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Our special guest on the blog today is Vin Vanbly, star of The Lost and Founds series of books (King Perry, King Mai and the newly released The Butterfly King) by Edmond Manning. Vin has a special knack for repairing lost souls via “King Weekends,” which is fitting since he works as a mechanic in his day job. Vin also happens to be an extremely funny guy and something of a logophile (read: lover of words). We at Boys in Our Books are positively *thrilled* to have Vin and his friend Edmond Manning join us today.
Welcome Vin and Edmond!
Edmond: Thank you! We’re thrilled to be here.
Vin: Sure. Hey.
Edmond: You can show a little better enthusiasm than that, can’t you?
Vin (squirming): Are they going to ask me questions about myself and my life?
Edmond: Generally, yes. That’s what people do in interviews.
Vin: Crap. I don’t like to talk about myself.
Edmond: If you don’t give them good answers about your life, I will volunteer answers about you.
Vin, we wanted to talk about something that’s close to your heart, and that resonated for us in King Perry: letters, words and sounds. You obviously put a lot of thought into communication; why is language so important to you?
Vin: Oh, I don’t know that words and language are more important to me than other people.
Edmond: Oh, please.
Edmond: You’re a freak about letters. Words. Don’t pretend that it’s normal or that everyone shares your fascination.
Vin: A lot of people—
Edmond: Great. Let’s test that theory. I think the capital letter M is a perfectly lovely letter.
Vin (squirming): Its…ummm….you can’t…
Edmond: Yes, I love the capital letter M. You know what’s another good letter? Capital R.
Vin: Okay, stop. That’s just wrong.
Edmond: Gosh. Why?
Vin: Capital R thinks it’s so damn hot. Look at me, I’m Regal and Royalty, but don’t forget I’m Ravenous, too, and I will devour you because I control Reality.
Edmond: What about raindrops?
Vin: No, raindrops are definitely lowercase. You can tell.
Edmond: And you have no problem with lowercase r?
Vin: Of course not. It’s not lowercase r’s fault that it was raised in a household with Rigidity and Raging Reprobates. Capital R is a shitty father.
Edmond: Well, I think we’ve proven you have a fixation with letters and sounds. Getting back to the main question, why is language so important to you?
Vin: You know all those cool toys from childhood? Tonka trucks, and matchbox cars, and that punching robots game and Chinese checkers and the timer game where you had to correctly put funny shapes in matching holes?
Vin: I didn’t have those. Words and letters were my toys.
Well, um, we’re glad you found some solace with words and letters. Let’s move along, shall we? Tell us, what are your most favorite words and why?
Vin: I like the word ‘lily’ because it’s so soft and gentle. It feels like a canoe paddle parting still waters, making the least amount of noise possible. I like the word cake because, uh, it’s cake. Xanthochroic because it describes things with a yellow skin (and uses the letter x, a favorite of mine). Pass me a xanthocronic banana, will you?
Edmond: Couldn’t you just say, ‘pass me a banana?’
Vin: I definitely like the words wit and whimsy – I’m a fan of lowercase ‘w’ for how strong it is. Actually, how strong *she* is. W is a woman, a strong woman with broad shoulders who has to carry a lot of important words, big words, like who, where, what, why, when. She has to know all the basic stuff to protect others.
Edmond: Surely you’ve got more.
Vin: What are you, my mother?
Edmond: What about the word ‘juicy?’
Vin: Ooooooo…good word. The j is all wet and slippery, the ui in the middle of the word is so slick you can skid right across it in bare feet and you come spinning into the end of the word with the cy, a seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee what I’m capable of when I’m moist and juicy?
Edmond: Eww. You made that word—
Vin: Sticky to the touch. Thank you.
Edmond: Why’d you have to—
Vin: Exit is a favorite word. I’m always looking for the secret exit.
Ok, so Vin, your adventures with King Perry were really quite amazing. Can you tell us what goes into the king selection process for your King Weekends? Is it all about you being in the right place at the right time, or is something more involved?
Vin: It’s funny you should ask that. I spent close to a year trying to deduce a method that would help me find men more ready for kinging. I would go to charity events and places where you’d find a lot of volunteers. That didn’t yield any candidates. I’d go to Farmer’s Markets and dog parks and I had a theory that more king-ready men would eat earth-sustainable food, so I went to a bunch of local eateries. But none of those theories held up. Turns out, I couldn’t force a meeting. They just happen. Right place, right time.
Edmond: Surely there’s more to it than that?
Vin: Probably. But it’s not like every guy I meet and spark toward is interested in me back. I once met a guy who had written an article for The Atlantic Monthly. It was a powerful article. So, I dropped him a line. He wrote back. We started a correspondence, through which, I eventually decided to king him. But I’ve started correspondences with other men under similar circumstances and nothing came of it. I’ve offered to king men who turned down the invitation. So not all possible candidates automatically turn into a King Weekend.
Edmond: The Atlantic Monthly article…you were talking about The Butterfly King?
Vin: Dammit, you aren’t supposed to give names. Respect his privacy!
It’s ok, your secret is (kinda) safe with us, Vin.
Between life in Minnesota and planning King Weekends, you seem to be a busy man. What do you like to do in your downtime?
Vin: Playing pool, throwing darts, baking, knitting, orienteering, survivalist skills, urban foraging, tracking deer, camping, art, getting into buildings that are locked, travel, origami, juggling, bird watching, controlling the weather with my brain, kayaking, reading, mycology, tai chi, historical role play, mythology, collecting rocks, making candles, psychology, archeology, billiards, ping pong, and I tried paintball but I kept throwing up, so I had to quit. I have other hobbies, too.
Edmond: Damn. It’s like you vomited every hobby known to man.
Vin: Let’s not talk about vomit.
Edmond: Well, what’s mycology?
Vin: The study of mushrooms and their properties.
Edmond: Oh, please. You don’t know anything about mushrooms.
Vin: Many fungi produce toxins, antibiotics, and other secondary metabolites. For example, the cosmopolitan (worldwide) genus Fusarium and their toxins associated with fatal outbreaks—
Edmond: Okay, okay, we get it. You have weird hobbies.
One last thing before we ask Edmond a few questions. You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?
Vin: First off, it’s quite an honor to be invited into a box of crayons. I’ve always admired the 64-color box with the sharpener in back. I always wanted to stand tall next to brick red and burnt sienna, proudly awaiting selection for just the right occasion, perhaps a fire truck or a camp fire, maybe a—
Edmond: Just answer the damn question.
Vin: Bubblegum Pink.
Bubblegum Pink? Vin, truly, you’re the cheese to our macaroni, the butter to our bread. Thanks for stopping by today!
Vin: I love that you think of me as macaroni! I would be the cheese sauce drizzled over your tater tots, the ranch dip to your deep-fried cauliflower, the butterscotch in your turtle sundae, the crispy exterior to your fried chicken—uh oh. I have to go get something to eat. I’m now hungry.
Edmond, we’ve fallen in love with your writing! King Perry is really quite complex, with many stories within the main story. You’ve said you’re a slow writer; that you aim to complete a book (from this series) each year, but tell us, how long did it take you to form the first book for The Lost and Founds? What came first, the idea of King Weekends, the kings or Vin?
What a great question! Vin came first. I wrote a whole short story about him and it had very little to do with a King Weekend. But I liked him. I liked his “shabby nobility.” He’s a grown up Charlie Brown, a loveable loser who you want to hug and say, “It’s okay.” Then I wrote him leading a King Weekend and the result (for me) was electric – the best piece of writing I had ever done.
I wrote the first draft of King Perry in about three months. The book just came flying out of me. I spent almost a year revisiting it because the original draft was not as amazing as I originally thought. During the rewrites, I discovered something odd. In order to pull off the insane weekend and outrageous events, I realized the writing would have to somehow…what’s the right word here… “match” the events and characters of the story. You want people to believe in something insane? Your writing has to be so stellar, so over-the-top beautiful that it makes people want to believe in fairy tales.
Well, that’s my philosophy and why it takes me so long to write each book. Each book takes at least four months of polish.
Do you have any idea at this point how many books The Lost and Founds series will include?
I do not.
There are six novels in the first story arc. Hahahaha. I love that phrase “first story arc.” That means I have ideas for more novels after that. I’m fairly committed to writing novels 7 and 8 because I’ve already heavily hinted at their topics in the existing books. But we will see what happens after that. I may get tired of writing in Vin’s voice (but I doubt it).
The Butterfly King came out September 20th. What can we expect in that story? Any special parts you’d like to share?
You know what? Instead of me summarizing…I’m going to include two paragraphs from a review on Goodreads. These paragraphs really capture the spirit of The Butterfly King without giving much away. I was so delighted with this review and how thoughtful it represented the book, I am eager to share.
“This third novel really begins to reveal the heart of Vin, set in an earlier time when he has not yet developed his polish. We see him as a man with a mission, still fumbling to figure out why he is called and how he can fulfill the imperative that drives him. We also are let slightly further into some magical basis for the Lost and Found Kings. Although the book never quite tumbles over the threshold of urban fantasy, it hovers on the brink, giving flashes of something larger than one man’s illusions and another’s psychological journey. We meet men whom Vin has already kinged. The myth gains hold on reality.”
“Terrance is an interesting character. He’s stronger than Perry, harder than Mai. He’s a man who has done the right thing, all his life, at great sacrifice to himself. He has resentment and fear to overcome. And he reacts in unexpected ways as Vin wrecks his life for a weekend. Terrance is like the positive spirit of New York, the good parts of that big, strong, dominant, alive city. He is such a force, that as a reader I wondered how Vin for all his quicksilver trickery would be able to move him far enough.”
Beautiful. Edmond, as you can tell, we love Vin (and all his kings). It seems to us that bits and pieces of Vin’s life are being revealed with each book. But just between us: will Vin ever have his very own novel, or will his complete story be revealed by way of the other kings? We think he deserves the happiest ending of them all!
Originally, I wasn’t going to reveal whether or not Vin gets his own happy ending. I told people “Wait and see…” But I quickly discovered this deeply agitated fans of Vin…they can handle seeing him suffer a little bit as long as they KNOW good things are coming for him. But they needed to know that. I gave up my secrecy. I don’t want readers to suffer.
Good things are coming for Vin. Very good things. It will happen within the first six books.
And yes, you’re right. Vin’s story is revealed with each man he kings. The Butterfly King reveals a great deal about Vin Vanbly.
Wow, we can’t wait to read The Butterfly King. Okay. To be fair, we can’t let you go without one silly question of your very own. Let’s pretend you’re a box of cereal. What kind would you be, and why?
Golden Grahams. I didn’t even have to stop and think about that one. I love Golden Grahams. I can eat three bowls of that cereal in a row. Seriously. So crunchy, so yummy sweet, and the milk that remains after you finish the cereal is like—uh oh. I have to go get something to eat. I’m now hungry.
Between you and Vin, we’re now hungry, too! ;-)
Edmond, again, thanks for stopping by. We appreciate your time, and we can’t wait to read more of your words!
Edmond Manning is the author of a MM romance series, The Lost and Founds. The first three books in this series include King Perry, King Mai (a Lambda Literary finalist 2014), and most recently, The Butterfly King. Feel free to say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Title: King Mai (Book #2, The Lost and Founds)
Author: Edward Manning
Publisher: TPG Books
Release Date: July 15th, 2013
Purchase Links: Amazon
Title: The Butterfly King (Book #3, The Lost and Founds)
Author: Edward Manning
Publisher: TPG Books
Release Date: September 20th, 2014
Purchase Links: Amazon