The Tick Tock Man
by R.M. Clark Publication Date: May 2, 2017P
ublisher: Month9Books/Tantrum Books
When the clocks in town stop, thirteen-year-old CJ discovers an unusual "clock world" where most of the citizens are clock parts, tasked with keeping the big clocks running. But soon the seemingly peaceful world is divided between warring factions with CJ instructed to find the only person who can help: the elusive Tick Tock Man.
With the aid of Fuzee, a partly-human girl, he battles gear-headed extremists and razor-sharp pendulums in order to restore order before this world of chimes, springs, and clock people dissolves into a massive time warp, taking CJ's quiet New England town with it.
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Binh, a Vietnamese friend I work with, was one of the “boat people” who escaped from Vietnam in the early 1980s. He told me bits and pieces of his journey over the years, including a picture of the boat that took him and others out of Vietnam to freedom. I always wanted to tell that tale, but I didn’t have the writing chops to do it. After I had ten completed manuscripts under my belt, I decided it was time to write that story. I contacted Binh and he agreed. We got together every few weeks and went through every detail of the journey that he and other refugees took in 1981.
His story was far more intriguing than I ever imagined. That group of over 100 refugees survived six days on the South China Sea with very little food and water, heading south to whatever country would take them. Anywhere was better than Vietnam. Binh and the others ended up in an overcrowded Indonesian refugee camp where life was harsh while they awaited word from their sponsors in the US. Binh’s sister was his sponsor and he made it to Rhode Island eight months later.
As an author of children’s books, I knew I had to take some liberties with this story to make it marketable to younger readers. With Binh’s permission, I introduced a fictional 11-year-old cousin, Bao Dang, to tell the story, titled The Dragon’s Song. I kept the major points of this “journey to freedom” intact as Bao, Binh, and many others provide a chilling account of real-life determination and survival.
This book is currently out on submission by my agent, Mel Stinnett, of the Starlight Literary Agency.