I come by my love of reading honestly, as when I was a kid my parents read to me all the time. Both of my parents were passionate readers and throughout my life my father and I shared a love of certain books and authors. The Travis McGee novels and Dick Francis were shared passions, and even when we couldn’t talk about much else (I was a horrible teenager) we could still talk about books. My mom and dad would take us to the library to check out our weekly armload of books, which was the high point of my little-kid week. We lived ten miles or so outside of town, and once they drove halfway home before realising that they’d left my youngest sister sitting in the little kids’ section. Good times. :)
One of the books that my dad used to read to us when we were little was The Children’s Bluebird. The book had been his as a child and eventually was passed on to me; of course I lost it during my footloose early twenties when I was moving from city to city. I managed to lose a lot of things during that time. I always remembered that story, though, and have always wanted to write my own version of it. The original is a product of the era in which it was written; loaded with sentimentality and saccharin emotions it hides an extremely warped and twisted core. I wanted to write a version which stripped away the sentimentality and kept the twisted bits, a version updated and streamlined for more modern readers.
Several years ago my mother died from complications associated with ALS. My father was diagnosed soon after with cancer, which started in the bladder and then spread all over, bowel and spine and so on. It was incurable, but he was strong – having been given a matter of months to live, he survived for two years. During that time I rather abruptly went freelance with my artwork and when NaNoWriMo rolled around decided to participate and finally write the book that I’d been thinking about for ages. It’s dedicated to him and although he was too sick to read it at the end, he did read the dedication. I’m thankful that I had a chance to at least put it in his hands before the end…he is such a huge part of who I grew up to be. He taught me about being brave and doing the right thing, even (or especially) when that is hard to do. He gave me my moral code and my honesty. Oh, sure, I’ve been a fuckup in the past, and will most probably be one again, but I I do try to be strong and do good in the world.
So. Back to this book.
The Clockwork Bluebird is a steampunk, or clockwork-punk, fairytale retelling of The Children’s Bluebird set in an alternate-universe Victorian England. The main characters, Maia and Tyler Lemarchand (every name has a meaning – I had fun with this) are the mixed-race children of an inventor and the daughter of the Moon; they get caught up in the middle of a clandestine war between the Fae Courts. There are goblin markets and black dire wolves, a gang of clockwork-limbed children called the Tatters that live in the lost Underground tunnels beneath the city and even a talking dog. Working on this was pure fun from start to finish and I hope that it is equally fun to read.
I’ll post more about this later…mainly I just wanted to tell my father that I loved him. I miss you so much, Dad. And all of this is for you.