Rachel West and her half-brother Clarence are by far the favorite characters of my early readers, classmates, and writing group. My first alpha reader, my thirteen year old daughter’s best friend, liked them so well that she did sketches for me. I posted them below – she is amazingly talented. Before you start rolling your eyes… yes their story starts in a clock shop, a steampunk trope or, as I would prefer to think of it: a “genre touchstone.” Regardless, I am going to hang a lantern on it… a gas lantern of course. Here is more about Rachel and Clarence:
Rachel was adopted off the streets of London by Hamilton West and made an apprentice in his clock shop because he knew his own son, Clarence, would never be capable of succeeding him the business.
Clarence is a kind and sensitive young man, but lacks the physical and mental capacity to perform complex tasks such as constructing or repairing clockwork.
Unfortunately, Hamilton dies prior to sponsoring Rachel’s application as a journeyman clockmaker putting her in the precarious position of owning a clock shop in the East End that lacks a journeyman or master horologist.
Rachel struggles with her obligation to Clarence, the memory of Hamilton, and her growing realization that she will never make the clock shop successful because of her continued status as an apprentice and her gender.
With the naïvety born from reading too many penny dreadfuls, Rachel sets out for the American Territories in search of a new life for her and Clarence where she believes she will be recognized for her gifts with clockwork and treated as an equal.
Of course… nothing could be farther from the truth.