At the back of the shop in a tall chair sat the largest and oldest cat I’d ever seen. He’d been white once, maybe. His ears were tattered and a single snaggletooth protruded past his raggedy cheek.
Idiot Genius: Willa Snap and the Clockwerk Boy just won Independent Publisher Book Award for Juvenile Fiction!
I can’t believe it! I couldn’t more proud!
“Thoroughly engrossing story recommended for young sci-fi and fantasy fans who hold a prior attraction to books such as John Bellairs’ House with a Clock in its Walls.” -D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
Willa always knew one of her mother’s crazy inventions would cause trouble. She just didn’t think it would get the whole family banished to Grandeur, a hidden city of Geniuses deemed too dangerous to remain Outside.
Now, with the help of her cat, the Magnificent Lady Grayson of the Silky White Underbelly, or Just Grayson for Short, Willa and her new friends must scour Grandeur’s strange avenues in search of the Clockwerk Boy. Among her encounters: a curiosity shop run by curiously intelligent cats. Gear Hall, where Clockwerks outnumber humans. And the Jolly Rajah, a man-o’-war o’ pancakes, where your meal of flapjacks and hot chocolate is served with a brace of pistols and side of grappling hooks. Prepare to be boarded!
International Rubery Book Award Shortlist ~ Young Adult
Independent Publisher Book Award Medalist ~ Juvenile Fiction
National Indie Excellence Award ~ Juvenile Fiction
Eric Hoffer Award Category Finalist ~ Young Adult
“It’s unusual to see such sci-fi depth and detail in a title directed to young adults, but this is precisely what makes Idiot Genius: Willa Snap and the Clockwerk Boy such an appealing production: the characterization is solid while its fantastic setting will intrigue ages well beyond its intended 9-12-year-old audience. Highly recommended for young adults seeking something compellingly different.” -D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
Once we decided to attend Balticon 52, it was a pretty short jump to: Let’s make Willa’s Clockwerk dress!
Well, as luck would have it, we have a costume designer in the family. In fact, Meredith was there from the beginning. After reading an early draft, and after pincushioning me with questions, she dashed off—within minutes—the first design sketch of the dress. She then sat at my side, answering my questions, as I converted her sketch back into words. (Meredith was 14 at the time she drew this sketch. She’s now in her second year at Rutger’s University, pursing a BFA in costume design.)
Years later, working from a newer draft, Carolyn Arcabascio created a quick napkin sketch, in color, to see if she was on the right track. (She was.)
The dress appears twice in Carolyn’s many illustrations for the book. Once in black and white:
And once in color, on the cover:
At this exact second, Meredith is ordering all manner of supplies for the dress, which will be modeled at Balticon this May by two Willa Snap impersonators.
My plan over the next few months is to document Meredith’s progress as she brings Willa Snap’s Clockwerk dress to life. Consider this installment #1. Watch this space.
*All of the above is, of course, complete nonsense. The simple truth is that CeeCee da Vinci swiped the original dress pattern from Clockwerk Couture in the Clockwerk burg, Nimet relayed the pattern to me, and I delivered it to Meredith. There’s a longer version (as you might imagine), involving a midnight burgling, a dozen of Aunt Mila’s Clockwerk cats, a defective Smith & Blazooski mini stun cannon, and the careful deployment of ten balls of yarn (work with what you have). And if Willa ever figures out what we’ve all been up to . . . well, as Nimet would say, “Tanrı yardımcımız olsun” (Heaven help us).
Don’t mess with the fez!
The Magnificent Lady Grayson of the Silky White
Underbelly, or Just Grayson for Short
We were due at the hall in less than an hour, and my cat, The Magnificent Lady Grayson of the Silky White Underbelly, or Just Grayson for Short, was mixing up my mother’s speaking notes by employing her claws to simulate a Cuisinart. Shredded papers were flying everywhere.
In the very back, a little higher than everyone else, sat the largest and oldest cat I’d ever seen. He’d been white once, maybe. His ears were tattered and a single snaggletooth protruded past his raggedy cheek.
Standing in the hallway was a man enveloped in steam. I say man, but honestly, that was up for debate. His leather coat seemed normal enough, but the cloak draped over his shoulders was studded with small steam pipes puffing away at regular intervals. WAS THIS GUY STEAM POWERED? In one hand he gripped a brass-topped cane, in the other, a clipboard covered with gears. Perched on his head was a top hat mounted with aviator goggles. A monocle—a monocle!—adorned his left eye. He must have had a good twenty pounds of brass gadgets strapped to him. And I couldn’t have told you what a single one of them did.