I would like to thank Edmond Manning for taking the time to talk to us about King Perry and King Mai (both 5* reads by Ulysses). King Mai was recently named a Finalist in the 26th annual Lambda Literary Awards. Huge Congrats to Edmond for that! There is also a giveaway, so stay tuned for that.
Book 2 in your Lost Kings series, King Mai, recently made the finals for the Lambda Literary awards. King Perry, Book 1, received 5* from our very own Ulysses, what can you tell our readers about this series?
This is the story of a lumpy, sometimes-grumpy, often goofy, man with a fake-sounding name, Vin Vanbly, and how he found love. But not at first. No, first it is the story of Perry, an investment broker afraid to touch his buried broken heart. Then, it’s the story of a Midwestern farmer named Mai, stuck in a small town surrounded by former high school adversaries. Then it’s the story of…
Eventually, Vin Vanbly will find love. In the meantime, we hang with Vin and a few of the men who help fashion his brokenness into something stronger and better, preparing him for the love of his life.
On the journey, we meet a duck, A Curious Army, the three sons of King Aabee, a strong mom on the Golden Gate Bridge, a tree full of butterflies, sewer rats, a desert dust storm, the king who finds beauty, Vin’s mysterious older brother and many more oddities. It’s quite a trip.
The first six novels represent the first story arc. I have books seven, eight, and nine planned. But we’ll see how tired Vin is after six books. He may want to take a nap for a while.
How did it feel to find out you had made the finals for Lambda Literary?
My friend Lloyd Meeker was the first person to post a congratulatory message on my Facebook page. I love Lloyd. We had met for lunch the month prior when I vacationed in his home town, Fort Lauderdale. Sitting with him on a warm, sunlight patio under a rainbow umbrella and gossiping for hours about writer stuff was a highlight from my trip. So to hear the news from him was incredibly sweet.
The Lambda Literary Awards have been a fixation of mine, so I walked on air for about thirty minutes. The crazy thing was, that day I had to facilitate an all-day client meeting, starting at 8:30 a.m. (I found out at 7:45 a.m.) So as much as I wanted to scream and call every friend in my Contacts list, I had to quickly don my professional consultant face and sneak in Facebook visits during bathroom breaks so I could SQUEEEEEEE with pals.
Where did Vin Vanbly come from?
Well, this answer starts out sounding a little pervy. But here goes.
About six years ago, I started chatting online with this nineteen-year-old. (I warned you…sounds pervy.) He was sad. He was closeted and confident he could never come out. Never. He confessed he was aroused by some “weird stuff” in his opinion, and he doubted he would ever find anyone into similar expressions of his sexuality. He was very cagey and secretive because he didn’t want to share his “weird stuff” with me. Which was fine. We didn’t start out chatting about sex. We were just chatting online. I think he wanted an out/older gay man to talk to about his issues.
Over a few months, he eventually confessed his secret lusts: he liked the idea of being dominated by another man. But he didn’t want to be tied to a wooden cross or chained to a wall in someone’s basement. He was turned on by the idea of being lovingly dominated…loved by a man who truly had his very best in his heart. He didn’t want a “Get me a beer, you faggot bitch” kind of experience.
He was also aroused by the idea of cigar smoke, which he thought was just too eccentric for any other man to share. He was shocked to learn that entire weekends were devoted to cigar fetish. ☺
I also tried to convince him that ‘loving domination’ wasn’t that unusual but he refused to believe me. He had never seen anything like that in books or in movies or anywhere, really. What he had seen was very cruel and controlling. (I’m sure loving domination books were available but at the time I wasn’t very well read in M4M, so I couldn’t direct him toward anything.)
When he and I started chatting, I was busy writing the GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL but I took a break to write him a short story about a loving, dominating guy named Vin Vanbly. Didn’t think too much about the name. Vin liked discover the very best inside the rich loving hearts of the men he dominated. Since I was writing for fun, I threw in some Joseph Campbell stuff, some masculine archetypes, and goofy king stories. I posted the short story online and promised to let my young friend know if I received any feedback.
And, wow, did I get feedback.
Suddenly, tons of emails poured in from men and women who really responded to Vin’s strange love, his goofy, relaxed approach to domination. I realized that I was more interested in writing this story about Vin and his kings than the GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL I had been working on. (My GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL was kinda boring, actually.) Because I didn’t extend the same great expectations and pressure on Vin’s story that I did my other writing, I wrote in a much more relaxed, casual way, closer to my authentic writer’s voice than I had ever done before.
I shared a number of email responses with my online friend who was thrilled to know he wasn’t a freak. I’m no longer in contact with that nineteen-year-old (who would now be twenty-six). I hope he came out of the closet. I hope he realized he didn’t have to be alone.
I will always be indebted to this young man for introducing me to Vin Vanbly, a fictional friend who would shape the next decade of my writing.
What inspired you to create the first “lost kings” book?
In the first short story I just described, Vin says to another character, “Would you like me to tell you the story of King Perry? There was a duck involved…” It was just a random line.
I couldn’t forget that line.
I came back to it a few times and wondered to myself if I could write a whole novel about this guy, Perry, in which a duck was a main character. The king stories—the mythology of the Lost and Founds—were already swirling around inside me. They just needed a man to step up and say, “I’ll go first.” Perry was that man.
The idea of lost kings resonates very strongly with gay men….but you are very clear that kingdoms is something all men need…yearn for. Talk about that a little.
Well, the mythology of “the Lost and Founds” is mine, but I cannot take credit for the wisdom at its foundation, the masculine archetypes of warrior, lover, magician, and king. All men already possess these four aspects (golden and shadow side both!) inside. All men have a king inside, all men have a warrior inside, etc. These are ancient themes that extend back through history to our oldest stories. My stories speak to those archetypes and they resonate deeply when men read them. One of the first emails I received was from a man who wrote, “Why is it after finishing your story a half hour ago, I’m lying in bed and my sternum is quivering?” Honestly, as much as I would like to take credit…I think the story touched a powerful part already half-awake inside him. He began to remember.
Mai Kearns displayed the Shadow Warrior’s traits: hard, distant, emotionally distant from others. In kinging him, Vin opened Mai to the Golden Warrior’s traits: connection to other men, believing you have a mission in the world, choosing to collaborate for the good of all people. Perry Mangin suffers the Shadow Lover’s wound – until he acknowledges his own deep grief as a man alone in the universe, he is unable to access the power of the Golden Lover. Once he sets himself free, every joy is available to him.
Each king story I write explores a different masculine archetype. My hope is that this makes each book quite different the others and it keeps things interesting.
How do you decide who the target lost king will be…Perry and Mai are such totally different stories … how does that idea arise for you?
As several reviewers have astutely noted, The Lost and Founds is very much Vin Vanbly’s story. He is “the Lost” and the men he kings are “the Founds.” Each story is narrated by him and is powered by shadowy details about his life and circumstances yet the book title bears another man’s name. Typical of Vin, ever the ghost, his story hides behind someone else’s name.
Each tale highlights another dimension of Vin’s quirky personality.
In King Perry, Vin is lush, mysterious, and exotic, just like the exotic, mystical geography that is San Francisco. Attentive readers study and analyze him but end up scratching their heads at his insane motivations, saying, “Who the hell is this guy?” That’s who he is in this first book. Mysterious, exotic Vin.
In King Mai, Mai Kearns is a man cut off from his Midwestern community. Mai is surrounded by love and yet terribly alone. Defeated. These same qualities are revealed in Vin: sad. Alone. Without community. Yes, he’s still mysterious and exotic, but the reader sees that this ‘exotic’ life he leads has a price. Vin is an outsider. Always.
In the third book, The Butterfly King (due out in 2014…late summer!) we uncover another facet. At last, Vin’s relationship with violence (and why it makes him sick to his stomach) is revealed.
I love Vin. I want him to have a big, fat love. But I think the power of that love will be magnified knowing how lonely he is, how he has suffered. By the time Vin meets the man who will steal his heart, I want readers to be screaming, “It’s him, Vin! It’s him! Don’t let him go!”
But who will it be? Will it be Perry Mangin? Mai Kearns? The Butterfly King? King Daniel? Someone we haven’t met? I think that’s one of the delightful, ongoing mysteries…Vin deeply loves each of the men he kings, truly and deeply. But who can love a ghost?
Why an auto mechanic?
Ah, I’m afraid I can’t answer that question. You’ll have to wait until Book 4 for that answer.
What 10 authors would you put in a Hunger Games style match up – and who would win?
Since I haven’t seen the Hunger Games, I’m not sure how to answer this. But I’ll try.
Steven King versus Maya Angelou. You’d think he’d win because of his obvious penchant for violence and general craftiness, but she fights dirty. My money is on her.
Charles Dickens versus Emily Dickenson. They’re both already dead, so if these two are duking it out, we have a damned zombie invasion on our hands. We’ve got to end this quickly. TAKE ‘EM DOWN, PEOPLE. TAKE ‘EM DOWN.
J.K. Rowling versus C.S. Lewis. Magic versus magic. Think Dumbledore versus Aslan, the lion king. I’m gonna have to side with J.K. on this one. She’s got a ton more spells and magical creatures in her books. Lots of hand-to-hand combat in this battle royale and those Weasleys are scrappers.
Edmond Manning versus Anne Tenino, author of Frat Boy and Toppy (Theta Alpha Gamma series). Definitely Anne. Dang it. I really thought I had a chance at this one.
Marvel comics versus D.C. Comics (interpreting ‘writer’ a little broadly). Marvel, baby. Go Storm! Go Phoenix! Go Magick! I love me some X-men, particularly the women characters.
Ultimately, the winner would be Maya Angelou. We all know it. She’d greet her opponent by extending her hand and saying softly, “Hello, I’m Maya Angelou, poetess, author. Nobel prize winner.” Then, that person would lower their head respectfully because she’s book royalty, and WHAM. That’s when she’d use a hand axe to chop the spinal cord right at the base of the neck.
What’s are you working on? What’s Next?
I have all kinds of crazy exciting stuff happening right now. This year, I participated in Goodreads’ M4M Romance’s group’s Love’s Landscape challenge. I wrote a science fiction tale titled, The Broken Phoenix. At roughly 33K, it’s really more of a novella. I am sooooooooooo excited for folks to read this – I had so much fun writing it. I just signed a contract with Wilde City for a novella titled, Filthy Acquisitions. That is a straaaaange tale. No kings in that one, but it’s got serial killer art and a real HEA. In terms of manuscripts in progress, I’m in the middle of writing The Butterfly King, the third book in The Lost and Founds series. Some strange revelations about Vin come out in this book.
Where can readers find more of you on the web?
Here I am! www.edmondmanning.com. Sadly, I don’t blog as often as I should. I love writing non-fiction essays and have a lot of fun reflecting on some of my more odd life adventures. But on the plus side, that means I’m so busy writing fiction that I don’t have time for non-fiction. Also, feel free to say hello to me on Facebook. Search for my name, Edmond Manning, and look for this icon. That’s pretty much me.
From the Publisher:
A book from The Lost and Founds series.
In a trendy San Francisco art gallery, out-of-towner Vin Vanbly witnesses an act of compassion that compels him to make investment banker Perry Mangin a mysterious offer: in exchange for a weekend of complete submission, Vin will restore Perry’s “kingship” and transform him into the man he was always meant to be.
Despite intense reservations, Perry agrees, setting in motion a chain of events that will test the limits of his body, seduce his senses, and fray his every nerve, (perhaps occasionally breaking the law) while Vin guides him toward his destiny as ”the one true king.”
Even as Perry rediscovers old grief and new joys within himself, Vin and his shadowy motivations remain enigmas: who is this offbeat stranger guiding them from danger to hilarity to danger? To emerge triumphant, Perry must overcome the greatest challenge alone: embracing his devastating past. But can he succeed by Sunday’s sunrise deadline? How can he possibly evolve from an ordinary man into King Perry?
A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.
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.
About the Author
Edmond Manning has always been fascinated by fiction: how ordinary words could be sculpted into heartfelt emotions, how heartfelt emotions could leave an imprint inside you stronger than the real world. Mr. Manning never felt worthy to seek publication until recently, when he accidentally stumbled into his own writer’s voice that fit perfectly, like his favorite skull-print, fuzzy jammies. He finally realized that he didn’t have to write like Charles Dickens or Armistead Maupin, two author heroes, and that perhaps his own fiction was juuuuuuust right, because it was his true voice, so he looked around the scrappy word kingdom that he created for himself and shouted, “I’M HOME!” He is now a writer.
In addition to fiction, Edmond enjoys writing non-fiction on his blog, http://www.edmondmanning.com. When not writing, he can be found either picking raspberries in the back yard or eating panang curry in an overstuffed chair upstairs, reading comic books.
Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Edmond has kindly offered 2 lucky commenters each their choice of Lost King’s eBooks (King Perry or King Mai).
Contest ends 22 April @ 11:59pm CST. Must be 18 or older to win. Void where prohibited.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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