Coffee with Architects of Worlds Afar is pleased to welcome Cory Clement. His debut novel — Farewell Keystone — tells the story of Owen Reilly. In the midst of struggling to stay sober, Owen meets an aspiring wrestler named Sonya. Together, the pair embark on a road trip which proves to be unlike anything that Owen could have ever expected. Shortly thereafter, Owen is forced to make a daunting choice, one which could essentially alter the course of his life.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a just a weirdo from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I dig pro wrestling, watching cheesy 80’s movies and low-budget horror flicks (with my cat and a coffee if I’m really lucky), and of course when that isn’t going on, I’m prone to listening to music while brainstorming scenes and characters for one of the stories I’m working on.
2. When did you start writing?
It goes way back, and I can actually remember one of, if not THE first things I ever tried to write story-wise. As mentioned, I’ve been a huge horror movie buff for as long as I can remember. I ended up loving a particularly cheesy and bad movie by the name of ‘Troll 2’. It was on HBO all the time, and has since gone on to garner a HUGE cult following and fanbase, for literally being the best worst movie ever made. I loved it as a kid though, and I can fondly recall writing out a little one or two page story about the so-called ‘Trolls’ (ahem,goblins) in the movie coming after me and my family. I did that with a lot of horror movie characters (had them coming after me and friends/family) and it spawned into coming up with actual ideas of my own. It was fun and a way to escape, and with age (to this very second) it spawned into the top way I know how to explain or express myself. It can be fun, it can hurt – but the thing is, once you feel that release and outlet, you’re forever hooked and attached to the writing, at least I know I am.
3. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
Well, for me Farewell Keystone is part-idea, part-diary. Obviously there are some created things thrown in the mix, but a huge portion of it came from me just having so much on my mind struggling with depression and sobriety – and just life, really. It began though watching Twin Peaks for the first time ever – there was a marathon of it airing and I was just hypnotized in the best of ways. The music from that show, I can’t even tell you how much of a role it played for me in the early stages. And the show itself almost let me know it was okay to be a little weird or quirky – so seeing that show for the first time was huge in the inspiration department creatively. I also just always wanted to escape Philadelphia and move to start off somewhere new. To this day I still am saving up for that to happen, actually. Besides that, like I said, I just kept feeling a lot and going through things and used the backbone of the story as a way for me to express and release a lot of emotions and opinions. I had attempted many times to write the story, but it never felt ‘right’, until I seriously hit a rock bottom in my life. I couldn’t find a job on top of all the chaos going on, so I tried passing time by writing a little and it finally felt like the story it was meant to be so I kept going with it. Then it just was a matter of pushing myself to finally actually realize the damn dream of putting out a book. I think the story itself lets you know when its ready and meant to be finished.
4. Does your story have a moral?
I think that’s honestly up to the reader – if they extract something out of it, whatever it is good or bad that’s their right and the beauty of it. For me, Owen and Sonya, the two main characters are almost yin and yang of myself. Owen is the scared, in fear and worry type of person afraid of whats going to happen and feeling lost – while Sonya is that strong, determined go for it and stop worrying so much side of me which at the time was very hardy to reach and still can be at times. So, there are certainly lots of morals and lessons and meanings to it for me – but as far as a bottom line one I think that’s up to the person who reads it. If you spend the money on the book, and feel or want to view it a way completely different than me, like I said, that’s all good.
5. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
Usually me sitting around with pen in hand listening to music. The music factor is big for me – generally instrumental ambient/drone type stuff. One thing I always HAVE to do before I write though, is cast my characters as if it were a movie. The character names come first, and I envision them as a particular actor or actress I think suits them, and go from there. Obviously it can switch around as far as characters, and you have to keep adding some in along the process – but before I even write about a character, I have to sit back and think of the ‘dream’ actor or actress I would pick to portray them if it were a movie. I suppose that stems from being such a big movie nerd, and I also have aspirations to get my work adapted for film versions, so the whole casting thing is an absolute must for me. There’s been times I had to stop myself while in the middle of a solid writing spree because I had a character coming into play and just couldn’t visualize them properly. Not sure if other writers do that, but the casting is so big to me, as is the mentioned musical aspect. I prefer doing at the very least the casting part with pen and paper. No matter how far and advanced technology is, the power of pen to paper and that feeling is a necessity to me.
6. What is your favorite book?
I don’t know if I could even pick one…Black Coffee Blues by Henry Rollins is up there. Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis, Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk I loved the hell out of too. I’m honestly not a huge reader. Its film that motivates and inspires me most, I just find it better and easier to write in the style of a book versus screenplay. I write all my stories as if they are films in my mind, and hope that becomes a reality at least once for me. I just don’t dig the formatting and style of screenwriting. I’ll tell you a random gem that I think is criminally neglected – In The Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami.
7. Any project in the works?
Of course. I had the idea in my mind to stop writing for a bit to just focus all on the promoting of Farewell Keystone, but it didn’t last very long. The sense of joy and contentment I got when I finished Farewell Keystone was just insane. The whole process was just ethereal – getting the cover designed and finished, getting the final proof sent to me. Getting to let everyone know that I actually did it, including myself. Its addicting, and I would know what addicting is, trust me. I’m working on my next novel, Clean Slates as we speak but its just in the layout process. With Farewell Keystone I messed around with escaping a place you don’t want to be in or can’t stand – with this I’m going to explore having to come back in some form. I also imagined what would happen if I made a solid amount of money from writing enough to move off and be financially set – if I would fall into the drinking again, if I’d want a relationship and trust anybody, if I’d actually feel complete if I could get away. So those ideas among others are being balled up into the next novel idea. That’s what I want to finish next to be my follow-up….the other two or three are just longtime ideas that I haven’t pinpointed how I want to approach exactly, not to mention I want to see what happens with Farewell Keystones release. If opportunities arise from that, things can always change.
8. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Just do it. I know for me it was such a worry, so scary to think of everyone being able to see my work, judge me, laugh at me or point their finger. But life’s too short, just try and see what happens. Don’t worry about being perfect, worry about enjoying it as much as you can and finishing it and not letting others dilute your image. Don’t take it all too serious either. If you go through the finished product and find four or five little random typo’s or errors – just keep moving and remember that you still did it. Just have some fun and see what happens, reach.
And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Movies for sure, but as I noted before, my preferred style of writing is in book form. But from a hobby/fan approach, there’s nothing that tops movies.
2. Dogs or cats?
Dogs, but you need at least one cat in the household at all times. Since I have moved out on my own, I’ve lived in apartments not allowing dogs so I’ve been without one for a while and its a huge void – its horrible not having a dog. But because of that, I went out and got a cat, and she is pretty awesome. In a dream world, I’d have two or three dogs and this little spoiled diva of a cat I got now.
3. Summer or winter?
Winter. Easiest question ever asked…I CANNOT STAND hot weather. Bring on the snow.
4. Cake or ice-cream?
Can I use cheesecake as a happy medium? If so, that. If not, then ice cream.
5. Ebook or physical book?
Physical. I’ve never read an ebook, kindle or such and don’t intend to. A book is meant to be physically in your hands. I saw many self-publishing authors out there solely putting out ebooks and saying its a waste of money or time for physical, and even if that is the case, I still could never release a book without an actual book. It doesn’t compute to me.
6. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in, I’m a pretty introverted person and bit of a loner.
7. Working in a group or working alone?
Working alone for sure.
8. To find true love or to win the lottery?
At this point its the lottery.
9. To find the love of your life (only to find out that you’re not the love of their life) or to have someone declare you the love of their life (note, however, that this someone is not a person whom you are romantically interested in)?
Call me selfish and cold, but the second one easily.
10. Losing your ability to speak or losing your ability to hear?
I’d want to be able to still hear music and watch movies, so, I’d go with losing the ability to speak.
11. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
Never read another book. Film is too important to me, and as mentioned I’m not the biggest reader anyways.
12. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
I don’t have a huge sweet-tooth, and coffee is way too vital, so this is beyond easy – never eat chocolate.