Please welcome TJ Klune to the blog today giving us a peek into his latest book Olive Juice which releases April 26 from DSP.
Olive Juice is going to be unlike anything that you’ve read from me before. I’m always looking for ways to expand on the way I tell stories, wanting to become a better writer with each new work I put out. Olive Juice is my attempt at telling a story in a different way than what you’re used to seeing from me.
There is a slight spoiler toward the end of this post, but I’ve marked it so you can choose to read it or not. It does not give away anything having to do with the plot.
Before we begin, for the first time, the blurb for Olive Juice.
It begins with a message that David cannot ignore:
I want to see you.
He agrees, and on a cold winter’s night, David and Phillip will come together to sift through the wreckage of the memory of a life no longer lived.
David is burdened, carrying with him the heavy guilt of the past six years upon his shoulders.
Phillip offers redemption.
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This story was born from a handful of different ideas.
I wanted to write a contemporary romance about an older couple. Both Phillip and David are in their early fifties. I have had an older couple before (John & Jackie), but that covered their entire lives. Olive Juice does not. It’s obvious (at least to me) that there’s a lack of older men as protagonists in the MM genre. People like the young, hung and full of come. I get that. Most of my characters are twenties or thirties or forties. But I think it does a disservice not having have stories above that age range. Older guys need love too. This was my contribution to an age group who you don’t normally see getting top billing in this genre.
And then there’s the fact that I wanted to write a second chance romance. I’m a sucker for those. You know the ones, where either a certain couple was together (or not; maybe there were only feelings involved and nothing happened because reasons) and then they weren’t. They come together later in life and there might still be something there, if only they allowed themselves to want it.
Now, from here on out, things are going to get a little technical (read: probably a little pretentious-sounding). I want to explain not what the story is about, but how it’s told.
Do you know what tracking shots are in movies? They’re those long, uninterrupted takes in a film designed to dazzle and wow, either by having huge set pieces filled with explosions and fights and gunfire or are filled with nothing but dialogue that it almost feels like you’re watching a play. Two of my favorite theatrical tracking shots are from Kubrick’s The Shining (the camera following Danny riding his trike through the Overlook Hotel, the wheels alternating rolling on hardwood floors and carpet almost startlingly so)
and Cuarón’s Children of Men (a highly, highly underrated post-apocalyptic movie with a tracking shot that seems to go on forever and knocks the breath from my chest every time I see it—if you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about).
Essentially, what it boils down to is that there are so many moving parts that must be choreographed perfectly, or the scene falls apart, and they have to start all over again and reshoot it from the beginning.
I wanted something like that, except in book form.
Which is why Olive Juice was originally called A Late Night’s Conversation. This book does not have chapters. It doesn’t have scene breaks. It takes place over a single evening, and is essentially one gigantic conversation, slowly revealing what happened between this two men. But in this conversation are these moving parts that are being juggled by David and Phillip. One little misstep, and the whole thing could fall apart.
And that leads to my other desire for this story in how I wanted to tell it. You know when you’re out in public—say, at a restaurant—and you happen to overhear a piece of conversation that makes you stop because what the hell are those people talking about? You try not to be obvious, but you want to listen in to get context, to get clues, to be fucking nosy.
That’s what I wanted for this story. I wanted the reader to feel like an outsider, at least at first. To feel like they came in on the middle of something, without a base knowledge of what’s happening. But the more you listen in, the more you eavesdrop on their late night conversation, the more you’ll begin to realize what’s happening between these two men until that clinching moment when it all clicks into place and everything that comes before suddenly makes sense in ways it didn’t before.
Olive Juice is a mystery in a way, but not of the whodunit variety. It’s a love story—albeit a different kind of love story—of two men who once were something until they weren’t anything at all. The mystery of it is why. And if they could ever find in themselves to be that something again.
It’s a novella. In fact, it’s slightly shorter than Until You. I know a big complaint about novellas is that unless they are a sequel with known people, it’s often over before you can get attached to the characters. I get that. I really do.
Which is why I did my damndest to make sure you care about Phillip and David before all is said and done. I want you to get all the feels, as much as you would do for something twice the length (or, say in the case of Wolfsong, four times its length, Jesus Christ).
This is a Wookiee Cry Face story. If you’ve been around long enough, you know what that means. And you’ll also know that I don’t regret that in the slightest.
- Slight Spoiler
- I promise you there’s a happy ending for most things. I’m not going to John & Jackie you again (To this day, I still get emails about that story saying WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS WHO HURT YOU AND WHY MUST YOU PASS SAID HURT ON TO ME???!!??) without sufficient warning. Let’s call it a strong Happy For Now.
This is the only non-sequel I’m releasing this year. It’s not Lightning. It’s not BOATK4. Those come next. But I hope you’ll come along with me on this little excursion on April 26, 2017 to see what it is we’ll see, to find out the meaning behind Olive Juice.
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, over 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.
Since being published, TJ has won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Romance, fought off three lions that threatened to attack him and his village, and was chosen by Amazon as having written one of the best GLBT books of 2011.
And one of those things isn’t true.
(It’s the lion thing. The lion thing isn’t true.)