• What initially prompted you to consider writing this book?
It was actually through a friend. She sent me a link to a story contest one morning, and I wondered what sort of story I could write for it. That morning I got the idea for Timekeeper—a world where clock towers literally control time, and clock mechanics can fix them. Since the contest asked for a strange love story, the idea of a clock mechanic and a clock spirit came out of that initial image I had. I started writing it that night.
• How did you develop a magic system based solely on time?
I’m used to writing very big magic systems, so focusing everything on just one element—time—made it a little easier. There’s a lot to consider when building magic systems, such as origin, rules, and limits. Writing the first draft of the story was really more of a chance for me to feel out the world and figure out how the magic worked. Then all the subsequent revisions allowed me to flesh it out even more, such as how the clock towers came to be built, how the magic was given to humans, and how the clock mechanics use that magic to fix and connect to time. It was also fun to figure out what happens when that magic breaks, and how time distorts itself when it does.
• What elements did you have to consider in building a world made up of both magic and technology?
I knew that this was going to be a world hyped with technology not available during the Victorian time period, so using the steampunk element helped me visualize it. Steampunk is a speculative subgenre that requires suspended disbelief, so wrapping that around the technology—the telephones, the automobiles, the automatons—gave it more of a fantastical feel.
The magic, of course, played a big part. In the Timekeeper world, the construction of the clock towers spurred the Industrial Revolution to happen much sooner, which therefore created a domino effect on technology and society. Seeing it through that lens, it made total sense to me.
• There seems to be a big romantic element to your book. How did you balance this with the other plot elements?
I enjoy writing books with a Plot A and a Plot B, where Plot B is the romance. So often I read books where the romance seems more of an afterthought, or something thrown in to make things more interesting, but I love books where the main plot and the romantic plot are intertwined. If you remove one, the other doesn’t work, and everything unravels.
In that vein, I knew the romance was going to be a big factor in the plot and the choices my main character, Danny, makes along the way. The other elements of the book—the fantasy, the mystery, the action—were all fed into Plot A, whereas the choices Danny makes to develop Plot A were influenced by the romance of Plot B.
• Danny is a boy who can fix time. Why can’t he fix his own relationship to his past?
That’s a very big component of the book: coming to terms with your past mistakes, getting over your guilt, and moving forward to shape the future. In a story that’s about time, I wanted a main character who feels it strongly in all areas: heartsick about his past, conflicted about his present, and uncertain about his future.
• Have you gotten any surprising reactions to the book? Have you learned anything from a reader that touched you or showed you how much of an impact your book has?
There are very few genre books, especially fantasy, with gay heroes. Most LGBTQ+ books today are “Issue books” when many readers simply want to read about someone like them taking out bad guys and saving the day. That was one of the biggest motivations for writing Timekeeper, and already I’ve seen a few readers thank me for it. Others have said the book has cured their reading slumps, or that it’s made them believe in love again. Reactions like that are so humbling and mean the world to me, and I’m glad readers are finding and connecting to the story in ways that are meaningful to them.
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