About the story

Welcome to The Clockwork Raven! I’m Sam Chapman, a.k.a. cuttlefishcrossbow. Updates are Tuesdays and Fridays, without fail. If you want to dive in, click here to start at the beginning.

The Story

For ten years, Karla and Kio have known nothing but Nashido–the castle, floating thousands of feet above a vast ocean, that protects them with a combination of unreliable technology and unfathomable magic. Every day, they tend the massive vines that produce the oxygen they breathe, hunt birds for dinner with spring-loaded spears, and charge the castle’s engine battery by steering through lightning storms. They don’t remember much about when there were other people on Nashido, and the parts they do remember, they don’t talk about. Ever.

One thing keeps them going: Raven, an ornithopter they’re patching together in the hope of one day reaching the surface. Both of them have promised that they’ll set out for land together, or not at all. But then a skeletal winged beast attacks the castle without warning, reminding Karla and Kio how little they know about their flying prison…or about one another.

From there, things spiral out of control, and I don’t want to spoil too much, but it will involve creepy star fortresses, shapeshifters, glider fleets, hurricanes, robots, and a pinch of impending doom. So what are you waiting for? Start with chapter one now!

The Backstory

A few years ago, I had an idea for a novel that would combine a sci-fi struggle for survival, like The Martian or Stargate Universe, with the fantasy and childlike wonder of a Studio Ghibli film. The idea came from a prompt given to me by a then-6th-grader and my sister in all but blood, who wanted something cool to draw. She said it had to be set on a flying castle and feature two main characters named Karla and Kio.

I kept thinking about those two, and how badly they wanted to get off the castle–but several different attempts to start the novel fizzled out. Eventually, I realized I’d been trying to tell the tale in the wrong genre. A web serial gives me the freedom to really unfold the story right. Plus, I can include illustrations by the fantastically talented Grace Pyles–who, if you like her work, also sells a bestiary of fierce dragons on Etsy.

I hope you enjoy the serial, and want to keep coming back for more! If you want to talk about an installmentor have any issues, or just want to say hi to me or the community, feel free to leave a comment on any chapter or email me directly through the contact form. And if you like The Clockwork Raven and read it regularly, please tell your friends about it via word of mouth or social media. The more readers, the better for everybody!

One more thing: I do this for a living, which means money is always helpful in order to keep the story going the way I want to. Please consider pledging to my Patreon or donating directly through this site. Special prizes are forthcoming once we hit certain goals–not-yet-released material, extra chapters, Q&As, audio recordings, and even the chance to name side characters.

Happy reading! Start with chapter one now.