Friday, 20 January 2017

The Countdown Begins

We're just over a month away from The Song Rising. I can't quite believe, after all this time, that we're suddenly so close – I've never been more excited to share a book with the world. Scion looks forward to welcoming you all back. 

I'm just popping my head in today to give you a roundup of things you should know before release day.

– The signed Collector's Edition of The Song Rising is still available from Barnes & Noble or Books-a-Million in the US, as well as Amazon UK and other retailers. If you'd like one, it's a good idea to get your order in as soon as possible, as these editions are limited. Links are hereRemember, this edition is the only way to get a hardback with a cover in the original styles.

– If you pre-order any edition of The Song Rising, you're entitled to some amazing free tattoos and buttons. See here for details.

    – The Standard Edition of The Song Rising, the white hardback, will have sprayed orange pages. They look beautiful.

    – I've just put up a few of my tour dates for the UK and US here. More to come.

    – For a chance to join me at my book launch in Edinburgh, you can enter Bloomsbury's competition here

     – If you fancy rereading The Bone Season and The Mime Order before the third book comes out, there are several readalongs happening on social media at the moment. Bloomsbury is running one on Goodreads here; several wonderful Instagrammers have banded together to #ReadTBS on Instagram or Twitter (details here), and if Tumblr is your thing, the lovely Books and Cookies is running one here. It's not too late to join in with any of these.

    – If you don't have time to re-read the first two books before March, here's a little toolkit to help you jump straight back into Scion: [x

    – The Spotify playlist for The Song Rising is officially complete! Listen here.

    Friday, 23 December 2016

    Waiting on . . . Friday

    This year I read so many great books that I actually broke a sweat when I tried to narrow it down to ten favourites . . . so instead of an end-of-year roundup, I'm going to do nine of my most anticipated releases of 2017. Much easier.

    Some of these I've read and some I haven't, but I have the feeling you'll want to add them all to your to-read list.

    1. Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renée Ahdieh

    Genre(s): Fantasy

    While researching The Priory of the Orange Tree I've developed a keen interest in feudal Japan, so I'm really looking forward to this story about Mariko, an alchemist and a samurai's daughter, who escapes assassination, dressed as a boy, and infiltrates the gang that tried to kill her. I love a good girl-dresses-as-boy plot and I was a huge fan of Renée's Wrath and the Dawn duology, so I suspect I'm going to love this one. Also, hot damn, that cover.

    2. A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2) by Roshani Chokshi

    Genre(s): Fantasy

    The Star-Touched Queen was one of my standout reads of 2016, blending Indian folklore with the myth of Hades and Persephone. Its protagonist is Maya, a princess whose fate has put her on a collision course with death. The sequel will focus on Gauri, one of my favourite secondary characters from the first book. Roshani Chokshi is a truly gifted writer – I can't wait to get lost in her beautiful imagery and exquisite turns of phrase again.

    3. Untitled (The Graces #2) by Laure Eve

    Genre(s): Contemporary, urban fantasy

    Cover not yet revealed. The Graces – the tale of River, a young woman who becomes obsessed with a family rumoured to be witches and tries to integrate herself into their circle – was a bright star among my 2016 reads; I called it ‘mysterious, beautiful and unnerving’. It's all those things and more. I'm excited, albeit a tad frightened of what Laure has in store for her readers, to see how this story ends.  

    4. Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2) by Alwyn Hamilton 

    Genre(s): Fantasy

    Rebel of the Sands was an explosive mix of the Western genre and One Thousand and One Nights. That and its quick-witted heroine made it one of my favourite books of this year. The sequel continues the story of Amani Al'Hiza, the gun-slinging Blue-Eyed Bandit, on her journey as a rebel in the war-torn desert nation of Miraji. I was fascinated by the mythology of Rebel and can't wait to see how it plays out in a palace setting in Traitor.

    5. A Shiver of Snow and Sky by Lisa Lueddecke

    Genre(s): Fantasy

    Cover not yet revealed. I'm fortunate enough to have received a very early proof of Lisa's stunning début, which will hit shelves like a blizzard in October 2017. The quote I gave Scholastic sums up how I feel about it: "It reads like a long-lost fable, rich with beauty and imagination. A world you won't forget." Set in a frozen country named Skane – inspired by Scandinavia – it follows a courageous protagonist named Ósa as she embarks on a journey to save her people from a deadly plague. The atmosphere of this book is its strongest point: chilling, yet utterly beautiful.

    6. Untitled (Throne of Glass #6) by Sarah J. Maas

    Genre(s): Fantasy

    I can't quite believe the triumphant Throne of Glass series is coming to an end this year. I haven't yet read Empire of Storms, but Queen of Shadows blew me away and I know the final book in the series will do the same. It's still going to be bittersweet to leave these characters behind. Having said that, I'm holding out hope for a Manon Blackbeak spin-off.

    7. The Scarecrow Queen (The Sin Eater's Daughter #3) by Melinda Salisbury

    Genre(s): Fantasy

    The final book in the beautiful, inventive Sin Eater's Daughter trilogy. If you haven't started these yet, you must – the magic system is a unique blend of alchemy and golems and poison, and the female protagonists are complex. I'm beyond heartbroken that this series is ending, but I know that Melinda will finish it in style. Probably by plunging a knife directly into my tattered soul and dancing on my grave.

    8. The City Bleeds Gold (Tellus #3) by Lucy Saxon

    Genre(s): Fantasy

    Lucy's Tellus series has been a lot of fun so far – each book is set in the same world, but in a different country and following different characters. It's a refreshing take on a multi-book series. Each book is a self-contained adventure, and The City Bleeds Gold, about a young man struggling to reconcile his double life as a respectable mask-maker and a criminal, sounds as if it's going to be the best one yet. And that cover.

    9. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 

    Genre(s): Contemporary

    Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this looks to be one of the most necessary reads of 2017, and it's already set to be a film starring Amandla Stenberg. When sixteen-year-old Starr is the only witness to the murder of her unarmed friend Khalil by a police officer, what she says could destroy her community – or get her killed. I sense this is a book that the world desperately needs, so get it to the top of your to-read list.

    10. The Heartbeats of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

    Genre(s): Contemporary

    The Heartbeats of Wing Jones (titled Wing Jones in the UK), written by the wonderful Katherine Webber, is one of the most confident débuts I've ever read and a real gem of a YA novel. Set in Atlanta in the '90s, it follows Wing, a mixed-race teenager with a big heart, as she struggles to contend with a family tragedy that shatters her world. She soon discovers a gift for running that could change her destiny. This one is a life-affirming and hopeful book for the New Year.

    Tuesday, 27 September 2016

    A City for the Dreamers

    A trip to remember 

    Photo (c) Helena Hrstková

    So I just got back to London after a long weekend in Prague. I've wanted to go Prague ever since reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – my favourite YA fantasy – and when my Czech publisher, HOST, invited me, I couldn't believe my luck. I was there to do some interviews, a book signing, and two appearances at the fantasy and sci-fi convention CONiáš to promote the Czech versions of my books, Kostičas and Vidořád, translated by the fabulous Lenka Kapsová.

    Prague is like no city I've ever laid eyes on before. There's a quote I love from Daughter of Smoke and Bone that gave me very high expectations:

    The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century – or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies.

    As soon as I was settled into my apartment, I went out to see if this city really was as mystical as all that. Immediately I was in a state of wonder. In my first hour of walking, I saw things I don't think I'll ever see anywhere else. A dancing marionette on a bridge of Baroque saints. A tiny gingerbread shop hidden beneath an archway. Absinthiana behind dusty windows. Antiques and well-thumbed books. Love locks clinging to wrought-iron balustrades, their keys long since given into the keeping of the Vltava. A wall claimed by the dreamers, their words a rainbow of hope and defiance. An astronomical clock that reminds you, every hour, that death is waiting, and that greed and vanity are temporal concerns.

    The City of a Thousand Spires won my heart in a single morning.

    Photo (c) Helena Hrstková

    My first public event was the signing at the Neoluxor Palace of Books in Wenceslas Square – the largest bookshop in the Czech Republic. It's always a bit of a gamble on tour as to how many people will turn up, but I was blown away by the number of readers who came to see me – the event was so full that a lot of people were standing, and I ended up signing books for about two hours. It's been quite a while since I've been on tour anywhere, as it's been so long since I last released a new book (see this post), and I could feel myself welling up as soon as I saw the crowd. I'm so grateful to everyone who came to the signing, and to my two appearances at CONiáš, where I had some fun, thoughtful, and challenging questions from both the audience and the moderator. Everyone who spoke to me was so warm, kind and welcoming, and I even got some beautiful gifts from a few people. Thank you.

    A few people also gave me letters at the book signing. It's so kind you to take the time to write to me – however, I'm unfortunately (a) not able to answer at the moment, due to my workload, and (b) not able to answer at all by email, as I don't have a public email address. If you feel comfortable doing so, you can send me a home address via Tumblr message (with a description of the envelope you sent it in, if possible), and I can make a note of it. I can't guarantee a reply, as I have to prioritise my writing at the moment, but I'll try my best to get round to it when I can.

    By the end of this trip, I was also filled, once again, with appreciation for translators, the often-unsung heroes of the publishing world. Without Lenka, my words would never have reached so many people in the Czech Republic. The Bone Season is not a particularly easy book to translate, by all accounts, but from what I heard from readers, the slang and spirit of the story have been carefully preserved in Czech.

    Thank you very much to HOST and the Municipal Library for having me in Prague. I'm thrilled to announce that we just sold The Song Rising in Czech, so you'll definitely be seeing the translation within the next year or two.

    You can see a couple more photos from my trip on my shiny new Instagram. I had a different account a while back and ended up deleting it, but now I've figured out how to use it in a way I like: to celebrate books and words, and to be part of the passionate world of Bookstagram.

    What I'm working on

    Now I'm back in London, I'm also back to work on The Priory of the Orange Tree and the fourth Bone Season book. 

    However, you have not one, not two, but four chances to see me speaking alongside some of my very talented peers in London this month. Check my upcoming events page for details.

    On my bookshelf 

    I haven't been doing a huge amount of reading lately due to my workload, but I must take a moment to sing the praises of Barefoot on the Wind by Zoë Marriott, which I finished on the plane to Prague. It's a stunning retelling of Beauty and the Beast, set in the same Japan-inspired fantasy world as Shadows on the Moon. I'm a sucker for Beauty and the Beast, so this was right up my alley. Barefoot on the Wind has a sympathetic and daring protagonist, a morally complex love interest who I immediately adored (and who forms a solid, respectful friendship with the protagonist before romantic feelings blossom), and a haunting setting that I'm still thinking about. I'm looking forward to chairing a conversation with Zoë and Alwyn Hamilton at YA Shot 2016 this month so I can ask her some burning questions about it.

    I'd like to encourage everyone, but Brits in particular, to go out and get The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Shukla – a collection of twenty-one powerful essays about what it means to be black, Asian and minority ethnic in modern Britain. It's an important read, especially in the post-Brexit climate, and it's rightfully flying off the shelves. I learned a lot about the immigrant experience in this country from reading it.

    Finally, I just got my hands on And a Happy New Year? by Holly Bourne, which I'll probably start this evening. If you haven't read the hilarious, feminism-themed Spinster Club trilogy yet, you're really missing out. Grab yourself a copy of Am I Normal Yet? to start your emotional rollercoaster ride with Evie, Amber and Lottie.

    Sunday, 28 August 2016

    The Mime Order – Recap

    Friends, I'm creeping out from the writing tower to blog. Don't tell my agent. The fourth Bone Season book is well underway, and things are about to take a very dark turn for Paige. I've also just hit the huge milestone of 150K on The Priory of the Orange Tree, which is not only about dragons, but turning out to be the size of a dragon, too.

    I was initially worried that it might be difficult to work on two projects at once, but to my endless relief, it's actually proving much easier than I expected. If anything, it's just making it hard to focus on doing real-life admin, as I'm either deep in the political web of Scion or navigating a dragon-infested world. Currently I'm swinging between the manuscripts on a week-by-week basis, although I will be prioritising TBS4 towards the end of the year, as I want that to be finished and ready for my editor in good time.

    Anyway, back to books that are a little closer to publication . . . 

    First of all, you can now read the prelude of The Song Rising on one of several blogs, including this one. Prepare to be scandalised – betrayal runs deeper than you think. 

    Second – The Song Rising might not be out until March 2017, but now early proof copies are making their way into readers' hands (!), I think it's time I gave you the tools to get straight back into the world of Scion. The first refresher I've written up is a recap of The Mime Order, so you can get up to speed ASAP. You can either go with the quick guide, which will tell you everything you strictly need to know before The Song Rising, or get your teeth into the more detailed summary below it. 

    An updated character guide will follow soon. For more memory-joggers, here's a little refresher guide from last year. 

    Warning: Major spoilers ahead 

    Monday, 15 August 2016

    The Song Rising – Collector's Edition

    So, I have some very exciting news. I think you'll like it. 

    As you'll know, Bloomsbury recently decided to give the Bone Season series a new look. However, I'm delighted to say that there will also be a special limited Collectors' Edition of The Song Rising in hardback, with a cover in the style of David Mann's stunning originals. 

    Without further ado, I am very proud to unveil the Collectors' Edition . . .

    It's so beautiful I can't stop staring at it help me

    Seriously, though, look at it. Look at it. 

    There are so many things I love about this edition of The Song Rising. The royal purple is very apt for a book about Paige's reign as Underqueen, and the moth – a reference to Black Moth, the alias Paige took during the scrimmage – is a symbol of human resistance against Scion and the Rephaim. The orange flower is nasturtium, which represents a certain other character and means conquest, or power, in the language of flowers used in the book. What I find most wonderful about this cover, however, is the six dials emanating from the moth, which echo the design of The Bone Season. To me, they represent the other six members of Paige's gang, and how their lives are now moving in different directions as their world expands. 


    When will the Collector's Edition be released? 

    On the very same day as the other edition of The Song Rising – 7 March, 2017. Six months to go, folks.

    Will there be a Collector’s Edition for each new book in the series? 

    Yes. (Which means I get two sets of covers. And two cover reveals per book. I am the luckiest author who ever lived.) 

    So this is how we get our matching hardback set, right? 

    Exactly. The collectors' edition is the only hardback that will match the originals, so if you want a matching set, this is the one you need to get your hands on. 

    Bloomsbury currently has no plans to release the new covers for the first two books in hardback format. However, as I said in an earlier post, they are re-issuing The Bone Season and The Mime Order with the new covers in paperback in February 2017. The new Bone Season paperback will include The Pale Dreamer and a brand-new map by Emily Faccini. 

    Can I cancel my existing pre-order and buy this one instead? 

    Yes – just cancel with your retailer.

    Will the eBook have the purple jacket or the new jacket? 

    The new jacket, with the burning crown.

    Where can I buy the Collector’s Edition? 

    It's available to pre-order globally right now from Bloomsbury and Amazon, and will be feeding out to other retailers soon. 

    Will it cost more? 

    Nope! The collector's edition will be exactly the same price as the white one, and will even come with a signature from yours truly.

    Tuesday, 2 August 2016

    It's a real book

    The Pale Dreamer

    Is it seriously August already? Well, at least time's flying towards The Song Rising's release date . . .

    I'll start off with the biggest news of the week, which has me grinning from ear to ear. In December this year, Bloomsbury will publish The Pale Dreamer, the story of the day sixteen-year-old Paige Mahoney became Jaxon Hall's mollisher. It's been so hard to keep my lips sealed about this project, which follows Paige and Nick as they hunt a poltergeist through London. I'm thrilled I can finally talk about it. 

    From the press release:

    Bloomsbury is delighted to publish The Pale Dreamer, the exhilarating prequel to the extraordinary Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon. Fans of series will discover how Paige Mahoney’s gifts come to light, whilst for new readers, this is an exciting introduction to Scion London and the world of The Bone Season. Drawing on real characters from the Old Bailey archives, The Pale Dreamer shows us where Jaxon Hall and his gang, the Seven Seals, all began.

    ‘I'm thrilled to be able to expand the world of The Bone Season, and to show everyone a different, younger Paige, in The Pale Dreamer. I hope it gives readers something to look forward to before The Song Rising comes out in March,’ says Samantha Shannon. 
    The Pale Dreamer will be published by Bloomsbury in eBook, 6 December 2016. It will also be included as additional material in the beautifully rejacketed paperback edition of The Bone Season in February 2017.

    The Pale Dreamer is now available to pre-order from all good eBook retailers. I can't wait for you to read it. 

    Add it on Goodreads

    Listen to the playlist

    The proofs are in 

    After about a year of hard work on it, The Song Rising has finally been typeset, and I will freely admit that I cried when I got it in the post from Bloomsbury. It took so long to get the manuscript just right, I was beginning to think I would never see it on paper. I'm currently working my way through the proofreading stage, where I can make final, small edits. This is the part where I get really obsessed with the rhythm and structure of my sentences. 

    The third instalment of the series has panned out at 347 pages – quite a lot shorter than the previous two Bone Season books. When I first saw the page count, I wrestled with a slight sense of embarrassment that the book that's taken me the longest amount of time has turned out to be the smallest. After a two-year wait, I was worried that readers might be disappointed b y its length; that they might be expecting a huge, thick tome to offset the two-year delay. Then I remembered one of the golden rules of publishing: quality, not quantity. I've always promised myself that I'll never fill a book with unnecessary padding. Every book will be as long or short as it needs to be. As well as that, The Song Rising takes place over only two months – November to January – while The Mime Order spanned three and The Bone Season followed Paige over half a year, so the length makes perfect sense in terms of the story, too. I do suspect that this will be the shortest in the series; the last three will definitely be much thicker, while the fourth will probably be around the same size as The Bone Season.


    Last weekend was the weekend of the Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC), one of the biggest events in publishing in the UK. I look forward to this convention more than I do to Christmas, and it was just as much fun as it was last year. 

    My panel this time round was about writing fantastical versions of London – a subject I obviously love. I was joined by V. E. Schwab (Shades of Magic), Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London) and our wonderful host, Katherine Webber (Wing Jones), who got to reveal the beautiful cover of her book at the event. As always, I was in a state of shock when I saw how many people were in my signing line after the panel. It wrapped right out of my sight! Thank you so much to everyone who stood and waited for me to do my too-long signature and the red Scion stamp – you have no idea how much it means to me that you all came to see me. Thank you, too, to the terrific team at Booktrust who make YALC so brilliant every year. It's always such an honour to be invited, and to be part of the UKYA community. 

    Photo © Katherine Webber

    On my bookshelf


    I've read quite a lot of books recently, taking advantage of a temporary lull in my writing as I edited The Song Rising and The Pale Dreamer. Yesterday I tore through Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall, a sensitive depiction of what it's like to live with agoraphobia and OCD. It examines mental illness, self-harm, personal boundaries and therapy, with just the right amount of humour and an ultimately hopeful conclusion. 

    My favourite reads of the last few weeks have been False Hearts by Laura Lam, Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, and The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. False Hearts is a dark, smart and diverse sci-fi thriller about one twin having to take the other's identity in a futuristic San Francisco; Gemina is the triumphant sequel to Illuminae, which was my favourite YA book of 2015, and The Star-Touched Queen is an extraordinary debut that blends Indian folklore with the much-loved tale of Hades and Persephone. I'd strongly recommend making room for all of them on your to-read pile. 

    I've also caved and bought a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Originally I was going to avoid it, as I wanted to stay safe in the knowledge that all was well for the golden trio, but I've finally decided that I'm too much of a Potterhead to not read the eighth instalment. 

    Monday, 18 July 2016

    Crash Course VI

    Welcome back to Crash Course! 

    It's been a while since my last entry in this series. If you haven't discovered it before, Crash Course is a series of blog posts that explain aspects of The Bone Season and its world in more detail, so you can jog your memory between books and discover more about Scion and its inhabitants. I was prompted to do this entry by an ask I got on Tumblr a few days ago, requesting that I explain how the clairvoyant syndicate works in more detail. I realised I never did an entry on the syndicate, which is one of the more complicated elements of the Bone Season world, so it's high time I told you more about the tangled web of mime-lords, mime-queens, mollishers and mobsters in the underworld of the Scion Citadel of London. 

    The London Syndicate


    For clairvoyants in Scion, there are three ways to survive. You can try to hide your gift and lead a double life; you can enlist in the Night Vigilance Division and work for Scion, which will give you thirty years of guaranteed work before you're executed for unnaturalness . . . or you can try to join the clairvoyant syndicate.

    The syndicate of the Scion Citadel of London, thought to be the largest in existence, was founded in 1964 on the idea of mime-crime – using clairvoyance to earn money illegally. Its first Underlord, Thomas Ebon Merritt, wanted voyants to be able to survive and embrace who they were, rather than have to get a conventional job, where their clairvoyance might be discovered by sharp-eyed colleagues or Vigiles, or sell out to the enemy. The syndicate allowed you to disappear into the underworld and find protection with like-minded people. Here's an excerpt from Merritt's famous Declaration to the Unnatural Assembly (1964): 

    I have raised you to Roles of great Importance, so you shall be called the Lords and Queens of these wretched Folk; yet see that I have humbled you anew with a prefix, mime. For though you are a Monarch, remember that you are only a Mimic. The Spirits of the Dead have granted us their Knowledge so that we may whore it on the Streets for Coin, sacrificing their Secrets for the sake of our continued Existence. You, the Unnatural, can only ever imitate their Greatness. 

    Merritt, who was sometimes known as ‘Good Tom’, intended the mime-lords and mime-queens to serve their people, and to ensure that all voyants were treated as equals. It was a noble cause – but when Merritt died, his beloved organisation swiftly became a breeding ground for corruption and cruelty, culminating in the ‘grey market’ scandal of 2059.

    Since its early days, the syndicate's official administrative body has been the Spiritus Club, a voyant publishing house based in Grub Street. The Spiritus Club records the history and laws of the syndicate and organises official events. Even the Underlord or Underqueen is supposed to be held accountable by the Club. The Club historically communicated with the syndicate using the Victorian language of flowers, which is still used in some syndicate circles to send coded messages – most famously before a scrimmage (see Hierarchy). 

    Getting your chance to join the syndicate is reasonably easy. If you're voyant and live on the territory of a mime-lord or mime-queen, it won't be long until you get a visit from one of their representatives, asking if you plan to join. If you don't, some mime-lords will still expect you to pay the syndicate rent (see Money). If you do join, you'll be left to your own devices for a while. A member of the section's dominant gang – the gang led by the local mime-lord or mime-queen – will assess you quietly and decide if you're worthy of a place in the organisation. If you are, you'll be assigned to a gang in the section. If you're not, you're left out to dry. People who are rejected from the syndicate and have no other means of income will usually join the NVD, or if they're too afraid or proud to do that, resort to begging. 

    There is no official limit on the number of gangs that can operate in a section, but if you want to form a new gang, you must ask permission from both the Underlord and the mime-lord or mime-queen whose territory you mean to live and work in. Not doing this will result in punishment. Under Haymarket Hector, who often didn't reply to requests, there were numerous killings of ‘illegitimate’ gang leaders, who had asked for permission to form a new gang and never received an answer. Hector did not take kindly to discovering that they had proceeded anyway.

    Becoming a member of the syndicate gives you unrestricted access to the black market. Known as the Garden, the black market is located in a secret chamber beneath the central market hall in Covent Garden, and is accessed through a mirror in a clothes shop. A lantern outside glows a slightly different shade of blue to other Scion street-lamps. The black market has many different sections, some of which focus on different kinds of clairvoyance (e.g. stalls that stock products specifically for mediums), and sells a wide range of items, including:

    • Weapons – mostly old-fashioned
    • Blacklisted music, literature, and film
    • Numa – for soothsayers and augurs
    • Antiques and curios 
    • Items and information from the free world (non-Scion countries)
    • Musical instruments 
    • Flowers – to send messages in the language of flowers 

    With the friendship and respect of other voyants, and a local den to hide in, you're much less likely to be arrested. Now to climb the ladder – and earn some coin. 

    Hierarchy and power

    The official categorisation system of the syndicate is the the Seven Orders of Clairvoyance (see On the Merits of Unnaturalness). If you're from a higher order of clairvoyance, you'll be far more in-demand than a soothsayer or augur and will have a much easier time joining the syndicate.

    Higher-order voyants may find themselves being asked by rival mime-lords or mime-queens if they'd like to do some work for them on the quiet, a practice known as moonlighting. While moonlighting allows voyants to earn extra money, it doesn't usually go down well with their legitimate employer if they discover it. Some close their eyes to their voyants moonlighting, while others forbid it on pain of banishment.

    The most common form of mime-crime is doing readings for clients about their future and charging for it. This is usually carried out by soothsayers and augurs. Writing and art mediums can forge lost works and sell them. Whisperers and polyglots, who connect to the æther through playing music or singing, often work as high-class buskers. Busking is common, but not particularly respectable and not officially allowed by some mime-lords and mime-queens, as it's considered to be something that amaurotics can do as well as clairvoyants. Begging is illegal but tolerated.

    The syndicate also deals in more conventional crime, such as pickpocketing and drug dealing. Nightwalking – engaging in sex acts in exchange for information from the æther – is its equivalent of prostitution. Nightwalkers may work individually, but more commonly work in groups in a night parlour. Nightwalking is a legitimate syndicate profession, and, like other voyant businesses, is taxed. 

    Note: Vile augurs were forbidden from the syndicate several years after the publication of On the Merits of Unnaturalness. This rule was overturned by Paige Mahoney in November 2059. 

    Voyant activity in one section is kept in check by the local mime-lord or mime-queen. Any attempts to withhold tax money, disobey local rules, or cause trouble will be met with punishment. Most mime-lords and mime-queens punish transgression brutally in order to maintain control through fear, but a small number are reasonable and forgiving. 

    The hierarchy of syndicate professions looks something like this: 

    Underlord or Underqueen
    Leader of the syndicate 
    Mollisher supreme
    Mollisher of the Underlord or Underqueen
    The Unnatural Assembly
    Mime-lords and mime-queens
    Trusted seconds-in-command of 
    mime-lords and mime-queens
    Dominant gangs
    Gangs led by mime-lords or mime-queens
    Gang leaders
    Gang members
    Also known as mobsters 
    Train gutterlings in the arts of the syndicate
    Carry out errands for dominant gangs
    Carry messages between gangs
    Voyant businesses and traders
    Pay taxes and draw business to a section;
    some are based in the black market
    Footpads and pickpockets
    Specialise in conventional crime
    Not considered part of the syndicate by some,
    but tolerated if they pay extra tax
    Gutterlings and beggars
    Not officially part of the syndicate,
    but often exploited or forced to pay tax

    The Unnatural Assembly wields much of the power in the voyant hierarchy. Mime-lords and mime-queens were originally meant to actively serve their people, providing voyants in their section with opportunities and protection from Scion (e.g. giving them dens to hide in, sending their mobsters to help fight off Vigiles) in exchange for a cut of their earnings – but by the time Paige joins the syndicate, many have become lazy, allowing their voyants to do the work while they soak up more and more money. Paige's intention as Underqueen is to give them more active roles, which will not allow them to shirk their responsibilities.  

    Although the clairvoyant syndicate is largely self-sufficient, it also occasionally works with sympathetic amaurotics. Glym jacks (hired bodyguards), buck cabbies (cab drivers who will give voyant clients a significant discount) and screevers (experts in forging documents) are the most common sorts of amaurotic to engage in syndicate work. 

    If a mime-lord or mime-queen is arrested or dies, control of the section is automatically transferred to their mollisher, who is the heir to their position and fortune. If the mollisher is also unable to rule for any reason, a power vacuum forms and an internal struggle begins. Voyants will fight to prove that they are the strongest candidate for the role. Members of a dominant gang will usually be involved in these fights, but are not guaranteed to win. Finally, when one person has come out on top – whether by skill or intimidation – and is no longer facing any serious challenges, they will announce themselves to the Unnatural Assembly, and the Underlord or Underqueen will declare them as the new leader of the section. 

    When an Underlord or Underqueen dies or is unable to rule, their mollisher supreme takes over. If they can't, the process becomes more complex. A scrimmage – a public battle for control of the syndicate – is announced by the Spiritus Club. Candidates send the Club a message in the language of flowers to declare their intention to participate. Only mime-lords, mime-queens and mollishers are officially allowed to enter, but independent candidates may also be approved, based on how interesting the Club finds their floral messages. 

    Here are the official rules of the scrimmage, from The Mime Order: 

    The Scrimmage is based on the medieval art of mêlée. Mime-Lords, Mime-Queens and their Mollishers fight in close Combat in a 'Rose Ring', an enduring symbol of the Plague of Unnaturalness. Each of the Combatants fights for his- or herself, but a Mollisher may work with his or her Mime-Lord or Mime-Queen at any time during the battle. The last Candidate standing is declared Victor and is presented with the ceremonial Crown. From that moment, the Victor rules the syndicate, and bears the title of Underlord or Underqueen, depending upon their Preference.  
    When there are only two Combatants left in the Rose Ring, and they are not a Mime-Lord or Mime-Queen and Mollisher duo, they must do battle to the Death in order for a final Victor to be declared. Only by using a specific invocation – ‘in the name of the æther, I, [name or alias], yield’ – can a Combatant end the last fight without bloodshed. Once this word is spoken, the other Party is automatically declared Victor. This rule was introduced by the Golden Baroness, first Underqueen of the Scion Citadel of London (ruled 1976-1980).  


    The raison d'être of the clairvoyant syndicate is money. Money is earned through busking, begging, extortion, the sale of goods and knowledge, and the sale and auction of spirits – and it all flows upward by means of taxes. All syndicate voyants must pay syndicate rent and syndicate tax.

    Syndicate rent is charged by mime-lords and mime-queens, who are themselves immune to it. Locations with more clairvoyant activity, and more opportunity for business, tend to charge higher syndicate rent.

    Syndicate tax is paid by everyone but the Underlord or Underqueen. Every time a voyant earns money through their syndicate activities, they must give a certain percentage of it to their local mime-lord or mime-queen. Businesses pay more than individuals. That mime-lord or mime-queen then pays a certain percentage of that money, and the collected syndicate rent, to the Underlord or Underqueen, who is supposed to use it to make life better in the syndicate. Corruption is so rife in the syndicate, however, that its leaders often keep large sums for their own use. Not paying rent or tax can result in a number of punishments, from a beating to banishment to death. Flower and Dean Street in East London, where many voyants had their throats slit for not coughing up, was notorious during Haymarket Hector's reign.

    Only one establishment in London is immune to syndicate tax. The Juditheon – an auction house in Cheapside – was founded by Didion Waite, and allows spirits to be sold by auction for more money than they would usually get. The Underlord allowed Waite to set up this establishment without paying any tax to his local mime-queen, Ognena Maria. The money would instead go straight into the Underlord's personal coffers.

    I hope that was helpful. Let me know if I've missed anything, or if you're curious about any other aspect of syndicate culture. 

    More news about The Song Rising on its way soon . . .