Hi everyone 🙂 It is my pleasure to introduce you to our author of the month of September. Edmond Manning is a master of magical realism and has created a series unlike any we have read before. The books are not just fun to read, but they leave readers with a new appreciation of nature’s beauty and the good people are capable of. We live in such uncertain times that we truly appreciate the author, who gives all his love to help us rediscover the beauty in our lives.
If you have NOT read any of the books in his ‘The Lost and Founds’ series yet, we highly recommend you give them a try.
King Perry (Book 1)
King Mai (Book 2)
The Butterfly King (Book 3)
King John (Book 4)
Come Back To Me (Book 5)
King Daniel (Book 6) <- LINK TO READ CHAPTERS 1-11 FOR FREE!!!
The following interview will assume that you have read King Perry, King Mai, The Butterfly King, King John and the first chapters of King Daniel , which are available for free at the author’s website. If you haven’t, proceed at your own risk. This is an in-depth discussion of all those books in honor of the release of Come Back to Me . This is part one of a two part interview. Thses questions were asked, before I read book 5 and part two of the interview is planned for the end of the month with questions about book 5.
I want to thank the author for answering my questions so openly and hope you all will enjoy his responses as much as I do.
Lost and Founds – Interview
Part One (Before reading ‘Come Back to Me’)
Thank you so much for this opportunity to discuss your ‘The Lost and Founds’ series. I have so many questions and theories and can’t wait to read ‘Come Back to Me’, to find out if and how Vin can join the kingdom of the found kings and queens. First, though, let’s talk about what has happened in the previous books and see if you can answer some of my burning questions.
1) I know that you have used an entire wall in your home to map out the story for your ‘The Lost and Founds’ series. It is great to know that there is a clear plan for the first big story arcs and that you have included Easter eggs and foreshadowing that readers will probably only catch once they know the big picture and re-read the series. How did you get the idea for writing these books and how do you feel now that your closely guarded secrets are about to be revealed in books 5 and 6 of the series?
I’ll answer the second part first. I’m terrified. I know that sounds odd, but all these secrets which I’ve guarded since 2008 are about to become PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE. Of course, it’s time to divulge them, but I’ve gotten so used to nobody knowing my ultimate design, that I simply don’t know how to let go. Every now and then, I think to myself, “Soon, everyone will know XYZ.” I have a little panic over that…and then I realize, “It’s time. It’s time to share this.” It’s been an odd experience.
How interesting you would ask that question! I admit I’m tickled. It’s been a big deal for me and I appreciate your having enough insight to ask what you did. How did you understand this situation enough to inquire? You must be a man of many secrets. LOL.
In terms of the inspiration….In 2008, I started writing a crazy story about a guy—a dominant, loving man whose sex play involved storytelling about a bunch of kings. I didn’t even give him a name. I just started writing. I started throwing in Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey, the masculine archetypes, religion, sex in strange places, and before I had realized it, I had written a novel. (And yes, three chapters in, I gave the character a name—Vin Vanbly.)
I loved what I wrote. I had been writing for 20+ years and this was the first thing I finished that I absolutely loved. That story I wrote in 2008 was the first draft of Come Back To Me. I decided to write a series of novels leading to this novel, which became The Lost and Founds.
2) ‘Come Back to Me’ and ‘King Daniel’, books 5 and 6 of the series are both scheduled for release in 2016 and will have Vin on his own journey to ‘remember the king’ and see the Great Prophecy come to pass. Can readers look forward to more books in this series and more mysteries to theorize about after book 6 is released?`
Yes. The answer is yes. I definitely have at least one more book to write in the series, but I’m noodling around the idea for another 4-6 book story arc. I love writing these books, but I hate making people wait a year between them, so I’m not sure I’m going to jump right into another six-book story arc right away. I put a lot of pressure on myself to produce one high-quality book per year.
After King Daniel, I’m writing a book that is tangentially related to The Lost and Founds, but I’m not really considering part of the “official” series. This book is titled Zacchaeus, and is based on a Christian Bible story about a short tax collector who climbs a tree to see Jesus. (I am not a Christian.) Zacchaeus is mentioned by Vin in The Butterfly King.
And if you like the mysteries and clues, you’ll be happy to know that I have added clues to the first six books related to future books should I choose to write them.
- In The Butterfly King, while staring at a locked door, Vin sees someone has messed with the locking mechanism and he ponders how the only other person he knew who planned secret ways in and out of buildings is now dead. Uh…who is that? How does Vin know he’s dead?
- In each of the six books, there’s one king name mentioned whose story I’d like to tell. I made sure to include his name in one book, quite prominently—so I when I wrote his story, readers would say, “Oh yeah…that guy.”
- And we still don’t know what Vin did to the cop who helped him in The Butterfly King…
I think there are still a few mysteries worth exploring, even after the completion of the first story arc.
3) All the kings we met in books 1-4 had to learn something important about themselves, before they remembered their kingship. What do you think Vin needs to learn before he is ready to join the men he kinged?
Oh, so much. In fact, I don’t think I can answer this question easily. I gave one level of answer to this question in the “write a review and get the-secret-behinds-the-scenes” document. There’s another level, which I can dish here. Throughout Come Back To Me, variations of the title words “come back” are mentioned. “Come back to us.” “Come back inside.” “Come back, boy.” Each one of those is significant. Each one reveals something Vin needs to accept inside himself.
4) Vin has truly loved every men he kinged and helped them in so many ways at great personal cost. In ‘The Butterfly King‘ it was revealed that the found kings know the sacrifices Vin had to make for them and have been trying to find out how to king someone on their own for a long time. What will be the bigger obstacle for them on their quest to king Vin; the fact that Vin has extensive knowledge of the kinging process or his extreme low self-esteem?
How about a direct, short answer for once? His low self-esteem.
Of course, he thinks he knows too much, so he ASSUMES that’s what’s blocking his way. Anyone who is cynical in the world assumes they are too cynical to see beauty, to feel wonder, to be surprised and weep over innocence. But under the right circumstances, we are all virgins to life’s experiences and all that cynicism can be wiped clean, like dirt from a car’s windshield. Bad shit happens in the world. That stuff is real. It’s not pretty. But we can be open to letting some of it go. It’s not a matter of overthinking it.
The real question is…will Vin recognizing his own King Weekend when it’s happening to him? What if it’s not a single weekend?
In King Mai, Vin ponders the future friendship between Mai and the bubbas. He thinks to himself:
Mai will king them. It can happen over a single weekend if you’re impatient like I am or over years with a best friend who loves your faults as well as your gold.
Vin’s King Weekend doesn’t happen in one weekend. Which is why Come Back To Me is told in four short stories spread over a number of years.
5) The story of The Lost and Founds is used by Vin as framework for the lessons the men he kings need to learn. He uses some of his own experiences with previous kings, but he always claims that other parts of the story just come to him, because they are what the men need to hear. It wasn’t until reading ‘The Butterfly King’ though that I actually started to believe him. Readers find out in that book that ancient writings recorded the story of the lost and founds long before Vin was born (and Vin had a very mysterious and intriguing reaction to actually seeing those writings in person). If the story has been around for such a long time, have there been other men and women in history doing what Vin is doing now and did you base the mythology for this series on any real-life legends?
Other men and women in history have been kinging and queening.
If I write a second series, I think there will be a few historical novels. Which is interesting. I’ve never felt drawn to write historical novels, so I’m just working this around in my head right now. I keep telling myself to focus on finishing the FIRST story arc before getting all worked up about the second one. Focus, Manning. Focus!
Is this based on real-life legends? Well…yes and no. I have always had a huge interest in mythology: Greek, Roman, Egyptian, ancient anything. So, I’m familiar with the resurrection myths and integrated a flavor of it—a very different flavor—in King Perry. So in that regard, yes, I’m drawing on the past. But I am not content to retell an old myth. In fact, my stories are often based on the masculine archetypes: lover, warrior, magician, and king. My interpretation of how those archetypes interact often dictate how the story unfolds, more so than ancient legends.
Also, in considering writing the second story arc, I’m sure one of the books would have to involve a queening, and I’m not sure I’m a good enough writer to pull that off. I don’t know. I’m gonna think about it. Gotta be careful about respecting women’s’ queenship. Maybe those aren’t my stories to tell. I’m trying to listen to discern the answer.
6) The Great Prophecy talks about a king called DC, who will play a very important role in the future of Vin and the men he kinged. Given that Daniel (the MC of King Daniel, book 6) has the initials DC, it is very tempting to believe it might be him. However, the first 11 chapters of ‘King Daniel’, which have been published on your website for free, revealed information that would rule him out. Can you confirm for us that Daniel’s initials were a red herring and that he is not DC?
Good Sir, I will neither confirm nor deny. Everything you said in your observations is true. There are definitely false clues and a confusing mix of details on this DC stuff. All will be revealed.
It would be very difficult for Daniel to be DC, since he himself doesn’t know who DC is. All he knows is that “DC arranged his King Weekend.” So, unless time travel is involved (and maybe we should not rule that out in a series dancing on the edge of magical realism), Daniel Conner cannot be DC.
You know, you’re not wrong to consider those possibilities. I’ve been dancing on the edge of magical realism for a while. Intentionally. But I think if I write a second story arc, I’m gonna have to come down off that fence and write a very different type of story. If I go there. So, you’re not wrong to ponder this. I have.
I do like mysteries where there are legitimate clues alongside red herrings, I will admit to that. I want there to be enough clues so that after the revelation, you groan and say, “Oh…that makes sense.” But not enough clues that it’s immediately obvious.
Me too! As a reader, I LOVE THAT. I never liked the Agatha Christie mysteries where something you didn’t know was part of the solution. I love her mysteries when it was all there—you just didn’t see it coming together.
On the other hand, Vin believes a “king named DC” is coming to kill him. And the last time we saw Daniel, he vowed to kill Vin Vanbly. So….
Things don’t look good for Vin Vanbly, which is too bad because by the end of Come Back To Me, he’s finally happy. Uh oh.
7) Each of the 4 kings we have gotten to know as main characters in the previous books has a different personality, was kinged in a different way, had a different journey to find himself and represented a different spiritual path. What were your reasons for making the kings such different characters and in turn giving each book a very different feel and do you think they paid off?
I have to write a research paper on this topic. Nobody has asked me this question quite directly, so I’ve been able to avoid answering it. But here goes.
Each book’s trajectory is based on three factors:
- Vin’s dominant archetype at that time in his life:
- The man he king’s dominant BROKEN golden archetype.
- The masculine archetype you could ascribe to the physical setting, if you were a freak and did that sort of thing (which, apparently, I am).
It’s like the combination to a padlock with three tumblers. Combination 7-16-32.
For example, in King Perry:
- Vin’s dominant archetype at that time in his life: king.
- Perry’s broken golden masculine archetype: lover.
- San Francisco setting: magician.
The combination of those three determined Perry’s unique adventure. The beautiful surrealism in San Francisco feels very different from King John’s insane Burning Man (hopefully, if I did my job right), because the magician energy of both settings was tempered by Perry’s lover energy—which recognizes more beauty, more gorgeousness in everything. John’s broken golden archetype was magician, so that made the Burning Man setting extra insane. So, while that’s a short answer to a convoluted concept I’m introducing, these three considerations created the unique adventures.
Did it work? I dunno. Personally, I’m pleased with the results but that doesn’t mean much, does it? An author likes his own work. Wow. Shocker.
We have learned that Vin was neglected and abused in his youth, has a great aversion to violence and judges himself harshly for something he did in his past. We also learned that Malcolm, a police officer, took him in, treated him like a brother and taught him how to use his unique skills at reading people in the right way. If we look at the previous book chronologically, Vin does not only get smoother and more confident in his kingings, but his fixation on specific words and letters get worse over time. Is he just going crazy or is he using his word games as a way to not think about specific events in his past? If the latter is true, how much longer do you think Vin can keep the memories back and what should readers expect once the dam breaks?
Everything in your question—everything you observed is true. Vin uses word games and fixations on letters and sounds to run from his past. Over time, his fixations get worse. Once again, you nailed it. As we saw in King John, (featuring Vin in 2002), he is no longer able to “keep it together.” Twice in that book he mentally breaks down, the book concluding with him sitting in the sand, rocking back and forth, holding his head. The kingings—and his own tortured past—are taking their toll.
Everything comes unglued in the new book, Come Back To Me.
Vin reaches the end of himself.
9) The different settings you have used for books 1-4 of The Lost and Founds series have been as diverse as the kings themselves and could be considered main characters in their own right. They feel very authentic and draw readers into the story. Did you draw on your own experiences to be able to describe the locations you use in the books in such rich detail or did you have to do extensive research?
Yes, I did rely on my own experiences, well, as much as I could.
In 2007, I moved to San Francisco for five months. I lived in this gorgeous neighborhood called Duboce Triangle, a few blocks from the Castro. I lived in this amazing tree-house of a third story Victorian home, more Tales of the City than the actual Tales of the City ever was. On the weekends, I drove up and down the coast and hung out in redwood forests. I was giddy with bliss. I never wanted to live permanently in San Francisco, but I loved temporarily living there. King Perry is a love letter to that city.
I went to college in DeKalb, Illinois during that time period, so I knew DeKalb quite well. I know it’s changed significantly in the intervening years, probably for the better and definitely for the worst. I loved that place. King Mai is a love letter to DeKalb.
I moved to New York for a month. From a Craigslist ad, I rented a very expensive studio in the Chelsea neighborhood for one month and lived there. It was exhilarating. Again, I never want to live there. But wow. What a city. I had to move there—see it, feel it—before I could write The Butterfly King.
I confess, I never attended Burning Man, though I once had plans to, a few years ago. But it didn’t happen. I did a ton of online research about the specific year the story takes place (2002) and hopefully pulled it off. I made the acquaintance of a man who attended Burning Man for twelve years and asked him to read an early draft of the novel. He helped me fix a lot of stuff that was “close but off.”
10) Do you have plans for other series or stand-alone books after your ‘Lost and Founds’ series is finished and if yes, can you reveal to us what such projects might look like?
I want to write science fiction. I want to be goofy and strange for a while. I think I’d like to write a few books that are not part of The Lost and Founds series—stretch my legs a little doing something different before returning to a beloved friend. I want to face the second story arc as a writer who has taken some different directions to stretch out those skills.
What would be your own king name and why? Do you have any character traits that would be an obstacle for you on the way to ‘remember the king’?
As with most obstacles in life, I am my own worst enemy. What blocks my kingship? My need to be right. My pride. Some days, I am soft and pliant, letting my ego relax and float. Other days, I bristle because I WAS RIGHT, DAMMIT.
Now…my king name.
Do you think I’d write a whole series of books about kings with special names and not include my own king name?
My king name shows up in several of the previous books. Tell you what, Marc. I will tell you my king name when we meet. We must sit for a glass of wine, or Prosecco, or maybe just cold pink lemonade, and with a little silence, and some deep breaths, I will share. Not right away. We must converse and get to know each other.
My king name means a lot to me.
It reveals my deepest strength. It reveals my most damaging weakness. I know exactly how I alienate people as a Lost King, and I often know how to show off my best self and be the best damn Found King I know how. But this is not information I share in print.
Now, not everyone has to believe the way I do. If you want to blast your King or Queen Name on Facebook, you should! The rule about sharing a Queen or King Name is it must empower you, invigorate you. It’s your truth, your beauty. Your humility. So share it when and how you want. Maybe it’s your email address or dragged on a banner behind a small airplane. Or, you might only tell selected friends. There are no one-size-fits-all rules.
So, when we sit for a cold, pink lemonade…let’s see if it comes up during beautiful conversation.
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,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.