Local author unveils adventurous and original tale

Dec 09, 2009 06:00 am | BY MARK WEBER

A gifted local author has released his first literary foray into adventure/fantasy fiction.

Andrew Kooman’s Ten Silver Coins: The Drylings of Acchora is the first of three books in a series of Jill Strong adventures.

Deftly told in the tradition of adventure and fantasy fiction, it’s ultimately a survivor tale about courage and finding a voice, he says.

“I wanted to write a story my nephews would enjoy,” explains Kooman, who wrote the bulk of the book in 2004 during a working stint in Asia. He recalls a vivid image of a girl in a distinct red coat coming to mind one day, and the more he thought about it, the more he wondered what kind of adventure he could build around this character.

“I thought who is she, and what’s her story?”

The plot, which unfolded in both structured and organic ways as Kooman’s creativity was unleashed, follows the young and vibrant protagonist Jill Strong.

Before she ran away from the city of Vendor, she was known as a Daughter of Disgrace.

But her world changes dramatically when she escapes to the forest and is given a treasure of 10 silver coins which she soon loses.

It’s then up to Jill

and Simon, her newfound friend she meets in the forest, to find the coins.

The pair venture into Acchora which is inhabited by ‘Drylings’ who hide in the belly of a dormant volcano under the curse of the Rashtakar. He’s searching for the coins as well.

Lending to the colour and charm of the tale is that in Vendor, imagination and adventure are forbidden. But in Acchora, hope for survival depends on them.

Kooman describe the process of writing the story as imagining the experience his characters were going through. The story line is thoroughly engaging and refreshingly original, and his richly visual style injects a compelling liveliness into every page. Although aimed at a younger audience primarily, there’s no question adults will also enjoy the book and get hooked on the likable Jill’s constant stream of adventures.

“I was exploring this new world and creating it at the same time. It was a really enjoyable experience for me, to engage my imagination.”

Kooman travels internationally to write, partner with non-profit organizations and to teach on writing, creativity and identity.

His writings often tackle global injustice issues, and his series of short stories about gender-based injustice was featured in photogenX’s 30 Days of Prayer for the Voiceless. Extensive travel also sparks creativity which readers will sense as they enjoy his latest work.

“It all adds to informing the experience,” he explains.

Meanwhile, his works have been quick to garner critical praise. Nazar, his short story about an Afghan refugee in Canada, won the 2004 Hobson Foundation Prize for Fiction. His poetry has also been featured in Rock and Sling, the e-zine Bohemian Alien and has won numerous prizes in the Utmost Contest.

In 2007, he began writing plays. His first, Shelter, was an official selection of the Scripts at Work (SAW) workshop in Red Deer. In 2008 he wrote and directed a short vignette called Though He Crush Me that premiered on Good Friday at Red Deer’s CrossRoads Church.

Earlier this year, Kooman wrote She Has A Name which was given the SAW Alberta Playwright Network Award.

He’s also been busy in developing independent film projects including The Prison of Mine (MD Films), The Blind (Unveil Studios and ReDefined Films) and the exceptional feature film E for Everyone: The Mouse and the Elephant (Unveil Studios).

Meanwhile, there are millions of children like Jill Strong around the world who are forced to flee their homes. On a recent trip to Malaysia, Kooman said he was particularly touched by the stories of refugees in South East Asia. Of course, children are also deeply affected by such constant turmoil. Kooman, not surprisingly, wants to help improve their lot via his work.

One dollar from the sale of each book made through AndrewKooman.com and each Ebook will go towards helping children who have been forced to flee their homes.

Ten Silver Coins: The Drylings of Acchora is available atwww.AndrewKooman.com and through Amazon.com. The e-book is available through Smashwords and can be downloaded to all e-reading devices at Smashwords where the first five chapters can also be previewed for free.

Locally, the book is available at Chapters, the Deer Park Co-op, Scott’s Parable Book Store, Ten Thousand Villages, the Red Deer College book store and the Word of Life book store.