Clocks are the standard by which we measure consistency. When something is “like clockwork” it is precise, beautiful in its predictability, constant. We admire that sense of everything being in its place.
Clocks give us an aspiration. In a tiny space, with almost impossible delicacy, gears and springs are pinned and layered, and in their alchemy comes the certainty that tick will follow tock. If only we, too, could be that way.
The lead character in Like Clockwork feels that way. Raymond Burntwood has spent his life at sea in the mid-nineteenth-century navy. Space is at a premium, no square foot is wasted, and the slovenly and unkempt are not tolerated. Is it any surprise that he finds a kindred spirit in Ariana Grahyart? Her lonely upbringing on a remote estate in Northumberland has been eased by her love of clockwork. She is meticulous and measured; no move is made that is not the design she has laid out.
Humans, of course, are not like that, mostly. We err, we forget, sometimes we forget ourselves, our codes and morals, caught up in a moment, swept away by an emotion.
Like Clockwork is a story of when absolutes and errors collide. What happens when a clock goes wrong, one spring dislodging all the gears and sprockets. Do you force all the
components back in, the springs deformed, the gears missing teeth, or do you discard them for new ones? A clock is a thing; there is no emotion or sentience attached to a spring.
People? Well, people are not quite so easily dealt with.
Check out Ali reading an excerpt from Like Clockwork.
Bio: Ali Abbas is a writer, photographer, and carpenter from London. He has travelled widely but still lives in the suburb where he was born. By day, he masquerades as an accountant, but no one is fooled.