Me (in a diabetes-inducing tone):
They say laughter is the best medicine, but do you find yourself going day to day and struggling to find even a smile?
Are you tired of fantasy books that feature muscly macho men doing muscly macho things? Sick of strong and competent characters that are always strong and competent?
Have you ever read something and thought, “Man, I like this but I wish it was 500% more queer”?
Well, INTRODUCING….THE LAST SUN, the first book in The Tarot Sequence by K.D. Edwards!
– Hilarious banter
– Competent but beautifully flawed characters
– A brilliantly intricate world based around a reimagined Atlantis
– And 1000% more queerness
Voices In My Head: Wow, that sounds amazing! When can I get my hands on this gem?
Me: Well, my friend, this is your lucky day because the book is out TODAY.
Me: TO.DAY. So you can skip on out to your local bookstore and buy or order a copy right now. Or put in a request at your library and you get to read the book for free (I always joke that I’m on my library’s blacklist because of the mountain of requests I make each month, but honestly, all the librarians I know love them–so go for it).
Voices: Can this book fix my crumbling relationship?
Me: Um…y–yeah, definitely! It’ll fix your relationships, water your crops, and probably eventually ignite world peace.
And if you don’t believe my words, I’ll let the author himself speak, as we awkwardly segue into the interview segment!
1) Hi, K.D! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! To start off, can you tell us a little about yourself and your book, The Last Sun?
Absolutely. Well, maybe. I deliberately chose an initial-only penname so that I’d be able to vanish into my novel. I’ve never been as concerned with making a reputation for myself, as I am in making my stories known. But I’m a native of the East Coast, and spent the first half of my life bouncing around the northern latitudes – Central Mass, up to Maine and New Hampshire, back down to Boston for 5 years, over to Colorado for 1, back to Central Mass, then over to Montana for 5 years, then over to Washington State (Spokane) for a few years, and finally to North Carolina, where I’ve more or less settled in the last 10 years.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer – always. I even used to write a serial soap opera in high school for a bunch of people. But about 7 years ago I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “Time to fish or cut bait.” So I wrote a horrible contemporary coming of age novel. And then a less-horrible gay mystery. And then a borderline-passable YA post-post apocalyptic superhero novel. And by that point I realized I’d leveled up as a writer, so I started TAROT, the book I’ve always wanted to write.
2) The Houses of New Atlantis are named after tarots, and their powers are associated with tarot imagery and meanings. What made you decide to go down this direction?
I’ve always been fascinated with Tarot cards, as an individual; and deep world-building, as a reader and writer. This is the best combination I’ve achieved yet. The Tarot mythology is just so damn rich with archetypes. I love taking them as a starting point, and building a game of courts around them.
3) Your magic system and some of the worldbuilding reminded me quite a bit of role-playing games. Were video games and/or pen-and-paper RPGs sources of inspiration for the book?
Oh absolutely. I plot and plan in terms of RPG. I would LOVE to turn the world of New Atlantis into a sprawling RPG like DRAGON AGE or WITCHER, with the heart of LAST OF US. The magic system in LAST SUN is so RPG – the way Rune’s abilities are limited by sigils, and the way he’s clever enough to use a single elemental power in several ways (like turning Fire into fireballs or walls of fire).
I should have had him smash more crates and fight more rats, and given gaming companies more of a wink…
4) Rune differs from many urban fantasy protagonists in that he’s not human. But his struggles are nothing if not human. I’d love to know more about your decision and process in creating an MC who is powerful–and has potential to become even more so–yet also powerless in many respects.
I’ve always told people that TAROT was the first book I wrote that contained my darkness. And, indeed, as funny as I try to make the banter between Rune and Brand, the backdrop of the story – Rune’s past – is chilling. And I tried to be true to it. I believe that when you’re writing about abuse, whether physical or sexual, you damn well better respect it. That’s why it’s not simply backstory: Rune’s past, and the violence he encountered the night his court fell, informs all of his decisions, in one way or another. It’s why he can be such a force of nature in a fight, yet have no idea at all how to make small talk. It affects his ability to trust, to invest himself, to commit.
Plus, the fall of Rune’s court affected his supply of magical instruments. It limits his ability to be a constant bad ass – there are constraints on him, and it forces him to be very clever and resourceful. One of the things I like best as a writer is honoring those restraints, and forcing Rune to come up with different ways of extracting himself from a bad situation when his sigils have run dry.
5) Rune and Brand. Their bond forms the heart of the story. Did you have any specific inspirations for their relationship or did it just kind of write itself?
It writes itself. It just does. I love writing their dialog. I love how much they mean to each other, and how they express that love – caring, caustic, and clever. I am so lucky they’re in my head.
6) One of things I love about The Last Sun is the way it showcases so many different shades of masculinity. Your characters are everything from sarcastic and grumpy, to gentle and virtuous, to awkward and whimsical, and more. And it’s wonderful to see this variety in a genre that often veers toward a testosterone-laden brand of masculinity. Was this a conscious decision on your part? And why do you think it’s important to explore these avenues in fantasy stories?
It was a very conscious decision. I set out to make a modern fantasy with a main character who just happens to be gay, and I think gay men are fortunate to operate without a lot of hang-ups that are coded into straight men. Not to make generalizations, I say, generalizing.
7) In recent years we’ve seen a surge of diverse books in the YA scene, and it’s also slowly starting to catch on in adult SFF, with awards like the Hugos reflecting that. But to see an ownvoices adult fantasy with a full queer cast and a m/m romance plot is truly inspiring and exciting, not to mention groundbreaking. At what point did you decide, “These are the kinds of stories I want to write”?
Back when I committed to really producing a finished, marketable novel, I had a tough conversation with myself about what type of characters I wanted to create. In the end, I realized that I had a certain luxury most writers don’t: I have a good day job. I’m not struggling. If I don’t become a commercial success, it won’t affect my ability to put food in my fridge. That decision gave me even more latitude to be true to myself and take chances.
I want to write mainstream fiction, and urban fantasy, and high fantasy, and YA, and zombie stories, and post-apocalyptic stories….. And I want it all to center around a queer main character, or at least with strong queer representation among a cast of main characters. That is my goal. To give certain young people a better reflection of who they are – something I didn’t have growing up.
8) Now for something refreshingly short! What was your favourite part about writing the book?
The research. I loved researching abandoned human ruins, which were used to create the patchwork city of New Atlantis.
And I also love going back to my notes — I’m a HUGE outliner – and finding a one-liner that Brand is going to say that I’d forgotten about. I love making myself laugh with something I forgot I wanted him to say.
9) Do you have any recommendations for books and authors? Especially for those who have read your book and are now experiencing severe withdrawal?
Robin Hobb is a master. No author has ever dug under my skin like her. I once sobbed so hard reading one of her novels that the collar of my sweater was soaked.
Graphic novels are a HUGE influence for me. Gaiman, Ellis, Ennis, Carey. And I like the early days of urban fantasy – Hamilton, Briggs, Harris, Butcher, Armstrong, Caine. I’m reading JK Rawlings’ (as Kenneth Galbraith) mystery series right now, and LOVING IT. Later in life, I started reading the really, really, really excellent YA SFF that was coming out – Armstrong, Black, Marr, Clare, Brennan. Oh, Brennan – IN OTHER LANDS is a riot. I just re-read that.
I could go on forever. Reading every day is important to me – I can’t imagine ending a day without it. I need to start a review column on my website; I keep meaning to….
10) If you could have any three people–real, fictional, historical and deceased or otherwise–in your adventuring party, who would you pick? And what would your classes be?
Hah! I like balance. Definitely a glass cannon mage; a holy fighter who can tank and heal; and a ranged/melee rogue-assassin.
But if I were being creative…. Three people…. Oh, man, I’d definitely want Rune and Brand – there’s your combo of mage, rogue, fighter. And I suppose I’d want someone like Fitz’s Nighteyes. Perfect scout, good in a fight….
11) Thank you so much for your time, K.D! I can’t say enough good things about The Last Sun. If you have any last words you’d like to say to my readers, the bookish world, or the universe in general, you’re welcome to do so!
Am I allowed to tell people about the fan art you did for me? If so, I’d tell people that if they work hard & get published, I hope they have readers like you waiting on the other side of the door. People like you have made this experience of getting published a true joy.
And I suppose I’d say thank you to all my future readers. Above all else, I want to share this series with people. I hope I get the chance to write as much TAROT as everyone is willing to read – and that I entertain the hell out of you along the way.
Thank you so much for asking these questions! I’ve enjoyed answering them.
In all seriousness, this book is the best piece of fiction I’ve read this year and it deserves all the success in the world. I can’t begin to express what it means to see bisexuality, and queerness in general, depicted in such a casual yet heartfelt manner in my favourite genre.
So take a chance and go check it out. You won’t be disappointed. (You can see my 1200-word gushfest of a review here.)
And for those curious, this is the first fanart I made for K.D.: