The Clockwork Boy

Posted: June 18, 2014 in Writing
Tags: , , , , , ,


Photo Jun 16, 1 19 43 PM

So I’ve taken a rather unique approach to parenting, as you may have read here before.  I’m not especially good at relating to my children – or at least not as good as I wish I was.  However I have tried to latch onto those interests I share with each of my children and emphasize them.

With my oldest son it was paintball and basketball and lately the things he’s studying in college.  With my daughter it has been fantasy and superheroes.  She and I have seen all of the Avengers films together as well as Spiderman, Superman, X-Men, and such.  And we never miss an episode of Once Upon a Time.  Until she stopped letting me read to her we shared a deep mutual interest in The Sisters Grimm books, the Narnia books, the Disney Fairies, Harry Potter of course, and so on.  So now we’re writing a book together aimed at her age group (she was 12 when we started), and all about heroes and fairytale creatures, using ourselves as models for the main characters.  And we’re having a wonderful time.  She has even started writing her own novel, in collaboration with her best friend.  I couldn’t be more proud.

My younger son, on the other hand (who also appears in our book) has broader interests.  Superheroes, of course.  But also anything that flies, anything that goes in the water, anything that has wheels, anything that transforms, and anything built out of Legos or Lincoln Logs.  Or pretty much anything.  Oh, and pirates.  We make paper airplanes together, play with wooden trains, and fight with invisible light sabres almost every day.

So I got to thinking….

Part of the idea behind The Last Princess was to earn college money for my daughter, plus if she ever wanted to pursue a career as a writer she would have her foot in the door and representation before she even wrote her first book.  And now we’re thinking series because middle grade publishers are buying more series than individual books these days, and … because I like to plan ahead.

Steampunk boySo why not write a series for my son?  He’s only five, now, and his particular market is not one I feel comfortable writing for.  I would need an illustrator, for one.  And I tend to write long.  I can’t even imagine writing a book with only a few score of words – I need tens of thousands of the damn things for the stories I want to tell.  So – thinking ahead like I like – what if in a few years I write a spin-off series from The Last Princess, but about the younger brother?  This time for a more male audience. About an 8-9 year old boy who builds all kinds of amazing gadgets that fly and shoot and transform, for fighting bad guys because he lacks the faerie magic his older sister has.  I’ve wanted to delve into steampunk for awhile now, and here’s the perfect vehicle but for an audience to which steampunk is mostly brand new.

The idea has lurked in the back of my mind these past several months, but suddenly stood up and started doing jumping jacks when I read a listing in Writer’s Market for a publisher who was looking for steampunk stories not set in the Victorian time period.  I swear the clouds parted and rays of sunlight beamed down upon my head.

Obviously, it’s going to be several years before this idea comes to fruition, but that just gives me time to plan it.  And to start reading every steampunk novel I can get my hands on.

Any suggestions?

  1. Oooh…I like the idea of Thomas getting his own spin-off series! I absolutely adore the kid. I’m not sure how I feel about introducing steampunk gadgets to the world of TLP, though. I feel like I can only suspend disbelief in one direction at a time; so adding improbable technology to the same world in which you have trolls and piskies and the like ambling about feels uncomfortably stretchy to me. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time you’ve suggested something I couldn’t envision, only to pull it off in a way that was absolutely brilliant. 😉

    I say go for it. But finish TLP first. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You make a good point. But the way I envisioned it, this would be for a somewhat different demographic, so many of my readers would not have read the TLP books. But in any case, by the time Thomas is old enough his sister will be off doing her own thing. The world will still contain beasties, but they would be less fairy-tale and more monster, and pretty benign at first. We’re talking a 9-year-old hero. The whole storyline with Cat and so forth would be back story. Cat may not even appear in these books. Sort of like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a spinoff from the Avengers movies, but none of those guys and virtually none of their technology ever appears in the show.

    Besides, if they can mix dinosaurs and trains, then I can mix anything!


  3. That’s an awesome jetpack!


  4. Hi! I’m an illustrator and designer specializing in books and I LOVE steampunk so I would really like to help you with it when you get to that point. These photos are too cute, by the way! 🙂 Heather

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Cogpunk Steamscribe and commented:
    As recommended by John.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have to say, I’m disappointed I can’t paste a photo or two in your comments. I think this is a stunningly good idea, and I have some lovely pictures of Teeny Steampunk Cosplayers and whole families of Steampunk enthusiasts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you (for the comment and the reblog). Several things need to happen before I get serious about this: The first book, The Last Princess, has to be purchased by a publisher. Then it has to sell well enough to convince the publisher to let me make it into a series. Then that series has to do well enough for me to be able to sell a spin-off. And by this time my 5-year-old son will be old enough to be inspiration for the character I have in mind (he is currently the little brother of the hero in The Last Princess).

      In the meantime, I have purchased a few anthologies of steampunk short stories — one with modern authors and one with some of the originators of the genre. What I need more than pictures is advice on what to read to get me up-to-speed. I’m thinking of creating something sort of like The Goonies.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Here is a list of some YA Steampunk novels. Some of these are Australian authors, but I would rate their books as good as anything coming out of Europe or America.
        Michael Pryor: The Laws of Magic series & The Extraordinaires series

        Richard Harland: The Worldshaker Series & ‘The Black Crusade’

        Scott Westerfeld: The Leviathan trilogy

        Stephen Hunt: The Jackelian series

        David Freer: The Drowned World duology

        Ged Maybury: Across the Stonewind Sky series

        China Miéville: The Bas-Lag series and ‘Railsea’

        Gail Carriger: The Parasol Protectorate series

        Cassandra Clare: The Infernal Devices trilogy

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Sorry about sending the list twice … it looked like the first comment didn’t ‘take’.

    Liked by 1 person

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