October 04


Cover Reveal: YORK: THE CLOCKWORK GHOST by Laura Ruby

It’s been eighteen months since I wrote this post about York: The Shadow Cipher—the first volume in my middle grade alternate history adventure—and my cancer diagnosis.  A lot has happened since then. I’ve gone through chemo, surgery and radiation. I lost my hair, grew a bunch back, and dyed it purple and blue. I got my nose pierced.  And I did something that I wasn’t sure I would be able to do again: I wrote another book, the second book in the York trilogy, called The Clockwork Ghost.

I want to tell you all about it. But first, let me tell you a brief story about a girl and a lost kitten.

One day, when I was twelve years old, my kitten ran away and didn’t come back.

It was a cold day in November. I was a painfully shy kid, horrible with strangers. But I bundled up and knocked on doors for hours. “Have you seen this little striped cat? Answers to Ollie?” and “Would you mind checking your yard just in case he’s the reason your dogs are barking so much?” My family and I walked all through the neighborhood calling his name until we were hoarse and exhausted and starving.

We went home, still hopeful that he would show up, silly and playful as always, happy after a day full of adventure. But he didn’t. The cold day turned into an even colder night, the temperature dipping below freezing. I didn’t sleep at all, imagining him hit by a car or cornered by a dog, or scooped up by oblivious people who didn’t know there was a family who loved him so much that they gave him his own chair at the dining room table.

The next day loomed gray and chilly. Despondent, I moped around the house. My mother did her normal Sunday chores. When she asked me to fold the laundry, I gaped at her, incredulous. How could she possibly think about laundry when Ollie was missing? How could the world continue to spin? It was unjust. It was impossible. My mother’s expression was so full of pity for me that I couldn’t take it. I ran outside, calling Ollie’s name.

And I heard a faint meow.

I was about as athletic as I was extroverted, but I vaulted over the neighbor’s fence like an Olympian and found my kitten trapped underneath a rusted wheelbarrow, tangled in an old volleyball net. His face was so swollen that I barely recognized him. I tore that net to shreds and carried him inside. Later, the vet would say that if I hadn’t found him when I did, he probably would have died.

When I teach writing, I often talk about what characters want, what characters need. I talk about discovering characters’ deepest wounds in order to predict their behavior under stress.  And I still think all of that is important. But when I was writing The Clockwork Ghost, about three kids trying to solve a centuries old puzzle and contending with vast historical, political, and technological challenges, I wasn’t thinking about was how my characters were wounded.

I was thinking, rather, of what, or who, my characters loved.

I was thinking about how love makes us brave in ways we can’t even imagine, and gives us the strength to endure what we are certain will break us.

I was thinking that love allows us to face those things, even when the rest of the world feels like it would be easier to ignore great injustices and just do the laundry.

I hope you like it.


Laura Ruby is the author of books for adults, teens, and children, including the Michael L. Printz Medal winner and National Book Award finalist Bone Gap, the Edgar Award nominee Lily’s Ghosts, the Book Sense Pick Good Girls, and York: The Shadow Cipher, the first book in the York trilogy. She is on the faculty of Hamline University’s MFA in writing for children and young adults program and lives in the Chicago area. You can visit her online at www.lauraruby.com.




By Laura Ruby

Walden Pond Press

May 2019

It was only a few weeks ago that the Biedermann twins, Tess and Theo, along with their friend Jaime Cruz, followed the secrets of the Morningstarrs’ cipher further anyone had in its century-and-a-half history—and destroyed their beloved home in the process. But the Old York Cipher still isn’t solved. The demolition of 354 W. 73rd Street only revealed the next clue in the greatest mystery of the modern world, and if Tess, Theo, and Jaime want to discover what lies at the end of the puzzle laid into the buildings of New York by its brilliant, enigmatic architects, they will need to press on.

But doing so could prove even more dangerous than they know. It is clear that the Morningstarr twins marshaled all the strange technology they had spent their lives creating in the construction of the Cipher, and that technology has its own plans for those who pursue it. It is also clear that Tess, Theo, and Jaime are not the only ones on the trail of the treasure. As enemies both known and unknown close in on them from all sides and the very foundations of the city seem to crumble around them, they will have to ask themselves how far they will go to change the unchangeable—and whether the price of knowing the secrets of the Morningstarrs is one they are willing to pay.