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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Interview & Review: Clockworkers by Ramsey Isler


Hello readers. There are a few books out there in the great wide world that I feel are underrated. Clockworkers by Ramsey Isler is one of these lovelies. I was lucky enough to get a chance to ask Ramsey some questions about his writing. Please welcome him to Bitches n Prose. Ramsey, thank you for stopping by.

Interview

Was there a defining moment that made you certain that you wanted to be a writer?
There was never a single "Aha!" moment for me. Unlike many writers, I didn't write stories when I was a kid. I wrote for school work, and I took all the usual word nerd courses like AP English and excelled at them, but I didn't spend any time creating my own worlds. However, I had always enjoyed reading. I was a rabid and ambitious reader, and although I loved well-told stories it didn't really occur to me that I could actually write them. Then about seven years ago I had a break in my career as the startup I'd been working at went bankrupt, and I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands. I'd just moved to Los Angeles at the time and there's a certain creative magic about this city. There's something about the glamour of Beverly Hills, the variety of Venice, and the majesty of the vast beaches and mountains that makes you want tell a story. I decided I'd use my time between work to start a novel, and I've been writing ever since.

Clockworkers is a book that contains fantastical elements like elves and magic. What is is your favorite fairy tale?
I definitely loved Rumpelstiltskin. I had an illustrated book of fairy tales as a kid and I just loved the image of the old elf spinning straw into gold. There's definitely a lot of Rumpelstiltskin influence in this novel.

Play along with me for a moment. You gain the name of one of the Kith, and so gain power over it- what is the first thing that you do?
I'd ask him to tell me his favorite story. I'm sure that would be fascinating.

You mention an impressive number of myths and legends from all over the world concerning elves and similar creatures. Did you have to do a lot of research on the topic?
I'd actually had a fascination with folklore from different cultures before I'd even thought about writing Clockworkers. As I said earlier, I was an insatiable reader (still am) and as I went through all these old tales I saw some interesting similarities in story structure even though the tales were from cultures that had no interaction with each other. One of those common themes was magical "little people", and by reading those tales I came up with an idea of writing a story that took a little bit of flavor from each culture and created a modern fairy tale.

Your main character, Sam, is a female. As a male, do you find it harder to capture the personalities and mannerisms of the opposite gender? If so, how is it different?
This was my first time writing a female lead, and at first it was a little challenging because I really wanted to do the character justice and avoid stereotypes. Somewhere along the line I realized I was just trying too hard. Women and men really aren't all that different when it comes down to it; the differences largely exist in what society expects of them. Traditional gender identity creates an idea of what women and men should be, and with Sam I tried to make her break out of those molds while still dealing with a world that expected her to fit their definition of what a young woman her age should be. Sam is very much an aggressive and tomboyish girl but she's also undeniably feminine in ways that matter to her, and she doesn't care what anyone else thinks. So far, the reviews and opinions I've gotten show that my female readers love her but the male readers aren't as enthusiastic, and a few don't find her as "likable" as they'd prefer. I think that says a lot.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what songs make up the soundtrack to Clockworkers?
Many people find this surprising, but I very rarely listen to music while I work. Instead, I prefer to write with the TV on. Most of the time you'll find me writing with some kind of educational channel on in the background. I write sci-fi and fantasy, and much of my world building relies on fascinating things that are real but stranger than fiction. My TV watching gives me lots of ideas.

I actually prefer TV over music as well! Is there a particular place that inspires you to write, such as a spot outdoors or your favorite chair?
I write anywhere I can feel comfortable. Most of my work gets done either in my living room or bedroom, but I've also written in hotels, coffee shops, and restaurants. I even wrote down some story ideas at a wedding once when my muse demanded my attention immediately. And whenever I'm working through a tough story problem, the resolution always comes to me during a hot shower. I've read about other authors who have epiphanies on the toilet. I guess the bathroom is where all the good ideas are.

What is the one thing that can always cheer you up when you've had a rough day?
I don't often have rough days, but when I do a delicious meal always sets things right.

Can you tell me about any writing projects that you're currently working on?
I'm currently working on a new series of short novels. The topic? Magic! I’m planning on putting a sci-fi spin on magic. It’s kind of a mix of Harry Potter, The Prestige, and even a little Ghostbusters vibe. Look for the first book to be out this summer.

That definitely sounds like something I'd love. I'll be sure to check it out. Now, for my last question. What is the one thing you most want to leave your readers thinking at the end of Clockworkers?
Sometimes fortune blesses us with a wonderful thing but we can't truly appreciate it because we're hoping for something else; some ideal that only exists in our heads.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Scroll down to my five-star review of Clockworkers!


Title: Clockworkers
Author: Ramsey Isler
Format: Kindle edition, 345 pages
Pub. Date: November 20th 2013
Source: Ramsey Isler
Buy Link: Amazon

★★★★★

Five stars.

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Clockworkers is a young adult dark-urban fantasy novel that takes the fairy tales you read as a kid, contemporary settings, and a set of well written characters and weaves them together into one great book from cover to cover. Tinkerer Sam Chablon runs a watch repair shop with her dad, whose quirky behavior in his old age includes researching elves. She thinks it's nothing more than a sign of his fraying mind, until she becomes acquainted with one herself. She quickly becomes thrust into a world where myth, fantasy, and reality become blurred as one, and she must decide who to trust, how far she will push her limits, and discover for herself if good really does beat evil, as fairy tales have come to teach us.

I'd like to first sum up my review of Clockworkers in one sentence; Books like this are the reason why I read independently published books. So many brilliant books go out into the world without enough of a bang, and for me this is one of them. I simply adored it.

First, the writing itself is really well done. There's a really dark, almost ominous and Grimm-esque feel to this book from very early on that follows throughout the story. The imagery is well detailed and the characters are too. I felt like I was really in the story with the Kith, and connected to the characters. So much so, in fact, that at one point I hated the main character because I connected with her. I don't want to give spoilers, but let's just say truth can be ugly when you look it in the eye.

Then, there is a tremendous amount of information about the impish little creatures referred to as the Kith, or elves, featured in this book. There are myths mentioned from each corner of the world, making it seem that much more real. It's a myth that many cultures share, which gives just that little glimmer of hope that maybe there is such a thing as fairy tales.

Plus, there are so many deeper themes at play here. Again, I wish to avoid spoilers as I greatly encourage you to read this for yourself, but there are huge conflicts of things like morals that come to play in a way that isn't always pleasant to read about, but that definitely are relevant in the modern, real world.

If you're a fan of dark fairy tales and fantasy with just a sprinkle of death and romance, Clockworkers is a book I can't recommend enough. I read it in one setting, and it flew by in the best possible way. Be warned that there is some language and violence, though nothing in my opinion that's too extreme for teens and higher. Thanks to the author who gave me a copy to read in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author
For much of my life, I was one of those quirky folk known as a "coder". I wrote computer code, not stories. I was fairly successful at it, and I had a lot of fun doing it. But my true passion was writing books and stories that would inspire and ignite the light of creativity in others, just as my favorite storytellers had inspired me in my youth. I'm still in the early phases of my journey as an author, but it has been quite an adventure so far.

I write contemporary fantasy, epic fantasy, and sci-fi. My books The Remortal, Ghosts of ARCADIA, The Ninth Order, and Clockworkers are available on various digital book stores.

My favorite things include Japanese food, gadgets, comics, and cats.

You can find him on Goodreads, Twitter, and his blog.

2 comments:

  1. I really want to read this book, I love dark fairy tales and stories. The cover looks so creepy that I just have to have it. Thank you for this great and insightful interview and review, I'll definitely be looking for this book.

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    Replies
    1. It's so good. Read it. Read it meow.

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