Lifelong passion: Cory Clement, who recently published his first novel, Farewell Keystone, wrote his first story when he was in first grade. MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO
Cory Clement has always enjoyed writing, even as a youngster.
“I wrote a one-page story about my family fighting against monsters when I was in first grade,” he recalled.
Today, Clement is 29 and the author of his first novel, Farewell Keystone.
“I’m almost hitting 30. It was now or never,” he said.
Clement grew up in Mayfair, attending J.H. Brown and Mayfair elementary schools and Delaware Valley High School. He now lives on Chadwick Street in South Philadelphia.
Growing up, his passions were horror movies and pro wrestling, and he has incorporated them into the book.
Farewell Keystone is a 468-page paperback set in Philadelphia. It chronicles the story of Owen Reilly, who is seeking inner peace, sobriety, a relationship and a steady job and place to live.
Owen meets Sonya, an aspiring pro wrestler on her way to a match in a small town in Ohio. He accepts her offer to tag along for the ride along the back roads.
“It’s a finding-yourself type of story,” Clement said in an interview at his mom’s house on Bleigh Avenue.
The author enjoyed the long journey of finally publishing a book, but had plenty of starts and stops along the way.
“I tried this specific story a million times,” he said.
The finished product included a couple of rewrites and plenty of editing and proofreading, and took 10 months to complete.
The cover features the main characters and a dog standing outside a vehicle on a highway. The back includes bright lights above a wrestling ring.
Clement sees a lot of himself in Owen, which made writing the book even more enjoyable.
“It was an outlet for me. It helped me express myself. It was fun,” he said. “It was a distraction for me to stay away from dumb things.”
Clement said he even sees some of himself in Sonya.
“The two main characters are my yin and yang,” he said. “Sonya is the positive, hopeful aspect of me. And Owen is spot-on me.”
Clement likes to listen to music when he writes. As he was penning the novel, he heard jazz songs from the album Farewell Keystone on the Music Choice cable TV channel.
The book, of course, is about a man wanting to bid farewell to the Keystone state.
“It hit me that it would be a pretty cool name for the book, getting away from Philly,” he said.
Clement was eager to release the book, and decided on self-publishing. He’s promoting it on Facebook and Twitter, and through word of mouth.
“I’m really happy with it,” he said. “It’s everything I wanted. I’m beyond happy how it turned out. It’s big for me. The end result is the coolest feeling in the world.”
Another cool feeling would be if the story hit the big screen.
“I want to see it get done as a low-budget, independent movie. I’m going to pitch it,” he said.
When not in writing mode, Clement is an assistant manager at Unleashed, a high-end pet boutique near 23rd and South streets.
Next, Clement plans to write Clean Slates, which would be a dark story, almost the opposite of Farewell Keystone. And he has long-term stories in mind.
“I have a whole bunch of rough ideas,” he said.
So satisfied with his book, Clement encourages others to follow their dreams.
ldquo;Anybody who has goals they think are out of reach, I urge people to do it,” he said. ••
Farewell Keystone costs $12.99 in paperback and $3.99 on Kindle. It is available at amazon.com