Monday, October 30, 2017

Interview with Andrew Anzur Clement, KEEPERS OF THE STONE

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
My books are  period-adventure fantasy novels set in the late 1880's. They follow the adventures of Malka, a mixed raced Indian girl, who unknowingly embarks on a quest to protect a mystical jewel from the designs of the nefarious order of the Urumi. She is aided by mysterious shape-changing allies, real historical figures and notes that appear from thin air. 
Keepers of the Stone is a set of three books and it's also part of a larger series. I'm currently writing the sequel trilogy to Keepers under the title Voyages of Fortune. I hope to have it out sometime next year.

Do you have a favorite character?
One of my friends tells me that I have a weakness for protagonist-antagonist characters. I'm not exception when it comes to my own books. Bozhena is an unwilling member of the Order of the Urumi. A cult of satanic servants, all of whom must undergo the Transmutation -- a process that gives one superhuman abilities of speed and instantaneous teleportation, but also robs one of free will. Consigned into the Order by her father -- a member of the Russified Polish gentry --  she grimly pursues Malka, a trained thief and killer, as well as her sarcastic were-cat protector. The two have come into the possession of a mystical jewel; the Urumi seek its power to unleash destruction in the world. Bozhena's internal conflicts and mental blocks ultimately determine the course that history's future will take.         

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
Yes.  My main character's nemesis from childhood, Zaima. I originally included the name just as a throw-away detail in the first chapter, as Malka takes votive offerings from the camp in the Sect where she's been raised. At that point, I implied that Zaima was someone who Malka didn't particularly care for. Yet over time she evolved into a full-fledged character that not only came to leave a lasting impression on Malka's own self-concept during her upbringing. But, in so doing, changes the course of events that Malka's quest will take in the end, as well.    

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
While I was writing these Keepers of the Stone, I attended a seminar at one of the universities where I do my PhD research, regarding non-academic career paths. Though my field of research is in the social and political sciences, the most useful advice I got came from a writer who'd been brought in to speak to the humanities students. He basically warned against adopting what he called the 'temple mentality:' A strategy in which one figuratively kneels in front of the closed  'temple doors' of great publishing houses or film studios in the hopes of being invited in. Especially in a world of self-publishing and desktop editing he said, "If they smell money, they'll come after you. And if not? Then you've had a fun time doing something you love."
If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
Very involved. I'm not a visual person at all and don't think I have ever bought a book based off of the cover art. Yet, working with a graphic designer required me to pay more attention to these sorts of details. Of course, it's not reasonable that a cover designer is going to read all three of the manuscripts cover to cover  in order to do a design for the books. This meant that, especially  with character representations, I needed to be quite involved with searching for images that I liked and then asking designer to find similar ones. I think each of the three covers went through over five separate revisions.    

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
I'm a huge opera fan, and often come up with many of my plot lines while listing to music or at the opera house. But, when in the writing 'zone' I I need silence in order to escape into my world and let my characters talk to me. 

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I start out with a very vague idea of where the story is going to go in my head and maybe a few key events or elements that I want to include along the way. But, I fill in most of the plot and character developments as I go along.  This often results in interesting situations as I come to the end of a book or plot line. The idea for what needs to happen in the story  remains unchanged. But, how the various characters react to it and the repercussions are often totally surprising, even to me.     

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
They're also available on IBooks, Barnes&Noble, and Kobo among others. Actually, I'd prefer you buy the ebook on IBooks if you have the option. If you really want physical books, it's on for a higher price.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I'm using Twitter and mostly Facebook. I also have a blog, where I share interesting facts about the real historical events or myths that I set the action in Keepers of the Stone against. As well as new insights that I gain into my own books through my travels. Honestly, before I started writing,  I'd never been that active on social media for anything other than keeping in touch with friends. So, that was one of the bigger learning curves of the process.   

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
That would an absolute yes . Between blogging for my own site, writing guest posts, organizing giveaways etc... Most of the time I would like to reserve for writing gets taken up with promotional activities.  I often enjoy writing during the evenings. But, after a full day of dealing with things related to book promotion, it's almost as if I need a break from my own universe, in order to come at it with a fresh mind. I'm currently on summer holidays I hope to block out some time later on in my vacation to finish up the third book in Voyages of Fortune, the sequel trilogy to Keepers of the Stone.   



Keepers of the Stone. Book One: The Outcasts

In a far corner of the British Empire, a mysterious girl gallops away on a horse, fleeing for her life.  Malka has sacrificed everything to protect an all-powerful stone from falling into the hands of the malevolent Urumi. The last in a Sect of thieves, the girl is a trained killer. But will her lethal skills be enough to defeat the Shadow Warriors and their superhuman abilities? 

The fate of the stone may depend on Stas, a courageous youth born into exile from a country that is not on any map. Nell, his friend since childhood, has been caught up in the Dark Order's evil designs. The young outcasts must confront demons, real and imagined, with the help of mystical new allies. Their journey will take them to distant lands and change their lives forever.

Keepers of the Stone. Book Two: Exile

Stranded on the American frontier, Malka must stop at nothing to safeguard the all-powerful stone. She has come under the protection of a snarky felinoid – a shape-shifting girl who traces her lineage back to the court of Vlad Dracula. They must rescue with Henry, the American orphan whose thirst for knowledge could help decipher the clues to the next
leg of their journey – if the Urumi don’t kill them first.

Alone in yet another strange land, Stas mourns the unthinkable loss of his friend, Nell.  Cryptic messages offer new hope. But the Dark Order has devised another strategy to outwit the band of misfits. Plans are betrayed and alliances are formed as history points to the final objective of their quest.

Keepers of the Stone Book Three: Homecoming

Stas and his companions have made their way to the partitioned homeland he has never visited. He dares to hope that Nell may be alive. The doomed princess Bozhena vows revenge on the Shadow Warriors, who have enlisted Malka’s most bitter enemy in their latest plot to control the powerful stone.

With the help of a streetwise gypsy girl, the unlikely travelers must outwit the Urumi and deliver the stone to its final destination. All they have to do is put aside the differences that threaten to tear them apart. The secrets of the past hold the key to the history of the future.

Purchase Links to book one (Books two and three already out):
AUTHOR Bio and Links:

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.
On social media:

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