We’re so pleased to have Katey Hawthorne with us today to share an excerpt from her new novel Blood and Clockwork. Enjoy, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win one of three available $10 store credits at Less Than Three Press.
Hello, hello, and thanks so much for having me here at The Novel Approach. I love you guys. <3 I’m here today because it is big, bad release day for my newest novel, Blood and Clockwork, which is part of Less Than Three’s Solitary Travelers collection—all stories with asexual protagonists! This one has a clockwork tower haunted by the past deeds of a mad prince, lots of puzzlers, and two main characters who seem like opposites on the surface. Here’s what I mean…
Excerpt: I held my lantern on high, and the light glinted off rows and rows of clockwork machinery. In the center of the room stood a glinting, brown metal platform, perhaps three feet in diameter. The chamber was cozy, made more so by the unmoving cog, wheels, and arbors that covered the wall, oddly free of dust or cobwebs. The lantern light flashed bright off them even as my gaze followed the path of their intended workings, dissecting their meaning, discovering their motivations.
This led me to a simple winding mechanism—not unlike a key, but larger, since the arbor itself was nearly my height—and a lever that served as a stop. The demon of curiosity would not be restrained; this was what I’d come for, after all. Of course I wound it—though I accidentally nicked a finger on an oddly placed pen-knife type apparatus projecting nearby and dropped some blood onto the mechanism, I hardly cared or even noticed. I lifted the lever and unleashed a wave of mechanical groaning, then merry clicking, all around me. It was as if I’d found my way into a clockwork forest, where each strange plant and all its fruits were made of copper and bronze and the workings of time.
I spun slowly in place, listening to the beautiful music, like the chattering of so many metallic birds, and admiring the metaphorical forest from which it came. My heart swelled with joy, with understanding.
But when I turned again towards the circular platform in the center of the room, casting my light upon it, my elation turned to terror. Someone sat slumped on the platform, his form large and well-made, head in dark hands, and a low groan escaped him.
“Good gods!” The exclamation slipped out of me without my permission. “Where have you come from?”
After raking his fingers over cropped, dark hair, he looked up to meet my gaze. His was dark even in the lamplight, focused sharp through even darker, thick lashes. “What the fuck?”
I raised an eyebrow. “I don’t know where you’re from, sir, but that’s not how we greet new acquaintances in Westin,” I said. His accent betrayed him as foreign—but then I remembered we were not in Westin, but Avalonia. Well, I’d be damned if I’d let him see me recognize a mistake.
“Sorry,” he said, to my surprise. “I just—” He cut himself off, glancing around. “What the hell? Are we inside a watch?”
I ignored the obviously stupid question. “I’m Alistair Click. Horologist and adventurer. And you are?”
“Marco.” He raked his hand over his hair again; it appeared to want to form a kind of mountain peak in the center of his head, but he’d disrupted it terribly. “Murphy. Sorry, Marco Murphy. Is this some kind of LARP thing?”
Since he was eying my clothing, I sniffed and stuck out my chin. “I don’t know what that is, so I feel quite safe assuring you it is not.” I took the opportunity to examine his clothing… which was frankly horrendous. He wore some sort of smock with no buttons. Though it fitted his chest and shoulders, it extended only halfway over his bicep, and then down over his hips—he had forgotten to tuck himself in. A stylized sigil was emblazoned on it, a leaf of some kind. His trousers were another matter entirely, dark blue and, though again they fit well, showing the neatness of his leg, they were riddled with faded patches and holes.
“Then why are you dressed like Penny Dreadful?” he asked.
“I have never heard of her,” I sniffed again. “Though I have seen women wearing trousers a good deal of late. I think they look rather dashing.”
“Right.” He frowned and looked at me as if I’d run mad. As if I might be the one with holes in my trousers. “Okay, just—tell me where we are? Maybe I drank too much last night.”
Having been in that situation myself one too many times, I took pity and offered him my wine skin. He accepted, and as he screwed the top off, I said, “Avalonia. The Mad Prince’s Tower.”
He swallowed, winced, and then said, “No, seriously. Like, break character for five seconds, man.”
I frowned. “Perhaps you did drink too much. You should leave this place and go home; you’re lucky to have survived this long. Most who enter the tower don’t leave. All, in fact. So far. I mean to break the pattern.”
“Right,” he repeated, now looking annoyed. He did manage a, “thanks,” as he handed back the skin and took a last look around. Then he shook his head and made for the door.
I followed. Why, I don’t know; my mission was inside and his was out there. What manner of misadventure could lead to wandering into the infamous Tower and not recalling how or why, I knew not. I suspected I wouldn’t like to. But his confusion rendered him vulnerable, and I couldn’t leave him to his own devices.
Blurb: Alistair Click set out to lay to rest the superstitious fears about the Mad Prince’s clockwork tower. If that meant he might bring the ghost city of Avalonia back to economic life, connecting the western kingdoms once again, so much the better. So what if no adventurer who’d entered the tower in the last century of desolation had ever re-emerged? They didn’t have his skill and wit. He could do better.
The tower turns out to be far more than Alistair expected, however. Not only are there clockwork puzzles to open every door, but one of them drops a boy from a strange world into his lap—figuratively speaking, if only just. Marco Murphy was just gaming in his New Jersey apartment, and now he’s stuck in what feels like a never ending LARP nightmare.
The deeper they delve into the Mad Prince’s tower, the darker the secrets they uncover. They’re not entirely sure they’ll ever be able to get out again, either. It’ll take all Marco’s charm and Alistair’s cleverness, plus the strange bond growing between them, to get them out together… and alive.
Buy Link: Less Than Three Press
About the Author: Katey Hawthorne is an avid reader and writer of superpowered romance, even though the only degree she holds is in the history of art. (Or, possibly, because the only degree she holds is in the history of art.) Originally from the Appalachian foothills of West Virginia, she currently lives in Ohio. In her spare time she enjoys comic books, B-movies, loud music, Epiphones, and Bushmills.
Katey’s Website: Superpowered Love