Risingshadow has had an opportunity to interview K.D. Edwards about his latest fantasy novel, The Hanged Man.
K. D. Edwards lives and writes in North Carolina, but has spent time in Massachusetts, Maine, Colorado, New Hampshire, Montana, and Washington State. He is currently a senior HR consultant at the University of North Carolina General Administration. He formerly worked in the marketing department for Beacon Press.
The Tarot Sequence #2
by K. D. Edwards
The last member of a murdered House tries to protect his ward from forced marriage to a monster while uncovering clues to his own tortured past.
The Tarot Sequence imagines a modern-day Atlantis off the coast of Massachusetts, governed by powerful Courts based on the traditional Tarot deck.
Rune Saint John, last child of the fallen Sun Throne, is backed into a fight of high court magic and political appetites in a desperate bid to protect his ward, Max, from a forced marital alliance with the Hanged Man.
AN INTERVIEW WITH K.D. EDWARDS
Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words?
Let’s see... I more or less made a mess of my life up until my 30s. Well, maybe not a mess, but it took me forever to find a daytime profession I loved. I worked in banking, law, interactive television (from the days before everything went online), retail, regional management, Starbucks manager, purchasing agent for bariatric furniture…. Then I stumbled into HR in Higher Education, which became my daytime love.
But a common thread since I was a kid was writing. I’ve wanted, from my earliest memories, to write stories. And I had the most bizarre influences based around what I had immediate access to. The Hardy Boys. General Hospital. The pulp fantasy novels from the 80s. Reruns of Soap.
And in a way, all that indecision in my daytime job made me a better writer, because I’ve experienced life in Boston, Maine, New Hampshire, Colorado, Washington State, Montana, and North Carolina.
Anyway, this is me, now: Starting a second act with writing, while holding down a daytime job I really like. Life is pretty good.
What inspired you to become a speculative fiction author?
I loved the genre before I even realized it was a genre. It’s a bizarre, surreal, wonderful mash-up of real life and fantasy. And then Laurell Hamilton came along and blew it wide open with her Anita Blake books. All the masters came from that time: Butcher, Harris, Briggs, Andrews…. So many exceptional stories filled with genre-mixing elements like fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, romance… I love being able to experience all of those elements in a single story. There are so many possibilities! Even in HANGED MAN, I’m exploring something new: I have a 2-chapter sequence that could be described as “horror”. Definitely a ghost story. It was new for me, and took 9 months to research and write, but it’s two of my favorite chapters ever.
You're the author of The Tarot Sequence. What kind of a fantasy series is it? Is it in any way different from other new fantasy series?
I think so? I think every new book brings something a little new to the genre. TAROT SEQUENCE is set in a reimagined modern world where Atlantis is real, and the refugees from it have settled on the island of Nantucket, creating the city of New Atlantis. It’s a blend of sci-fi and fantasy: in a single scene you’ll have minotaurs and iPhones. And GLBT+ characters are strongly represented. New Atlantis is a sexually fluid society: I never use the word “gay” or “straight”, since most characters are on a spectrum. But the main character, Rune, just happens to prefer men. That’s an important part of every story I’ve told and want to tell: I want to write mainstream speculative fiction with characters who just happen to be gay.
Your latest novel is The Hanged Man, which will be published by PYR in December 2019. Is there anything you could tell us about this novel without spoilers?
It’s a middle child. The entire series is split into three trilogies, with HANGED MAN being the second book in the first trilogy. I spent 18 months worried it would be dismissed as simply the bridge between the first and third book of the first trilogy – but I think I’m finally ready to let that fear go. Reactions so far have been…reassuring. Really reassuring. I paid close attention to what my readers thought about LAST SUN, and made some smart course corrections, especially around the presence of strong female characters and racial diversity.
In a nutshell? HANGED MAN is the story of Rune needing to save his ward, Max, from a marital alliance to Lord Hanged Man. The Hanged Man is an Arcana who hasn’t let go of the old days, when Arcana acted with absolute impunity. He’s a nightmarish figure, and an enemy unlike anything Rune has faced. A direct assault would never suceed; Rune and Brand need to use politics and subtlety to work their way into the Hanged Man’s orbit, in hopes of finding a way to break the marriage contract. Their efforts will take them into some of my more surreal world-building: a redlight district made from moored ghost ships; a skyscraper turned into a biosphere for farming; and ultimately to the floor of the Arcanum, where Rune will face the other Arcana in a moment that changes everything for him.
Is The Hanged Man a direct sequel to the first novel (The Last Sun, June 2018)?
Absolutely. All of the TAROT stories will be direct sequels under a single arc centered around Rune, the last of the Sun Throne.
Could you tell us something about the protagonists and the worldbuilding in this novel?
The heart of the story is the relationship between Rune and his lifelong bodyguard and Companion Brand. While the two aren’t romantically involved, they’ve got the bond of brothers, nearly lovers. That was something I planned on from the beginning. There’s a phrase we throw around a lot nowadays: “toxic masculinity.” And a lot of it boils down to the expected way that male characters interact with each other. I wanted to subvert that from the start. I wanted there to be open affection between Rune and Brand at times. I wanted them to have the type of relationship that means that, even without romantic intimacy, they won’t hesitate to sprawl together on a sofa. I wanted to create a special kind of love.
And even beyond that, I tried to explore other types of male love. Between two characters who are as much father and son as they are older & younger brother. Between Rune and Brand and their young ward Matthias. Between Rune and his mentor and (at times) savior Lord Tower.
And humor. LAST SUN was the first time I tried to infuse a story with humor. I never thought I was the type of person who could pull that off....but turns out I may have a knack for it. Or maybe the characters just made it easy? But either way, the banter between Rune and Brand, in particular, is a massive part of the story. The first time I knew I’d pulled it off was when a critique partner told me that he’d gladly read a scene where Rune and Brand did nothing but recite tax code.
As for world-building? I went big & deep. Writers like Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels) and Anne Bishop (the Others) gave me confidence. They weren’t afraid to toss readers, arse over ankles, into a massively strange world—so I tried not to be, either. Atlantis society is structured around Arcana Thrones, which itself are based on the imagery of the tarot deck’s major arcana. Rune is the last heir to Sun Throne, which was more or less destroyed when he was a teenager. He and Brand scrabble for a living in New Atlantis, a city formed from teleported & rehabilitated ruins from across the planet. I’ve put a huge amount of research into the individual buildings and neighborhoods. What I’ve shown so far is only a fraction of what I have planned.
Will you be writing more Tarot Sequence novels?
Oh yes. There are nine novels planned and loosely outlined. I know exactly what I want to do, right up to the final scene. I am an obsessive outliner. I started the series with over 300,000 words in note form. Since I know everything big that needs to happen, I’m trying to leave a lot of breadcrumbs along the way for observant readers.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
If you want to read a mainstream urban fantasy with LGBT+ characters, give me a try. Check out my twitter stream, too: @KDEdwards_NC. I often post a lot of snippets and scenes, and I also uploaded a free novella set between LAST SUN and HANGED MAN.