THE CLOCKWORK SCARAB, the brand new novel by Colleen Gleason, is out tomorrow, and Colleen was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the book, her writing, and more!
Please welcome Colleen to the blog!
Your brand new book, THE CLOCKWORK SCARAB, takes us into the world of Sherlock Holmes and Bram Stoker, two of my favorite subjects, and we’re introduced to Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes. Will you tell us a bit more about the novel and what inspired you to write it?
I had been writing historical urban fantasy for a while, and someone suggested I consider a steampunk setting. Fascinated by the suggestion (and wondering what the heck steampunk was), I did some research…and found myself captivated by the concept.
Immediately, I knew whatever I would write would be a YA novel–about young female characters pulled into some sort of adventure…and things began to evolve from there.
One of the tenets of steampunk is the melding of literary and fictional characters with historical characters in an alternate world, and I started thinking about who my main characters would be. I’d always felt we were missing a female equivalent of Sherlock Holmes, especially in the YA world, and almost instantly decided to write about his niece–Mina. And who would be a better foil than a brash, headstrong superhero type of young woman than a descendant of my vampire-hunting Victoria Gardella.
When I learned Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker had been friends, I decided to connect my vampire-hunting Gardella family to the author of the most famous vampire novel, and voila! Evaline Stoker, vampire hunter and sister of Bram, was born.
The two young women are each other’s opposites, but at the same time, they have many things in common. When Irene Adler pulls them together at a clandestine meeting at the British Museum to assist the British Crown in a delicate affair, the game is afoot!
You’ve been writing from an early age, but what is one of the earliest things you can remember writing about?
I remember writing about my friends and I being stranded on a desert island a la Gilligan. This was in elementary school and early middle school.
You’re no stranger to writing historical novels, but did you have to do any particular research for this book?
Since I was writing in an alternate world, I had a lot of leeway. However, I did want to incorporate quite a bit of historical accuracy and detail for this quasi-Victorian setting, so I did do research. In particular, I researched things like crime-solving techniques (what’s known as the Bertillon concept to identify perpetrators by measuring parts of their body and comparing it to clues left on-scene), as well as the political and cultural aspects of late Victorian London.
Why do you think readers will root for Evaline and Mina?
I hope they will root for them because the characters are compelling and because, at some level, hopefully the reader will relate to at least one of them. They are young women, trying to figure out who they are, trying to do the best they can do–as we all are. Whenever there’s a connection between a reader and character, there’s that desire to want them to succeed.
What did you enjoy most about writing THE CLOCKWORK SCARAB?
I loved being able to create and work with two very different lead characters who aren’t going to fall in love or otherwise be romantically involved. It’s a refreshing change from previous projects I’ve done, and having two young women with different outlooks and experiences and skills–and voices!–is so much fun. I can play them off each other all the time, and I love doing it. They are having a bromance (bra-mance?) of sorts, and it’s really fun to watch it develop.
Was it a challenge for you to write in the world of such beloved and well-known characters?
Yes, indeed. I fiercely love Sherlock Holmes, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and I wanted to do them justice…but at the same time, I had a lot of fun imagining this alternate world in which these two men are friends.
Are there any authors or novels that have particularly influenced you in your life, or your work?
Obviously, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker influenced me for this series in particular. The works of the recently-deceased Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels instilled in me the art of subtlety, which I use (sometimes too much!) in my work. And J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series just blows me away when it comes to world-building–as well as the development of a deep, platonic friendship.
What are you reading now?
I am currently reading a non-fiction book about Harry Houdini, as well as the latest in the Sebastian St. Cyr mystery series, When Maidens Mourn.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write. You have to sit in the chair and put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard in order to call yourself a writer. It’s the hardest part about writing, but it’s also the most satisfying. Once you finish a project, you can worry about all of the other things…but above all, write.
When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
There are several television shows I like to watch (Person of Interest, Sherlock, Revenge, Castle and sometimes Elementary). I also love to cook and entertain, read (both fiction and non-fiction) and read gossip columns! Plus, of course, I spend a lot of time with my husband and three children…we live on a small lake, and most evenings from April through September you can find my MusicMan and myself trundling around on our living-room sized pontoon boat, just relaxing.
What’s next for you?
The third Stoker & Holmes book, as well as the next installment in my Gardella Vampire Chronicles series.
About THE CLOCKWORK SCARAB:
Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate. Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.