I’ve had the privilege and the pleasure to get to know author, Beth Cato, over the past few years. She was kind enough to answer some questions about writing and her new book, The Clockwork Dagger which is being released on September 16.
The book, which is full of magic, mystery and romance and is an enchanting steampunk fantasy (according to amazon.com) is Ms. Cato’s debut novel. I haven’t gotten to read the whole novel yet, but what I have read is fabulous and an enchanting read.
The story of Octavia Leander, a young orphan, who grew up on the streets until she is rescued by Miss Percival and taught to be a medician, the book follows Octavia as she embarks on her first mission. The plan is for her to visit suffering cities in the vast reaches of a war-scarred realm. But when she’s traveling on an airship, it’s plagued by strange and disturbing circumstances—threating Octavia among others. The title of the book comes from the idea of an infamous spy and assassin—the Queen’s Clockwork Daggers. Danger, mayhem, mystery, and romance abound in this steampunk novel. (Summary paraphrased from what is posted on amazon.com)
You can grab a free sample of the book (and others) here.
And you can keep up with Ms. Cato and Octavia on Ms. Cato’s author site.
Q: What is your favorite thing about writing?
Telling a story that evokes an emotional response from a reader–anger, tears, laughter. There’s nothing quite like that.
Q: What’s your least favorite thing about writing?
Rejection. I’m pretty cool about most rejections now, since I’ve gotten so many, but sometimes they can still really hurt.
Q: How did you go about world building for your novel?
My Clockwork Dagger series is secondary world, meaning it doesn’t take place on Earth. There’s still a heavy influence from our world, though. The geography is based on western Washington. The culture and grim vibe of Caskentia are inspired by post-World War I Europe. I read a number of books about that era, fiction and non-fiction, to get a feel for the time period.
Q: Which one of your characters is the easiest to write?
Leaf the gremlin. He completely steals the show. I have gremlins as biological constructs, like green-skinned naked cats with bat wings. Leaf only speaks with mews and clacks but he understands a lot of speech, and he adores cheese. His scenes pretty much write themselves. To read more about Leaf, read Something Strange Happened on the Way to the NYT Best Sellers List
Q: Which is the hardest?
I did extensive rewrites on this book, especially for my agent. My main character, Octavia, was the hardest to write, really. She was an extreme prude from the start, very righteous and uptight. She’s still a very moral person, but she’s now more relatable and flirtatious. At the editorial stage of revisions, I rewrote her perspective again and added first person observations from her throughout the book, which granted even more intimacy to her POV.
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to new writers?
Find your tribe. Family and friends won’t fully get what it is to be a writer, even if they fully support you. You really need other writers at your same skill level so you can grow together.
Q: What is one piece of advice you wish you had gotten as a new writer?
Don’t be afraid to write dark stuff. I had well-intentioned family members tell me that I wrote too darkly and that it reflected on my soul. I pretty much stopped writing for ten years after that. I accept my inner darkness now. I use it. I feel happier because of it.
Q: What’s your typical writing schedule look like when you’re working on a big project?
That’s actually changed a lot in these past few months. I’ve been a full time writer/homemaker for years now, but it’s totally different to write under contract. It’s a job. I wake up at 5AM, exercise, get my son up and off to school, and then I go to work. I get as much done as possible before I get him from school, and then I usually work more after supper. I always try to get an hour or so of reading time before bed. I do errands every few days, too, so I don’t get cabin fever.
Q: What (if anything) do you listen to while you’re writing?
When I wrote my recent full novel draft, I listened to a custom Pandora station that mixed Mumford and Sons, Foo Fighters, and Bruce Hornsby. Mumford and Sons in particular has a very steampunk vibe for me. I usually don’t listen to anything while I revise.
Q: What’s anything else you want to share about your book (or series)?
The Clockwork Dagger is a steampunk fantasy novel that’s about magic, murder, spies, airships, and a very temperamental world tree. There’s a dash of romance, too. The first chapter can be read at Tor.com and the book comes out on September 16th! It can be preordered just about everywhere. Thanks!