Q&A with Alex Clermont

1. What’s your current project and what gets you excited about it.
In May I released my first book titled “Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely.” It’s a collection of narratives about my two years living in South Korea. It’s sold as a travelogue, but it’s not really. It’s not about me immersing myself in the culture and “going native.” And it hardly says a thing about the different sights I saw there. It’s a collection of distinct and separate stories about my journey to understand more about my life and myself against the backdrop of a new and (at least to me) strange country.

What’s gotten me so excited about it, besides it being my first book, is that everyone else seems to like it as much as I do. I’ve gotten only 5 star reviews in Amazon and the review blogs that have written about it all let me know that I put together a quality collection. I thought it was good, but it’s great to know that other feel the same way.

2. What was the first moment when you knew you wanted to write?
When I was in elementary school I had some issues. Too complicated to get into now, but I used to go to the school’s counselor every week for a sit down that sometimes lasted thirty minutes.

One of these sessions happened during my English lesson. The teacher went over the class’ homework while I sat in the other side of the school and talked about sad things. The session brought me to tears that I tried to hold in while heading back to class. Our homework was to write a story similar to the one we read the week before, and as I wiped tears from my eyes the teacher was reading mine to the class. I stepped inside just as she finished and everyone laughed and cheered as I walked towards my desk. I had no idea what had been going on, but they were quoting pieces of my little fourth grade story back to me, and telling me how great and/or funny it was.

I was crying moments before, but because of the reactions from my story I was smiling. Figured I was pretty good at the writing thing, so I stuck with it.

3. What is your favorite thing about the writing experience and why?
I’ve been writing since I was a kid. If you asked me that questions then, or even five years ago, I would’ve said that I loved the fact that my stories helped release feelings and emotions that wouldn’t have found their escape any other way. That’s still true and it’s the main reason why I write. But my favorite thing about it is simply that I get to create new people.

When I write a story I name the person whatever I want. They look however I want them to look. I give them interesting little quirks and characteristics, and I flesh out their personality through interactions with other people I’ve made up. The whole thing is too much fun, and it only gets better when you become a better writer.

Even in “Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely” I’m able to kind of create characters. The stories are real, but I’m able to shape the reader’s perception of the people I present. It’s great.

4. What do you hope to say to people about your writing?
I hope the writing speaks for itself. If someone hasn’t read anything of mine, though, I would like them to understand why I write. I write because it’s the only way I know to make sense of the mess of existence that we all find ourselves in. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I walk around constantly amazed by life. Even small things that I’m totally familiar with leave me with a sense of wonder when I look at them from a different angle. An ex-girlfriend once called me “strange” and smiled as I talked about things we had both seen a million times. I can’t wrap my head around all those big and little amazements, but I try my best by writing stories about them.

I want to let people know that my writing is my way of putting a microscope on some well-trodden aspect of the human experience while yelling at you, “Hey look at this! This is hilarious and sad and awe-inspiring and life is richer because of it!” I would like people to know that my writing is about you, and me and the rest of us here on this beautiful planet.

5. What are you working on right now?
Though I’m still promoting my book “Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely,” I’m also working on a couple of different stories right now. My next project is a novelette I’ll be independently releasing as an e-book around July or August. It’s titled “Missing Rib” and revolves around a man trying to get over an emotionally draining break up, while being pressured into being an emergency groomsman at a wedding. It asks questions about love, true friendship, and the idea of there being a soul mate out there for each of us.

If I were pressed to categorize it I would consider “Missing Rib” a romantic comedy since it’s full of humor and wit that everyone whose read it so far seems to appreciate, although the romance is bittersweet. It’s a great story, and I’ll be putting it out to let people know that although my first book was a travelogue/memoir I mainly write literary fiction – stories about people living their lives and learning something about themselves and the world they’re in. Both “Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely” and “Missing Rib” fall in line with that theme.

6. What's your favorite place to write?
A. I don’t have a favorite yet, just a list of nice places that are all equally distracting in their own way. The closest I’ve come to declaring a favorite was earlier this year. I stayed over at a friend’s apartment in South Korea for about a week and got a good amount of writing done. She had lots of room and huge windows that let the sunlight just pour in. Beside a keyboard and food, that’s really that’s all I need in life and for writing – lots and lots of sun.

Alex Clermont is a creative writer born and raised in New York City. He has been a contributing writer to Beyond Race Magazine, covering and interviewing independent creative artists in New York. Alex has been featured in several publications such as, Out of Place – an anthology featuring authors from around the globe. He also regularly posts short fiction pieces on his website AlexClermontWrites.com. You can also follow him on twitter and facebook.

Alex’s first book, available now and titled "Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely," is a collection of narratives about his time living in in South Korea.

He also smiles a whole lot. Say “Hi” if you get the chance. :)