Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gushing All Over You... by TJ Klune

Hiya!  TJ here.
How’s the family?  You doing good?  Life wonderful?  Peachy, even?
‘Cause I’m about to gush all over your face.
No, no, no; get your mind out of the gutter, you pervs.  That’s not what I meant in the slightest.  Sort of.
I’m talking about you, the reader, and just how awesome you are.
I’m going to tell you a story, okay?
Sit back, relax.  Put your feet up.

Once upon a time, long, long ago (last year), in a land so very far away (Tucson, Arizona), there lived a beautiful princess (TJ Klune, natch) who dreamed of becoming a writer (actually, that one’s pretty self-explanatory).  This beautiful princess (because, in all reality, if I was a princess, I would be beautiful; don’t shake your head, you know it as well as I do) wanted nothing more than to write a story and have it published so that maybe one or two people would read it.  So this beautiful princess wrote an extremely flawed story known as Bear, Otter, and the Kid and submitted it to a publisher and three weeks later, heard back that the princess’s story would be published! 

From that point on, the world took on a rosy hue filled with butterflies and rainbows and unicorns and other equally disgustingly sweet things.  Fuck it if anyone actually reads it, the princess thought.  At the very least, I can say that I have a published book!

But as the release day approached, the beautiful princess grew even more nervous because what if, in all reality, not even a single person read the book?  What if the book came out and it fell with such a resounding thud that it was mocked mercilessly and all the blood, sweat and tears that went into that extremely flawed story was for naught?

The princess—okay, I’m done now with this metaphor, analogy, cross-dressing thing I was trying to do.  If you’ve followed my posts here and there, you know what happened next.  The book came out, made some noise and blah, blah, blah.  That’s not the point I’m trying to make here.  It was awesome, yes, that experience, but not I’m talking about. 

The real reason that Bear and the boys were able to accomplish anything as a story was because of the readers.  Readers who, unknowingly after reading the book, turned into hardcore pimps and started slapping their hoes around, saying read this, read this, read this! 

And I think that was what surprised me the most, honestly, was the power of word of mouth.  It’s been said countless times before (and by yours truly) that our genre is growing and more and more people are reading M/M romance.  That’s cool.  That’s neat.  That’s all fine and dandy.  But if the books are any kind of success, it’s because you, as readers, are talking about the books.

Social media can be both a boon and a detriment.  Sites like Goodreads, designed specifically for the discussion of books, can be one of a writer’s greatest assets, or, quite quickly, can turn into a writer’s worst enemy.  I’ve had the experience of having seen if from both sides, as I’m pretty sure you all know good and well.  In this day and age, we can connect with pretty much anyone anywhere quicker than a few keystrokes, and opinions, however warranted, can travel just as fast.  That’s awesome.  And terrifying.

As a writer, though, I don’t think there is anything more gratifying then knowing your book is being discussed.  Obviously, that can be both good and bad, but I tend to see it in a different light, or at least I try to: when people are passionate about something, they will typically shout it from the rooftops, both good and bad.  Any praise I got I thought was great.  I loved it.  Any (apt) criticism about the book (OMFG, BEAR!! SHUT THE $&%# UP! I WANT TO PUNCH YOU IN THE NUTSACK!!!) was said with such conviction that I could never find fault with it.  The idea that people felt so strongly either way was what mattered the most.  Did I realize back in the day (ha!  I’m old school now!) while writing him that Bear would be such a polarizing figure (because, in all reality, you either love him or you hate him)?  Nope, I sure didn’t.  And would I change a goddamn thing?

You bet your sweet ass I wouldn’t.

And it all comes back to the readers.

A couple of weeks back was the GayRomLit convention.  Readers and authors and publishing houses descended onto Albuquerque (I will still never be able to spell that right; even now, it took me four times).  I wasn’t nervous until the day I left.  And then, for some random reason, it hit me that I was traveling to a faraway place (literally a whole hour by plane) by myself (as if I normally travel with an entourage or something—actually, that would be epic) to meet people face to face who have read what I’ve written.  That kind of hit me all at once when I was sitting in the airport, waiting for my flight, checking out the hot shoe-shine guy, wondering what he would say if I asked him to shine my shoes even though I was wearing flip flop. 
It grew even stranger for me when I arrived at GRL and began getting recognized by readers and authors alike.  That was probably the most surreal moment ever, having people come up to me, knowing who I was (or so, at least I thought—now that I think about it, though, I was wearing a badge that had my name on it around my neck.)  I think it could have easily gone to my head and I could have destroyed my hotel room like a rock star all the while demanding hookers and piles of cocaine, but I was so fucking humbled by it, that it still fills me with wonder all these days later.

There was the moment when a woman came up to me and hugged me while she cried, letting me know how much Bear meant to her and her younger brother who was coming out of the closet slowly but surely.

There was the moment when I was asked to speak to a reader on the phone who, due to an unforeseen occurrence, couldn’t make it to GRL at the last moment, but had wanted to meet me and who immediately recognized my voice when I simply said “Hello.”

There was the moment I was asked to sign book after book after book, people looking so nervous that it was make me more nervous and it was all I could do to keep my focus to make sure I spelled my own name right (oh, and to the person I am pretty sure has the book I signed TJ Kune:  yeah.  My bad.  Maybe it’ll be worth like sixteen dollars in seven decades since I am marginally infamous to small sect of the population and you can sell it on Ebay or whatever sell site exists in seven decades.  Hold on to that shit!)

I can’t speak for other authors, so I won’t even try.  All I can say is that for myself, dear readers, you have made the past year of my life something extraordinary and for that, I will always be grateful to you.  Every single thing that has happened since August 12th, 2012 when a flawed story about finding out who you really are came out has made me who I am today.  So keep doing what you do, making sure that if you read something that speaks to you, that you share it with those around you.  It means more to authors than we could ever possibly say.


When TJ Klune was eight, he picked up a pen and paper and began to write his first story (which turned out to be his own sweeping epic version of the video game Super Metroid—he didn't think the game ended very well and wanted to offer his own take on it. He never heard back from the video game company, much to his chagrin). Now, two decades later, the cast of characters in his head have only gotten louder, wondering why he has to go to work as a claims examiner for an insurance company during the day when he could just stay home and write.

He lives with a neurotic cat in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. It’s hot there, but he doesn’t mind. He dreams about one day standing at Stonehenge, just so he can say he did.

TJ Klune is the author of the award winning novel Bear, Otter, and the Kid, it’s sequel Who We Are, and Elementally Evolved Book I: Burn (whose readers are long-suffering as Book II is not out yet.  Or finished.)

He can be found on FB and his blog


  1. *MUAH*
    ...because you are just too ChaCha for words!! Keep doing what you do, Travis, and I'll keep reading it. ...and pimping you out! Lol

  2. Thanks for the post, I love your books and am such a fan of your work, you even having me ready to read about zombies!!!
    I'm glad it's been an amazing year for you and hopefully just the first of many to come!
    Take care :)

    1. ikr? TJ Klune... popping zombie cherries across the Kluniverse.

  3. TJ Klune! You are a supastar! Seriously, I was so starstruck when I saw you at GRL. And no, I didn't have to look at your name badge. I had the lollipop-sucking FB picture of you ingrained in my membrane. :-)

    Word of mouth can work against you, too, hehe. I purposely haven't read Burn yet, because really--who wants to endure that kind of cliffhanger?? I've purchased it though, if that helps. :-)

    I loved both BOATK and WWA. The characters really came to life for me. I don't even think of them as fictional people. They exist somewhere out there in the world. I know they do! And I love them dearly.

    It's also really cool the way you interact with your fans and fellow authors online. You make us laugh and smile and groan IRL just as you do in your storytelling. We love sharing a small part of your day with you. Thank you!

    All the awards, Mr. Klune. All the awards.

  4. Works both ways. Nothing more awesome than meeting someone whose words you love & they are nice. I will never meet my fave tennis player or actor but through the Internet & book conferences, I've many amazing people, authors & fellow readers. And I am thankful.

  5. I smile whenever I see your name on my screen. I know whatever comes from the kluniverse will be honest and endearingly funny!

    So thank you for thanking us! :P

  6. Heehee! I gushed all over your faces ;) I am so glad you enjoyed the post! (and isn't that dinosaur meme fucking hilarious? I pretty much laughed myself into a conniption when I saw it). But thanks to you all, I get to continue to write and for that, I will always be grateful.


  7. OK got to admit that I haven't read your stories (YET!!) but the reader responses are OOTW (out of this world) (have I just created an ancronym???) but this blog is so happy, and other authors are so happy, and I think I'm missing out somewhat, and you are such a nice guy - I'd better DO something about it!

    Congrats on achieving your dream - and, off I go to help a little bit more!! Thank you!!


  8. Let's hear a big hell-yeah. Readers in the M/M community are amazing and the warmth at GRL (see how I didn't have to spell Albeqwirky) was wonderful. I can pretty much just second everything you said :)