I need coffee.
Seriously. It’s a need. A daily need. Hell, I can have a triple espresso and then go nap. In fact, I knew I hadn’t enough coffee when I started writing this because I just typed tripe instead of triple.
Nothing adds to coffee like cleaned out cow stomach.
I apparently also need a cat.
I even snuck one into Clockwork Tangerine. A Sphynx cat missing a leg and rescued by one of the main characters, Robin Harris—an inventor whose work had been abused by a secret society when he was but a young teen.
In a lot of ways, Robin is that cat. A bit scrawny, a bit odd and most of all, off kilter.
And in the steampunk world I created for Clockwork Tangerine, being off kilter could get you killed.
When I set about building up Tangerine’s environment, I knew I wanted it to have a Victorian feel to it but place it someplace with a more diverse cultural mix than London. I debated Hong Kong but really, soooo much research and in a novella, there wouldn’t have been enough time to paint it in the light it deserved. Instead, I decided to shift history and well, hand America back over to the Brits. A slight change of a few battles and everyone is still speaking the Queen’s English. Although I can’t tell you if we retained the accent or not. I wasn’t going to get into that lingual shift.
Regardless, I knew it was going to be a place I’d want to come back to, so it had to be strong and solid. By creating a world larger than the story—with details I knew were in the background—I could have that resonate through the novella. Creating a strong backdrop is so key to steampunk. An author doesn’t have to figure everything out but the primary things should be there.
In this case, my primary focus was simple—what if I had a character who could blend magic and science? And what if, in doing so, he was basically flying in the face of society because those two philosophies were at war with one another.
In some ways, this mirrors many social battles. Hell, it even mirrors the AC versus DC current debate. A school of thought being fought over in polite society. This became the base thread in the Tangerine world. What practice would succeed over the other, and what about the radicals who combined the two—challenging the status quo? How would they be treated?
And would they succeed in convincing the general public and the ruling classes that by doing so, they weren’t endangering everyone around them?
These are all questions I had lingering in the back of my mind when I wrote Clockwork Tangerine. I had no intention of answering them—not in the novella—but it did allow me to work in some of the tension within the framework I had. By placing Robin in the middle of that query, it gave me a good focal point to start off with.
Marcus came along as Robin’s saviour of sorts. And he didn’t have to be. For all intents and purposes, he could have killed Robin, been caught at it and pardoned. That was clear from the beginning. To extend forgiveness and then love went beyond the society’s understanding. Even Marcus’ own family members had issues with it, but see, this is where the strange and unusual people in a world come into play.
Because Robin was a bit of a radical, he would need other, more powerful radicals to stand behind him. But would that happen? Especially since he’d already been defiled and reviled by the men who should have spoken up for him when he was accused of mass murder.
Heady stuff to shove into a novella but oh, the challenge!
Clockwork Tangerine really became a labour of love. Fitting things in that were just possible with a few tweaks of reality was exciting to write. And to do so in the language of the time was as much a challenge as a pain in the ass. With luck, I rose to that challenge and delivered. I like to think so. Well, and I loved writing Robin and Marcus fall in love.
Hopefully you fall in love with them as much as they fell in love with each other.
The British Empire reigns supreme, and its young Queen Victoria has expanded her realm to St. Francisco, a bustling city of English lords and Chinese ghettos. St. Francisco is a jewel in the Empire’s crown and as deeply embroiled in the conflict between the Arcane and Science as its sister city, London—a very dark and dangerous battle.
Marcus Stenhill, Viscount of Westwood, stumbles upon that darkness when he encounters a pack of young bloods beating a man senseless. Westwood’s duty and honor demand he save the man, but he’s taken aback to discover the man is Robin Harris, a handsome young inventor indirectly responsible for the death of Marcus’s father.
Living in the shadows following a failed coup, Robin devotes his life to easing others’ pain, even though his creations are considered mechanical abominations of magicks and science. Branded a deviant and a murderer, Robin expects the viscount to run as far as he can—and is amazed when Marcus reaches for him instead.
Buy Clockwork Tangerine HERE
About the Author:
I’m Rhys Ford. I am an author and also a reader. You can find me at the following places:
And at the Starbucks down the street. No really, they’re 24/7. And a drive-thru. It’s like heaven.
My books can be purchased, folded and first chapters read at Dreamspinner Press.
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