Legacy of the Clockwork Key (Secret Order of Modern Amusmentists #1) byKristin Bailey
A teen girl unravels the mysteries of a secret society and their most dangerous invention in this adventure-swept romance set in Victorian London.When a fire consumes Meg’s home, killing her parents and destroying both her fortune and her future, all she has left is the tarnished pocket watch she rescued from the ashes. But this is no ordinary timepiece. The clock turns out to be a mechanical key—a key that only Meg can use—that unlocks a series of deadly secrets and intricate clues that Meg is compelled to follow.
Meg has uncovered evidence of an elite secret society and a dangerous invention that some will stop at nothing to protect—and that Meg alone can destroy. Together with the handsome stable hand she barely knows but hopes she can trust, Meg is swept into a hidden world of deception, betrayal, and revenge. The clockwork key has unlocked her destiny in this captivating start to a trilogy.
Thank you Nevey for inviting me to talk about the influences of the Victorian period on YA novels. Lately we’ve been seeing an upsurge in Victorian themed books, mostly through the growing influence of the Steampunk movement.
I find it all fascinating.
The Victorian era had a lot in common with many of the things we’re facing today. In the Victorian era, the world became much larger and accessible than it ever had before through advances in seafaring and railways. British influence was felt all over the world, for good, and for bad, and it was all borne on the back of new technology. Today with the far reach of the internet, the world feels at our fingertips. We can live chat with strangers on the other side of the globe in real time giving us new perspectives and ideas.
Socially, there are also some interesting parallels. There is a stark stratification between those with wealth and prosperity, and those who have none, along with a corresponding attitude that somehow whatever our fate may be, we deserve for it to be that way.
Add a level of fantasy and historical mystique, and all of this is rich fodder for writers.
I had three primary reasons I chose to set my books in Victorian England. The first was the lush detail of the Victorian setting. I personally feel like we’ve lost something when everything we own comes from the same three retailers that sell the same things all over the country, and sometimes even the planet. I’m tired of my own t-shirts and jeans. I love fantasizing about a time where details, down to the line of buttons on a boot, are beautiful and crafted with care. I think this feeling is at the heart of a lot of the Steampunk allure. We’re craving unique details that are crafted by hand, because in so many ways, that has been lost to us. The clothing also gives me ample room to play with the idea of personal restraint and the literal weight of the expectations of society, those skirts were heavy.
The second reason I ended up drawn to the Victorian era had to do with my own reading habits as a child. When I first had a spark of an idea for this book, I decided I wanted to explore the themes of some of my very favorite books of all time. All of those books happen to come from the 1800’s. When your influences are Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Peter Pan, The Secret Garden, The Wizard of Oz, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Little Women, and Black Beauty, it’s difficult to avoid paying homage to Victorian children’s literature.
And finally, more than anything, I wanted to celebrate invention. Legacy of the Clockwork Key is not typical Steampunk in that there isn’t an alternate timeline, or universe, or paranormal elements like zombies and vampires. I wanted to create a Steampunk inspired world that felt as real as it could be. I want people to believe that The Secret Order existed, and if we look hard enough, we might just find the amazing things they left behind. In order to do that, I had to place them in a time period where invention itself was magical.
I feel like we take our technology for granted in modern times. I habitually carry around a computer in my pocket that has greater processing power than the first rocket that launched a man into space. That is astounding, and I completely take it for granted. I ride rollercoasters that hurdle people three hundred feet in the air and uses g-forces that no human had ever experienced before the last couple of generations, and they deliver thousands of passengers back to the ground safely every day. I can fly to visit my family in California instead of spending half a year following a wagon train with only a fifty percent chance that I’ll survive the trip.
These technological innovations are extraordinary, if we ever stop to think about them. The problem is, we hardly ever do. More than anything with this book, I wanted to celebrate the wonder and danger of technology in a fantastic, beautiful, and at times, terrifying way. I wanted these inventions to be grand, bold, exquisite, and beyond belief. I found the Victorian era had both the lust for new innovation and at the same time an innocence that allows us to see invention in a new light, and so it was a natural fit for the book.
In the end, the process of writing this story was as breathtaking and frightening as the inventions found within the book. That inspiration led me on a grand adventure.
I hope readers enjoy coming along for the journey as much as I did.