Guest Post: “The five essential elements of my modern-day fantasy series, THE TAROT SEQUENCE, as told in tarot card imagery” by K.D. Edwards

Meet K.D. Edwards

K.D. Edwards is the author of The Tarot Sequence urban fantasy series. The Hanged Man (PYR; December 17, 2019) is the follow-up to Edwards debut The Last Sun.

Edwards lives and writes in North Carolina, but has spent time in Massachusetts, Maine, Colorado, New Hampshire, Montana, and Washington. (Common theme until NC: Snow. So, so much snow.)

Mercifully short careers in food service, interactive television, corporate banking, retail management, and bariatric furniture has led to a much less short career in Higher Education.

Social Media Links:

Website: kd-edwards.com

Twitter: @KDEdwards_NC

The Guest Post.

The five essential elements of my modern-day fantasy series, THE TAROT SEQUENCE, as told in tarot card imagery.

  The World

Let’s start with the World card, one of the major arcana of the tarot deck. World-building is a massive part of The Tarot Sequence. I created a backdrop to my story that is unashamedly broad and deep; with elements both familiar and completely alien; strange yet approachable. You’ll see iPads and water hags; smart phones and thunder spirits; grocery stores and ghost ships. 

In my series, Atlantis had always existed, once invisible to the eyes of the world. When humanity reached out to space in the 1960s, they managed to finally pierce the illusions that had kept the island nation secret. Once revealed, Atlantis and humanity clashed, resulting in a World War with devastating consequences.

In the modern era, Atlanteans have fled their ruined home and relocated to Nantucket, an island off the coast of Massachusetts. Using powerful magic, the Arcana – the rulers of the city — translocated abandoned human ruins from across the earth and created a new, patchwork, world-class city. The city is now wealthy and safe, and still relatively isolated from the rest of the planet.

The true centers of power in New Atlantis are based on the tarot deck’s major arcana cards, such as the Sun, Death, the Tower, the Hierophant… The hero of my story is Rune Saint John, the last prince of the destroyed Sun Throne. He survived the fall of his court under the protection of his sometime-employer, Lord Tower; and lives now by taking on assignments too dangerous for the average citizen.

Rune lives with his lifelong bodyguard, Brand – a human bonded to him in the crib. 

And that? That’s the world around my story. I spent a great deal of time developing it. For every single detail I put in a book, there are likely 10 pages scratched in a handwritten binder. World-building is a huge part of my series’ identity.

    The Fool

The Fool is the card of a capering man. His is carefree and capricious; he is considered either the weakest or most strongest character in the major arcana class; and, designated the number “zero”, can come either at the very beginning or end of the story.

I chose this card to symbolize an element of my story because humor is one of the main pillars of my writing. I never considered myself a writer who could successfully use humor in a story; but, then again, I’d never created Brand until I started this story.

Brand is sarcastic, snarky, foul-mouthed, temperamental, and massively useful for trying to inject humor into my dialog. Because he shares a telepathic bond with Rune, Rune knows that all of Brand’s sharp wit comes from a place of true caring and love, which allows him to enjoy Brand as a performance and not an antagonism.

I think I succeeded, too. Of all the feedback I get, very little comes close to readers who comment on Brand, and what he brings to the novel.

  The Tower

The Tower is a card of secrets and betrayal. It’s ideal for spies and interrogators; espionage and mystery. In my story, Lord Tower is one of the wealthiest Arcana on the island, certainly one of the most powerful. He appears to have a great fondness for Rune; though readers comment often that they’re not sure whether he’s a good buy or bad guy.

I picked this because it’s a good card for an unreliable narrator. My story is told in first person, and Rune tends to be very engaging with the reader. He holds little back…..except for one thing. He is very cagey about describing what happened the night his court fell. He was hurt very, very badly; he was tortured and assaulted, and the trauma of that still infects every part of his life. But there are details he refuses to share with anyone around him.

As the author, I am very careful with this, because Rune is being unreliable. I’ve left breadcrumbs about this for two full novels. It’s interesting to see what people have guessed – especially on the Discord channel, where there’s an entire reader-created chatroom dedicated to spoilery guesses.

It’ll all come out in TAROT 3, which is the last novel in the first trilogy. After that, I’ll move onto a 3-book arc about the secrets being kept from Rune, rather than what he’s keeping from you. But I’d planned this arc from the start – before LAST SUN was even finished. I can’t wait to see what my readers think of the climax of it.

  The Three of Cups

I’m wandering outside the major arcana now. The 3 of Cups is a good card to denote community or found family. (Thank you to tarot author Jaymi Elflord for this suggestion!) Found family is the third pillar of my writing style – along with world-building and humor. 

There is so much toxicity in our world. From the moment our eyes open, to the moment they close, we’re hit with a steady stream of negative messaging. The news? Social media? Even people’s general impatience in driving on the road, or waiting in long lines. There’s a ton of good stuff, sure; but there are also a lot of frayed nerves in 2020, especially in the U.S.

So I write stories with lots of found family. Misfits who find a home; outcasts who find their people; and strong, noble characters who look over the whole motley collection. When my first novel began, Rune and Brand had each other to look out for. By the end of the second novel, Rune has a boyfriend; Rune and Brand have a minor teenager as their ward; and there are a handful of other strong but misplaced young people needing Rune’s protection. I’m trying to find the laughter and love in this. I want people to come back to TAROT 3 like they’re coming back to their own found family.

And in a way, that’s even been my experience as a published writer on social media. I have so many incredible readers. They share their stories with me. They share artwork inspired by New Atlantis. They make drink recipes base on the character, and cookie recipes, and create image boards. I am so damned lucky to have the support and attention of these amazing readers. They’ve become like a little family to me.

Time

Photo Credit: Alex W @blinkingkills
on Twitter

And last but not least? The most powerful card in my own major arcana pantheon: Time.

I’ve got 9 novels planned. I know what happens in each one. I know the major turning points; the successes; and the defeats. I know the very last scene, and the last thing Rune says to readers. I can’t wait to take this journey with my readers.

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