Interview with YA fantasy author Andrew Anzur Clement

I’m
helping fantasy author Andrew Anzur Clement kick off his virtual book tour for
his historical young adult trilogy, The
Keepers of the Stone Trilogy
.



During
his tour, Andrew will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s
choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance
to win, use the form below. To
increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit
his other tour stops
and enter there, too!
Bio:

Andrew Anzur Clement departed his native Los
Angeles at the age of nineteen, with a curiosity for far-off lands. He quickly
discovered an insatiable wonderlust that has led him to live, work and study in
many fascinating places around the globe. Now in his late-twenties the
unabashed opera fan is based in Europe. He continues to travel and read widely,
finding new inspiration in the places he discovers. In his ‘other’ life Andrew
is an academic researcher, focusing on nationalism and identity formation. He
enjoys including insights from his research in his books and the characters he
inhabits.

 

Welcome, Andrew. Please
share a little bit about your current release.

My current trilogy follows the adventures of a group of misfits. They’re tasked
with protecting a mystical stone from the designs of an ancient cult — the
Urumi — who are essentially the devil’s servants. But, there’s a bit more to
it than that. We open in the middle of the action. The main character, Malka,
has already sacrificed the entire tribe she’s been raised with — but, as an
adoptee, never accepted by — to protect it. She’s already befriended Stas. A
youth born of a Polish father into exile in Egypt and British India. Both are
sent on extensive journeys that are travelogues of the late 1880’s. Like many refugees
who find their upbringings caught between multiple countries today, they are
forced to define the truth of their own identities and pre-conceptions, as they
become involved in a quest to see the stone to its final resting place. It’s a
battle that will test their own core beliefs about their personhoods. And,
determine the course that the future’s history will take.

What inspired you to write this book?
Hmmm… The short version is ‘the Lady Godiva statue in Coventry, England’
(I’ll come back to this in a sec).

Yet,
there’s one that’s much longer. As I mentioned above, I start my story in
mid-action. The back story was partially inspired by a book I first read as a
miserable, overstressed and bullied seventeen-year-old in Los Angeles. The
English language title is ‘In Desert and Wilderness,’ by iconic Polish author
Henryk Sienkiewicz. It’s about a British girl and a Polish boy who is proud of
his heritage. The two get captured, from where they were raised in Egypt, amidst
the 1885 Mahdist rebellion in Sudan. They overcome these circumstances amid
impossible odds.
Flash
forward to November 2015: The migrant crisis in full swing. I’m living in
Europe. And all of the infamous headlines about migrants in the Polish press
are just coming out. I get news from my family. We’re going to Egypt for our next
vacation. The first thing I think of is ‘In Desert and in Wilderness’; I start
looking up coincidences between the book and our planned itinerary. To my
shock, I find that Stas — the same youth who’s been sold as the paragon of
Polishness in that tome — would probably be more like the Syrian migrants
attempting to come to Europe’s shores, in terms of his cultural identity, than like
your run-of-the-mill Pole.
The
following morning, I took a walk in Coventry. As an academic researcher
investigating European migration, I was unable to keep the insights I’d gained
from my head.
Here’s
where the Lady Godiva statue comes in. I found myself standing in front of it.
In Coventry’s main square. The image spoke to me. And that, in the end, is what
inspired the first chapter: a girl on a horse. Setting off on a desperate
quest. One that she’s yet to realize the entirety of. Stas gets caught up in
this too. But, if you’ve never heard of the original book? No worries. I fill
in the back story as we go along. You’ll be fine.



Excerpt from Keepers of the Stone: Book Three: Homecoming:
            “Who are you?” the man asked,
looking behind himself in surprise. Inside the kitchen, some of the other staff
were moving to see what was going on in the lobby. That could not be allowed.
The kitchen employee turned back to find himself looking down the barrel of a
six-shot revolver.
             “I’m the one who’s pointing a gun in your
face. Let me in. Now,” Stas demanded.
            The
man seemed to hesitate for only a second before stepping aside, placing his
frame against the open door. Holding the weapon with both hands, Stas edged
forward. In front of him, he could see the kitchen. It was a rather dark space.
Various dishes sat on the stone counters in different stages of preparation.
Most of the staff looked at him with stares of fear and shock. When Stas used
to dream of coming to his family’s home city, this was just one more way in
which it had not at all been the experience he’d had in mind.
            There
was a sudden yowl, followed by the sound of a foot impacting with flesh and a
body crumpling to the floor. Stas glanced back just long enough to see that
Liza – now in her human form – had taken down a younger man, about Stas’s age,
with a side kick. He had been waiting beside the doorframe, apparently
intending to attack the Slav from behind with a butcher’s knife. Kneeling
quickly, Liza retrieved the cutting tool, which was smeared with blood from
some kind of beef or pork meat. Standing in the doorway, she raised it up to a
point beside her head. The felinoid turned the blade towards herself as she
inspected it briefly, before allowing the ends of her lips to curl slightly
upwards, while jutting out her lower jaw. Concurrently she nodded twice, as if
deciding that this would do nicely.
             “Let’s move!” the felinoid barked at Stas.

What exciting story are you working on
next?

In short? A trilogy that’s partially a sequel to Keepers –Voyages of Fortune.
One of its main plotlines follows the actions of our protagonists from Keepers
of the Stone about two years onwards. Others are completely new. Including one
that chronicles the adventures of a real-life female solo adventurer, mystic
and writer who journeyed around the world during the 1920’s. It all ends up on
a clipper ship that can fold space at supernatural speeds in the twenty-first
century. The whole thing is tied together by a time travel paradox that spans
over 120 years. Kind of makes my head hurt sometimes, actually.



When did you first
consider yourself a writer?
I
guess for a while now. At least, in some sense. I’ve been writing and
publishing as an academic for a few years. But until these books were brought
out I’d never really considered myself an author of fiction. It’s true, what a
writer friend of mine one said; to paraphrase: Once you take the cork off, you
can’t put it back on.

Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?

I wish. In my daily life I’m an early career academic, researching the
confluence between migration and (lack of) European identity formation. There’s
a rhythm in this life; it largely means that I’m able to use the time when I’m
waiting for decisions on academic manuscripts to write my novels. And vice
versa. Additionally, it means that I’m able to bring the insights from my
academic research to bear on the narratives my characters inhabit.


It also allows me to let my hair down a bit. Let’s just say that after you read
these books, you’ll never look at a cat the same way again. Although the story
is set in 1886/7, my characters talk in a snarky way that will be recognizable
to the modern reader. My main character is a mixed-race teenage girl, who takes
down her enemies with a nothing but a dupata, a doorknob and a dagger.

What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?

I like writing on public transport. Most of what I’m writing necessarily takes
place in the evening. Kind of like in place of watching a TV series. But, I’m
most creative/productive while writing during travel between cities. For
exposition, most of the end of Keepers book two and the beginning of book three
was banged out while on six hour long train rides between Plovdiv and Varna,
Bulgaria. Book three was finished in Slovenia, where I gained the inspiration
for my next trilogy. (I’m a fan of Central Eastern Europe, if you can’t tell).

As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?

I think I oscillated between trumpet player, news anchor and businessman
(whatever that meant). And no, novel writer never figured into it. When I first
sat down and began the journey that became these novels, no one, believe me,
was more surprised than I. Yet, I’m more than glad I did so.

Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?

My tomes are part fantasy, part history, and part reflection on what national
belonging means in an increasingly globalized world. Having had the experience
of penning these books, partly while writing a doctoral dissertation, I can’t
help but be impressed by how much Keepers of the Stone encompasses my own
narrative thesis biased off of my travels and research in Europe, North America
and South Asia. Across which most of Keepers’ action is based. It’s a
travelogue of the world. As encountered by those who must find their place in
it. Even as they fight threats that they once never could have imagined existed.




Links:
Purchase
Links to book one (Books two and three already out):
Amazon
| Amazon
UK
| IBooks
| Kobo | BN



Thank you
for being a guest on my blog! Happy touring!


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11 thoughts on “Interview with YA fantasy author Andrew Anzur Clement

  1. Andrew Anzur Clement says:

    Many thanks to Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews for hosting!

    Don't forget to visit my site for a FREE ebook copy of Keepers of the Stone: Book One!

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