Whether it’s celebrating their first contract with one of the Big Five, the beginning of a second series or simply the next book in the series they’ve already started, being able to celebrate the accomplishments of writers I love is one of the best parts of being a blogger. Today’s author, Beth Cato, is one who I’ve been watching since the release of her first novel, The Clockwork Dagger. Now she’s preparing to release the third story in The Clockwork Dagger Series and she’s been generous to share some of her inspiration with us.
Can you tell us a bit about The Clockwork Dagger series?
The series mixes up steampunk and magic. My main character is Octavia Leander, a gifted magical healer and doctor, who worships a mythical giant tree known as the Lady. Octavia’s gifts are unusual, and when she’s traveling on her own, she suddenly finds herself the target of assassins and intrigue. The adventure builds from there!
Did you start The Clockwork Dagger with a series in mind or did it simply grow out of the first book?
I pictured it as a duology, and the main plot wraps up very well in the second book, The Clockwork Crown. Harper Voyager Impulse approached me about writing more stories in the world; they are being released as ebooks first for 99-cents each, and will be in a print collection out later this year. Final Flight is the last of these additional stories. The previous works include another story, The Deepest Poison, and my Nebula-nominated novella, Wings of Sorrow and Bone.
You don’t see duologies often but that’s actually how I originally envisioned the books I’m working on now(which are now part of a much bigger series, but hey). It’s nice to see something other than the traditional trilogy. I also really love how short stories and novellas allow you to explore a world in more detail. Still, I’m a paper book kind of girl and I can’t wait to get my hands on the paper copy of your anthology!
The Clockwork Dagger stories take place in Caskentia, a country you created. How closely is Caskentia based on the real world Victorian era?
I took most of my inspiration from the Edwardian era and World War I. Caskentia is a country that has been warring off and on for fifty years. It is a dark, gritty place, suffering from death, disease, starvation, even a profound lack of education. There is the pollution that one expects from the Victorian era–smokestacks and coal coke–but the technology is more advanced.
Sounds like a fascinating combination of the two periods. The juxtaposition of pollution, darkness and disease against rapidly improving technology is a truly fascinating one that lends itself to asking big questions about humanity.
What got you into steampunk in the first place?
I loved historical fiction as a kid and found the fantasy genre as a teenager. Steampunk combines those two loves!
What do you think is the most interesting thing about steampunk?
It brings out the best and worst of human ingenuity. Steampunk, at heart, is about creating something beautiful out of coarse components.
What a beautiful way to summarize the heart of steampunk! I think steampunk is able to do this so well thanks to the juxtaposition I mentioned earlier.
The third supplemental story in The Clockwork Dagger series, Final Flight, is coming out soon. Is this going to be the final story in the series?
For now, yes. I’m totally open to writing more stories and books in this world, but for the next while, I’m focusing on my new series.
Do you ever find it difficult to keep continuity between novels?
I’m lucky in that I just have the two novels to draw from, not scads of books. I do have many Word documents on worldbuilding that I refer to as need be, and I skim the earlier works to make sure I keep things consistent.
What are you working on now that readers can look forward to?
My next novel is out on August 23rd. Breath of Earth starts a whole new steampunk series, this one based on an alternate history and set in 1906 San Francisco. The United States and Japan are allied as they seek world domination, and airships, magic, and mythological creatures feature heavily as well.
That sounds seriously awesome! I think steampunk could benefit from more mythological creatures and influences. I’m definitely going to have to pick up a copy–maybe as a birthday present to myself since it’s so close(my birthday’s the 29th). Thank you for doing this interview!
Beth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair west of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham.
Beth’s short fiction can be found in Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and many other magazines. The Clockwork Dagger is her first novel. The sequel, The Clockwork Crown, will be released in 2015.
The Clockwork Dagger
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.
Purchase The Clockwork Dagger here.
Another breathtaking short story from the author of The Clockwork Dagger and The Clockwork Crown, set in the same world…
Captain Hue hoped he was rid of his troubles once Octavia Leander and Alonzo Garrett disembarked from his airship Argus. But he was quickly proved wrong when his ship was commandeered by Caskentian soldiers. He is ordered on a covert and deadly mission by the smarmy Julius Corrado, an elite Clockwork Dagger.
Now Captain Hue must start a mutiny to regain control of his airship, which means putting his entire crew at risk—including his teenage son Sheridan. As the weather worsens and time runs out, it’ll take incredible bravery to bring the Argus down….perhaps for good.
Final Flight will be released April 26th.
Did you enjoy this interview? Are you excited about The Clockwork Dagger? Want to suggest an author for me to interview? Let me know in the comments below!