When Barrington Stoke approached me about writing an accessible novella for struggling readers, I knew immediately that I wanted to write a science fiction story.
The sci-fi genre can be incredibly hard to get into for new readers. Books tend to be 500+ pages long, with lots of dense science facts and made-up terminology that’s been developed by generations of writers over the year (see: artificial gravity, terraforming, parallel universe, hive mind).
I wanted to write a more readable story that still uses all of my favourite sci-fi elements – there are hints of Binti, Jeeves & Wooster, Starfleet Academy from Star Trek, Saga, Howl’s Moving Castle and The Watchmaker of Filigree Street.
This novella is designed to be a jumping-off point to help readers explore the whole canon of sci-fi, hopefully while feeling like there might be a place for them in the genre, after all.
This is nothing like my usual science fiction novels. It’s not based in science at all. There’s not even a human in the story. It’s full of sentient volcanoes, bicycle-riding-butterflies, clockwork birds and golden gears and cogs. I hope that it feels as magical to you as it did to me, while I was writing it. And if you’ve not read much sci-fi before, I hope this encourages you to give the genre a try.
I want to write a sequel set on Dorian’s underwater planet – I have a plot already planned out, so fingers crossed I get chance to write it! Hugo and Dorian’s relationship still has a lot more story to tell.
I want to speak a bit about Barrington Stoke, and the amazing work they do. For their readable books, they work to make sure that sentence structure is chronological and easy to understand, there are plenty of dialogue markers to make the speaker obvious, and there isn’t any complicated formatting.
As an example, there’s one of the (many!) rounds of edits this book went through.
Each word was analysed carefully several times to make sure it was the best choice. At the end, it still feels like my writing voice, which is an incredible feat! I feel really lucky to have been able to work with Barrington Stoke on this
Hugo (voice) – Eddie Redmayne
Dorian (voice) – Jack Farthing
Ada (voice) – Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Like Real People Do//Hozier
Death of a Bachelor//Panic! at the Disco
When the Party’s Over//Kina Grannis
Wealthy students from across the galaxy come to learn at the prestigious academy where Hugo toils as a watchmaker. But he is one of the lucky ones. Many androids like him are jobless and homeless. Someone like Dorian could never understand their struggle – or so Hugo thinks when the pompous duke comes banging at his door. But when Dorian’s broken time-travel watch leads them to discover a sinister scheme, the pair must reconcile their differences if they are to find the culprit in time.
A wildly imaginative sci-fi adventure from YA star Lauren James, particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 13+.
The Starlight Watchmaker is a 20,000 word novella which will be published in paperback and eBook by Barrington Stoke on 16th July 2019. Cover designed by Helen Crawford-White.
Preorder a signed paperback copy from my Etsy (comes with assorted bookmarks and postcards)
Moodboard about the book