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What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Setting my characters against actual places and cultural facets that I've learned about during my travels. Keepers of the Stone is part historical fiction, part fantasy and part a travelogue that takes the already international (and interspecies) cast of main characters clear across three continents. Along the way, they encounter various locales, cultures and brands of mysticism. They must reconcile the differences between them -- and amongst themselves -- if they are to determine the final objective of their quest. The plot opens in the middle of the action; much of it was inspired by stories, legends or even locations that I 'picked up' along my own journey since leaving my home town six years ago.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?
I'm just going to put this out there right now. I was inspired to write Keepers of the Stone while reading a Polish language sequel to my favorite novel -- In Desert and Wilderness written by Henryk Sienkiewicz in 1910 -- during the 2015 migrant crisis. In Sienkiewicz's work, Stas and his friend Nell are kidnapped from their home in Egypt and overcome many adventures together in the African wilds. Sienkiewicz puts Stas forth as an exemplar of 'Polishness', attributing many of his feats to the pride he places in his Polish identity, despite the fact that -- born to an exile -- he's never been there .
When reading the sequel, Stas, Nell and the Lost Jewel of India by Leszek Talko, I was interested to see how a more modern author would address such issues. They basically weren't addressed. Malka was introduced here too. But, who she really was remained a mystery, as did the purveyance of the jewel. When I finished it, I was bit by an unyielding inspiration. The urge to come up with my own answers. Thus, these two books serve as the partial back story to Keepers. My novels are intended to be read without having to read ether of the two 'preceding;' books. Their authors did have a notable influence on the Genesis of the Keepers of the Stone trilogy.
More generally, I'd have to include something that isn't strictly a book. I'm a huge Star Trek fan. Though it, I've been introduced to the outsider perspectives that other species and shape shifters can have. If my themes ever seem too heavy? Just remember that one of my characters is a shape-changing black cat with a sardonic comment ready for every situation.
What do your plans for future projects include?
I'm currently working on Voyages of Fortune, the sequel trilogy to Keepers of the Stone. It picks up with our main characters from Keepers roughly two years after its main action ends. But, it's about a lot more than that. If Keepers opens up a fantasy universe starting from one girl on a horse, Voyages of Fortune goes even further. It's a time travel plot that spans over 120 years from late 1880's Eastern Europe, to 1920's Asia, to the Indian ocean circa 2004. The characters -- including Alma Karlin, a real-life Slovene writer and adventuress -- are embroiled into the deceit, intrigue and obfuscation of a power struggle that began in medieval Europe over five hundred years ago. If part of the plot in Keepers is complex, there's a lot to keep you guessing Voyages.
Do you ever get writer’s Block? Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Yes. On this point I think that I can give two main tips for how to get around it. One more general and the other a bit more specific to my case:
First, go on a trip. As I've mentioned above I get a lot of inspiration from the places I've traveled and the experiences I have there. But, there's another reason why I recommend this. Having an hours long bus or train journey is a great way of forcing yourself to just sit down and write. Often I find that with writers block, this is the hardest step. Ideas will come together in your head once you start writing.
Second: Ever had something piss you off, not go your way, or just generally make you feel aggravated by your environs? Use it. Sit down and take the aggression boiling inside you out on your keyboard (figuratively, of course). I'm not exactly a teller of lighthearted, heartwarming stories; there's a desperately discontented soul-searching angst that permeates much of my books. This is probably why I find that this technique works best for when I've come up with the idea for a chapter, but just can't seem to work up the motivation to hammer out how it's going to look 'on paper.' I even find that I do some of my best writing during such situations. Still, every writer is different; I imagine that this approach may not be the best for everyone. Go with what works for you.
Have you ever had one character you wanted to go one way with but after the book was done the character was totally different?>
Yes! The change happened when I sat down to write Book 2 chapter sixteen. It was one of the most fun experiences that I had while writing Keepers. Without (I hope) giving too much away, I'd planed to have one of the characters change sides at that point in the plot. But when I started writing with that intention, it was as if I literally started having a full on debate with two of them -- Bozhena and Stas -- in my own head. The abridged version went something like this:
Me: "Oh come on , guys. This is the point where you change sides and you eventually agree to work with her. I get it that you're aristocracy and you aren't inclined to trust her because of it. But, can you both just go along with it? please? "
Bozhena: "What?! I am royalty. There is no way that I would be prepared to submit to anyone without certain assurances of authority in the matter."
Stas: "And after all she's done there's no way in hell I'm about to trust her, especially with how she's acting now."
Me: *Sighs* "Great. So I guess 'change the story' it is then."
All joking aside, this epiphany did make the ending more poignant and unpredictable. It also sharpened Bozhena's persona into one of a more fully fledged individual.
So really, 'Stas and Bozhena.' Thanks.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: https://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Anzur-Clement/e/B071RRWN6B
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