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.
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.
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.
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.
Take a look at the rest of the 2013 Debut Author Bash tour schedule:
YaReads – Geoffrey Girard
Swoony Boys Podcast – Jane Nickerson
Kristi’s Book Readery – Page Morgan
Book Bandit – Laura Lam
The Word Mineur – Mindee Arnett
My Friends Are Fiction – Samantha Shannon
Nose Graze – Jessica Verdi
Between Printed Pages – L. M. Augustine
You’ve Been Blogged! – Jody Casella
Skye’s Scribblings – Kasie West
Lose Time Reading – Emily Murdoch
The Eater of Books – Kelsey Sutton
Book. Blog. Bake – Lauren Miller
Bookend 2 Bookend – Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Musings of a Blogder – Heather Reid
Allodoxophobia: The Fear of Opinions – Lindsey Scheibe
Magical Manuscripts – Shaunta Grimes
The Reading Vixens – Sarah Ashley Jones
Books for Birds – April Genevieve Tucholke
Book Blather – Romily Bernard
The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club – Kara Taylor
Inspiring Insomnia – Stephanie Kuehn
Kissed by Ink – Ellen Oh
Sleeps on Tables – J.R. Johansson
Always YA at Heart – Amanda Sun
Lisa Loves Lit – A.G. Howard
whYAnot Reviews – Liz Fichera
Samantha Clark – Claire M. Caterer
Rampant Readers – Leah Miller
Emily’s Crammed Bookshelf – T. Michael Martin
The Uninterrupted Reader – Cat Winters
The Book Beacon – Christina Mercer
Read & Reviewed – Lindsay Ribar
Paranormal Book Club – Kit Grindstaff
Books as You Know it – Mary Gray
Paranormal Reads – Elsie Chapman
Bibliophilia, Please – Helen Douglas
The Book Cellar – Erin Bowman
Fantasy Book Addict – Miriam Forster
Pond Across the Pond – Laurie Crompton
YaReads – Debra Driza
Teen Librarian Toolbox – Mindy McGinnis
Le’Book Squirrel – Kimberly Ann Miller
Finding Bliss in Books – Lydia Kang
Rachel Reads – Errica Lorraine Scheidt
Kentucky Geek Girl – Holly Smale
Turning Pages – Amy Butler Greenfield
Beauty and the Bookshelf – Alison Cherry
Synchronized Reading – J.L Spelbring
Reading is My Treasure – Kristin Halbrook
A&C Book Junkies – Carey Corp
Playing Jokers – Lenore Appelhans
Lizzie’s Dark Fiction – Elizabeth May
Sandwich Making Book Bitches – Anne Applegate
Little Bookwork Reviews – Jennifer Iacopelli
Moosubi Reviews – Megan Shepherd
Little Miss Trainwreck – Julianna Scott
Fictionators – Emma Trevayne
Pimples, Popularity, and Protagonists – Corey Ann Haydu
Breath of Books – Steven dos Santos
Jennzah – Chelsea Pitcher
Nightly Reading – Liz Coley
Pandora’s Books – Kelly A. Barson
Forever 17 Books – Amie Kaufman
My Bookopolis – Jamie Blair
Nick’s Book Blog – Jennifer McGowan
Curling Up with a Good Book – Leila Howland
Ex Libris – Mindy Raf
Adventures in YA Publishing – Carly Ann West
YaReads – J.J. Howard
Fiction Freak – Kate Karyus Quinn