PERTAINING TO CHERIE PRIEST’S CLOCKWORK CENTURY: SOME ANSWERS
22 January 2013
By Bella Pagan
With three of Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century books now out in the UK, including Ganymede this month (with The Inexplicables to come in February), we’ve been getting some great feedback on these terrific novels. Cherie clearly has dedicated fans out there, and we’ve become curious as to what questions they like to ask the author. Cherie has been collecting these, and here's a selection for your edification:
Q: Why is your world setting so chock full of inaccurate history?
A: It isn’t inaccurate, it’s alternate.
To be clear, I’m well aware that the Civil War ended well before 1880, that Seattle never had a big wall around it, and that neither King Street Station nor the Smith Tower were built until the 20th century. Furthermore, contrary to a few reviews and reports, I know good and well that in the 1860s Seattle had virtually zero population density, and that the mere survival of Stonewall Jackson would not have saved the Confederacy.
Likewise, I’m pretty sure that the Confederacy never had any war dirigibles (though both sides did, in fact, employ balloons); the Klondike gold rush happened much, much later than I said it did; and there’s no such thing as a sonic zombie-stunning weapon (to the best of my knowledge).
This is not to say that the Clockwork Century is wacky and senseless, because it isn’t. I would like to think that even the wilder, weirder things about this world setting meet a certain standard of logic. Sometimes warped logic, yes — but none of it is random. All of it springs from little tweaks — little changes, here and there … dropping stones into the pond of history and watching to see where the ripples go.
Q: How do you pronounce your name?
A: ‘Cherie’ is pronounced like the beverage ‘Sherry’.
‘Priest’ is pronounced like a man in a cassock. But I also answer to ‘Cherie’ pronounced the French way (shuh-REE), because hey – let’s be honest: that’s how it’s spelled, and it’s not a far leap nor a ridiculous mistake.
Q: Boneshaker sounds like it’d make an awesome movie. Will there be a movie?
A: Looks like it might! No, I’m not kidding. Click the link! The rights were optioned to Cross Creek late in 2011, and now Cross Creek is teaming with Hammer Films on a production … or so we hope. This being Hollywood, things can fall through at any time, and for no reason; but for now, things are looking pretty good. Keep an eye on www.theclockworkcentury.com for new information as it becomes available.
Q: Do I have to read your Clockwork Century books in order?
A: Nope, not really.
It’s probably helpful if you read Boneshaker first – but it’s not a deal-breaker. And yes, I’m aware that Clementine is hard to come by these days. You definitely don’t have to read it before reading either of the other two books. It was deliberately written as an independent one-off.
Q: Are there any other Clockwork Century stories of which we should be made aware?
The novelette Tanglefoot (which has been reprinted in Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded), and the short story Reluctance (which can be found in The Living Dead II anthology). Tanglefoot ties loosely into Clementine, and Reluctance ties loosely into Dreadnought.
Q: Is Boneshaker suitable for Young Adults?
A: I think so. But you be the judge (see below).
Boneshaker is a story with two main point-of-view characters, Briar Wilkes (aged thirty-five), and her son Ezekiel Wilkes (aged fifteen). So there’s lots of good, solid, young-protagonist-adventuring going on. And generally speaking, this book does not contain the sorts of things that might upset your average parent.
To wit: (a). There is no sex in this book; (b). there is very little swearing, and this minimal swearing is relegated to variations on the word ‘damn’ and the occasional four-letter word for poo, because let’s be honest, that word has been in use for a really, really long time (as have other, more ire-raising words, but those do not appear); (c). there is some violence, but it is largely zombie-on-zombie violence — or people-on-zombie violence (with a little bit of people-on-people violence thrown in, especially towards the end, I confess).
So although this is definitely an adventure book with a great deal of excitement, mystery, threat, undead menace, and whatnot … on the whole it’s actually pretty clean, if you want to judge ‘clean’ by the standard of ‘naughty bits hanging out and/or highly alarming language’. If you want to judge it by ‘how many zombies get shot and/or how many pirates attack each other while airships crash and mad scientists cackle wickedly as they blow things up’ then that’s another standard altogether, and I regret to confirm my failure to meet it.
Q: What about Dreadnought, Clementine, Ganymede and The Inexplicables?
A: Ditto, pretty much
Obviously this will vary from young person to young person. Judge the constitution of your young person accordingly.
Q: Who does your UK cover art?
A: Jon Foster did the artwork for the first book, Boneshaker. Then Angelo Rinaldi did the cover artwork for Dreadnought and Ganymede. This was then followed up by Cliff Nielsen’s cover art for The Inexplicables.
Q: Did you really once say that ‘Steampunk is what happens when goths discover brown’?
A: Yes, BUT.
I was quoting my friend Jess Nevins, who said it first.
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This piece has formulated in part from questions that originally appeared on www.theclockworkcentury.com, reproduced here with thanks. Please click here for other posts about Cherie Priest and her work on torbooks.co.uk