I'm home! London has never felt better. My coursework has been handed in, my bags have been moved – courtesy of my stepdad, Mike, who heroically ferries me back and forth between Oxford and London every term – and I'm ready for an editing marathon. I'm intending to make this edit a five-day, eight-hour undertaking.
You asked a lot of questions in my last blog, so I'll answer them without delay.
- What can you tell us about The Bone Season?
I'm not allowed to release a great deal of information about the novel at the moment, which is frustrating, but I don't want to spoil it for next year. What I can do is direct you to some links that will help you build a picture of what the novel is about: the Bloomsbury press release, an article from The Oxford Times, and my recent radio interview with ABC News. This is pretty much all the information that's been released so far. I'm trying to trickle out little bits of information every time I do an interview.
The Bone Season fits into several different genres. So far it's been called urban fantasy, dystopian, paranormal and just plain old fantasy. It also has elements of steampunk. It's the story of Paige Eva Mahoney, a nineteen year-old clairvoyant who works in the criminal underworld of London in the year 2059. London is controlled by a repressive government party called Scion, which persecutes clairvoyant people. Paige is arrested and taken to what is essentially a dystopian vision of Oxford, where she meets Warden, who is a member of a race called the Rephaim. Warden becomes her "keeper", and a story is born.
Nearer the time of release there will be a website set up for the purpose of transmitting more information about the novel, so keep an eye out!
- Will you be having a new main
character in the second book?
Paige will be a main character and narrator for the whole series. There may be a split in narration from the third book onwards.
- Speaking hypothetically, if British and US editors suggested (or even
'required') separate changes to the text, could the two editions of a
book end up being significantly different from one another?
This question was from Cornflower, who has written a small article on this subject. My experience of the US-UK editing process has been very easy, but I imagine other authors have issues with the accessibility of their manuscripts. For example, if I mentioned Sainsbury's in a book, I might need to add "a supermarket" to clarify. If you look at the first Harry Potter book, for example, the title was different in the US. J. K. Rowling said she regretted this change and would have fought it had she been in a "stronger position" at the time. Scholastic wanted to change the title for marketing reasons, as it was thought a child wouldn't pick up a book with the word "philosopher" in the title. I can understand why she'd want to fight this, as "philosopher" has many connotations that were lost in the US title. I suppose it depends how strongly you feel about a particular change, and how much the change will impact the story. I don't imagine the books would be 'significantly' different from one another, as you're trying to convey the same basic plot. I'm aware this doesn't fully answer your question, as it's quite a tricky subject and I think it really depends on the indiviudual manuscript. I will ask Rachel, my US editor, for more on this one.
- Would publishers accept writers who want to stay out of the public's
eye, as in avoid book signings or interviews or anything like that?
I asked one of the marketing associates at Bloomsbury about this. She said it depended on the book. If it's an excellent book, then yes, perhaps. Still, if you think about it from the publisher's perspective, they have to be able to market and sell the book. You could have a good manuscript, but no way to market the book. If the author wants to stay out of the public eye, it makes it very difficult to connect with the audience. You'd have to make it clear from the beginning that you wanted to stay out of the public eye. Having said that, many successful authors – Suzanne Collins, for example – rarely do interviews. You could also use a pseudonym, I suppose, and create mystery as a means of marketing – or even insert your 'author' as a character. If you've read, I Am Number Four, you'll see it has an author named 'Pittacus Lore', which is a pseudonym for two writers, James Frey and Jobie Hughes. Pittacus Lore is integrated into the story as a ten thousand year-old Loric Elder.
I was initially going to use a pseudonym for The Bone Season, but eventually I chose to write under my birth name. There are lots of ways to play the part of the Author. Personally I think interviews are a good way to talk to people directly, with a human face, as opposed to just communicating through the publishing house, which can be very impersonal.
- Do you think literary agencies would accept manuscript submissions
from another country?
Yes, absolutely. My agent represents many foreign writers, particularly from India. It might make the relationship with the agent a bit more distant, as you won't get to see them very often and most of your correspondence will be by email or phone, but it's perfectly possible.
Do ask more questions if you like. I'm always happy to answer to the best of my ability.