My Favorite Bit: Beth Cato Talks About THE CLOCKWORK CROWN
Today Beth Cato joins us to talk about her new novel, The Clockwork Crown. Here is the publisher’s description:
Narrowly surviving assassination and capture, Octavia Leander, a powerful magical healer, is on the run with handsome Alonzo Garrett, the Clockwork Dagger who forfeited his career with the Queen’s secret society of spies and killers—and possibly his life—to save her. Now, they are on a dangerous quest to find safety and answers: Why is Octavia so powerful? Why does she seem to be undergoing a transformation unlike any witnessed for hundreds of years?
The truth may rest with the source of her mysterious healing power—the Lady’s Tree. But the tree lies somewhere in a rough, inhospitable territory known as the Waste. Eons ago, this land was made barren and uninhabitable by an evil spell, until a few hardy souls dared to return over the last century. For years, the Waste has waged a bloody battle against the royal court to win its independence—and they need Octavia’s powers to succeed.
Joined by unlikely allies, including a menagerie of gremlin companions, she must evade killers and Clockwork Daggers on a dangerous journey through a world on the brink of deadly civil war.
So what is Beth’s favorite bit?
When I decided to work gremlins into the plot of my novel, The Clockwork Dagger, I had no idea that one gremlin would result in my book selling to Harper Voyager.
In early 2013, my agent called with the happy-happy-HAPPY news. Her basic information was 1) An editor wanted to buy The Clockwork Dagger and one more book, and 2) Everyone who read Dagger fell in love with Leaf the gremlin.
Therefore, I can’t help but be fond of Leaf and the rest of the gremlin menagerie. They continue to win over readers. I can’t say how many times I’ve had folks tell me, “I LOVE LEAF,” or “I want a Leaf of my own!” or ask if there are gremlin plushies in the works (I wish!).
Gremlins–Leaf included–play an increasingly important role in the second book of the set, The Clockwork Crown.
The genre is steampunk fantasy based on the World War I-era, though not set on Earth. My gremlins are very steampunk creatures, biological beings created out of science and magic. They are green-skinned and bat-winged, most of them about cat size. The first generation of gremlins was cobbled together with bits of cats, dogs, and other small animals, though gremlins now breed on their own.
Gremlins are hideous in an adorable way. They have round black eyes, smushed faces, and tapered ears. They meow, chirp, and purr, and say a lot without utilizing human speech. My heroine Octavia learns that young Leaf the gremlin is incredibly bright. He quickly becomes a beloved friend.
Octavia and Leaf’s relationship is an exception in their world. Most everyone else despises gremlins. They are creations out of the technologically-superior city-states to the south and have a reputation as flying vermin. They horde silver and food. On top of that, they’re regarded as a perversion of science and magic. Some people question if they are truly alive at all.
Octavia is well aware that gremlins are living beings because she’s a highly skilled medician. Her healing magic enables her to hear the life songs of any surrounding bodies, human or animal. She initially befriends Leaf as the rest of his flock is massacred as a menace on board an airship. In the second book, Octavia learns more about the nature of gremlins and meets their creator. Readers wanted more gremlins, and by golly, they get more gremlins.
I never could have anticipated the importance of gremlins within the full storyline, or in the plot of my life. They stole more than cheese and silver–they also stole hearts from readers at Harper Collins and around the world. For that, gremlins will forever be among my favorite bits.
Beth Cato is the author of The Clockwork Dagger steampunk fantasy series from Harper Voyager. Her short fiction is in Urban Fantasy Magazine, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat.