TJ Klune Interview

We talk to the bestselling YA author about his teen superhero romance series and other works.


Heatwave by TJ Klune. Tor Teen. pp.384. $18.99.


Konstantin Rega: When did you move to Virginia?

TJ Klune: Before, my partner and I were living in Tucson, Arizona. We moved here in 2013, for my job.  After a few years, Virginia started to feel like home. And though the traffic in Fredericksburg isn’t great, it’s a gorgeous place filled with wonderful people.

Did you always want to be a writer?

When I was six/seven I used to carry a notebook around, filling it up with stories. It has always been a goal for me. My first book came out in 2011, and here I am still going strong. I know it’s rare that people get to grow up and do what they love. The fact that I get to do my job is amazing. I always wanted to do this and I do.

Your breakthrough book was, The House in the Cerulean Sea?

I had always wanted to tell a story with magic and “otherness”. Growing up in rural Oregon in the 90s, I understood “otherness.” I wanted to do that with a magical community. I wanted to explore the dangers of bureaucracy and apathy. But also what happens when we feel happiness and hope, what happens when we let kids be weird and carve a space for themselves in the world—instead of training them to be tiny-little-adults. It’s been a journey with that book, but one that I’m grateful to have taken.

And your most recent book, Heat Wave, is the last in your The Extraodinaries Trilogy. How did that start?

As a kid, I saw myself in comics because heroes were “othered” because of what they could do—so much so that they hide their identity. So comics have always fascinated me. They made me feel like I could be a hero, too. 

The four main characters in The Extraordinaries are 16-17. And these kids are loved and supported by their parents. It’s so important for younger readers to see that. Important to show that the characters are successful and happy—even if Nick is a bit of a “chaos demon.”

I want to explore all the facets of my job and what I can do. Writers are always concerned about their audiences. My books are for everyone, but I write books that I would have wanted to read as a kid, a teenager, even now. YA has always been at the forefront of pushing what people can or cannot read.

The throughline for all of my books is that they will be about queer people getting to succeed and experience joy. In fiction and television, I don’t see that, so I want to give my characters happy endings. I wanted to show queerness being an aspect, now the whole of a person.

What else are you working on?

I just finished edits on The Lives of Puppets coming out in March 2023. It’s a retelling of Pinnochio. And it is the biggest and most ambitious novel I’ve undertaken. Instead of puppets, there’re androids. The main character is human, but the rest are robots. My favorite is a vacuum cleaner with social anxiety called Rambo.


Buy a copy at The Bookshop.

Konstantin Rega
A graduate of East Anglia’s renowned Creative Writing MA, Konstantin’s been published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Poetry Salzburg Review, www.jonimitchell.com, the Republic of Consciousness Prize (etc.). He contributes to Publisher Weekly and Treblezine.
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