From Goddess Fish Promotions a virtual book tour for author,
Andrew A. Clement, and his YA Fantasy Series,
Keepers of the Stone.
Andrew Anzur Clement will be awarding a $10 Amazon
or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn
winner via rafflecopter during the tour. And make sure
you take a look at some questions the author answered
for us...thx for stopping by on this tour.
you take a look at some questions the author answered
for us...thx for stopping by on this tour.
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.
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.
Excerpt: (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.
Four elements of a compelling YA fantasy
(as compiled by someone who didn’t like them growing up)
I was very happy to run across this blog. Just its ‘about’ section says much that I agree with. Both regarding issues in a lot of YA fantasy fiction and about the challenges of finding readers in this genre. I must confess: As a teenager, I have to say that I didn’t really enjoy this genre. So it came as quite a shock to me, when I sat down to write what become Keepers of the Stone, that the end result was, well, a YA fantasy trilogy. Except, just a bit different from a lot of what’s out there. I’ve been given carte blanche for this post. So I think It’s time to lay forth a few things that I think make this genre (and sometimes fantasy fiction in general) interesting and compelling to readers of multiple ages.
- Don’t take your heroes too seriously: It’s fine to be the underdog. Overcoming impossible odds is cool. But, in some books the characters are put forth as being exceptionally capable ‘just because’ or simply plain awesome, despite their status as a supposed weakling. Fighting from a disadvantage is compelling. But, if our protagonists always overcome the villains too easily, or conquer all just because of their determination, this can end up backfiring (e.g.: Seriously? Are you only slightly less stupid than your enemies?). For the main heroes to seem real, and the villains to be threatening, their actions and the outcomes need to come from logic. Or from their own inner flaws. Ones that flow from their defined back stories, rather than plain dumb luck. Or from some contrived pseudo-romantic plot line. I’m not trying to rail against such developments in all their forms; Deus ex machina used judiciously can be quite effective. In fact, if such developments are called out, this can lead to great opportunities for sarcastic humor and good fun that keeps the characters from trying too hard to appear superlative. Really, less is more.
- Take romance with a grain of salt: Sticking in a faux-romantic love triangle is a great way to create dramatic friction between the characters. Unfortunately, it often trivializes the characters’ priorities and the threats facing them. Especially when they aren’t any older than sixteen or seventeen. Even when I was that age, this was one of the things that I couldn’t stand when reading much of this genre. (*rolls eyes* Really? You’re in the middle of a life and death struggle/battle/quest and that’s what you’re worried about? For crying out loud! Try thinking with your brain for once.) Of course I’m not saying that romantic plotlines have no place in a story of this type. This is more an argument for keeping them away from the front and center of the plot development. There’s exactly one romantic interest that’s not just implied in the background of Keepers of the Stone. It serves to provide the occasional comic relief, or to advance the plot. Not drive it. The bonds and commitments between the characters slowly grow with difficulty through the challenges they are forced to face together. The larger than life stakes seem all the more threatening if the characters aren’t spending their time mooning over juvenile relationship issues.
- Magic, but…: Not random magic. Whenever I run across a universe that I like, I enjoy finding out everything I can about it. One of the things that’s most disappointing is to see that it doesn’t develop according to defined, internally consistent rules. This might seem a bit obvious. But, it’s important to tell us how your fantasy universe works. To do your homework regarding how it will interface with the story, rather than simply pull things from your behind. If there’s a character with superhuman abilities? Why do they have them? An object with mystical power? What can and what can’t it do? Keep it consistent. Or call it out. This is by no means to say that all must be revealed at the outset (that would be boring) Instead, I enjoy seeing stories that open up in the middle of the action. Developments that at first are shocking, confounding or inexplicable are explained as you get deeper into the world that a book is creating. The revelations become their own rewards. Keeping your universe’s mysticism straight may seem simple. But, it’s harder than it looks. And it’s a great way of creating and foreshadowing plot twists, while leaving the reader wanting more.
- Fantasy and history together: Ok. This is a bit of an optional one. But one I’m a fan of. I’m in no way saying that fantasy universes that stand on their own are without merit. Quite the opposite. Like I said, I love losing myself in the ones I enjoy. Yet, I often find myself thinking that they’d be more compelling if their stories could somehow occur in ‘our’ world: When, How and Where would they happen? To whom? Setting a fantasy story amid real historical places, events and figures has the effect of creating a world that is both informative and alternative at the same time. Even if one isn’t familiar with the history referenced, it has the effect of creating a fascinating new universe that is still closer to home: The action in Keepers of the Stone isn’t something that could only have happened in a completely different world. The quest could have been entrusted to any of us.
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.
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Purchase Links to book one (Books two and three already out):