Andrew C. Katen is an educator, geopolitical analyst, and geologist. He has taught middle school and college, as well as published and presented on various topics related to geopolitics and natural resources. Andrew holds an M.S. in national security studies and B.S. degrees in geology and biology. Currently, he lives in Colorado with his wife and children.
Where did you get the answer for your most recent book?
A few years ago during lunch with a friend, I was asked to describe my perfect job. After a couple seconds, I replied that it would bring together all of my intellectual interests (geology, geopolitics, history, investment, etc.), allow me to work by myself, involve lots of travel and research, make the most of my imaginative and creative tendencies, and combine my passions for writing and educating. Sounds like a fantasy, right? He must have thought so, too, because he laughed and said, “Good luck with that.” But the conversation turned on a light bulb… and a couple years later, “Chaturanga” was published. So, basically, the idea for my book manifested after confessing aloud a seemingly far-fetched job description.
Of course, looking back at that moment now, I realize that the groundwork for “Chaturanga” had been laid much earlier. For more than a decade, I have been studying and writing about Central Asia and its geopolitics, history, and natural resources. More recently, when I began teaching middle school, I noticed that American textbooks don’t spend many pages on this part of the world. In fact, I had a hard time finding any books that introduce these issues in a way that adolescent readers would find fun, interesting, understandable, and relevant. So, “Chaturanga” is partly the result of my teaching experience and the time and effort I spent trying to find educational resources for young learners. Additionally, many of the characters, themes, and settings are rooted in my travel and work experiences, passion for geology, and memories of writing stories as a kid. Then there are the countless books that I have read about that part of the world; in fact, some of the exploits in “Chaturanga” are based on the biographies of spies and explorers who visited Central Asia a century ago. And, of course, while writing the book I had to do a lot of additional research to ensure the details of the story are accurate, which in turn fueled even more ideas. So while I didn’t realize it back then, it’s clear to me now that the idea for this story was growing all along. I guess you could say “Chaturanga” is the culmination of a life’s journey to find and do what I love.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently exploring a sequel to “Chaturanga,” which will probably take place somewhere in South America. The story is going to continue with the main character and integrate many of the themes contained in the first book, but obviously its focus is on a very different part of the world. I’ve always been fascinated with Latin America – its people, history, geography, and politics – and have spent a bit of time there myself. Writing a book about that place has been on my radar for a long time.
"The End of the Beginning" is a post-publication Bonus Chapter of Chaturanga," the young adult educational novel about Central Asia. In the style of "Chaturanga," this short story offers readers a fun, interesting, and relatable way to understand current events related to oil prices, the future of energy, world markets, and geopolitics.