Guest Post: Rhys on her Boys’ Toys,The Machines of Clockwork Tangerine


When the Tipsy Reader pinged me and said; “Hey, you know what would be cool for you to write about? The mechanicals Robin Harris creates in Clockwork Tangerine?” My first thought was, “Damn did I write about enough of them?”

And yeah, there were a few things I thought—you know, those would be good to talk about.

One mechanical object making an appearance in the novella actually plays a significant role although it does so off screen—well except for showing up on the cover; because it does that nicely.

It is the Skitter.

It has another name but that’s the term the general public came up with following its deadly appearance. A flying burrower, the skitter, was invented by a very young Robin Harris—and then used by a shadowy organization called the Heretic Society to sow chaos throughout the British Empire. Following the Society’s eradication, inactive or dud skitters were discovered. Oftentimes, something would trigger one, and it would complete its original mission; assassinating the nearest person.

In one case, this person was Marcus’ father, a duke giving a speech in the Saint Francisco Parliament.

The reader never actually sees this event, but it’s one that shapes both of the heroes’ lives. Marcus loses his beloved father but at the same time, this loss leaves him with a purpose of being. He is a man of his word and with strong ethics—which are tested when he rescues his father’s unintentional murderer, Robin Harris, from what could have been a fatal beating.

Robin, however, has spent his time since being betrayed by the Society rebuilding his life and also, trying to contribute to a world he nearly helped take down. Other mechanicals he created during the story include gyro-magical prosthesis limbs and a working eye replacement, although how well it works isn’t determined because well, issues.

Now packing this into a novella was difficult. Novellas, by their very nature, deal more with themes than characterization which makes building unforgettable and loveable characters difficult. What do you sacrifice in a story this short? I tried to sacrifice very little, and hoped I provided a good glimpse at these men who fall in love, despite the blood shed between them and the British social rules that keep their love hidden.

Building a steampunk world is not without its dangers. Too much “world” leaves the reader without a sense of people inside of it yet focusing solely on the characters means there’s not a whiff of that golden tea flavor one should get in an alternate universe story. In the end though, it is about these two men—Marcus and Robin.

I want to visit them again soon, and hope you’ll come with me.

Clockwork Tangerine Blurb

The British Empire reigns supreme, and its young Queen Victoria has expanded her realm to St. Francisco, a bustling city of English lords and Chinese ghettos. St. Francisco is a jewel in the Empire’s crown and as deeply embroiled in the conflict between the Arcane and Science as its sister city, London—a very dark and dangerous battle.

Marcus Stenhill, Viscount of Westwood, stumbles upon that darkness when he encounters a pack of young bloods beating a man senseless. Westwood’s duty and honor demand he save the man, but he’s taken aback to discover the man is Robin Harris, a handsome young inventor indirectly responsible for the death of Marcus’s father.

Living in the shadows following a failed coup, Robin devotes his life to easing others’ pain, even though his creations are considered mechanical abominations of magicks and science. Branded a deviant and a murderer, Robin expects the viscount to run as far as he can—and is amazed when Marcus reaches for him instead.

Order Clockwork Tangerine at:

I’m Rhys Ford. I am an author and also a reader. You can find me at the following places:

My Blog:


Twitter: @Rhys_Ford

And at the Starbucks down the street. No really, they’re 24/7. And a drive-thru. It’s like heaven.

My books can be purchased, folded and first chapters read at Dreamspinner Press.

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