Q&A with Samantha Shannon ~ The Northern YA Literary Festival

As many of you will have seen in the past few weeks, whether it be on twitter or here on my blog, this Saturday the #NorthernBookBloggers will be heading over to Preston to attend the first Northern YA Literary Festival! Which is being hosted by the University of Lancashire’s BA in Publishing Programme along with the brilliant people behind Waterstones Preston and Lancashire Libraries. It’s a really exciting event which we have been able to partner up with which has meant we have been lucky enough interview some of the authors attending the festival! Firstly, I’d like to thank Hazel and all those working behind The Northern YA Literary Festival for giving us all opportunity to interview some of our favourite authors as otherwise, it would perhaps be impossible. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to interview Samantha Shannon, author of The Bone Season. 

Welcome Samantha, The Bone Season is a series which is based hugely on the idea of clairvoyance and it being illegal. What initially attracted you to write about clairvoyance?
In 2011 I was an intern at a literary agency in Seven Dials, a district in Covent Garden. While I was strolling through its streets on my lunch breaks, I would pass various shops selling crystal balls and tarot cards and offering psychic readings. Being a person with an overactive imagination, seeing these shops led me to ask myself what it would be like if clairvoyants were persecuted in a kind of modern-day witch hunt. Throughout history, human beings have been both fascinated and repulsed by the occult, and I thought that would make a great foundation for a dystopian novel. Then the idea just kept growing and I knew it would have to be a series.

Have you ever gone to see a clairvoyant yourself?

No, never, I’m way too superstitious . . . I was at a party once and someone offered to do a tarot reading for me, and you couldn’t see me for dust, I bolted so quickly to the other side of the room. I’m too worried I’d see something that would play on my mind. My research for these books has been primarily rooted in historical ideas about clairvoyance, not modern.

If you could be any type of clairvoyant, what type would you be and why?

In theory, I love Paige’s gift – dream walking, which is essentially astral projection –but it does come with downsides, like headaches and nosebleeds. If I was in the world of the books, I’d be more likely to be a bibliomancer or a psychographer –someone who connects to the æther through books or writing.
What is your writing process? Are you an extensive planner or do you sit down and go with the flow? Is there a certain part of the process you enjoy the most? 
A little of both. I believe you can only plan a book so much before you start – at some point, you need to throw a character in and allow them to be the engine of the plot, and to show you where to go. I most enjoy the final stages of editing, where you have all the material and the structure is fixed and you’re just tweaking the manuscript to make it perfect.
Was it always your intention that The Bone Season to be a seven book series and do you know what will happen in each book?
Yes and yes, although my initial plan for the series has gone through some changes over the years. I started writing these books when I was 19 and I’m now 26, so I’ve had time to think on and reconsider some of my early decisions. I know all the key events that need to happen in each book, and I know how each one ends, but I allow myself some room to manoeuvre. Sometimes I want a character to do something and they just refuse to do it.
Do you ever consider writing outside of fantasy?

I’d love to try my hand at sci-fi at some point, but I’m very happy sticking to fantasy for the time being.

The Bone Season has been translated into several languages, do you have a favourite international edition?

I love the Vietnamese edition. It’s just beautiful – very macabre and Gothic. I also have a soft spot for the Czech versions, which are hardbacks with the most gorgeous velvety covers.
If you couldn’t write, what would you do?
Cry about the fact that I couldn’t write.

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Processed with VSCO with m3 preset

It was such an amazing opportunity to be able to interview Samantha here on my little blog – interviewing an author is something I never dreamed of being able to do but I am hugely grateful for it. Keep your eyes out for tomorrow’s post where I will be linking you all up to other interviews by the #NorthernBookBloggers!

You can find out more about Samantha Shannon and her books on her Twitter, Instagram and Website!

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A few words to describe me: Writer, Dreamer, Bookseller, Reader, and Reviewer.

17 thoughts on “Q&A with Samantha Shannon ~ The Northern YA Literary Festival

    1. I love the Bone Season! I think she was great at the event and really interesting writer, it was lovely to meet her!

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    1. Me too, I love going to see clairvoyents (even though you mostly see phoney ones) but it was such a huge honour to interview an author you admire so much!

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