Before I launch into my belated ‘Big London Book Fair Blog Fest’ (now that I am, for the most part, out of the Master’s Assignment Bubble of Doom), I thought I would write a little blog entry about Samantha Shannon and her debut novel The Bone Season (out 20 August 2013).
Last week I had the pleasure of going to Samantha Shannon’s first ever bookshop event at Waterstones in Oxford, and the even greater pleasure of talking to her afterwards.
I found her first on Twitter, I can’t remember quite how but I do remember reading an article hailing her as the next J. K. Rowling so naturally I was intrigued. I found her blog, began reading and suddenly found myself getting very excited about The Bone Season. Before the event, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a proof copy of the novel – I devoured it quickly and when I was finished, I wanted more. I, for one, can’t wait until the hardback is released.
The event was relaxed, with a somewhat amusing introduction, which made me love Waterstones a little bit more than I already do. Samantha’s talk was given from a plush-looking chair to an eager audience which overflowed from the allocated seating with people dotted around the various tables on the shop floor. The talk took place almost a year exactly since she secured her book deal during last year’s London Book Fair and encompassed everything from her unsuccessful novel, Aurora, to her opinion on the New Adult genre.
The Bone Season, she said, was written across six months – a number which shocked, astounded and impressed me, how could she have enough time to have written the whole of the novel in six months? She led us through a whirlwind tour of the publishing process as it was for her; a collaborative experience, both enjoyable and challenging.
After a brief synopsis of the novel, she delved into her influences (Emily Dickinson, John Donne) and her view on the fantasy genre. A cross-genre opportunity allowing for experimentation perhaps more than any other genre. While marketed as an adult novel, she acknowledged that her novel could be classed as New Adult due to its 19 year-old protagonist, though the novel does not contain the sexual themes found in most New Adult titles. She talked of the potential of New Adult beyond the sexual themes, as a bridging genre.
Her talk ended on a note of encouragement to the budding writers of the audience, and to the readers. She confessed that it took writing a whole novel to realise that the voice she was using was not the one for her.
In the Q&A session that followed she was asked about her dream-cast, as her novel’s film rights have already been sold, a question she was asked recently by Andy Serkis, whose studio The Imaginarium Studios own the rights; about clairvoyance and how much of it she believed in; Paige, the novel’s protagonist, who she confesses to living vicariously through; how she plans her novels and her characters and how much of the series is written; Ireland; Oxford, which she beautifully called ‘a city of contradiction’ which draws fantasy authors towards it; the balance between university and authordom (a feat of time-management and non-procrastination though no English Literature student gets up early), and the supportiveness of her tutors.
Once the talk was finished I bounced my way across to introduce myself and there is one word that I feel best sums up my impression of Samantha: Lovely. She allowed me to quiz her on all the things I didn’t get to ask during the Q&A, including her involvement with the cover and covers from other territories, which was a lot more than I thought it would be. Bloomsbury, she said, have been very accommodating when it comes to getting the look of her book perfect both for them and for her. During London Book Fair she even got to put input in on the design for one of the publishers from another territory (though, I have forgotten which one). We even got some casual fangirling into our chat, always fabulous.
The event was wonderful, with friendly, smiley staff and a pleasant atmosphere. I can’t wait to see Samantha Shannon’s career progress and am eagerly looking forward to the release of the hardback (and the reviews that will follow!).