The Prince Justin Conundrum and Other Stories

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November 20th is going to be a pretty big day for me. Not only is it the second (third?) book of the Destiny Fuck Yeah! trilogy (quadrilogy?), but it's the last book I'm releasing this year.

Since I became a full time author in February 2016, I have released 9 books. The Consumption of Magic will be my tenth. For some context, I have published 20 books total, with Consumption being my 21st. Which means I have published half of my total catalogue in less than two years. It's crazy, right?

But it's also a lot of work. God bless those that are more prolific than I. I have no idea how they do it, and I'm impressed by them.

Which is why I've made a decision. I'm not burnt out on writing (good god, I tell myself I deserve a break after finishing a book, yet almost always start the next one right away), but I am a little tired of edits and promotion and all that it entails. (First world problems, right? Yeah, I am aware of how it sounds. I'm just trying to make sure you know I'm tired, but it's a good kind of tired.)

I've made the decision to cut back slightly (don't panic!) in that I'll only publish three novels next year. March will bring A Wish Upon the Stars, the last book in the Destiny Fuck YEAH!...whatever it is. It will also be the last book from Sam's perspective. I think I want to tell one more Verania story, that of Prince Justin (more on him in a bit). I think it'll be a nice bookend to the series, as I plan on going back to the irreverence of the first book for Justin.

After that in July will be Ravensong. packpackpack

And then next fall, I will be self-publishing The Bones Beneath My Skin. I took some very interesting meetings at Gay Rom Lit last week, one of which with a narrator I haven't used before that I will be hiring for Bones. (Hint, his name rhymes with Meg Bremblay). We are going to try something...different, with this release. But since we're still a ways off from it, I'll just leave it at that.

So. Three books.

Scratch that. Three huge books. A finale of lightning, a continuation of wolves, and something new.

(also, potentially, an original graphic novel on a new story I wrote.)

(and there' also still my superqueero young adult book, currently with my agent. Heh. I just like saying that. My agent. But that book probably won't be until 2019).

(and there's Normal Person 2, which I am currently writing.)

I'm not going to say I've saved the best for last this year with Consumption. I think that might be a little cliched (especially since I usually say something similar with each year-ending release, so).

But I will say that The Consumption of Magic, which picks up early on right where A Destiny of Dragons left off, is going to bring big, big changes to Verania. It was always planned this way. I knew this ending from the moment I sat down to write Destiny. You won't see it coming.

But enough with the dickish teasing.

Let's talk the Grand Prince of Verania.

In The Lightning-Struck Heart, Justin was a douchebag. He was the jerk standing in the way between Sam and Ryan's happily ever after. And I think it was very easy to hate him, or to write him as a one note-villain. But even back then, even when Sam and Ryan were clueless idiots all the way up to the wedding of the Prince and the knight, I liked Justin. He was an asshole, sure, but who isn't? And even though there was no romantic love between him and Ryan, I still felt bad for how things ended up for him.

So when I started writing the Destiny Fuck Yeah! cycle (god, I really should have picked just one term, for fuck's sake), I knew I needed to make Justin more sympathetic than he'd been in Lightning. I wasn't necessarily thinking of writing his own book, but more so that I loved the idea of Sam and Justin being friends. Prickly characters who pretend to hate everything even though we all know it's bullshit is my jam. It wasn't that he needed to be redeemed per se, but that I wanted to see a bit more of the man behind the princely crown.

And then I immediately sidelined him for most of Destiny.

I couldn't justify him going on the adventure to find Zero, the desert dragon, no matter how much I wanted to. Add in the fact that multiple major characters were introduced, so there was a chance that Justin would have gotten lost in the shuffle. Instead, I laid the groundwork for Justin, knowing it wouldn't be until Consumption that it would begin to pay off.

Justin will be in most of Consumption. The same goes for the last book. I think he's the perfect foil for Sam. And no matter how much he acts like he doesn't, I truly believe he cares about Sam and Company.

I just needed to figure out how to show it.

He'll be back with the group in a major way in the opening chapters of Consumption. He helps set up an important arc for Sam and Ryan that starts here and goes through A Wish Upon the Stars. That isn't to say he's only a crutch for them; he's not. I did my best to make him a fully realized character who has the weight of his future on his shoulders. Though the good King will be around for years and years, Justin will still one day take his father's place as the ruler of Verania. That would be a lot for anyone to handle.

What I didn't want was for him to be incompetent. He's not. He is intelligent and somewhat ruthless, though I think he's learning that watch out for those he might step on. He's knows exactly what's expected of him. And for the most part, he's okay with it. But he's still young and relatively sheltered. The world of Verania is a wide and weirdly wonderful place, and there's so much he hasn't seen.

I love Justin dearly. I think the arc he has here shows that. Justin will have his own book, though his love interest isn't introduced in either of the remaining novels. I wanted the focus to be where it should: the destiny of Sam of Wilds, and his band of merry misfits who bumble along, trying to save Verania. But it will be....clear, by the last page of A Wish Upon the Stars what direction I'll be going with him. It's only a few short sentences in the last paragraph, but you'll know it when you read it. It may take some time for me to get back to Verania to write that story, but I'll get there eventually.

I'm proud of the story told in Consumption. While I won't say I've saved the best for last (your mileage may vary on that statement), I will say that Consumption has some gnarly moments that I had been waiting months to write. It's funny and action-packed and sad and ridiculous and things will happen that you won't see coming, things that will change Verania forever.

Some stuff to expect:

More of Morgan and Randall's shared history with the villain Myrin will be revealed. It goes far deeper than Sam knows.

Sam will be held accountable for the secrets he's kept. One thing that irritates me to no end is when a character does something stupid, and isn't held accountable for his actions. Glossing over something so serious doesn't bode well for the story. While Sam had his reasons, it doesn't absolve him of what he did. He's a hypocrite, especially in the face of his anger toward Morgan and Randall for their secrets. This will be acknowledged and worked through.

Two new characters will be introduced, the mated Northern Dragons. As with Zero, they will have their own distinct personalities. They are...different.

As I mentioned in a previous post, since this book is the middle of what is essentially one, long story, I was aware of there being a lag. This isn't the beginning. This isn't the end. This is right in the middle, and I made the conscious decision to attempt to avoid the trappings of being in the bridge. Consumption has some of the biggest action scenes, the longest sex scene I've ever written, and some twists that you won't see coming.

By the time a reader finishes Consumption, I want them to have run through an entire gamut of emotions.

I want you to laugh. And gasp. And suffer from the affliction known as Wookiee Cry Face. Consumption, though the middle child, tells it's own story.

And goddamn, I can't wait for you to read it.

In the next blog post, I'll discuss sex and Verania, and the situation I find myself in with different types of readers.

The Consumption of Magic (an explanation as to the meaning of that title will be explained almost immediately in the book, and man, is it gonna suck) is coming on November 20th. Pre-order is already up at Dreamspinner, and I've linked it below. It'll be up on other sites probably next week.

(Yes, Michael will be doing the audiobook. No, I don't know when it'll come out. Yes, his narration for A Destiny of Dragons will be here soon. No, I don't know the exact date.)

tj

Dreamspinner Pre-order: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-consumption-of-magic-by-tj-klune-9026-b