didn’t prepare myself for it. But I’m getting better at it.

What’s your favorite cover of your books?

It’s a tie between Into This River I Drown and How to Be a Normal Person.

How do you come up with titles?

Depends on the book. BOATK is the more literal out of the titles as it’s titled after essentially what the book is about. I typically have a title picked out when I start writing a book, but 99.9% of the time, the title will change by the end of the book, when a phrase or an idea pops out at me while I’m writing.

Do some protagonists grow dear to your heart more than others? If yes, which are the ones you like best?

I wish I could say no, that I love all my characters equally, but that is a total lie. I have a soft spot for secondary characters, because I want my main characters to be surrounded by people that are real and true.

That being said, my favorites are probably the Kid, Benji from Into This River I Drown, Nana from Tell Me It’s Real, and Gus from the upcoming How to Be a Normal Person.

What character from one of your books would you like to have come alive and be real? Why?

Paul from Tell Me It’s Real. I don’t think I need to explain why.

Which character do you think most closely resembles your own personality?

Paul from Tell Me It’s Real. I don’t think I need to explain why. =D

If you get the chance to end up in one of your books which would it be? Why?

Probably Burn, just because I think it would be so epic to be an Elemental. I can’t wait to get back to that series and write some more. Felix and Seven need a happy ending.

You’ve just inherited a sheep farm. What do you do now?

Sell it, use the money from the sale to start a business where I pretend to be a psychic, but everyone already knows I’m not really a psychic, they just pay me money to make up shit about their future.

Have you ever got insulted because of your books? Or have your books ever got insulted? If yes, how did you react to it? And how do you react to negative reviews although it’s obvious the writer just want to do your book poorly?

Every writer gets negative reviews. It’s just part of the business. Some are honest critiques. Some people just don’t like the book. And some others just want to write something bad, even if it’s just meant to be an insult to the author.  Honestly, I don’t read any of those, or most reviews, really. If someone sends me a review they took the time to write, I’ll read it, because that is very kind of them to do. But reviews aren’t for me. They are for the readers. People can write whatever they want after they’ve spent their money on my book.

Rapid Fire Time

  • coffee or tea?  tea
  • contemporary or paranormal? paranormal
  • sweet or sour? sweet
  • handcuffs or rope? handcuffs
  • day or night? night
  • Rock or Jazz? Jazz
  • cats or dogs? dogs (don’t tell my cat because she will yell at me)

Last week DSP published the german translation of The Art of Breathing. It’s the third book of the series Who We Are. What aspect of The Art of Breathing came to you first – the setting, characters, something else?

The characters, specifically Tyson, aka the Kid. He’s been with me for years, and I was so happy to finally be able to tell his story. I always wanted to see what kind of person he’d grow up to be, and by the time I finished Who We Are, I knew it was going to be a bit of a rough road ahead for him. But I think it worked out okay in the end.

What part of the novel was the most fun to write and why? What made you struggle the most?

The dialogue was my favorite part to write, but then it usually is. I love writing how I think people talk in real life. It’s not always going to be perfect sentences. We ramble, we stutter, we talk in run-on sentences without proper syntax. I try to make it so when you’re reading the dialogue, it sounds like you could be listening in on a normal conversation.

The part where I struggled was with the angst. I absolutely hate reading angst, which is strange given that I’m so adept at writing it.  I’ve really put this family through the ringer, and it was painful to see the Kid stumble as much as he did. I was relieved he figured things out in the end, because there were a few moments I wasn’t sure he was going to.

If you had to pick a theme song for this novel, what would it be?

To Build a Home by Cinematic Orhestra.

Who was the most difficult character to write in this series? What inspired you to create the characters Bear, and the Kid, and their madness of thinking? Are you the same?

The most difficult character to write was probably Mrs. Paquinn. And not because of her age, or the way she spoke, but because of what I did to her in Who We Are. Yeah, that was probably one of if not the most difficult things I’ve had to write.

Bear and the Kid think like they do, because that’s the way I think. It’s manic, it’s oppressive, it’s too much for a lot of people, but it’s my reality. My thoughts are jumbled and I tend to blurt a lot of things out, whether the situation calls for it or not.

Can you tell us a little bit about the sequel of your novel Tell Me It’s Real?

The Queen & the Homo Jock King is the complete opposite of Tell Me It’s Real. Whereas Paul and Vince had a love at first sight relationship (at least for Vince), Sandy and Darren are more hate at first sight. They are very antagonistic of each other, and I love that dynamic. But something happens in the book that forces they together and Sandy learns that maybe Darren isn’t as bad as he seems (spoiler: he isn’t, and there is butt sex).

Tell us a little bit about your newest novel The Lightning-Struck Heart. What inspired you to write this? Who is your favorite character to write in this novel?

TLSH came at a time when I needed to laugh, to write something that made me feel happy. I sat down one Saturday morning in September 2014 and thought, “why not?” and then proceeded to write almost 12K words that first day.  It felt good, writing again, as I hadn’t written anything in close to a years.

 TLSH was inspired by my desire to write a fantasy novel for the Tumblr generation, using contemporary language, but taking it one step further and having every be a snarky asshole using modern lingo. It was also a partial ode to my love for The Princess Bride.

And I don’t think anyone will be surprised that I pick Gary as my favorite. There is something about a sassy unicorn that makes me happy.

Will there be a sequel or do we have to say goodbye to our darlings?

There will be a sequel to The Lightning Struck Heart.

 And one more book in the Tell Me It’s Real series.

And the final BOATK book.

Last but not least: What book will be published next, and what are you working on right now?

The next book will be How to Be a Normal Person, my asexual stoner romantic comedy out in October.

After that, The Queen & the Homo Jock King will be released in January 2016.

That will conclude what I unofficially call my Happiness Trilogy (TLSH, Normal, Queen) before we go back to the more serious, darker works that I also write.

Withered & Sere, part I of my post-apocalyptic story will be out April 2016.

June 2016 will most likely be the release of the book I’m finishing writing now, called Wolfsong.

 Crisped & Sere, part II of the post-apocalyptic story will be out August 2016.

And somewhere in there will be BOATK4. And Burn II.


7 Responses to “Theme Songs, Characters, and Book Covers with TJ Klune”

  1. Laura says:

    Absolutely LOVE the interview! And I can’t wait to read How to Be a Normal Person.

  2. Kate Pavelle says:

    TJ, I loved Mrs. Paquinn and I can see how it would be agonizing to let go of her. Well done, though. I’m looking forward to your books again!

  3. Pamela says:

    I can relate to the way you said you think. I find it tiring sometimes. Reading books and playing games, I find help to let me escape for a bit. Some people think I’m weird but some people love me for it. I’m sure there are lots of people who experience the same thing but thank you for sharing it because its the only time I’ve ever really seen someone else express it. I’m actually going to cry because it’s so nice to feel like I’m not the only one. Thank you.

  4. Colette Flaherty says:

    Have all your books on all my Kindles (3) and read them when I feel sad, happy, angry or even awake. TJ Kline makes me happy!

  5. Colette Flaherty says:

    TJ KLUNE …. Damon you autocorrect!

  6. Colette Flaherty says:

    Damon???!!! I give up.

  7. ewa says:

    TJ Klune I am in awe of you and the strength you possess. Wish you were my BFF.

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