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Interview: Gareth Ward talks about The Clockill and The Thief

Gareth Ward, a.k.a. The Great Wardini is a magician, hypnotist, storyteller, bookseller and author. He has worked as a Royal Marine Commando, Police Officer, Evil Magician and Zombie. He basically likes jobs where you get to wear really cool hats – as writer and compere of Napier City’s inaugural Steampunk murder mystery evening he wore a rather splendid bowler.

His first novel, The Traitor and the Thief, a rip-roaring young adult Steampunk adventure, won the 2016 Storylines Tessa Duder Award, the 2018 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Youth Novel, a 2018 Storylines Notable Book Award and was a finalist in two categories at The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

The follow up, The Clockill and the Thief ($19.99, Walker Books) is out. Gareth talks to NZ Booklovers.

Tell us a little about The Clockill and the Thief.

The Clockill and the Thief is the sequel to The Traitor and the Thief. Our hero Sin is slowly dying, poisoned by his blue blood. His predicament worsens when the traitor he captured in the first book escapes. COG tasks Sin, his best friend Zonda Chubb and their frenemy Velvet Von Darque with recapturing the Traitor, a mission that sees them battling skypirates and the terrifying Clockill.

What inspired you to write this book?

I loved Sin, Zonda, Velvet and the other characters in Traitor so much that I knew they had more tales to tell. The greater mystery about Sin’s special abilities and what happened to his mother also seemed to warrant further investigation.

What research was involved?

Although much of the Steampunk science in the books is fanciful, I do like to try and extrapolate it from actual science. For example, during Sin, Zonda and Velvet’s mission they get issued with new armoured flight suits which although quite fantastical, are based on current experiments into armour using non-Newtonian liquids.

What was your routine or process when writing this book?

I normally try and write five hundred new words a day. I don’t concern myself with making it good at this stage, I just want to get the story down. Then when I have the first draft I go back and edit many, many times.

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

I’m probably going to have to go a touch old-school (as I am quite old). I love ‘Furious Angels’ by Rob Dougan - the song just creates such emotions in me; I could write a hundred different books just based on that song. ‘This Corrosion’ by The Sisters of Mercy always makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Also, it was written by Andrew Eldritch and Eldritch Moons is a key character in The Clockill and the Thief so I think there’s a nice synergy there.

If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the lead characters?

I think Asa Butterfield would be an excellent Sin. Zonda is harder to cast, a key part of her character is that she is a tad chubby and she just doesn’t care. I suspect that I would have a battle to keep her as she is in the novel.

What did you enjoy the most about writing this novel?

I love the characters in this book, they are my friends. It was such a pleasure to go on another adventure with them. They have taken on a life of their own and constantly surprise me.

What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

I probably had a cup of tea and a Griffin’s Toffee Pop, the king of all biscuits. I can’t remember doing anything else to celebrate. Publishing is a strange business. As an author you finish writing your novel, then you send it to your publisher, then you wait for many months to see if they like it so it always seems a bit premature to celebrate when you write ‘The End.’

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. It was beautiful writing with a great voice and a fantastic heroine. It made me think deeply about the way it was written and why it worked so well. When a novel really captures me, I always like to try and learn from it.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

I’ve written the first in a brand-new Steampunk Y/A series which I believe should be hitting the shelves next year. It has a super brilliant heroine and I am so excited for the world to meet her. I can’t say too much at this stage but it’s action packed with a grand cast of characters, not all of which are entirely human.


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