The first edit is done! Hooray. Three weeks early. My back is now shot to pieces but it's been worth it. I've now moved onto a side project, related to The Bone Season, which should be done today if I stick to my schedule (although the sun has come out at last, so I probably won't). I won't tell you anything about that yet as there's no guarantee it will ever see the light of day.
Life has turned into a waiting game now. Waiting for the edit to be read, waiting to move house. I spent most of yesterday packing more of my possessions into boxes with my family, and throwing a lot of old clothes away. I didn't realise how much junk I've hoarded over the years. We went to the landfill three times. I feel sick to my stomach when I see how much rubbish piles up at those places, and most of it isn't even broken. I managed to get about half my rubbish into recycling bins, including a tonne of paperwork, but I've promised myself never to buy unnecessary junk again. If I've got one tiny souvenir from a beach I visited ten years ago, I've got twenty. It's insane.
On the study front – which I'm trying not to think about – I just finished a biography called Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and her Family's Feuds by Lyndall Gordon. I'm not typically a fan of biography but it was so gripping I could hardly put it down. I've started reading a collection of Dickinson's poetry, but there are so many poems, I can't imagine reading the whole thing. I've also got to work up the determination to write a 4000-word Shakespeare essay at some point. And read six novels. And start studying for Finals. After reading this article I'm now breaking a cold sweat at the mere thought of Finals.
How did the story of The Bone Season come to your mind? Did something special happen or did you suddenly have the idea?
Lots of things brought on the idea for The Bone Season. One was my experience working in Seven Dials. That gave me a strong idea for the setting. I'd also been inspired by my first year at Oxford, and wanted to do something interesting with the place. Then I needed a plot. I love literature about the afterlife and the macabre – John Donne, Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe are a few of my favourites – and I'd been interested in OBE and parapsychology for a few years. That started to come together in the form of a world populated by clairvoyants, with a 'spirit trade' and a criminal network.
I also wanted to push the limits of genre and audience a little with The Bone Season. Many people seem to think it's a YA (Young Adult) novel. It's wasn't written as YA, and won't be marketed as such, although I hope very much it will appeal to YA as well as adult readers. The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of America defines a young adult as someone between the ages of 12 and 18, and my narrator, Paige, is 19. I'm 21 this year, and I wanted to reach out to readers of my age, who are usually faced with a protagonist who is 16-18 years old. And there are too many numbers in this paragraph.
What gives you inspiration?
Tricky one. Lots of things. I'm a night owl; darkness and moonlight tend to give me inspiration. I would love to be able to stick to my natural rhythm, and start working around 9PM. Alas, society doesn't favour the night owl, and I have to stick to my circadian rhythm on most days. I'm also inspired by wandering through London, by colours, and very occasionally by nightmares, which tend to stick in my head more than dreams. I've never dreamed an entire scene, but sometimes the fear or panic induced by a nightmare, even if I don't remember what happened, will make me want to write something.
Can you tell us about the race of Rephaim?
I can't tell you too much, as I don't want to spoil it, but if you type Rephaim into Google I can promise useful results. The Rephaim are a race that feature in the Hebrew Bible, and their basic description inspired me to create a brand-new supernatural creature. I didn't want to write about vampires and werewolves, as I think there's already plenty of literature out there about that. You won't be able to find out exactly what the Rephaim are in my world until the release of The Bone Season, but you'll be able to start forming an idea.
Do you have an email address set up for questions about your writing, or are you only answering questions through the comments section on this blog?
I don't have an email address set up at the moment, no, but a website for The Bone Season will be set up next year, and I'm going to see if there can be a forum for questions. For the time being, do continue to ask questions on here or through Twitter.
Next week I'll be talking about how my experience with my rejected first novel, Aurora, helped me work out how to approach The Bone Season.