Sunday, 24 June 2012

Bone up on it.

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. The one that I'd like to bring up first is from Anonymous:

What can you tell us about The Bone Season

First of all, thank you for your kind comments! 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 must be 'low' rather than 'high' fantasy for me to agree with this one). It also has elements of cyberpunk. 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?

I can confirm that Paige will be a main character and narrator for the whole series. There may be a split in narration from the third book onwards. 

Other questions:

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 for ease of marketing. 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, always happy to answer to the best of my ability. 

Samantha

17 comments:

  1. Can you explain what is a synopsis and how long should it be.

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    1. A synopsis is basically a summary of the book. Some agents have different standards — could be different in the States, for example — but generally it should be no more than a page long. It should include all the major points of the narrative and give some sense of the characters.

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  2. Congrats on surviving your exams! Good luck with your marathon. It looks like you're going to meet your deadline :) Don't forget to celebrate!

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  3. I'd just like to say, thank you for being such an inspiration for us young writers!
    We're all inspired to pull a "Samantha Shannon"!

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    1. Thank you so much! That comment really made my day. Best of luck with your writing. x

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  4. Many thanks for your answer, Samantha.

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  5. hi what does the title "The Bone Season" mean?

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    1. Can't tell you that yet I'm afraid, but it does mean something, I promise.

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  6. Hi Samantha,

    Stumbled upon an article on you the other day and have ever since been following your blog. The Bone Season looks fantastic! Will is be released in Australia? Writing's one of my hobbies too, however for the last month, I have been suffering an awful case of writer's block! Have you any tips?

    Thanks for your time,
    E x

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    1. Hi! Many thanks for your comments. Glad you're looking forward to the book. I will indeed be released in Australia, either on the US or UK release date, depending on which date Bloomsbury goes with over there.

      I'll talk about writer's block in my next blog. Is it a novel you're working on? If so it might be that you've been working on it too long - take a break and think for a while.

      Samantha x

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  7. Do you have a name for the book series yet or will it be called The Bone Season series?

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    1. Not sure yet. I call it 'Seven Dials' in my head, but that's not official.

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  8. how long is the span of your books? will it be a year. Like the harry potter series. I believed Paige is 19 years old in book one, will she be 20 in book two, 21 in book three, 22 in book four. If that's case by the time you finish the series she'll be like 25 years by the end of the series.

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    1. Not a year, no. The series is different from Harry Potter in that it's a continuous narrative, flowing straight from one story into another. HP tends to start in the same place - Harry at Privet Drive, then going to Hogwarts, then going home, etc. 'The Bone Season' and its sequels don't have that kind of structure. Paige will probably age 3-4 years.

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  9. I am writing a series of novels right which I had long abandoned because I lost interest in it, I can't seem to find the right idea, felt like something crucial is missing in the plot, I lost faith in myself that I could do it, that I could finish the series let alone write a book......UNTIL I read an article about you. Then I searched for your blog, found it, read your story on how you started writing a novel, rejected, then started again. Now I am halfway done, plotting the entire series out. and all of these ideas suddenly came into me. You must have ignited this creativity again. so thank you so much. I am very much looking forward reading your novel The bOne Season next year. Im sure its gona be a great hit, and mind you..you will not be the next JK Rowling..coz I think you will be making a name for yourself.
    Thank you and GOODLUCK!

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  10. Thank you so much for commenting! This really made my day. I'm so glad to have helped. One thing that's made me so happy about the book deal is showing other people that the deals are out there — you just have to find them.

    Best of luck with your series, and I hope you enjoy 'The Bone Season'!

    Samantha

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