Interview with New York Times Bestselling Author Samantha Shannon

  

Immediately upon finishing The Bone Season, I knew that I had to have Samantha Shannon highlighted on my blog. I was honored (and admittedly fan-girlie) when she agreed to an interview. I’m so excited to share this interview on the 2013 Debut Authors Bash blog tour hosted by YA Reads.

The Bone Season is a brilliant book that has layers upon layers of depth; the type of novel that with each reading new ideas and themes will emerge. Upon my first read through these were the questions that most intrigued me.

The Bone Season is the start of a seven part series; do you have the specifics mapped out or just a general direction the story is headed?
I use what I call the ‘flesh-and-bones’ structure: I know the key points in every book and what I want to achieve in each one, but I let the characters write themselves to some extent – they flesh out the story. I think it takes the fun out of writing if you have every tiny detail planned. I know how the last book will end.

Are the following books going to stay in Paige’s point of view?
Yes, Paige will be a narrator for all seven, although I’m considering a split narrative with another character from Book 4 onwards.

Paige Mahoney

When I read a book/series featuring a world and cast of characters as prolific and in-depth as you have created I imagine the author to need a nook or room dedicated to character sketches, outlines and maps. Is this true of you? 
I do have a notebook in which I sketch out information about the characters – family history, key motivations and so on – but to be honest, I hold most of the information in my head. I know my characters very well, particularly Paige, Warden, Nashira, Jaxon and Eliza.  

In The Bone Season, people gifted/cursed with clairvoyance, or Voyants, are considered criminals and are hunted down by the Scion organization. Did you research the supernatural and if so what specifically?
I wanted my clairvoyant society to be a cross-section of historical types of divination, extending to encompass twenty-first century parapsychology. I did quite a bit of reading about classical and Renaissance impressions of augury, soothsaying and so on. After that I moved on to nineteenth century Spiritualism, mainly using The Book on Mediums by Allan Kardec. I also integrated Native American legend for Paige’s gift. Although I did a lot of research, I wanted to put my own spin on each type, hence the Seven Orders classification system. I wanted there to be a sense of inheritance and progression, a coming together of legends and phenomena.

Did you base the Scion Organization and the Seven Seals on anything specific?
The name ‘Seven Seals’ comes from the Biblical seven seals that herald the Apocalypse. The aliases they use are all tributes to the source – ‘White Binder’, for example, refers to the white horse ridden by the first seal. Scion has some echoes of Nazism, and also plays on the conspiracy theory that there might be a shadowy person or organisation behind the government, pulling the strings.

Artwork done by Leiana at Artist’s Inquisition

You capture the feeling of living in fear and secrecy wonderfully, especially in Paige’s life as a member of the Seven Seals, what did you draw upon to demonstrate these emotions to your reader?
I suppose it was just the sense of being ‘different’ or ‘abnormal’ in some way. I think everyone feels that way at some point in their lives. I’ve never had to live in fear the way Paige does, so it’s really pure imagination and conjecture – I’m glad you think I capture it well!

Each character you introduce is well rounded and immensely drawn out; did you create them or their world first?
I laid the groundwork of the world before I started writing – the clairvoyant types, the basic idea of Scion, the spirit world – but really, Paige was the first fully developed element. I put her into my embryonic world and her voice just brought it to life. Warden is my longest-standing character; he’s been with me for about six years. He was there before I even started to imagine The Bone Season.

As you are constructing your characters do they ever rebel against your plans for them or surprise you with the direction they take?
Sometimes they rebel, yes, especially with dialogue. I might picture Paige saying something, but it just doesn’t work when I type it out. She’s a bit of a loose cannon – she pulls me along more than I pull her along.

Warden

The Rephaim race is as haunting as they are beautiful. They are, in essence, domineering and elite—enticingly villainous in their disregard for individuality and the human plight. Yet, you are successful in giving them dimension, and in Warden’s character, the reader is even able to empathize. How were you able to tackle this fine line of being relatable yet distinctly otherworldly?
The Rephaim’s motives and divisions will be explored in more detail as the series goes on. Nashira, for example, comes across as insurmountably evil in the first book: she has no regard for humans whatsoever and really treats them as chattel – yet she does have reasons for being intolerant. Good and evil aren’t black and white, as George R. R. Martin has taught us time and time again. For me, the Rephaim are primarily an exploration of what it means to be ‘human’. It’s something Paige will have to tackle as her relationship with Warden develops.

Is there anything in particular you wish for your readers to take away from their reading experience?
I think any good book should make readers think; so long as it does that, I’m happy.

Thank you Samantha!

Check back this Wednesday, September 4th for my stop on The Bone Season blog tour where I will share My Friends Are Fiction’s interpretation of a character or two in Lego form. Also, there will be a giveaway.

Thank you Leiana for letting me use your Bone Season artwork! Check out her site here.

Debut Authors Bash at yareads.com
Take a look at the rest of the 2013 Debut Author Bash tour schedule:

September 1st
YaReads – Geoffrey Girard
Swoony Boys Podcast – Jane Nickerson
Kristi’s Book Readery – Page Morgan
September 2nd
Book Bandit – Laura Lam
The Word Mineur – Mindee Arnett
My Friends Are Fiction – Samantha Shannon
September 3rd
Nose Graze – Jessica Verdi
Between Printed Pages – L. M. Augustine
You’ve Been Blogged! – Jody Casella
September 4th
Skye’s Scribblings – Kasie West
Lose Time Reading – Emily Murdoch
The Eater of Books – Kelsey Sutton
September 5th
Book. Blog. Bake – Lauren Miller
Bookend 2 Bookend – Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Musings of a Blogder – Heather Reid
September 6th
Magical Manuscripts – Shaunta Grimes
The Reading Vixens – Sarah Ashley Jones
September 7th
Books for Birds – April Genevieve Tucholke
Book Blather – Romily Bernard
September 8th
Inspiring Insomnia – Stephanie Kuehn
September 9th
Kissed by Ink – Ellen Oh
Sleeps on Tables – J.R. Johansson
Always YA at Heart – Amanda Sun
September 10th
Lisa Loves Lit – A.G. Howard
whYAnot Reviews – Liz Fichera
Samantha Clark – Claire M. Caterer
September 11th
Rampant Readers – Leah Miller
Emily’s Crammed Bookshelf – T. Michael Martin
September 12th
The Uninterrupted Reader – Cat Winters
The Book Beacon – Christina Mercer
September 13th
Read & Reviewed – Lindsay Ribar
Paranormal Book Club – Kit Grindstaff
September 14th
Books as You Know it – Mary Gray
Paranormal Reads – Elsie Chapman
Bibliophilia, Please – Helen Douglas
September 15th
The Book Cellar – Erin Bowman
Fantasy Book Addict – Miriam Forster
September 16th
Pond Across the Pond – Laurie Crompton
YaReads – Debra Driza
September 17th
Teen Librarian Toolbox – Mindy McGinnis
Le’Book Squirrel – Kimberly Ann Miller
Finding Bliss in Books – Lydia Kang
September 18th
Rachel Reads – Errica Lorraine Scheidt
Kentucky Geek Girl – Holly Smale
September 19th
Turning Pages – Amy Butler Greenfield
Beauty and the Bookshelf – Alison Cherry
September 20th
Synchronized Reading – J.L Spelbring
Reading is My Treasure – Kristin Halbrook
A&C Book Junkies – Carey Corp
September 21st
Playing Jokers – Lenore Appelhans
Lizzie’s Dark Fiction – Elizabeth May
September 22nd
Sandwich Making Book Bitches – Anne Applegate
Little Bookwork Reviews – Jennifer Iacopelli
September 23rd
Moosubi Reviews – Megan Shepherd
Little Miss Trainwreck – Julianna Scott
September 24th
Fictionators – Emma Trevayne
September 25th
Breath of Books – Steven dos Santos
Jennzah – Chelsea Pitcher
September 26th
Nightly Reading – Liz Coley
Pandora’s Books – Kelly A. Barson
September 27th
Forever 17 Books – Amie Kaufman
My Bookopolis – Jamie Blair
September 28th
Nick’s Book Blog – Jennifer McGowan
Curling Up with a Good Book – Leila Howland
September 29th
Ex Libris – Mindy Raf
September 30th
YaReads – J.J. Howard
Fiction Freak – Kate Karyus Quinn

Comments

  1. says

    Ooooh, I can’t wait to see the Lego version of the characters and of course the giveaway!
    What a great interview, I’ve loved learning so many new things about the book and series and now I want to read it even more!

    • says

      I think the Lego versions are so fun! I hope you enjoy them. Sadly, this giveaway is US/Canada only 🙁 Thank you for reading the interview. very interested to see what you think of the book. I (obviously) loved it.

  2. says

    Fantastic interview! I’m really curious about who this other narrator might be in book 4, if that does happen. And I always think a good book should be able to make readers think, too. The Bone Season definitely does that. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. says

    Whoa, these are really awesome questions! I’ve been really looking forward to reading The Bone Season. I’ve heard really good things. From what I’ve read from reviews, this is definitely a book to make you think, so mission accomplished, Samantha Shannon. 🙂

  4. says

    Very cool! Very lucky to get her–she is definitely getting a lot of buzz for this book and for her book deal. I am definitely going to speed up to getting around to reading this book. 🙂

  5. says

    Fantastic interview! I loved this book, all the questions that lingered after I finished. I listened to the audio, but I went out and bought a copy that same weekend because this is a story that must be revisited. Especially now with all the little tidbits I’ve learned in this interview. 🙂

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