Please welcome Beth Cato to The Qwillery. The Clockwork Crown, the second novel in the Clockwork Dagger series, will be published on June 9th by Harper Voyager.
TQ: Welcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel, The Clockwork Crown (Clockwork Dagger 2), will be published on June 9th. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote The Clockwork Dagger (2014) to The Clockwork Crown?
Beth: Thank you! It's wonderful to be back here.
My writing process changed pretty drastically between the two books. I always outline heavily--heck, I even outline flash fiction sometimes--but writing The Clockwork Dagger was very much a discovery process for me. My agent had me do a series of very, very heavy revisions to hone the world-building and get the book in shape to submit to editors. After all that, when my revision letter arrived from my editor at Harper Voyager, she wanted extensive revisions, too. I ended up cutting out 10% of the book!
Those deep edits helped me to prepare for The Clockwork Crown. Since it's part two of a duology, I knew I needed to tie up most all of my loose threads, and my outline was very detailed in that regard. I ended up writing the whole rough draft of Clockwork Crown in a single, frantic month. The amazing thing is, the editing process was straightforward after that. I've had 4,000-word short stories that have been more painful to edit than that whole novel. I doubt I'll ever again have a book that's so easy, so ready to write.
TQ: What do you wish that you knew about book publishing when The Clockwork Dagger came out that you know now?
Beth: That I can only control so much. That's hard for me. I'm diagnosed Obsessive-Compulsive. I was enormously stressed when the book came out. I quickly learned that I could not check my BookScan numbers on Amazon or I would go crazy. I had to tell myself, "Those numbers are inaccurate. Ignore them. Do what you can elsewhere." Instead, I put my energy into more useful things, like guest blog posts and working on totally new stories.
TQ: The Deepest Poison:A Clockwork Dagger Story was published on April 28th. Where does this fit in the Clockwork Dagger storyline?
Beth: The Deepest Poison is a prequel story to The Clockwork Dagger, depicting a major incident between Octavia and her mentor, Miss Percival. Even though it takes place before the novel, the story can be read at any point in the series. It provides a very different perspective of Octavia and her magic because it's told from Miss Percival's viewpoint.
TQ: In a prior interview [here] you stated that the most challenging thing for you about writing is "rejection." Has this changed?
Beth: No, I think the matter of rejection simply... evolved as I became a published novelist. My books aren't going to please everyone and now I get pings when my name or book titles are mentioned. I try to avoid the worst of the negativity, but it's simply part of the business. I still get scads of rejections on poetry and short stories, too. My absolute favorite story keeps getting "almosts" at major markets and it kills me every time because I love the story so much. But I keep sending the story out there for that same reason.
TQ: Tell us something about The Clockwork Crown that is not in the book description.
Beth: This is really the book where Octavia grows up. At the start of The Clockwork Dagger, she was very mature in some regards. After all, she had served as a healer at the frontlines of war through most of her teen years. At the same time, she was still naive and vulnerable when it came to the real world. In Clockwork Crown, she's forced to face her deepest fears.
TQ: How does the magic system in the Clockwork Dagger series work?
Beth: Octavia's magic is drawn from the Lady, a mysterious world tree rumored to exist in the desolate plains of the Waste. Octavia is the most powerful medician (healing magus) known, but even so she has limits. Healings need to be conducted in a circle formed of copper or the herb honeyflower, and different types of injuries also require particular herbs for treatment. No herbs, no ability to call on the Lady for healing. This is why Octavia is also an accomplished doctor, though she regards mundane methods as a last resort.
TQ: Which character in the Clockwork Dagger series (so far) surprised you the most?
Beth: Oh, Leaf the gremlin. He demanded a large role in the first book, and Harper Voyager's love for him is what resulted in my book deal! He continues to play an important part in The Clockwork Crown. You get to meet many more gremlins, too. Readers really go bonkers for Leaf. I've had several people ask if plushie gremlins are in the works... I wish!
TQ: Please give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Clockwork Crown.
Beth: This is some of my favorite dialogue in the book--forgive me for a few extra lines! This is between Octavia Leander and Alonzo Garret.
“Your gratitude can sustain me in many ways, Mr. Garret, but it cannot replace almond chicken accompanied by a good, hard cheese.”
“I suppose I must live with that.”
“Does that mean you plan to stay in my company for some time?”
“Yes.” The word was soft, husky. “So long as we are not assassinated in the near future. Or until you do prefer a good, hard cheese to my appreciation and companionship.”
“It would need to be an especially good cheese.”
TQ: What's next?
Beth: I'll have a Clockwork Dagger novella out in November and another short story next spring. Plus, I always have other fantasy or science fiction stories and poetry in the works. Readers can drop by my website and follow along for the latest news. Also, I post recipes every Wednesday. Come for the stories, stay for the cookies!
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Beth: And thank you! It still delights me to be part of a site that I have read as a fan for so many years.
The Clockwork Crown
Clockwork Dagger 2
Harper Voyager, June 9, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
Rich in atmosphere, imagination, and fun, the action-packed, magic-filled sequel to The Clockwork Dagger is an enchanting steampunk fantasy, evocative of the works of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger.
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.
The Clockwork Dagger
Clockwork Dagger 1
Harper Voyager, September 16, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
Full of magic, mystery, and romance, an enchanting steampunk fantasy debut in the bestselling vein of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger.
Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened.
Suddenly, she is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers—the Queen’s spies and assassins—and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.
The Deepest Poison
A Clockwork Dagger Story
Harper Voyager Impulse, April 28, 2015
eBook, 48 pages
Octavia Leander, a young healer with incredible powers, has found her place among Miss Percival's medicians-in-training. Called to the frontlines of a never-ending war between Caskentia and the immoral Wasters, the two women must uncover the source of a devastating illness that is killing thousands of soldiers. But when Octavia's natural talents far outshine her teacher's, jealousy threatens to destroy their relationship—as time runs out to save the encampment.
Fans of Beth Cato's debut, The Clockwork Dagger, will love this journey into Octavia's past—as well as an exclusive excerpt from the sequel, The Clockwork Crown!
Beth Cato resides in the outskirts of Phoenix, AZ. Her husband Jason, son Nicholas, and crazy cat keep her busy, but she still manages to squeeze in time for writing and other activities that help preserve her sanity. She is originally from Hanford, CA, a lovely city often pungent with cow manure.