The Emperor’s Watchmaker is my one and only children’s book. It’s inspired by Ryszard Kapuscinski‘s The Emperor: Downfall of An Autocrat. Kapuscinski transcribes interviews with the workers of the palace as it crumbles from the outside in – The final days of Emperor Haile Selassie.
Many Ethiopians believe his book untrue and that testimony could not be gathered at that time in Ethiopian history. But whether you think it fact or fiction it is undeniably an incredible book and it’s where I began my imaginations for the children’s book.
I imagined a character in one poem – the eponymous Emperor’s Watchmaker – who after making the Emperor’s watch took it on himself to say tic toc until the end of time, just in case the emperor’s watch stopped: To save time – Tic. On one level you could think him mad – toc – finishing his lines – tic – with a tic or a toc – toc – and On the other hand – tic – he sees everything – toc. Including the plot – tic.
So I titled this blog after him – The Emperor’s Watchmaker. Stephen Wilkinson summed it up when in commenting on the blog he said “Who watches the watches? The watchmaker!”. As for The Children’s book? Writing it was one of the most rewarding expeditions of my career. It sits quietly waiting for me to buy it on ebay. I get a request for the book once a fortnight from somewhere in the world. The Emperor’s watchmaker knows what time it is.