Unquietly Me welcomes author Cornelia Grey for her Empty Hourglass blog tour!
Hello! I’m Cornelia Grey—welcome to the Empty Hourglass blog tour! At various tour stops, I’ll be sharing some secrets about my writing process, sources of inspiration and future projects!
Comment on each stop to be entered in a drawing for a $15 Riptide Publishing gift card and the two previous titles in the Deal with a Devil series—Devil at the Crossroads and The Circus of the Damned—in an e-book format of your choice. Thank you for joining me on the tour!
The Empty Hourglass
A Deal with the Devil story
Release Date: April 11, 2016
Publisher: Anglerfish Press
Thomas Escott has always wanted to be a toymaker, yet just as he achieves his dream, an accident claims his right hand. He’s certain his life is over—until he hears about groundbreaking prosthetics being made by a reclusive inventor.
Jethro Hastings is perfectly content to live alone up in the mountains working on a secret masterpiece: a humanoid automaton that will change the scientific community forever. He’s behind schedule, and the date of the unveiling is fast approaching, so when Thomas shows up on his doorstep offering help in exchange for a mechanical hand, Jethro agrees. Time, after all, is running out on another deal he’s made: one with the devil.
The devil gives Jethro’s inventions life, but he can just as quickly take life away—Jethro’s, to be exact. As the sand in the devil’s hourglass falls, marking the time until the end of the deal, inventions go haywire, people get hurt, and Thomas realizes he needs Jethro just as much as his prosthetic. Now he must find a way to save Jethro’s soul, but negotiating with a devil is just as difficult as it sounds.
About the Author
Cornelia Grey is a creative writing student fresh out of university, with a penchant for fine arts and the blues. Born and raised in the hills of Northern Italy, where she collected her share of poetry and narrative prizes, Cornelia moved to London to pursue her studies.
After graduating with top grades, she is now busy with internships: literary agencies, publishing houses, and creative departments handling book series, among others. She also works as a freelance translator.
She likes cats, knitting, performing in theatre, going to museums, collecting mugs, and hanging out with her grandma. When writing, she favors curious, surreal stories, steampunk, and mixed-genre fiction. Her heroes are always underdogs, and she loves them for it.
To celebrate the release of The Empty Hourglass, Cornelia is giving away the two previous titles in the Deal with a Devil series—Devil at the Crossroads and The Circus of the Damned—in an e-book format of your choice, plus $15 in Riptide credit. Leave a comment to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 16, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
Thomas Escott jolted awake, almost tumbling out of his seat as the train’s brakes screeched. He rubbed his left hand over his mouth. He was sweating under his threadbare brown jacket—he’d been having that nightmare again.
It was always the same, always left him out of breath and soaked with perspiration. He reached over to his right arm, placing his hand over the stump, the searing pain further branding in his mind the memory of what had happened. The explosion. The spilled oil. His toy shop burning to the ground.
A tinny sound swept into the compartment, getting louder by the second. Thomas craned his neck to see the wooden box slowly huffing along the corridor, its ancient wheels clunking and creaking as it squeezed between the seats. It had a red enamel gramophone bolted to the top, and it puffed out small, quick clouds of steam as it announced, in a scratchy voice: “Montrale! Montrale station next!”
The train crept up to a dark platform, only lit dimly by round glass gaslights bolted to the walls. Thomas grabbed his meager luggage, containing the few clothes he’d managed to salvage from the fire, and made his way through the narrow passage to the door. Two bronze steps tried to unfold to lead him to the platform, but they clacked and banged and resolutely remained half-straightened. Like the wings of the little clockwork owl he’d been trying to fix when his sleeve had caught fire . . .
With a sigh, Thomas jumped over the steps and landed on the station’s stone platform. It was utterly deserted. Nobody else got off the train, and it started huffing again and rolled away before he even had time to turn around and watch. He’d known this village would be different from the capital of Lunaris, but it was only just past dinnertime.
Perhaps there is something going on in town tonight, he reasoned. This is the hometown of the esteemed Jethro Hastings, after all.
Showing up on the inventor’s doorstep hadn’t been an ideal plan, especially when he needed to ask such a big favor. He didn’t even know what Hastings was like, if he’d kick Thomas out, annoyed at being disturbed, or welcome him in, seeing Thomas as another opportunity to show off his state-of-the-art prosthetic limbs.
Thomas looked around the station. An old clock hung from the iron rafters, marking three o’clock—it was quite obviously broken—and there was a dim light coming from a little dilapidated station building to his left. He tugged on his right sleeve to hide his stump and headed toward it.
When he stepped inside, his breath caught. A ragtag crowd of men were gathered there, and they turned to stare at him. Some seemed surprised, but most were decidedly hostile. He eyed them for a moment. They were not similar in the slightest to the assortment of thieves and beggars he was used to encountering on the streets of Lunaris. He was accustomed to the drunken, the mad, and a cunning, thieving, murderous lot, loud and always smoking and drinking and constantly moving, just like the capital itself. But these men stood or sat stiffly, wrapped in thick dark cloaks that all looked the same, with dark gloves and dark hats and well-trimmed mustaches.
And they were staring at him. Each and every one of them.
Thomas swallowed. He had seldom felt so out of place. He was painfully aware of his too-light, too-modern clothes that moderately smelled like smoke, despite his best attempts to get the stench out of them, and of the blond hair that he kept long, as was popular in the capital at the moment. But mostly, he could feel their gazes almost piercing the right side of his head, where the hair had been scorched off in the fire and was now replaced by tender, gnarled skin, thin scars running from his mangled ear to his cheek and spreading down his neck before disappearing under his collar.
At least they couldn’t see his arm . . .