Need to sink your teeth into a magical time-bending queer fantasy? Then Tara Sim’s Timekeeper is the book for you.
In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely. When clock mechanic Danny is assigned to Enfield his new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden.
Timekeeper is available now. Tara Sim stopped by to talk to us about her worldbuilding and characters.
Timekeeper is officially out into the world! Can you tell us a bit about Danny?
I recently described Danny as a very grumpy Ravenclaw, and I think it fits perfectly. He’s introverted, a bit of a nerd, and not quite sure how to interact with people. But he’s also hardworking and determined, which is how he got to be the youngest clock mechanic in London.
Timekeeper relies on time magic. How does it work? What sort of work went into developing that magical system?
The basic rundown of the time magic is this: clock towers are set up in every city, town, village, etc. and control the flow of time. So, if anything happens to the clock towers, time warps as a result – or even stops entirely, if the clock is badly damaged. When I first got this idea, I knew that someone or something had to be able to fix time – and the towers – if broken, so the clock mechanics are there to help repair time. I needed to figure out what sort of societal and technological effects this would have in an alternate Victorian world, and how those who can sense time were able to touch and mend it.
Canyou tell us a little bit about your background? Does it influence your work at all?
I’m half-Indian, but white passing. It took a long time and several manuscripts to get to the point where I felt ready to incorporate that part of me/my culture into my stories, which started with Timekeeper.
You’re a huge fan of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” among other things. How did your various media loves influence your work?
Honestly, I wouldn’t be a writer without those things! I grew up on Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, anime, video games, all that good stuff. I always paid attention to the things I loved most about those stories, whether it was a type of character or a certain scene/situation, or even a worldbuilding element I particularly enjoyed. I feel like all of those things are stored away somewhere, ready for me to pluck them out and weave them into my own stories. For example, you’ll find a couple of things in Timekeeper that were inspired by “Fullmetal Alchemist.”
What else do you want people to know about Timekeeper?
Although it is a historical novel, I made the conscious decision to rewrite a lot of that history, making it an alternate world rather than an exact reflection of our own. In this world, homosexuality is more tolerated, and there are strides being taken with gender equality. I wanted to make history more accessible for a modern audience, even if it meant tweaking some facts. However, I don’t want that to erase the truth about history, and what countless people have had to struggle with – and are still struggling with. My hope is that Timekeeper can at least provide a safe space for those who need it.
What books would you recommend to those who love Timekeeper?
A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab, A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley, Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee (and her upcoming The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue), and These Vicious Masks by Kelly Zekas and Tarun Shanker.