Clockwork Scarab: Meet the Author and Editor

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.

The Clockwork Scarab kicks off the new YA series, Stoker & Holmes, by Colleen Gleason, and we’re kicking off The Clockwork Scarab Blog Tour with a conversation between Colleen and her editor, Kelli Chipponeri.

Kelli Chipponeri: So Colleen, you and I have been working together on this book for 2 years now and we have gotten to know each other over that time. But what’s it like selling a series like this to a new editor? What is it like to hand over your work to someone you have never met before?

Colleen Gleason: Well, whenever I work with someone new (i.e. an editor), there’s always excitement, enthusiasm, and a little trepidation… 🙂

It’s like the first day of school: there’s the sense of something new and exciting happening, a brand new beginning… and then there’s the element of uncertainty—learning each other’s style and how to work efficiently together. After all, my editor is the second most invested person in the world (after me) on any project, so he/she wants the project to be the best it can be. We both do. So the sense of how will we get there is always lingering in the back of my mind as I start a new project.

I’m curious as to whether you as an editor have any idea how on pins and needles we authors are when waiting to hear about a project—on a finished project. Do you read it through first, just to get a sense, or do you read and make comments as you go? Do you read as a reader or an editor for the first time, when receiving a “delivered” manuscript?

What’s the most exciting thing from your end about taking on a new project? And what about The Clockwork Scarab made you want to acquire it?

The finished book atop the manuscript drafts, notes and correspondence between Colleen and Kelli.

KC: I am sure I don’t know how on “pins and needles” my authors are when they submit their work to me for comment. I know they are on the other end of my computer screen/email waiting for my response, but spending the day in meetings and project managing, I don’t always get to think about the manuscript unless it is in front of me. Once I start to dig into a project, I am fortunate enough to have my assistant read side-by-side with me. Once we are both done, we write up our notes, and then we usually sit down and have an almost informal book group about the draft. It is quite fun and I often wish that you could see us in action talk through the plot points of the mystery, the steampunk descriptions, the amazing fashion, and the love triangles for the men! (I am Team Grayling, by the way.)

The timing was perfect for me to acquire this project. I had just cleared my in-box before leaving for a vacation, so when I returned, The Gaslight Guild (the original series name) agent query was waiting for me in my in-box. Still in vacation bliss, I was ready to tackle a longer work that would need my attention. In reading the synopsis and sample chapters, I responded to several things about the submission. I loved that it was told from two points of view. I had been reading books that took this same approach, and was fresh off of editing another YA book, Girl Meets Boy, a book of short stories told from 2 POVs—the girl’s, and the boy’s. I also responded to the steampunk setting—I wanted to do another steampunk book having had to abandon one from a previous job. The idea of this series is a commercial one, and knowing your fan base, I saw the potential not only with teens but also the crossover adult audience that publishers try to capture with their YA books. And, of course, I love strong female characters!

Stoker & Holmes is rooted in an alternate reality. I am doing a presentation next month to a group of writers and aspiring authors. I would love to share some techniques that you employ in world building. Where do you start? How do you track everything? Do you use visuals?

One of the matching set of steampunk lockets Kelli bought for herself and Colleen.

CG: I used to create what I called a Bible for each series I write. It was a big, three-ring notebook, about two-to-three inches thick, and I used pocket dividers to separate each section. I’d tuck everything from notes to pictures to printouts from the manuscript in that notebook as I went through the series so I’d have everything in one place and could be consistent.

Now I use a computer program called Scrivener to organize everything related to the series: the final manuscripts, links to web pages I’ve used for research, notes, charts, timeline info, and images. I actually write the manuscript in Scrivener, and I have everything I need at my fingertips. I keep several versions of each chapter until the manuscript is finalized, and when it is, I get rid of everything I no longer need.

As far as world building in general: I take both a macro and a micro approach. In other words, I look at the world at a very high level: who’s in charge politically, what does the actual landscape/geography look like, are there any supernatural/unnatural elements or creatures, etc. And then I look at it on a micro basis: what do my characters do for fun, what’s their slang, what do they wear, what sort of occupations might they have. And then I begin to fill in the middle.

Most of my world building happens as I write, once I get the macro picture. Usually whatever the big picture is drives at least part of the conflict and/or character development. The micro stuff is just plain old fun!

So, Kelli… I already know you are Team Grayling… Is that because you are more of a Mina than an Evaline?

KC: Although, I am team Grayling, which would imply that I am a Mina, I think I am more Evaline than Mina. More impulsive and act before I think.

How about you? Are you a Mina or Evaline? Or both?

CG: I am most definitely a little bit of both… in fact, one could almost consider them the two sides of me. I can be too wordy, pedantic, and anti-social like Mina, but at the same time, I can snap to judgment and make quick decisions like Evaline—plus I am more physically like her (though not endowed with supernatural strength) and I have a solid family/support system, unlike Mina. So I like to think I pull some of myself for each one of the girls!

Colleen in steampunk regalia.

There’s much more mysterious fun to be had online!
Visit for reviews, excerpts, and steampunk style.
Like on Facebook for giveaways, contests and a fun Steampunk Yourself photo app!
Order now at and get 30% off + free ground shipping with promo code SCARAB.
And learn more about Evaline, Mina, Colleen and The Clockwork Scarab as the blog tour continues:

10/1/2013: Wicked Little Pixie
10/2/2013: Tales of a Ravenous Reader
10/3/2013: Bookalicious
10/4/2013: The Compulsive Reader
10/5/2013: Page Turners
10/6/2013: The Story Siren
10/7/2013: Forever Young Adult
10/8/2013: The Book Cellar
10/9/2013: Novel Novice
10/10/2013: Mother Daughter Book Club
10/11/2013: Airship Ambassador

Lara Starr
Publicity, Children and Teens

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Lara Starr

Lara Starr is Chronicle’s Senior Publicist for Children’s books, and the author of Wookiee Pies, Clone Scones and other Galactic Goodies, Ice Sabers, The Very Hungry Caterpillar™ Cookbook and Cookie Cutters Kit, and Chef Olivia™. Tell her you like her sweater and she’ll tell you exactly what she paid for it.
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